31 December 2007

Final Thoughts And Future Trusts

Reflections by Robert S. Bise

Reflections of the days gone by …
In time we can recall
The laughter, tears and loneliness;
We learn to embrace them all.
Actions kill the words we say.
They die without a sound.
Time, in turn, can heal all wounds
If time can be found.

Another year has passed and we stand at the threshold of a new one. It is at this time that we traditionally take a moment to look back upon where we have been and to try to divine where we are headed.

The past year was not a terribly good one for me. Over the past 364 days I have lived through the definitive end of my relationship, soldiered through a soul-sucking job, fallen for an unrequited love, and wrestled with many personal demons and insecurities. More often than not I wanted to throw in the towel and lock myself away indefinitely.

One can only hope that years such as this one are thrust upon us so that we may learn something and move toward becoming a better, more complete person. To have to live through such a painful year with no bright side to grasp … that would only add insult to injury. I hold onto hope that the personal suffering through which I have lived can only serve me well in the future.

I am not saying that all of 2007 was bad. There are things on which I can fondly reflect and there are things that I will be glad to carry with me into 2008. I have been fortunate enough to meet and befriend a few new persons who can only but enrich my life. As for some old friends with whom I have fallen out of contact over the years, we have been rebuilding those connections and for that I am grateful. And for an unexpected treat ... a peanut in my caramel corn, if you will ... I have been blessed with the companionship of a kindred spirit, who I pray will continue to be a large part of my life for many years to come.

I cannot predict what 2008 will bring, as I am still seeing through the fog of 2007. But if some of my experiences over the past couple months are any indicator, I will encounter a much more positive new year.

So here is to a happy new year, for all of 2008.

21 December 2007

To My Faithful Readers (And Those Who Have Stumbled In)

I won't have time to write any more posts before Christmas Day so please allow me to wish each and every one of you a very Merry Christmas. I hope that it will be filled with peace and joy and that you will be surrounded by the warmth of those you love and those who love you.

17 December 2007

More Christmas-y Goodness

I hope you enjoyed reading about my least and most favorite Christmas songs. I'm sure you didn't agree with all of them, as things like that tend to be a bit subjective at best. And that's okay with me. If you think I erred in my judgment, well, you can write your own lists. Make sure to let me know so I can mercilessly heckle you.

But just because the lists are finished doesn't mean my Christmas postings are. In fact, I have a fantastic rant from one of my favorite online stops. Be warned -- the language is explicit. Don't listen to this at work or in any other place where foul language may be frowned upon.

Now, once you've holed yourself into a safe location, click here and enjoy!

Most Favorite Christmas Song #1

My Number One Most Favorite Christmas Song is one of the most widely recognized Christmas songs ever.

It is performed by choirs, by orchestras, and even by popular bands. It is played on radio stations spanning classical music to hard rock.

It conjures images of snowfall and cozy fires and midnight masses. It warms the heart and brightens the face. It, quite possibly more than any other song for this holiday season, puts one in the Christmas spirit.

Song Number One is the quintessential Christmas tune. It is "Carol Of The Bells".

You can hear it here (Windows Media Player required).

16 December 2007

Most Favorite Christmas Song #2

I might lose some of you on my final two picks because they aren't popular recordings or standard carols. But they are Christmas songs nonetheless and I happen to enjoy them both very much. (I have also had the pleasure of performing them as well, which endears them to me even more so.)

Song Number Two on the list is a choral piece by Ralph Vaughn Williams called "Wassail". It's a four-part choral arrangement (that would be "written for soprano, alto, tenor, and bass" for those of you not in-the-know out there) that takes off in a very light-spirited romp from the beginning for the duration of the song. It's a fun listen and it's fun to sing.

You can hear it here (RealAudio required).

14 December 2007

Most Favorite Christmas Song #3

Written in 1864, the next song was a penned cry of sorrow from its author. Song Number Three on the most favorite list is "I Heard The Bells On Christmas Day" by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. There are three different arrangements of this song, but my favorite was composed by Johnny Marks.

The words are teeming with gloom. While the rarely-sung fourth and fifth stanzas refer to the Civil War, we can still use them as metaphors for all the tumult in the world today. The song's sadness crescendos with the following stanza:
And in despair I bowed my head:
"There is no peace on earth," I said;
"For hate is strong
And mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good will to men."
But it's the next verse that is the reason this song resonates so strongly with me. After all hope seemed lost, after the last flicker of goodness seemed extinguished, this is how Longfellow ends:
Then pealed the bells more loud and deep,
"God is not dead, nor doth he sleep!
The wrong shall fail,
The right prevail,
With peace on earth, good will to men!"
To truly feel the despair and the hope conveyed in this song, I strongly recommend that you listen to the Harry Belafonte recording.

Most Favorite Christmas Song #4

It's difficult, nearly impossible, to write a Christmas song that can stand the test of time and compare to the Christmas favorites of years past. So many present-day recording stars have tried their hands at making a Christmastime classic; the vast majority of these attempts have failed miserably. So it is a thing of joyous rapture when we get to witness someone hit one out of the park. Thirteen years ago, we were treated to such an occurrence.

Yes, this song is extremely commercial. In fact, as Christmas songs go, it may very well be one of the highest consistently charting songs ever recorded (based on these statistics). But its commercial success does not distract from its simple beauty, joy, and message -- that, in the end, love and companionship is what most of us want more than anything else at this time of year.

My Number Four favorite Christmas song is a little ditty recorded by Mariah Carey titled "All I Want For Christmas Is You".

13 December 2007

HGTV Change The World Communities

HGTV is currently running a web contest focused on neighborhood-level revitalization programs. It asks web page visitors to vote to determine which city/neighborhood receives substantial funding and in-kind support for a major revitalization project. One of the communites chosen is Anacostia! According to the webpage, you "make your voting decision by exploring video, photos and stories highlighting revitalization projects" listed on the page. You can vote once a day up until next Friday, 21 December 2007.

Go vote for DC!

12 December 2007

Most Favorite Christmas Song #5

My Number Five favorite Christmas song brings a smile to my face every time I hear it. It doesn't matter how foul the mood, how evil the weather, or how bad the day. Just one listen to this song and everything is right with the world again.

Besides, how can you not grin when you hear "hippopotamuseses"?

That's right, starting the Most Favorite Christmas Song list is "I Want A Hippopotamus For Christmas". It's about as cheery a song as you can possibly get.

(Hippopotamuseses ... *giggle*)

11 December 2007

Least Favorite Christmas Song #1

Here it is, folks, my Number One Least Favorite Christmas Song! I can feel your relief radiating through my monitor right now. So let's get to it, shall we?

It was 23 years ago that this lump of pious coal was left in our stocking. We couldn't blame Santa for this because this was the 1980's and we were all so busy saving the whales and the rain-forest and ... oh yes ...

... Africa.

Our eyes were turned over the Atlantic Ocean to the devastation occurring in the East African country of Ethiopia. This song was written as a way to raise funds for the people of Ethiopia -- a very noble sentiment and one that raised around $144 million in its first incarnation. It saw life again in 1989 and again in 2004 (money raised in 2004 went to humanitarian aid for Sudan), where millions more were raised. Not bad for a crappy song.

If you haven't guessed already, the song is "Do They Know It's Christmas?" by Band Aid (and Band Aid II and Band Aid 20), written by Sir Bob Geldof and Midge Ure. Don't get me wrong, the causes for which it was recorded are laudable. But the song ... oh, the song. Let's look at some lyrics.
It's Christmastime
There's no need to be afraid
At Christmastime, we let in light and we banish shade
And in our world of plenty we can spread a smile of joy
Throw your arms around the world at Christmastime
So far so good.
But say a prayer
Pray for the other ones
At Christmastime it's hard, but when you're having fun
Uh-oh. I feel a sermon coming on.
There's a world outside your window
And it's a world of dread and fear
Where the only water flowing is the bitter sting of tears
And the Christmas bells that ring there are the clanging
chimes of doom
Um, being a bit overly-dramatic aren't we, Mr. Geldof? I'm sure you could have found a better phrasing than equating Christmas bells to clanging chimes of doom. Certainly a wordsmith such as yourself could have done this more poetic justice, yes?
Well tonight thank God it's them instead of you
WHOA! For a song that's supposed to marshall the financial troops, I'm not sure that a "better you than me" attitude is really appropriate. I thought the idea here was to feel a pang of sympathy for the people we're supposed to be helping, not superiority.
And there won't be snow in Africa this Christmastime
I would normally let a line like this pass since, with a land mass as large as Africa, it must snow somewhere sometime. However, this song was written for the people of Ethiopia. And snowfall in Ethiopia isn't what one would call a routine experience.
The greatest gift they'll get this year is life
Where nothing ever grows
No rain nor rivers flow
Do they know it's Christmastime at all?
The Christian ones probably do. Not so much the Muslim ones.
(Here's to you) raise a glass for everyone
(Here's to them) underneath that burning sun
Do they know it's Christmastime at all?
I can't knock these lines. I'm all for toasting someone. And I've already commented on whether they know it's Christmas or not.
Feed the world
Let them know it's Christmastime again
Again. I'm sure the Christians would appreciate the reminder. I'm also sure the Muslim population couldn't care.

Because it's Christmastime, a time for giving, it is not enough for me to share my thoughts on my Number One Least Favorite Christmas Song. No. In the spirit of the season, I will offer you this little trinket and allow you to come to your own decision. Enjoy!

Least Favorite Christmas Song #2

My least favorite Christmas song Number Two, which is technically not a Christmas song at all, comes from one of my least favorite musicals. But it has become a seasonal standard due to its imagery (and perhaps even its title). What is this horrid song, you might be wondering? Why none other than "My Favorite Things" from The Sound of Music.

Oh, I know I'll catch flack for this one because so-o-o-o many people enjoy this song (and this musical).

Here is the one and only reason it has made this list ... it's not a song of, about, or for Christmas in any way, shape, or form! In the movie version of the musical (you know, the one shown non-stop on television at this time of year), this song is sung to comfort the children during a thunderstorm. A thunderstorm ... which, in Austria, occurs during ... the summer!

Really, people, get over it already. Sheesh.

10 December 2007

Least Favorite Christmas Song #3

The last thing I want to hear at Christmas is whining, which is why "Last Christmas" by WHAM! made our Number Three. Look no further than the opening lines (which also happens to be the chorus) for enough kvetching to last all of Chanukah and Christmas and Yule and Kwanzaa and Winter Solstice and whatever other festival you want to throw in there during this time of year:
Last Christmas, I gave you my heart
But the very next day, you gave it away.
This year, to save me from tears,
I'll give it to someone special.
"I'll give it to someone special"? Wasn't the person to whom you gave it last year special? What makes you think we won't have to hear your bellyaching next year because the new Mr. Special decided to return your gift, too?

Ugh.

09 December 2007

Least Favorite Christmas Song #4

You would think that a catchy tune wouldn't appear on the list but our entry at Number Four is the most famous Hispanic Christmas song ever, "Feliz Navidad" by José Feliciano. It earns a spot on my list for two reasons:
  1. It is repetitious ... unforgivably so ... brain-damagingly so ... in the same way that this song is repetitious.
  2. The lyrics are a lesson in lazy song-writing. Seriously. Look at the words. They consist of two ... count them two ... lines. That's it.

08 December 2007

Least Favorite Christmas Song #5

At Number Five, everyone's least favorite Christmastime song (or at least it should be) is "The Twelve Days of Christmas".

It's pervasive ubiquitousness during the holiday season and the impression that singing the song will literally take twelve days to complete are enough to land it on the list. But the real reason why it's here is best explained by my favorite Executive/Action Transvestite:
That “Partridge in a pear tree” song, the only bit we like of it is that, ( singing )"Five gold rings!" People go berserk at that point! People come running in from other rooms, ( singing ) "Five gold rings!" The rest of it, we don't know; above that, it's just, ( singing, uncertain ) "Twelve… monkeys mating, eleven… donkeys dancing, ten pigmies farming, nine… socks… a swimming… ( certain ) five gold rings!" This is a human thing. We only like to learn a little bit of a song. We can't be bothered, yeah.

Lists That Will Span Several Days

I've decided that in the spirit of the season I will list my five favorite and five least favorite songs of the season. We'll start with my five least favorites and then, logically, my five favorites. Both lists will be done in no particular order and will start tomorrow. I do hope you enjoy.

29 November 2007

For One Night - EXPLICIT

My soul is tired. My spirit is broken and cannot pull itself back together again. Goddamned horses and men. Some days it is all that I can do to keep my brave face. But this cannot last for much longer. The strength I once had is diminished.

For one night, I want to feel weak and cry until my eyes bleed. For one night, I want someone to hold me - not to fuck but to fucking be there. For one night, I want someone to say, "I know you are strong, but you cannot be strong always. Rest on me. Let me hold back the hurt for you for tonight." For one night, I want to be swallowed in my sorrow. For one motherfucking night, I want to be someone other than myself.

Maybe, just maybe then, when the sun rises on the morning after that one night, I can finally leave this darkness ... this dankness that has been hanging on me like an oversized trench-coat ... I can leave it all on the floor where I can capture it in the vacuum and throw it out with the onion skins and empty milk cartons and shredded junk mail.

28 November 2007

World AIDS Day 2007

Join Whitman-Walker Clinic for World AIDS Day. Remember those lost. Cherish those still living. Renew hope for a future free of HIV/AIDS. Whitman-Walker Clinic's observances for World AIDS Day are as follows:

Annual Candlelight Vigil. Friday, Nov. 30, at 5:30 pm at Dupont Circle. Candles and holders provided.

On Thursday, Nov. 29, Kimpton Hotels will host "Red Hot Night” in the Nation's Capital, with a World AIDS Day fundraiser at Urbana Restaurant & Wine Bar at Hotel Palomar, 2121 P Street, NW, at 6:00 pm. All proceeds will benefit Whitman-Walker Clinic.

Free HIV testing will be available on Friday, Nov. 30, at the Elizabeth Taylor Medical Center, 1701 14th Street, NW, from 8:30 am-5:00 pm; at the Max Robinson Center, 2301 Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue, SE, from 9:30 am-4:00 pm; and at Whitman-Walker Clinic of Northern Virginia, 5232 Lee Highway in Arlington, from 8:00 am-5:00 pm.

The “Our Heroes” photo exhibit will be on display at the Metropolitan Community Church, 464 Ridge Street, NW, and on Dec. 1 at the Human Rights Campaign, 1640 Rhode Island Avenue, NW.

22 November 2007

Late Night (Early Morning) Confessional

You would think that a post at 2:50 AM would have been written by a drunk person. Fortunately that is not the case. So here it is - my confessional:
  1. I am in love with someone who isn't in love with me.
  2. I still seek the approval of people who are no longer around to grant it.
  3. I am stung to my soul by words that I should be able to shrug off.
  4. I don't have the capacity to be selfish; others are always put first.
  5. I feel every second of my age.
  6. I cry. Often. When no one else is around.
  7. I have goals but am far too lazy and/or discouraged to achieve them.
  8. I would rather be a singer.
  9. I am kinder to people than I should be.
  10. I am still haunted by the ghost of a lover past.

13 November 2007

Are You Ready For The Holidays?

A casual stroll through the local mall should remind you that Christmas is coming and you'd better be getting ready.

I was at my gym this evening and had just finished a very trying run. I stepped around to where the towels were because, you know, I had to wipe my sweaty mess off of the elliptical I used. I turned the corner and there he was. Father Christmas. On a treadmill. At first I was a bit confused. Isn't Saint Nick supposed to have a belly like a bowl full of jelly? According to myth, yes. But then I thought ... athletes have to train for their events, right? It makes sense that the man who has to deliver presents to all the good children of the world in one night also needs to be in peak condition. He may still be round, but I bet he's in great cardio shape.

Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus. And the Jolly Ol' Elf is getting in shape for the big day.

MSNBC Asks "What Really Killed the Dinosaurs?"

What really killed the dinosaurs? I'll give you a hint. It was death.

07 November 2007

A Bit of Self-Assessment

NOTE: All conversations are being drawn from memory and may not be quoted exactly right, but the meaning is the same.

Last week ... Halloween night, of all nights ... I was out with some friends, one of whom I haven't spent time with in over a year. In fact, the last time I spent time with this particular friend, he was going through a difficult time and I gave him a place to crash for a little bit.

We reminisced about that point in his life. During our walk down memory lane, he looked at me and said, "Thank you for helping me out then. You really have no idea how difficult that period of my life was and how much that little act of kindess helped me get through it. It put me where I am today, in a much better place. And here you are again doing it for someone else."

That brief interaction hit me hard. I spent the rest of the night in a funk, although I'm sure no one around me knew it. I couldn't help but think that maybe, perhaps, I am destined to remain single all the rest of my days acting as a guide, a Samaritan for those I come across who need a helping hand to pull them out of the dark places in which they may find themselves.

I should have taken it as a compliment. It should have gladdened my heart. It should have lifted my spirits. But it didn't. I felt sorrier for myself. I felt more alone.

Seven days have passed since that night. I have had the benefit of space to reflect on it and its meaning.

And I've come to the realization that it is a good thing. What I did for him. What I'm doing for someone else now. My role in this world.

Fortune may smile on me one day and deliver to me someone who can love me, put up with me, stand by me, break me down and build me up. But if that should never come to pass I am still fortunate.

I have a lot of love to give. And I have chosen to freely give that love to those who need it. It no longer matters to me how long or how short their stop in my life is. It no longer matters to me if our relationship is platonic or romantic or simply in-passing.

It only matters to me that I can give. And I will gladly do so.

15 October 2007

And Now, Some Music

If this doesn't move you, you should check your pulse. Here are two separate performances of a classic Beatles tune with solos by guitar gods.



07 October 2007

Personal Randomness

I can't expect you to understand this but ...

... when you've been rejected after (insert number here) years in a relationship that ends of no agreement of your own, you can't help but think that there is something wrong with you. It tints the way you look at life and people from that point onward, for right or wrong. That is where I stand right now.

I see myself in such a scewed way that no one would want me ... something that logically I know better.

What does one do in a like position?

20 September 2007

Note to Ruffians

If you're going to take the time to break my car window, at least do me the honor of taking something ... the radio, the steering wheel, the car ... anything. It's disrespectful to break and run.

Punkassbitches.

29 August 2007

Returning to Your Routines

The Washington Post is reporting today that the Frederick Douglas Bridge (a.k.a South Capitol Street Bridge) is reopening tomorrow. This is great news for those poor souls who must commute into the city from southern Prince George's County and Charles County. This is even greater news for those of us who live in Anacostia, who have had to put up with these displaced drivers for the past couple months.

Kudos to Corman Construction for completing the project ahead of time!

08 August 2007

This Is Your Brain on Drugs

I know I'm going to sound like every whiny tourist and transplant right now. I know that, having been born and raised here, I should know better than to complain about the heat in August. But, lordy lordy lordy, this is certainly what my head felt like both times I stepped outside today. My answer to such oppressive, soupy, crawl-inside-the-marrow-of-your-bones heat? Stay inside as much as possible.

My heart-felt sympathy for anyone who had no choice but to be out in this today.

27 July 2007

Paralysis

I'm in a bad way.

I'm a creature ruled by reason, led by logic, controlled by his head. Yet here I find myself in a position in which I didn't plan or really want to be. It wasn't so long ago that I was abandoned and didn't know it until too late. That feeling of rejection, after giving my lifeblood for so long, was such a heavy weight to carry. I thought I would carry it well into my forties. But here, now, I find myself at a crossroads.

On the one side, I can walk with reckless abandon. I can release my pain to the universe and accept redemption.

On the other side, I can shut myself further inside this self-imposed box and feed on my personal darkness.

And straight ahead, I can allow healing to a point. I can swallow those most intimate and exposing parts and only give what is easily seen.

I want to say what should be said. I want to give the opportunity a chance. One can never know the thoughts of others unless one takes the risk.

But I do not want to be the only one climbing out on that limb. I had been left out there alone before when it was cut.

I don't know what to do here.

I am paralyzed with indecision.

06 July 2007

So You Wanna Sing?

The Washington Nationals and ESPN Zone are holding a contest for a singer.
Anthem Idol at ESPN Zone

Ready for your moment in the spotlight? Get ready to grab a microphone and sing your heart out at ESPN Zone’s Anthem Idol competition, coming Wednesday, July 11th at 6 p.m., and you could be singing the national anthem at an upcoming Nationals game!

Enter today: Stop by ESPN Zone’s SportsCenter Studio Store to reserve your spot in the competition today! The competition will be limited to the first 100 entrants.

On stage: At the event, each contestant will sing 30 seconds of any song (not the national anthem, please). After all the performances, our panel of judges will narrow the field to five finalists, each of whom will take the stage once more, this time to sing the national anthem.

Help decide the winner: Our panel of judges will provide feedback and cast their votes, which will count for half of the final results. The other half, however, comes straight from the fans. Come on out and support your favorite singers, and help them win the chance to sing at a Nats game!

Questions? Please email comments@espnzone.com or call (202) 783-3776 ext. 249.
Think you got the stuff? Bring it!

05 July 2007

There Goes the Neighborhood

For the better:
[T]he city, through the D.C. Historic Preservation Office, is providing up to $300,000 in grants to renovate historic Anacostia homes.
Anacostia is truly an astonishing neighborhood that just needs a little shine to help bring out its true beauty. It does my heart good to hear that the city will be offering grants to spruce up the place. Hopefully many of my neighbors will jump at this opportunity.

For the worse:
The Frederick Douglass Memorial Bridge on South Capitol Street will be closed beginning at 12:01 a.m. tomorrow for extensive reconstruction work. The major commuter artery could be closed for two months.
This means that all you fine people from Southern Maryland will be driving through my neighborhood, gumming up my streets, and adding to my commute time with your ridiculous driving habits. Joy.

04 July 2007

Exposed!

Several District news agencies have reported on the state of exposed streetlight wiring. I'm here to report that ... very little has changed. Take this example on the corner of 17th Street and Riggs Street, NW. Not only is the wire exposed, it's sticking out of the fixture!


Or how about this one at New Hampshire Avenue and N Street, NW? Sure, the wire is neatly wound up inside of the fixture but it's still open to curious hands.


Now before you think I'm being too hard on the city, before you think that the city just doesn't have the resources or the equipment to seal these open lights, I just want to point out that the fix doesn't have to be exact. The city doesn't have to find exactly-built-to-specification fixes for these open dangers. Just a little ingenuity will do for a quick fix until long-term fixes can be acquired. Like this brilliant piece of thinking outside the box ...


The city really needs to do something ... anything ... to seal off these dangers from the public before someone gets seriously injured.

All pictures taken by me with my Palm® Trēo™ 650.

01 July 2007

I Do Not Know How to ...

... simply be a patron.
... date.
... see myself the way others see me.
... express myself without stumbling over my words and sounding like a blithering idiot.
... break down these walls.
... ask for help.
... accept criticism without taking it personally.
... learn from some of my mistakes.
... be completely open and honest without hiding behind the anonymity of the Internet(s).

30 June 2007

Smart Music by a Smart Man

"Weird Al" Yankovic must be the most underrated singer/songwriter of our generation. The man writes parodical lyrics to established songs and makes them successful. (If you think that's easy, try it sometime.) But his talent goes beyond poking fun at recording artists and established songs. The man can also write parodies of musical styles, in a generic sense and in a specific sense. The following is a prime example:



It's obvious to anyone who has a pulse on the vein of pop culture that Bob Dylan is the inspiration of this song and video. The black and white video. The nonsensical words. The half-singing-half-speaking. The cue cards. The harmonica.

But wait! What is this ... this ... spark of genius? "What genius?" you ask. "It's Weird Al, for Pete's sake."

Okay. Try this on for genius. How many songwriters do you know can write an entire song in palindromes? That's what I thought. Play the video and enjoy the genius.

29 June 2007

Rules for the Restroom

I get it. We're guys and we work under different rules. But c'mon ... we're still human and should act as such. And so, I submit to you my rules for the restroom.


  1. If you're going to use the stall to urinate, lift the toilet seat before you start. While the vast majority of us choose not to sit and pee, I have yet to meet the man who is able to stand while "taking care of other business". I'm sure I speak for all men when I say that we would appreciate a dry seat.
  2. A courtesy flush is considered good form for the more odiferous movements. Even though we know what you're doing behind that closed door, we'd rather not know what you're doing. Capice?
  3. When you're done, don't just flush and walk away. Stick around a minute and make sure you haven't left any gifts for the next guy. That second flush will add to your treasures in heaven.
  4. I don't care if you were raised in a Third World country. I don't care if you were raised in a barn. I don't care if you were raised in the forest by a troop of gorillas. You live and work among the civilized now. Wash your hands each and every time with soap and water! (You dirty little monkey you.)


They're fairly easy rules to understand and follow. Please, for your sake and ours, try to follow them. Thanks.

28 June 2007

An Update from the Chief

Some of you may have heard about the fracas over Chief Cathy Lanier's decision to decentralize the District's Gay and Lesbian Liaison Unit that sort of dusted up earlier in the month. Well, a friend of mine forwarded to me the following e-mail which should shed a bit more light onto this story.
The following is a clarification on the role of the GLLU and its future from Chief Lanier:


Dear GLBT Community:

In the past few weeks, there has been a great deal of confusion regarding my vision for the Gay and Lesbian Liaison Unit. I apologize to the GLBT community for the miscommunication regarding my plan to expand the reach of the GLLU. As Chief of Police, I take full responsibility for the Department failing the GLBT community by not getting the message out in the right way and with the right input from all of you, and for that I apologize.

It has never been my intention to disband the award-winning unit, and in fact I have set a goal for my Department to train every Metropolitan Police Officer to respond to calls from the GLBT community and to encourage more officers to join GLLU.

The GLUU is critical to the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) and to the GLBT community. The services provided by the dedicated officers who make up the unit are invaluable, and I am fully committed to ensuring the GLUU continues to provide the same services to every GLBT resident who needs them. The reach of GLUU must extend into every neighborhood and into every ward because the GLBT community contributes to our diverse population of residents — and those residents are not limited to only one geographic area of the District.

Over the next few weeks, Sergeant Brett Parson, along with Lieutenant Alberto Jova, will schedule group meetings in all seven districts to solicit your input about the GLUU and how it can be improved.

For those who are unable to attend the meetings, the MPD has created an e-mail address enabling members of the community to provide suggestions and/or concerns regarding the GLUU. The address is mpdc.liaisonunits@dc.gov.

The information gleaned from these meetings will be incorporated into a final plan for enhancements to the GLLU. A representative from each of the meetings will be asked to meet with the Chief so that she may inform them of the\ plan for each of the units. Rest assured that I am committed to hearing the views of the GLBT community before finalizing any plans to enhance the GLLU. With your input, I believe that we can come up with a plan that will not only broaden the reach of the GLLU, but improve the services this unique unit provides.

Cathy L. Lanier
Chief of Police
Washington DC Metropolitan Police Department

More Stuff for National HIV Testing Day

The Washington Post has an article in today's paper in which city officials announced an effort to increase the amount of HIV testing among city youths.

Why am I pressing this issue so hard lately? For one, I know people who are positive. For two, you might too ... you might be one and not even know it.
Perhaps a quarter of the more than 1 million Americans with HIV are not aware of their status, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Health experts say detection is key to stopping the spread of the virus, because people who know they are infected are more likely to seek medical care and change their behavior.
As I've said the past couple days, if you haven't been tested for HIV in the past three months, get tested today. You can find a good list of free testing locations here.

National HIV Testing Day

It doesn't matter if you're gay or straight. It doesn't matter if you male or female or in-between. It doesn't matter your race. Get tested today!

26 June 2007

A Post on HIV

As I was reading through The Washington Blade online, I ran across a post by Andrew Sullivan. I have to admit that my face started to get a little heated. But I didn't want to get pissed off without more information. So I followed his other links to get the whole picture. Let me give you the links you need to read, in order.

Read this first, then this one second, and finally this one last. I'll wait for you to come back.

Okay. Done? Good. Welcome back. Now ...

... while I understand the point that Andrew would like to have made (that testing HIV+ is no longer the immediate death sentence it once was), I agree with Gabriel 1000% in that Andrew is simply irresponsible in the exact words he used. Let me tell you why. Before 1996, I knew one ... count that - ONE ... person with HIV. He died of AIDS complications at too young an age. Since then, I have had three people I care deeply about tell me that they tested positive and I have learned of two acquaintances who also have HIV.

One before 1996.

Five after 1996.

Mr. Sullivan, this is NOT progress. This is NOT something to celebrate.

(Green)peace and Quiet

It seemed as if every volunteer for Greenpeace was out today and mulling around Chinatown. I couldn't take five steps without bumping into some gung-ho tree-hugger who wanted to convert me to The Gospel According to Albert Arnold Gore Junior.

I can usually give someone a few minutes of my time to listen to their spiel, but I was at lunch and a bit pressed for time.

It was plenty obvious enough that I was in a hurry. I had my hurry face on and wasn't making any eye contact with people. (No-eye-contact is universal body language for "leave me the &#!% alone".) Besides, I looked like I just stepped out of an RNC poster (or a goodfellas movie). What hippie in their right mind would think, just by looking at me, that I would care about saving the environment?

Still, volunteers ... especially ones who believe ... are a tenacious group. The first one asked for a second of my time and a second is what I gave her. I stopped, politely told her that I was running late returning from lunch, and that I didn't have time today. And then I walked on.

I stopped for the second person and told her the same thing I told the first person.

The third bloke still got the polite "&#!% off" but he didn't get me to stop. I repeated that for the next two volunteers.

By the time I passed the last one, I was beyond irritated. "Excuse me, sir. Can I have thirty seconds of your time?" she asked. "I can't today," I replied without stopping or looking up. "Well, maybe I can walk wi...," she started. At this newest tactic I turned and looked at her with smoldering eyes. "I'm sorry, but I just don't have the time right now," I interrupted. "You people are literally three feet apart from each other. How could you not see that I've said no to every other one of you on this block?!" is what I wanted to yell at her. But I guess I'm a nice guy at heart.

Serves me right.

The Dame and the Princess

To me, the story in this Washington Post article isn't that Julie Andrews was in the District today. Nor is it that Ms. Andrews read to a room full of people from a book she had written. It isn't even that she took the time to pose for pictures. No, to me, the story in this article is in the second and third paragraphs ...
But 9-year-old Graham Walker noticed only the voice, that clipped, hills-are-alive British accent that's pure Julie Andrews and that was reading to him and 11 other children yesterday at the District's Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library.

Graham knows that voice, too. He's such a Julie Andrews fan that, when he was 3, he dressed as Mary Poppins for Halloween, and he went as Maria to the singalong of "The Sound of Music."
*wipes tear from corner of right eye*

Oh, they start so young these days.

*wipes tear from corner of left eye*

Seriously, though, it struck me how pedestrian those two paragraphs were ... how natural they were to read ... as if it were nothing out of the ordinary. Nevermind that this nine-year-old is a boy and that he's dressed at characters that Ms. Andrews has portrayed. What is important here is that this child idolized Ms. Andrews and he was able to meet her. I applaud the Post for depicting it as simply that.

25 June 2007

Don' Be Scur'd

It's been almost a year and a half since my last relationship ended. During that time, I've slipped inside of myself and closed myself off to pretty much everyone. I've kept conversations to safe, common topics. I've kept people at an arm's distance. It's become my cold comfort to rely on myself, to answer to myself, to keep my own company ...

... until I had a long conversation with a very good friend. Usually, I am the one imparting the advice. This time, although I never asked for it, it was my turn to soak in some wisdom. He told me some things I already knew but didn't want to acknowledge. He reminded me of who I was before I became this emotional recluse. He urged me to allow myself the opportunity to be truly happy again.

Trying to learn from his counsel, I have taken some small steps toward recovering the pieces of me that I left to the universe many, many months ago. It isn't easy. I have spent so long building this safe, enclosed space for myself that I can't remember what it's like to allow anyone inside. How much of me is too much? What if my pace in opening up is too slow? What if I get hurt again? Yes, there are rational answers to all of those questions. But I'm not completely rational right now.

I have had a good couple of days since that long conversation. I find myself daydreaming and anticipating. My heart has started skipping again. I've felt that fire ... that burning in my soul ... that I thought had long since extinguished itself. I even feel like a little kid some of the time.

Yet I can't quiet the doubt in my head. Maybe I have nothing remaining to offer. Maybe I left all I had on the table the last time I played this game. Maybe I am too much of a reclamation project. Maybe there is nothing of me that anyone could want for very long.

It all is equal parts rapturous and frightening. I hope I truly am up to this new chapter of my life.

I Cannot Wait

Yeah, it will probably suck monkey balls, but I'm so looking forward to seeing this movie. The only issue I have with it right now is that a certain character has gone from this to this. But that's just the purist in me complaining.

With the recent rash of TV-cartoon-to-cinema-live-action movies, I think it's only a matter of time before we see a live action G.I. Joe movie. There's already talk about a Voltron movie.

But what about that other cartoon series? You know, that bastard step-brother of Transformers? Seriously?! That movie would be so friggin' cheesy it would rock!

19 June 2007

Helping the Homeless

If you're like me (and some of you are I just know it), you're a bit hesitant to give a homeless person money. When approached by a panhandler, you may ask yourself, "What will they use this money for - liquor, drugs, food?" It's a valid question and one I have asked myself every time before giving a homeless person money.

Today I came across a homeless person who was asking for money. One dollar to be exact. It's not the first time I've seen him. And it wasn't the first time I gave him money without hesitation. And, he's not the only homeless person out there asking for exactly one dollar.

See, this homeless fellow is a vendor, an entrepreneur, a salesman. He's out there every day (in this case, on the corner of Connecticut Avenue and Q Street, NW) giving copies of Street Sense for a dollar donation. (You can give more than a dollar, if you so wish.) Street Sense, for those of you who don't know, is a bi-monthly newspaper written by the area's poor and homeless. It is "sold" by the area's poor and homeless as a way to make some money, as opposed to panhandling. Each person (vendor) is essentially their own company ... an outsourcer, if you will. One quarter of every dollar goes to the publication; the other seventy-five cents go to the vendor. The vendor makes an honest living and the buyer learns a bit about the area's poor and homeless. It's a win-win for everyone.

My point is simply this: if you see someone on the street in a yellow "Street Sense" vest selling Street Sense newspapers for a dollar, do you both a favor and give that person two dollars. He's simply doing his job.

15 June 2007

A Low Blow

LaRon Landry is hurt in a bad place. And here I thought "team-building outings" were supposed to, you know, pull teams together. Maybe this is the way football players initiate each other? Ah well, no one ever accused defensive players of being smart.

The Man Gets No Respect

Poor Marion Barry. If he's not being targeted for embarrassment, he's being unjustly portrayed in the media.

It's so hard to be Marion Barry.

And So It Begins

Here it is - the first post of a new blog. What a terrible and wondrous day! How to begin such an auspicious moment? I know ... a couple random thoughts!

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I stepped on the elevator to go home tonight. This older lady was already inside. She stared at me as I entered, but I barely noticed as I was in my own musical world at the time. As the doors closed, she made a gesture that I caught out of the corner of my eye ... you know, the kind of gesture one makes before one says something to a total stranger.

"Has anyone ever told you who you look like?" she inquired.

"No, not lately," I replied, only mildly wondering where she was going with this.

"You know who you look like," she countered.

"No, I really don't. Who do I look like?" I asked.

"You look like Robin Thicke. I've only just started listening to his music," she said.

"Well, he hasn't been out all that long," I replied.

And that was the end of our conversation.

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I haven't had a drink of alcohol in over a week. Not a single drop. When I go to the bars to hang with my friends, I've been drinking water or soda. (I didn't do this on some whim. There's actually a medical reason for it that I don't care to get into.) Being sober in a bar while surrounded by your drunk friends is quite an interesting experience. I've noticed how out of hand they tend to get. (I never noticed that before, usually because I'm out of hand with them.) I have also enjoyed being out late at night and waking up the next morning ... tired but not hung-over. It's a good feeling.

If there's one drawback to the whole sober-in-a-bar thing, it's that I have no patience for stupidity. And there is more stupidity among drunk people than you can shake a drink stirrer at.

Will I continue on this path of sobriety? Eh, probably not. I won't drink as much as I did before last week but I think I'll still have a drink or two when I'm out (if for no other reason then to tolerate the inebriates).

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I don't know what it is about Capital Pride weekend. It's on my Must Do list every year. Pride is a lot like Christmas - you have your assumptions and expectations of how it's going to be, but you really have no idea what you're gonna get.

The Pride Parade this year. Hmm. What to say. It was the Leather Man show. Am I the only one who thought that half of the parade consisted of hairy men bearing their asses to the world? (Pun intended.) What happened to the Latino float? Why can't we get some rides for the religious groups? Where were my bare-breasted lesbians? How about a bit more diversity next year? Ah. Yes. And politicians. I was good to see our mayor, our "Congressional Representative", and about half of our City Council walk in the parade. But there was one politician who marched in our parade yet was conspicuously missing. I don't have a problem with any politician trolling for the "gay vote"; but if you want to be part of our parade, at least have the decency to show. Otherwise it comes off as ... well, you know what it comes off as. What I'm saying is that an enlarged poster of your face doesn't cut it.

Now the Pride Festival. It always seems like the Scrub Show to me. Don't get me wrong - I think using local talent at the Festival is good and all. But c'mon. Rachel Panay? So last year. Crystal Waters? So last decade. Boys, boys boys ... we can do better than that for our main performers, can't we? (Well, God-des & She did rocked the joint.)