Saturday, May 31, 2008

Boston AIDS Walk - Sunday, June 1, 2008

Sunday, June 1st, the AIDS Action Committee of MA will hold the 22nd annual Boston AIDS Walk. The event is extremely important for the agency for several reasons. First, the event raises a significant amount of unrestricted donations that allows the agency to do much needed work that the Federal and State Governements will not fund because they are politically unpopular. Second, by coming together and walking people make a statement and raise awareness.

Consider making a donation to the AIDS Action Committee. Once upon a time, I volunteered and later worked at the agency and I can vouch personally that the organization's focus on education and prevention are both noble and effective. If you would like to make an online donation, you can link here.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Happy Memorial Day and Bienvenue au Roland Garros

It is Memorial Day weekend and everyone has left the city for the coast to celebrate the long weekend. This is when Cape Cod and other coastal communities officially kick-off the summer season. Places like Provincetown, MA and Ogunquit, ME will be packed as everyone makes a dash to the coast to enjoy the sun and warmth.

I'm in town spending much of my Sunday watching the first day of tennis at the French Open. It was several months ago in late January that I commented on the exciting two weeks of tennis at the Australian Open. Since then, I have waited patiently for the start of what I like to refer to as 'Grand Slam Season'. The slow courts of Roland Garros have not disapointed providing several excellent first round matches. Two weeks from now a champion will be named, and I can guarantee that I will have be watching.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

This afternoon my grandmother passed away surrounded by her children at her home. It is never easy to say good bye to someone who you love, but her health has been in steady decline and the goal in recent months had been to make her as comfortable as possible.

I am one of the luckier grandchildren because my cousin AJ and I were the first two grandchildren on my mother's side and for almost 4 decades my grandmother was a constant figure contributing her own verses to each chapter of my life.

I have mentioned my Grandmother in a couple of entries most recently in my entry "One more party with Nana" but also after an emotinal visit with her at the hospital last December, "Visit with Nana in the Hospital". Time will pass but my grandmother (just like her husband) will always live in my heart and mind. Happy memories of time spent with them at the family home in Winchester and visits to their condo in FL will always be with me.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Cell phones for soldiers is a charity that recently caught my attention and I thought it was a great idea that I would make note of on my blog. Started in April 2004 by then 13 year old Brittany and her 12 year old brother Robbie in Norwell, MA, the program sends old or unused cell phones to members of the military serving in Iraq and around the world so they can talk to family members and loved ones.

This program is ingenious. It helps people who are far from family stay connected and it gives people an opportunity to recycle and reuse technology that would otherwise be discarded or unused. If you would like to learn more about the program or Brittany and her brother Robbie, link here ~

I've mailed in my old cell phone and would encourage you to do the same.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Mayors Against Illegal Guns

There are few causes I have felt more marginalized by and passionate about then gun control. The overwhelming majority of Americans support the right to bear arms, but what that means exactly differs when you talk to people. The Nation's leading gun lobby, NRA, does not like having intelligent discourse and looks at any efforts to regulate the sale of guns as an infringement on individual rights.

The NY Times had an article in today's paper about a group called "Mayors Against Illegal Guns". This group has used each of the Presidential Candidates own words from past speeches to create a bi-partisan effort to close "gun loopholes" and prevent the sale of guns to convicted criminals. Seems like a no brainer to everyone except the NRA and their most ardent supporters. Take a look at the clever advertisement.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Be all that you can be

I am a fairly organized individual and at work I have always been able to manage my time very effectively, but when it comes to applying that same level of discipline in my personal life I feel like I fail miserably.

I am pretty good about making sure that my house is tidy and errands are done, but anything beyond clearing clutter, doing the wash and filling my refrigerator seems to be beyond me; despite having loads of spare time and virtually no responsibilities (as compared to my parents at my age).

Lately I've been frustrated by my on-again / off-again commitment with the gym and my complete failure to set aside time to study Portuguese. Both activities are important goals that I have repeatedly set for myself. I know if these were activities that were core to my job I would have a six pack and be bilingual but applying that same discipline in my personal life is a real challenge for me. I also realize that these struggles are not unique to me but it does not make me feel better or help motivate me to know that there is a country of underachievers and excuse makers. I would love to have someone invent a motivational pill that would help me "be all that I can be" to borrow a slogan from the U.S. military.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Apple's coming out party in Boston and the ever evolving Boylston Street

Thursday, May 15th Apple will open their largest retail store in the United States at 815 Boylston Street (across from the Prudential). The new 20,000 square foot building incorporates several ‘green’ concepts and promises to become a destination for shoppers, gawkers and Apple power users.

Ten years ago when I moved back to Boston that area of Boylston Street was flanked by J.C. Hillary’s and a former gas station that had been converted into a small parking lot. The opposite side of the street had a small Star Market grocery store and an access road to the Prudential Mall underground parking lot. The J.C. Hillary's and defunct gas station has been replaced with trendy shops and restaurants like Anthropologie and Abe & Louie's and a building built but never used by Planet Hollywood now houses Fidelity Investments and Priscilla's of Boston. The Mandarin Boston creates an impressive facade where the grocery store and parking lot entrance once was. You could say the cheap has been replaced by the chic.

Weekend in Maine

I spent a very relaxing weekend with my family in Maine and arrived back home earlier today. It was very nice to have the down time together and although it was not warm, being so close to the ocean definitely made me think a lot about the upcoming summer.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Do you hate someone because they are gay?

Being a gay man affords me one advantage that most minorities don't have - invisibility. People are less inclined these days to speak their thoughts in public for fear of being labelled a bigot, but that does not mean people do not harbor such irrational fears / hatred. People who only see me in public and don't know me would have no idea that I'm gay. This has been obvious in many situations where people let their opinions slip after initially striking up a conversation with me; assuming that I too can't stand 'fags' or that 'gay marriage' is an abomination.

Recently ABC's television show, "20/20" tested people's 'tolerence' towards homosexuality by hiring actors to engage in activities commonly seeen in public by heterosexual couples. The results might surprise you. In Birmingham, AL people called 911 to have the police put a stop to a couple that was cuddling on a street bench and in Las Vegas a man who was visiting from San Diego shared with an undercover cab driver that he would like to see gay men "put down". I'm not sure these people would be quite so candid if they knew they were being recorded. The experiment was very interesting to watch but for anyone who identifies as a minority - I doubt hearing this would be much of a surprise.

I think that the US is one of the best places to live if you are a minority, and continued efforts to create greater equality through legal protections and education have made a significant difference. Nobody would argue that the US is moving backwards or the rights of minorities were better 10, 20, 30 or more years ago, but as the video shows - we still have a long way to go. I have been physically threatened and had epitaphs shouted from moving cars more times than I care to remember. However, living in certain parts of the country one can avoid most of those unpleasantries - Boston is a great example of a city one can live in (for the most part) free of those situations. Although no city is totally safe - every city still has residents who harbor irrational fears and hatred that are based on preconceived notions and bigotry towards people who look, act and talk differently from them.

Monday, May 5, 2008

One more party with Nana

My grandmother's health has been in decline since she suffered a serious stroke in early 2007 and even though she was eventually moved back into her home in Winchester, her life as I knew it was gone. The trauma to the body from the initial stroke was quite severe and her mortality became a reality that my mother and her sibilings had to face in a very real way for the first time since she had taken a serious fall a few years earlier. Despite making a significant recovery, her body suffered a series of smaller strokes through out the rest of 2007 robbing my grandmother of her ability to live independently.

When I picture my grandmother, I think of a waif-like, tiny woman flitting about town running a list of never ending errands that always made her children and grandchildren pale with concern whenever they heard she was getting into a car. The thought of my grandmother driving (even in her best of days was not for the faint of heart). I think of her in the family house at 8 Girard Road, of her coming or going to Florida, painting, playing bridge, talking about her golf game or friends and family. Perhaps if I'm nostalgic, I think of her with my grandfather, "Papa", who passed away in the mid-90s.

I visited my grandmother on a beautiful winter day in the Winchester Hospital back in December of 2007. Despite the surroundings, we spent time together reminiscing. Looking especially tiny in her hospital bed but cogniscent of all that was happening, my grandmother and I talked about everything and nothing. Walking out the door that afternoon, I knew I would not have that kind of time again with my Nana. A chapter - an epic chapter for me - would be coming to a close and shortly.

Fast forward 6 months later and my grandmother is still alive, but I'm not sure she is very alert anymore. I read on my uncle Joseph's blog that all the aunts and uncles assembled at her place in Winchester for one last party with Nana to celebrate her life and their lives together. I think it is incredibly touching and was wondering what my parents, aunts and uncles took away from the evening. I hope they are buoyed by the countless number of happy memories my grandmother has armed them with for this moment. I'm sure at some point in the near future I will be writing about my grandmother in the past tense and it will be an awful moment, but it has been obvious to everyone who loves and cares for her that my grandmother is merely alive these days and no longer really living - at least not how we think of our Nana living.

Friday, May 2, 2008

Kate Hudson in the N'hood

There are nearly a dozen or more trailers lining Washington and Union Park Street with film crews running around filming scenes for an upcoming movie starring Kate Hudson. I'm not sure what the movie is or if it is related to any of the filming she was doing here last fall, but it was surreal to see New York City cabs lining my neighborhood and huge movie lights lit up so bright that I had to shade my eyes when I walked by them. Earlier this morning, film crews were busy moving furniture around at Pho Republique restaurant while nearly a score of extras were pretending to eat dinner even though it was only 11:00am.

I'm sure more information about the filming will be reported in either the Boston Globe or the South End News, so if I find out more I'll be sure to add it on my blog. Back in the fall I wrote about a bunch of filming that was going on in the Backbay in my entry called "Celebrities". The increased filming was attributed to aggressive legislation the State of Massachusetts passed that gave filming crews tax credits when they filmed in the state. I'm sure the state is pleased to have all this filming and despite the tax breaks you can not deny that money is being spent (and from the looks of it - a lot of money). So kudos to the state for making this happen. For residents of L.A. and other major cities this sort of thing is probably old hat, but it still strikes me as a bit of a novelty.