Atlantis Alumni

Friday, September 30, 2011

Occupy Wall Street -The Anti-Tea Party Revolution

There May Be Hope For America Yet

Maybe there is still some hope for this country in the form of courageous people who are camped out near Wall Street in New York to protest the excesses of American capitalism and corporate greed:

“Declaration of the Occupation of New York City"

As we gather together in solidarity to express a feeling of mass injustice, we must not lose sight of what brought us together. We write so that all people who feel wronged by the corporate forces of the world can know that we are your allies. As one people, formerly divided by the color of our skin, gender, sexual orientation, religion, or lack thereof, political party and cultural background, we acknowledge the reality: that there is only one race, the human race, and our survival requires the cooperation of its members; that our system must protect our rights, and upon corruption of that system, it is up to the individuals to protect their own rights, and those of their brethren; that a democratic government derives its just power from the people, but corporations do not seek consent to extract wealth from the people and the Earth; and that no true democracy is attainable when the process is determined by economic power. We come to you at a time when corporations, which place profit over people, self-interest over justice, and oppression over equality, run our governments. We have peaceably assembled here, as is our right, to let these facts be known.

Celestial Early Autumn Treat

Photo: Wiki Commons

This morning I could see Jupiter and several of its 64 moons with my high power binoculars. Out on Fire Island light pollution is not as severe as in the city.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

One Year With Loki

We picked up Loki our new kitty on September 30, 2010. DO you think he has adapted himself to his new family?

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Fall Flowers

A lone sunflower...all that was left of Michael G's memorial yesterday, and two of our Montauk Daisies that wait until the arrival of Fall to bloom.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Obama And Christie In The News

Photo: Members of the Cherry Grove Fire Department on the dock last Saturday. The FD welcomed the family of Michael Guerette for the memorial service for Michael held that day.

Republican strategist Dick Morris is speculating that Obama may actually withdraw from the 2012 presidential race if his poll numbers continue to tank and the economy doesn't improve. "They're not having any fun anymore," writes Morris. Meanwhile certain Republican fat cats are trying to convince fat Chris Christie to run. Even they know that the current crop of Republican candidates leaves a lot to be desired.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Together For A Fun Weekend

I met Dan in New York City on Saturday. We had lunch at one of our favorite restaurants (Landmarc in the Time-Warmer building) before attending a matinee performance of the New York City Ballet. The performance was great. We saw the new ballet by Sir Paul McCartney and Peter Martins entitled "Ocean's Kingdom," followed by Balanchine spectacular "Union Jack," which we had not seen for many years. The new ballet was interesting but uneven. However, "Union Jack" is just a remarkable spectacle that features a lot of great music, precision choreography, and beautiful costumes. I could not have enjoyed it more.

Since we were in New York we could not attend the memorial service for Cherry Grove year around resident Michael Guerette held out in Cherry Grove. As one Grove resident said about him..."he's the only one who lives here that everyone liked." Michael was very low key. One snowy April 1st I arrived in the Grove to open our house. With a grin Michael asked me if I was glad I came out to the Grove in the snow. I said "sure!." He just smiled. I'll never know whether he was being ironic or not.

It was great to see Dan again after two weeks apart. The animals were glad to see him too. Dan took the lovely beach and sky photo above on Sunday.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Autumn Arrives - A Holiday I Enjoy

It's the last day of summer. I just got out of the ocean here in Cherry Grove. It's really nice to have the ocean and the beach virtually to yourself. Fall is probably my favorite season. It's a bittersweet time of the year when the changing colors remind one of the passing hours, days, months and years of one's life. It's a time of reflection, some sadness, and some joy. Best of all it's followed by the holiday season. So tonight I'll have my usual welcome to autumn celebration with a vegan Indian dinner and some nice music playing in the background. Tomorrow when I wake up it will be Fall.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Dowd: Obama "The ALoof One"

Maureen Dowd lays out what Obama has to do to get re-elected...basically become someone he isn't"

The Aloof One has to convince voters that he can connect emotionally. In a way, his relationship with Americans now is analogous to a marriage that’s not working. He’s the detached husband; we’re the neglected wife.

Is he paying attention? Does he understand our needs? Or is he just pretending to listen while he watches SportsCenter?

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Why I'm An Atheist

Photo: Cherry Grove Sunrise

Evolutionary Biologist Richard Dawkins as quoted in the New York Times:

“Religion teaches you to be satisfied with nonanswers,”...“It’s a sort of crime against childhood.”

Yes, "you have to have the gift of faith," we were told as children. Do not question, just believe. What a load of crap and yes, Dawkins is right: it is a crime to feed this bunk to children.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Belated Requium For A Friend

Dan and I usually have a requiem festival as a way of remembering family and friends who have died. Listening to the great composers as they struggled to put their feelings about death into words and music gives us comfort. Tonight, I played some of my usual late summer – early autumn music (not requiems) while I had a cocktail as is my custom. But when the selection ended I searched for something to put on the stereo while I had my dinner. All at once the lovely Faure requiem came up in the rotation at the very same time it occurred to me that September a year ago was the last time I was supposed to see my long time friend Al Bulliner. He had suggested coming out to Cherry Grove for a day and we had made plans, but Mother Nature intervened and storms came. Al never did visit that September. Al died January 10, 2011 of heart related problems.

I met Al in 1978. My first lover, Michael Mather, introduced me to Al and his then partner, a sort of retro guy from the South named Benny…right out of the 50s. Al was a bright guy who had doctorates in chemistry and law, and when I met him he was hoping to be made a junior partner in a Philadelphia law firm. Al was pretty much closeted as a gay man back then, or at least he worked hard to keep his personal life separate from his professional life. I guess the word for this is compartmentalization. Al was an expert at this. We had a lot of fun times out at the bars together but one time as I was walking down the street in center city Philadelphia he approached with another man, probably an associate. I said hello but he ignored me. The two didn’t mix…his professional life and his gay life.

Al changed partners and Tommy replaced Benny. I changed partners and Dan replaced Michael. We were all friends and had a weekly get together in those days. One time there was a dispute about the check. I wasn’t happy with the way Al behaved and we became estranged. It was only after months, perhaps years, when I wrote a letter to try to patch things up, when we got back together as friends to some degree. It was never to be as close as it was before.

The years went by and Al changed partners again, this time his love was Michael. Al became a successful corporate lawyer and became quite wealthy. Dan tells me that Al gave me credit for helping to bring him along in terms of dealing with his sexuality. Maybe I did, but in the final analysis Al was still an expert at compartmentalizing, keeping his various life activities separate from one another…his fraternity meetings, his job, his old friends, his newer friends…all different and separate facets of a complicated man that I really didn’t know. He once famously said of me: “you can only get so close to Jim Kelly.” However, as Dan and I often said to each other…he was projecting. In fact, you could only get just so close to Al.

In the final analysis, it has to be the good times that you remember and cherish, and there were plenty of them. Al and I traveled together in the Poconos, the Hudson Valley, Rehoboth Beach, Fire Island…there were lots of good times that Al and I shared with our partners, plenty of laughs and plenty of fun. It’s enough to say that I regret that he wasn’t able to visit me out on Fire Island last September, and that I miss him. Maybe if he had made that visit we might have had a serious talk about things. Maybe we would have gotten past the walls that we all throw up…the defenses. Maybe we would finally have gotten to know each other more intimately. Maybe.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Friday, September 16, 2011

America Is Becoming A Nasty Place To Live

America is becoming a nasty place to live...a country where a sizable segment of the population believes that it's everyone for themselves, and if you find yourself poor, sick or old, without enough money to survive, that's too bad, you're on your own. The other day during the Republican presidential debate, the audience cheered to let those who are sick without health insurance die. What happened to the compassionate America of the New Deal, the Great Society, and the War on Poverty? Paul Krugman diagnoses the problem in today's New York Times:
...modern conservatism is actually a deeply radical movement, one that is hostile to the kind of society we’ve had for the past three generations — that is, a society that, acting through the government, tries to mitigate some of the “common hazards of life” through such programs as Social Security, unemployment insurance, Medicare and Medicaid.

Krugman is right, but he offers no antidote to the radical shift in American ethics. I would suggest that part of the problem is a dearth of strong, articulate political leadership from the left. Since Ronald Reagan started our moral decline into a society based upon selfishness and individualism, we've only had two Democratic Party presidents, Clinton and Obama. Clinton ended welfare and Obama offers to cut Medicare. Neither one forcefully articulates a vision of an America where 46 million in poverty is an intolerable disgrace.

After Edward Kennedy died we were left with no strong advocates for social and economic justice on the national scene. I'm afraid things will have to get much worse for those who can least afford it, before leaders emerge once again to champion the cause of American egalitarianism. Until then the "freedom" to die due to lack of treatment and health insurance, the "freedom" to live in poverty, and the "freedom" to see our children poorly educated, these "freedoms" will have to suffice.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Catholic Priest's Bigotry Exposed For All To See

My husband's brother Bill has a partner, Bob, who has worked as a music director for the same Catholic Church in NJ for 22 years. But when a new priest took over in July, Bob refused to tolerate the priest's anti-gay bigotry. I admire Bob for not going quietly and instead fighting against the unacceptable bigotry of this priest, and by extension, the official bigotry of the Catholic Church.

EAST RUTHERFORD – A gay Catholic church musician on Wednesday said he will voluntarily leave his post in two weeks because his pastor allegedly created a hostile work environment after preaching against homosexuality.

“Marriage between two men is a lie,” Robert Russell, who has been a music minister at St. Joseph Parish for 22 years, said the newly appointed pastor preached to the congregation July 10.

The Rev. Joseph Astarita, who became pastor of the church in July, declined to comment.

Jim Goodness, Archdiocese of Newark spokesman, also declined to comment on the resignation. But he did say, “Catholic churches are allowed to employ people based on [the church’s] belief.”

The Vatican does not condone homosexuality.

“My feeling at that point was to walk out,” Russell, 58, of Hackensack said of the alleged comments made during the sermon. “But I didn’t because I have a responsibility to the choir and church.”

He said he met with Astarita in August to discuss the remarks and to reveal he was gay and had a partner of 15 years.

“His comments against gay marriage were insensitive and uncomfortable,” said Russell, who admitted he felt pressured to leave his job. He has retained attorney David L. Wikstrom.

Wikstrom said that Russell “couldn't properly perform his work because of his sexuality, thus creating a hostile and adverse work environment.”

According to Russell, the pastor expressed concern about his involvement in a yet-to-be created children’s choir and allegedly told him he would be a “poor example.”

Russell said he taught drama and English at Queen of Peace High School in North Arlington between 1989 and 1997 when he was laid off due to budget cuts, and has remained involved with the school since his departure. The high school, which is under the auspices of the archdiocese, listed Russell on its website as co-director of its school musicals for 26 years.

Astarita asked the musician whether homosexuality was inherent or a choice, Russell said, adding that he responded “it’s inherent.”

“The pastor told me I could change my sexuality through therapy,” the musician said.

Longtime church member Pam Lakefield was in the congregation when Astarita preached the sermon and said his comments were “offensive,” and that the priest is teaching horrible thoughts.

“He’s losing parishioners,” said Lakefield, a member since 1970, who is strongly considering leaving the church.

St. Joseph members say the church has traditionally been liberal, but the pastor is “ultra-conservative.”

The parish was once led by the Rev. Mychal Judge, chaplain of the New York Fire Department who was the first confirmed death of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. In the years since his death, it has been widely reported that Judge was a celibate gay priest.

Russell said the church has been run by the Franciscan order for the past 99 years. But the order gave up the church in July due to low staffing numbers and the archdiocese took over in July, he said. Astarita joined the church after the change.

Russell said his last day will be Sept. 30.

“I felt his words were an attack on my integrity and I felt it was hostile and it was harassment.”

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Lt. Dan Choi, Gay American Activist And Hero, Needs Our Support

Gay rights activist Lt. Dan Choi is being prosecuted in Washington, DC for chaining himself to the White House fence last year to help force Obama to finally do something to repeal Don't Ask, Don't Tell. The government is really throwing the book at Choi. They're trying to send a chilling message to discourage activists from acts of non-violent civil disobedience. Choi has asked for letters of support to be sent to the judge. Here's mine:

Honorable US Magistrate Judge John M. Facciola
333 Constitution Ave NW
Washington DC 20001

James Kelly-Evans
2637 Aspen Street
Philadelphia, PA 19130-2427

Re: US v Choi 10-739M-11

September 14, 2011

Dear Magistrate Facciola,

I am writing in support of Lt. Dan Choi, currently being prosecuted in your court for his civil disobedience activities at the White House. To my husband and I, Lt. Choi is a true American hero willing to devote himself selflessly to the pursuit of justice. He should not be subjected to arbitrary persecution by a government embarrassed by his courageous calls for justice for gay and lesbian Americans. I urge you to insure that this brave citizen is treated fairly and not subjected to prosecutorial excesses. He should be released without penalty in recognition of his work for civil rights and justice in the well recognized tradition of non-violent civil disobedience.

Very truly yours,

James L. Kelly-Evans

Monday, September 12, 2011

Krugman Tells The Truth: The Aftermath of 911

New York Times Columnist Paul Krugman posted the following on his blog yesterday. He's taking quite a but of heat from the right wingers about it because it's the truth:

What happened after 9/11 — and I think even people on the right know this, whether they admit it or not — was deeply shameful. The atrocity should have been a unifying event, but instead it became a wedge issue. Fake heroes like Bernie Kerik, Rudy Giuliani, and, yes, George W. Bush raced to cash in on the horror. And then the attack was used to justify an unrelated war the neocons wanted to fight, for all the wrong reasons.

A lot of other people behaved badly. How many of our professional pundits — people who should have understood very well what was happening — took the easy way out, turning a blind eye to the corruption and lending their support to the hijacking of the atrocity?

The memory of 9/11 has been irrevocably poisoned; it has become an occasion for shame. And in its heart, the nation knows it.

Gay 911 Heros: One Touching Story

Excerpted from "For Gay 9/11 Heroes, Sung And Unsung, Love Is Eternal," by Stuart Wilber on The New Civil Rights Movement web site:

In September 2003, while still lobbying to receive money from the federal victim’s compensation fund, Keith Bradkowski testified before a Senate subcommittee hearing on banning same-​sex civil marriage rights titled, “What is Needed to Defend the Bipartisan Defense of Marriage Act of 1996?”

It was on a Tuesday, almost exactly two years ago, that I received a call from American Airlines notifying me that I had lost my life partner, Jeff Collman. Jeff was an American Airlines flight attendant who volunteered to work an extra trip on September 11th. His flight was the first of four planes hijacked by terrorists that day. I know in my heart Jeff died with courage, trying to protect the passengers and crew. The last time I spoke with Jeff — who was my soul mate of 11 years — was at about at 2 a.m. Boston time on the morning of the 11th. He had awoken in the middle of the night and uncharacteristically called me to say “I love you and can’t wait to get home.” I believe he must have had some premonition of the events to come, and I feel blessed to have had that last moment with him.

Jeff was the ultimate caregiver — I experienced his caring by the trail of post-​it notes he left for me every time he went on a trip. His last note, still on my bathroom mirror, greets me every morning with a “Guess who loves you?” Jeff and I had exchanged rings and we were married in our hearts. Legally, it was another matter entirely. After his death, I was faced not only with my grief over losing Jeff — who was indeed my better half — but with the painful task of proving the authenticity of our relationship over and over again. With no marriage license to prove our relationship existed, even something as fundamental as obtaining his death certificate became a monumental task. Like so many other gay Americans, my mourning and grief were compounded by the stress and anxiety of horrific legal uncertainty and confusion.

The terrorists who attacked this country killed people not because they were gay or straight — but because they were Americans. It is heart wrenching that our own government does not protect its citizens equally, gay and straight, simply because they are Americans. Two years ago we were all united against the common threat of terrorism. Now, less than two years later I am sitting here and being told that my relationship was a threat to our country. Jeff and I only sought to love and take care of each other. I do not understand why that is a threat to some people, and I cannot understand why the leaders of this country would hold a hearing on the best way to prevent that from happening.

In that 2003 Senate hearing, “What is Needed to Defend the Bipartisan Defense of Marriage Act of 1996?,” Keith Bradkowski concluded his testimony:

In closing, I would like to read an excerpt from a letter that Jeff wrote to me on our last anniversary:

“Keith, we’ve been through much the past 11 years. Our lives haven’t always been easy, but through it all, our undeniable love for each other has carried us through! I love you — don’t ever forget that! When you’re feeling lonely and I’m not home with you, just pull out this letter and read my words to you once again and know how much you will always mean to me! With loving thoughts of you now and forever, Jeff.”

I truly believe I have learned the meaning of the phrase — Love is Eternal.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Melissa Etheridge - Tuesday Morning Live

As we remember today those who we lost those ten years ago, listen to this powerful song about our own gay 911 hero Mark Bingham.

Cherry Grove Remembers September 11

Cherry Grove Fire Department Chaplain Kurt Gahan delivered beautiful remarks at this morning's commemoration.

Bats: Flying Mammals

Something you don't see every day...a bat resting in a tree near our house in CHerry Grove.

September 11 Remembered

We lost so many, and we lost so much, ten years ago today. It's heartbreaking to see films and interviews with those who lost loved ones on that day. And for the rest of us, life has changed in many ways not for the better.

We now live our daily lives in the midst of a "war on terror," and we've seen thousands of our own fellow Americans die in combat in two wars of questionable merit. Meanwhile hundreds of thousands of civilians have died in Iraq and Afghanistan as a result of these wars. While I mourn today for those who perished on September 11, 2001, I also mourn for all of those who have died in our wars of choice. And I mourn for our great country, once a beacon of justice and righteousness, that has seemingly gone astray during my lifetime.

I fear for the future of our nation. When will we begin to address our irresponsible energy gluttony that has involved us in countries where we have no business being entangled. Our presence in these countries inflames the population and creates terrorists. When will we once again become honest peace brokers in the Middle East? When will we end the wars and bring our troops home?

Thursday, September 8, 2011

The Great Speech: Obama Underwhelms Once Again

"Tonight, President Obama proposed corporate tax cuts paid for with cuts to Medicare benefits. Forcing Americans to choose between jobs and Medicare is unthinkable, especially for a Democratic president. America needs a massive government investment in jobs – not Medicare benefit cuts, not corporate tax giveaways, and not telling the unemployed to work for big corporations for free." -- The Progressive Change Campaign Committee has 800,000 members

I Just Don't Believe Obama Anymore

I sympathize with Rolling Stone's Matt Taibbi:

Listening to Obama talk about jobs and shared prosperity yesterday reminded me that we are back in campaign mode and Barack Obama has started doing again what he does best – play the part of a progressive. He's good at it. It sounds like he has a natural affinity for union workers and ordinary people when he makes these speeches. But his policies are crafted by representatives of corporate/financial America, who happen to entirely make up his inner circle.

I just don't believe this guy anymore, and it's become almost painful to listen to him.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Obama Leaves Environmentalists Out In The Cold

Photo: What little dune was there in the Pines at Nautilus Walk is now gone post Irene. Sea Water rushed under the houses and flooded Ocean Walk.

Now that the president has caved to Republicans and stopped the new EPA clean air regulations and approved the Tar Sands pipeline, that saps all the air out of the environmentalists support for him. He will need enthusiastic supporters to get re-elected. Where will they come from?

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Storm Damage In The Pines

I took a walk to the Pines yesterday to have a look at storm damage there. Their dune, which was tiny to begin with, looks like it was nuked. The bottom photo shows evidence of the flooding at Nautilus Walk. This area has been a problem for years and it has flooded before. The top photo was taken east of Sail Walk at the far east end of the Pines. There is a vehicle cut there and not much of a dune so flooding there is no surprise. I believe, however, that these are washovers, not a true breach where the ocean meets the bay. I saw no evidence of a breach. By the way, the feds say that breaches are a natural occurring thing and a necessary part of the natural processes of a barrier island. But we don't need to help that process along by destroying dunes with vehicle cuts.