Thursday, November 30, 2006

Red ribbons are worthless

Wanna do something meaningful for World AIDS Day?

GO GET TESTED!

Seriously folks, I understand the anxiety associated with an HIV test. One of my first thoughts when I found out I was positive was "at least I never have to take another one of these awful HIV tests!" Trust me, I get it!

But I also know the empowerment that comes with knowing your status. Nowadays you can get a rapid result test and know the dealio within 20 minutes.

Most folks who fret about the test may have had an encounter that was a bit risky. No judgement here, I've been there. But that's still a lame excuse for not finding out.

Wearing red ribbons is a nice gesture. But at the end of the day, it doesn't mean a hill of beans. Getting tested on the other hand means knowing your status. And whatever the result, knowledge is power.

An HIV diary

I am HIV positive and on the eve of World AIDS Day I find myself relecting on my dozen-year battle.

Each and everyone of us knows and loves someone with HIV/AIDS. Something like 60,000,000 people in the world are infected which sounds an awful lot like a statistic, if you ask me. If you lined the HIVers up head to toe, we might stretch from here to the moon or something. (are there any fact checkers out there??)

But seriously, as I sit here writing this i realize I am one of the lucky ones. I have an undectable viral load, 1000 T cells, am in great shape, and by all outward appearances, have a totally normal life.

Does anyone out there ever wonder how much HIV meds cost, retail, peryear? something like $18,000 which makes me pretty lucky that I have prescription drug benefits.

As an American I am clearly one of the lucky ones. HIV transmissions are highest wherever poverty is rife : Africa, Southeast Asia, the former Soviet bloc. In these regions the price of HIV meds is upwards of 10 and 20 times what people make in a whole year. Scarey huh? People who are socially, politically, culturally or economically marginalized will ALWAYS suffer greater degrees of EVERYTHING that is bad, HIV transmission rates not withstanding.

We still have a helluva fight on our hands. Maybe it has been too long since we have witnessed people getting skinny and (literally) dying before our eyes, but the fact remains, THIS PANDEMIC IS STILL REAL!

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

One Year Blog-0-versary

Looks like a milestone was passed during my time of relative hibernation from the blog. Lassiter Space passed the one year mark the day before yesterday. It's pretty cool if you think about it, the ride has been a good one. Being a part of the blogosphere here and over on BlueJersey has not only helped me find my voice, it's also amplified it considerably.

I started my blog at a tough point in my life, after a second achilles rupture. The recovery was mind-numbingly slow. So there I was, incapacitated with lots of time on my hands and voila the blog was born. Hard to believe it's been a whole year.

Also hard to believe I would be interviewing Senators and Congressmen but, yeah, that happened too. Probably the coolest scoop I got was with Kirk Bloodsworth, who was the first American to ever be exonerated from death row with DNA evidence. I have been fighting for an abolishment to the death penalty for as long as I can remember, and this guys story of strength and forgiveness is very special indeed.

It just feel good to have a cozy space in the blogoshere, especially as the blogs take on increasing importance in the political landscape.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Eye candy

What are you asking Santa for this Christmas?
(Image courtesy Mike Lane)

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Grattytude

(that's how we say it here in Jersey)

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

NJ Nets seek GILFs

...for their unique new cheerleading squad. 


From the NBA's website:

The Nets held open auditions for their first-ever senior dance team yesterday.


The Nets senior dance team will be comprised of men and women who are at least 60 years of age. The senior dancers will perform during at least six games this season and will have their ages on the backs of their uniforms.


Hopefully the shorty shorty won't be too terribly bootyliscious.


Said  Petra Pope, the Nets Senior Director of Entertainment and Event Marketing, "We are looking for seniors who can demonstrate some dancing ability and coordination and be able to learn and perform various routines.  The dancers will have a lot of fun and will surely receive overwhelming support by our crowds."


Vincent Curatola, AKA "Johnny Sack" of Sopranos Sopranos was one of the audition judges.


The Nets are also looking for hoops fans to help name the new oldie-squad and are taking suggestions for a new moniker at ppope@njnets.com.  The prize? Nets tix, of course.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Darfuf Dilemma

With the election of the Democratic party into power in Congress and Senate, there is a glimer of hope that the humanitarian crisis in the Darfur region of Sudan will become a greater priority in Washington.

For those of you keeping score, over 450,000 have perished in Sudan in the last few years and the international community has largely been silent.

Tomorrow I am headed up the Garden State Parkway to Newark to interview Congressman Donald Payne who's in line to chair the Congressional subcommittee on African affairs. We'll be chatting about the genocide in Darfur and WTF we can do to take some initiative to stop the dying.

Rep. Payne has long taken a leadership roll on African issues, for example he was one of the first politicans to sound alarm bells about the famine in Ethiopia in the mid-1980's. So the idea of him taking on the chairmanship of the Africa committee in a positive delevopment for those Africans in harm's way in Darfur. I'm certainly keeping my fingers crosses anyway.

If you have any suggestions about what to ask Rep. Payne, I am all ears. I am not an Africa expert so if you have some insight that could help me ask more probing questions about this escalating humanatarian crisis, then by all means share your thoughts in the comment section!

I regret to say that the United States always seems to turn a blind eye to genocide so long as it's "other kinds of people" dying: jews during WWII; Muslims in Bosnia on Pres. Clinton's watch; and black Africans in Rwanda, Uganda and now Darfur.

What a sad, stinging indictment of our proported values, wouldn't you say?

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Saturday, November 11, 2006

My Favorite Vet

The peace activist in me took root early on, probably during my youth. For those of you who don't know, I grew up on one military base or another, the son of a Marine. It's safe to say my entire childhood took place in the shadow of war.

My dad was a teenager when he headed over the to fight in Viet Nam (click pic to enlarge. This was dad with cousins Kathy, Susan and Dianne on the way to Saigon.) By the time I was born in 1972 my dad was twenty-four, but the war was still raging and wouldn't end for another few years, in 1975.

By the time my father retired from the Marine Corps in 1986, the specter of Viet Nam still loomed largely over the country. (*click second pic of the retirement ceremony to enlarge.) The only time we ever really discussed Viet Nam was on Veteran's Day.

The fact is, I wasn't old or sophisticated enough to understand war and ask the right questions. Alternately, my dad never brought it up either. I can hardly blame him, if i spent my last years as a teenager getting shot at in some godforsaken jungle I'd want to forget that too. But that doesn't mean I wasn't curious.

Fast forward to 2006 and another war is raging. In fact, the Iraq mess is making a lot of folks revisit the ghost of Viet Nan. My mom and I were chatting about this a few months ago and she declared to me that Iraq reminds her more and more of Viet Nam every day.

"And we all know how that turned out," she noted.

I guess one lesson from Viet Nam was not lost on the American public. No one is willing to blame the troops this time around. And that a blessing. A quick peek at last week's election results is proof that we are more willing to take the government -- and not the GI's -- to task for their warmongering. After the shitty treatment my dad and his fellow vets took upon their return, I am glad that we learned at least that much from the Viet Nam war.

In conclusion I say this: war offends each and everyone of my sensibilities. I hate it. And for as long as I am alive, I will fight for peace. But just the same, my pride and respect for my father grows with time. Every Veteran's day I get a little more perspective on that, and for that I am grateful. Many sons of Vets were not so lucky as I am. In spite of his post-traumatic stress (and all the issues that stem from that) my dad was always able to be a good dad. Check that, a FANTASTIC dad. My brother and I turned out pretty well, we both adore our dad for doing such a great job inspite of all his war demons. But for every story that turns out like ours, there are dozens of families that weren't so fortunate.

Anyway, that's just a little something to ponder as we enjoy a long (Veteran's Day) weekend.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Veteran's Day Plans to Honor Vets, end the War

I'll never forget the first time I learned about the Toy Soldier project while listening to NPR one morning before work.

Chicago Public Radio:
And now a story about an unusual anti-war protest. Tiny green plastic soldiers are showing up all over Chicago. A sticker on each figure pleads, `Bring me home.' NPR's Jason DeRose found the woman who's leaving those soldiers in bookstores and cafes....

This protest idea stopped me dead in my tracks. I went straight to the dollar store, picked up a few bags-o-plastic toys & a Sharpie and I was off to the races.

What I'm trying to say is this: there are no original ideas, just good or bad ones. Some ideas are so good that they're worth emulating and passing on. This is one of them.

Since I first picked up on this idea last spring, nearly 20 bloggers have taken up the call and turned this idea into a bona fide movement. My buddy Kvatch at Blognnomous even gave the toy soldiers their own blog:
The Kommandos Project started when Kvatch decided to go national with the idea in order celebrate his own blog's one year anniversary. That was in May. Since then, dozens of bloggers all over the nation have deployed thousands of these little guys, with major protests being held on Memorial Day and Independence Day.
And now we're going to show our support for the troops and for an end to the Iraq War with a Veteran's Day Protest.

(picture is of me in front of Philly's Liberty Bell last spring. Do I look pissed? You bet it do!)

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Menendez Thanks the Bloggers

Some nice words from Senator Menendez to New Jersey bloggers. This victory was satisfying, and to be called "the conscience of the campaign" by our Senator is especially sweet.


Yes! Arizona first state to reject marriage amendment

This is the first state to say no to enshrining bigotry in its constitution.

(Pam from the Houseblend reports)--
After an evening of watching seven other states -- Colorado, Idaho, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Virginia and Wisconsin decided to prevent gay and lesbian couples from marrying (some banning civil unions or legal arrangements approximating similar rights to marriage), one state got it.

And Arizona gay grassroots activists are letting everyone know that they did it by themselves.
The big national gay organizations have been notably absent there, and the campaigns have been smart about attracting voters from both conservative Phoenix and liberal Tucson with targeted messages and tactics. "We did this with no national help," says Jordan, "this grassroot's effort was local."
See the complete results here.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Democrat Rich Sexton is my choice for Congress in NJ-3

It was a busy Sunday in NJ-3 yesterday as the Rich Sexton juggernaut took its message to the streets in a "Bus for change" whistlestop tour of the district. Nothing beats boots on the ground and the bus tour provided the Sexton campaign with a terrific opportunity to connect with district voters.

Our first stop was a pancake breakfast in Willingboro that was a who's who of NJ progressive politics. Senator Menendez was there (see pic of the Senator with Rich and his team. that's me in the tan vest and the grin. click to enlarge) and so were Congressman Andrews and Assemblyman Herb Conaway. They were pressing their message to the party faithful to get out an vote. Judging from the response, the politicians were hitting all the right notes.


From there, the bus tour headed up route 130 and hit every strip mall we could find. I must confess our efforts were aided in large part to the Eagles having a bye week. Folks were not clammoring to get home to watch the game, rather they were out shopping with their families and enjoying a sunny, mild fall afternoon. Anyway, the Eagles' week off was our gain and we made the most of the opprotunity by connecting with hundreds of voters in the area. (Hopefully the Eagles will make the most of thier time off too, as they look to regroup from a mediocre start.)


I know first hand the benefits of such campaigning. I personally passed out about 150 pieces of literature and was delighted how eager folks were to chat politics. Folks are sick of the lousy economy, sick of Iraq, sick of the GOP. In short, we are ready for change and many regard Rich Sexton is just the man for the job.


I couldn't agree more and I am not the only one. Ocean County Observer observed that Rich is "the most impressive congressional hopeful we have seen in years. We enthusiastically support Rich Sexton." Click the link to read the entire ringing endorsement which also give the nod to Senator Menendez and Carol Gay.

(image courtesy of Asbury Park activist Kathy Maher)

Saturday, November 04, 2006

New Jersey Voters have a critical choice

Why Vote? Here in New Jersey we have a crystal clear choice for United States Senate, between democrat Bob Menendez and rupublican Tom Kean jr. If the Iraq War is an important issue to you heading to the polls on Tuesday, then this video clip is worth your attention. Besides, it's a really great tune.

Watch and weep. Or hurl. In fact, you might end up doing both. Still not sure who to vote to? Check out this interview I did with Senator Menendez where we discussed Iraq and its consequences.

In the time it takes to vote, another Iraqi civilian will die

Image courtesy of NJ's own M.e. Cohen

Military newspapers say it's time for Rumsfeld to go

It's gonna be hard for the Bush juggernaut to pin this one on the "liberal" media. CNN:
An editorial to be published in independent publications that serve the U.S. military will call for President Bush to replace Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld.
A snippet from the piece (out Monday) in Army Times, Air Force Times, Navy Times and Marine Corps Times:
Active-duty military leaders are starting to voice misgivings about the war's planning, execution and dimming prospects for success.

...Rumsfeld has lost credibility with the uniformed leadership, with the troops, with Congress and with the public at large. His strategy has failed, and his ability to lead is compromised. And although the blame for our failures in Iraq rests with the secretary, it will be the troops who bear its brunt.

This is not about the midterm elections. Regardless of which party wins Nov. 7, the time has come, Mr. President, to face the hard bruising truth:

Donald Rumsfeld must go.
In other words, this war is a disaster which is putting Americans in peril. The President and his war cabinet are solely responsible, to the American public, the Iraqi people and (frankly) to God. Would you want to meet your maker with that much blood on your hands? Yeah, me neither.
(Hat tip: Pam)

Thursday, November 02, 2006

STOP THE HOMOSEXUAL AGENDA. a mild polemic

This is sick! More and more republicans are emerging (though not willingly) from the closet. It seems like the GOP is crawling with 'em. As an out gay man I am vexed when I learn about this kinda stuff. Mostly I pity them. As the video points out, "closets are just bedrooms...with no self esteem." Fact is, the same folks who are legislating folks like me into the dark ages are the same goons who are paying gay hookers for sex. So, now that I think about it, I don't pity them as much as I resent them.

Mega-church leader denies 'sexual business relationship' with male escort

[UPDATE: The escort also says Haggard used meth in his presence. What would Jesus Do?]

[UPDATE 2: the escort says he'll take a lie detector test and that he has voicemails and a letter from Haggard to back up his story. Ooops.]

(Pam Reports)--
Oh my. Why on earth would something like this happen to Ted Haggard, the head of a huge church and president of the National Association of Evangelicals? A male sex worker says Ted was a regular customer for three years. (Denver Post):
Haggard, the founder and senior leader of the 14,000-member New Life Church in Colorado Springs and president of the multimillion- member National Association of Evangelicals, denied the accusations raised by the prostitute to KUSA- Channel 9. But the pastor said he is prepared for his own church to investigate the claims.

Male escort Mike Jones of Denver started talking to 9 Wants to Know two months ago, making claims that he has had a three-year sexual business relationship with Haggard, the station reported.

Jones went public about their alleged relationship Wednesday morning on talk radio.

"People may look at me and think what I've done is immoral, but I think I had to do the moral thing in my mind and that is expose someone who is preaching one thing and doing the opposite behind everybody's back," Jones told 9News.
Haggard, who is married with five kids, denied the allegation and said the accusation may be connected to his support of Colorado's marriage amendment:
"I've never had a gay relationship with anybody. ... I am steady with my wife. I'm faithful to my wife. I don't know if this is election-year politics or if this has to do with the marriage amendment or what it is," Haggard said.
More proof that people who have problems with other people's sexuality usually have something hiding in their own closet.

(Also: Blogenfreude points to a great Ted entry over at Little Green Fascists.)