Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Being "the Other"

I just talked by phone with my daughter Emme (who is gay) and was on her way to the vigil in downtown Los Angeles. The horror, the sadness, the confusion, the fear - among other feelings - that she, at 29, has experienced yesterday and today are ghastly. The cause of these emotions - LGBTQ-phobia, murderous lack of acceptance of "the other," & the pathological immaturity of a culture that permits war weapons in civilian & disturbed hands - is appalling & outrageous.

Saturday, June 11, 2016

Wonder of Wonders

I have a lot of active dreams in which I am traveling or walking or interacting with people. The other night I dreamed I was watching a ballgame, and the announcer and director cut away with the story of how well Stevie Wonder was doing in minor league baseball. The announcer talked about how remarkable this was, given that Stevie is blind. Then they played a recording of Stevie batting ... wearing a short top hat.

Saturday, June 4, 2016

A Great Man You Likely Do Not Know

A great man died yesterday, and I am fortunate to have been well acquainted with him. Charles Derleth was a painter and a longtime teacher of art at John Burroughs School in St. Louis County, Missouri. Mr. Derleth taught my daughters and thousands of other people in their adolescence. When new students (the school is 7th-12th grades) said to him, "I can't paint," he kindly and candidly said, "I can't paint as well as I would like, but with practice I can get better and better." He meant it, and they did.
15 years ago, while cutting branches off a tree in his back yard, Mr. Derleth fell and became paralyzed from the chest down. He had been a very active man, always participated in the School's weeklong programs at a rough site in rural Missouri, teaching kids ecology; but he lived the next 15 years in a wheelchair. He missed most of a year during his convalescence and rehabilitation but then resumed his teaching, and taught for another seven years. On one of my visits to the nursing home during his rehabilitation, he laughed and said he hoped to be released from "the medium security institution" by the end of the week. I remember laughing with him and also being astonished that he could laugh and joke.
Charles Derleth was as kind and supportive of people as I can imagine, and that was before his accident. He remained all that but added heroism, continuing to love and support - and TEACH - his students. He also continued to paint, and paint he did. He was marvelous.