Thursday, May 28, 2009

My New Blenheim Cavalier Puppy ~ RENZO

Just four weeks from today, my new red-and-white Blenheim Cavalier King Charles Spaniel puppy, Renzo, will arrive from New York City with my nephew Sheridan and his wife Sylvie. They're flying out for a family wedding in Tahoe that weekend. Renzo's currently with the breeder, Mary Louise Gregg, from whom I found Rupert and dear Rose. ML now lives near Newville, Pennsylvania, where my Mother spent her last years at Green Ridge Village. She had previously lived in Dillsburg, PA where my Mother spent many happy years on the golf course. S & S will pick up my new little guy the weekend before, and he'll spend a few days with them in their new apartment in Manhattan near St. John the Divine.

There are four color varieties in the breed: Blenheim, Tri-Color, Ruby, and Black-and-Tan. I've had all four at different times, but only three at the same time. With Renzo I'll be lacking only a Tri-Color. But I have wonderful memories of Lord Dundee and Elizabeth Lady St. Albans (named by Dennis).

I was going to name my new puppy Roger. (It had to start with an 'R' so we would then be 4 R's.) But my friend Adam objected and suggested Renzo instead. Dennis would have approved since it's Italian. :-) The photo above is not Renzo; but from having seen pictures of his champion parents, I think it's probably a decent likeness.
Photo:courtesy A.Kozlowski

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

California State Supreme Court Upholds Prop 8

Below is a re-posting of my comments just after the November 2008 election. This morning the California Supreme Court announced its six-to-one decision upholding Proposition 8, yet not invalidating the eighteen thousand same-sex weddings performed after June 16, 2008 and before the November 4, 2008 election. What a curious state of affairs; but this could be the grounds for an appeal.


Sadly, but not unexpectedly, California State Proposition 8 passed by a clear majority – 52 percent to 48 percent. I say not unexpectedly, because millions of dollars from the Mormon Church poured into California for slick, misleading television ads. The purpose of Prop 8 was “to enshrine bigotry in the state’s constitution by preventing people of the same sex from marrying. The measure was designed to overturn May’s State Supreme Court decision, which made California the second state to end that exclusion of same-sex couples. Massachusetts did so in 2004. The firmly grounded ruling said that everyone has a basic right ‘to establish a legally recognized family with the person of one’s choice,’ and found California’s strong domestic partnership statute to be inadequate.” So proclaimed the New York Times editorial this morning.

It continued: “We wish that Tuesday’s vote of 52 percent to 48 percent had gone the other way. But when those numbers are compared with the 61 percent to 39 percent result in 2000, when Californians approved the law that was overturned by their Supreme Court, it is evident that voters have grown more comfortable with marriage equality.”

As I wrote on October 19 with my Blog posting 
Ballot Initiatives, Amendments & Taxes, the major issue for me is procedural. I think it is completely out of kilter that it takes a two-thirds super-majority to pass an ordinary California State Budget, yet it requires only a majority of a single citizen’s vote to amend the state constitution, and in this case take away a civil right. In the federal constitution, one of the major objectives of the Bill of Rights is to protect minorities from the tyranny of the majority.

A curious sidebar: although Great Britain still has no written constitution, the precedent for our own Bill of Rights came from the 1689 English Bill of Rights, a result of the so-called “Glorious Revolution” of 1688. My Schola friend, Sam Smith, referred to it as the “Bloodless Revolution,” but I would contend that name wasn’t used until after the bloody French Revolution of 1789 and particularly the “Terror” of 1793-1794. (Refer to my September 21 Blog posting 
Evolution of Meaning and Two Flip-Flops.)

Still, we’ve made progress. Thirty years ago we celebrated the defeat of Proposition 6, the Briggs Initiative, which would have banned gays and lesbians from working in California's public schools and came on the heels of a highly explosive conservative campaign in Dade County, Florida to repeal one of the first gay rights ordinances in the U.S. With Anita Bryant as their spokesperson, the initiative temporarily passed. I remember how thrilled we were with the defeat of Proposition 6 and celebrated with a march in the Castro. Only a few weeks later we marched again with a candlelight procession down Market Street to City Hall after the assassination of Mayor George Moscone and Supervisor Harvey Milk— and that was only days after the horror of Jonestown!

I heard on NPR this morning that there have been disruptive marches in Los Angeles in opposition to passage of Proposition 8—also, that there has been a legal filing to the California Supreme Court to overturn the ballot initiative. One had been filed before the election to remove it from the ballot, but the court decided to defer until after the election. I think there could, in fact, be valid judicial reasons to overturn Prop 8, but the State Supreme Court has now let itself be subject to even greater rightwing criticism if it rules against the ballot initiative after the fact. It would have been much cleaner to act before. Again, I strongly assert that ballot initiatives passed by a simple majority are no fair or proper way to amend any constitution!

Friday, May 8, 2009


Handel Fireworks Celebration

George Frideric Handel’s life has been celebrated for centuries by countless performers and devotees of his unsurpassed musical legacy. In 1784, twenty-five years after his death, the first of many spectacular commemorations was produced in Westminster Abbey.

In the style of that famed event, Grace Cathedral's Choir of Men and Boys and American Bach Soloists will collaborate in a pair of performances that will feature some of Handel’s finest choral works along with his celebrated Water Music and Music for the Royal Fireworks. The Choir of Men and Boys, conducted by Canon Director of Music Jeffrey Smith, will join the American Bach Soloists (ABS) in performances of grand compositions, including Zadok the Priest, that resound perfectly in the architectural splendor of the Cathedral. In addition, ABS conductor Jeffrey Thomas will lead an unusually huge array of instruments assembled especially for this event, (including a drum corps in Georgian military costume) and accomplished soprano Abigail Haynes Lennox will be the soloist in the piece Laudate, Pueri. And if that wasn't enough, there will be a live laser show during the Fireworks Music! This is truly the premier musical event of the season!

Text courtesy Grace Cathedral

I will be singing in the chorus for both performances. Handel was Dennis' favorite composer. He never let me forget that Handel was an ENGLISH composer. After all he IS buried in Westminster Abbey!

One of two musical plays I'm working on -- currently on the back burner -- is called "HANOVER" and features a young Handel in two of the scenes. It's the story of Sophia Dorothea of Celle, divorced wife of George, Elector of Hanover, who became George I of England. It's an expanded musical adaptation of the 1948 English film SARABAND. I intend to complete it when I retire in about two years. It may never be produced, but at least I'll have a mixed media presentation on DVD.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Dan Reid Memorial BAGPIPE Challenge Recital




This unique event is presented by the St. Andrews Foundation of San Francisco.

The 2009 DRM will be held on May 2nd at the

Marines Memorial Club and Hotel.


Initiated in 1997, the Cameron/Gillies event was named after P/M Alex Cameron, piper to the St. Andrews Society of San Francisco for 31 years, and his Father-in-Law, the renowned P/M John MacDougall Gillies.

The DRM Mission

The objective of the Dr. Dan Reid Memorial Challenge Recital is to maintain and preserve the classic compositions of the Great Highland Bagpipe for future generations of pipers throughout the world. To provide a forum in which the instrument, the recitalists and the judges have the advantage of best possible conditions in which to practice their art. To present, through it's restrictive tune list, tunes that are classic in their composition and to make available a musical audio library of these compositions as played by the finest exponent of the art in the modern era.

The DRM is now in it's seventeenth year and still going strong. With the support of our patrons, recitalists and judges we hope to continue long into the future. We have been able to provide a wonderful collection of recordings of the Masters of the Highland Bagpipe.


Tonight I am going to the Awards Banquet for the Dan Reid Memorial Bagpipe Challenge Recital, as a guest of my St. Andrew’s Society friend and fellow Bohemian, Bruce McCubbrey.  Bruce originally sponsored both Dennis and me for membership in the St. Andrew’s Society of San Francisco. I have occasionally been a tenor soloist for some of their annual events, such as St. Andrew’s Day in November and Robert Burns’ birthday in January. 

Dennis loved bagpipes. In fact he bought me a trainer set as a birthday present many years ago. He drove all the way to Mendocino to get it. I had a few lessons with an eccentric piper from Dundee. But I’m afraid my plate was already full, and learning to play bagpipes was a bit beyond my patience at the time. I gave the pipes to an eclectic musician friend from the Bohemian Club. 

I’ll wear one of my kilts tonight. I have four sets-- two of my own and two from Dennis. I was just going to wear my tux with a tartan vest and tie, but Bruce let me know that I’ll be sitting at the table with the British Consul General, so I suppose I should do all nine yards. (I believe the expression has something to do with kilts, anyway.)


The picture above shows all four of my tartans. My nephew Matt is wearing my Dad's Gunn tartan kilt. I'm wearing the relatively new Bell Family tartan, from which Dennis had a kilt made for me in Edinburgh. Our friend Lyle is wearing his Graham of Menteith tartan, which matched one of Dennis'. Then Dennis is wearing his other Graham tartan kilt with a custom vest and matching hand knit socks. The photo was taken five years ago at the annual St. Andrew's Day Banquet in November. I actually look younger today without my beard.


Titian in the Frari (Venezia)