Saturday, February 17, 2018

Andre Tchaikowsky, the complete RCA collection

Sony has issued a small box set dedicated to pianist Andre Tchaikowsky.  Click here for my review.

Friday, February 16, 2018

Murray Perahia's Hammerklavier and Moonlight Sonatas

Deutsche Grammophon has just issued Murray Perahia's new recordings of Beethoven's Hammerklavier and Moonlight Sonatas.  Click here to read my review.

Saturday, February 3, 2018

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Tiny hands on a Big Button

Sunday, December 31, 2017

2017 in Review

To put it mildly, 2017 was a challenging year.

Nationally, the most noteworthy event has been the inauguration and continual dysfunction of Donald J. Trump as President.  I will not waste space recounting every one of Trump’s lies, outrageous tweets, bad appointments, and bad decisions.  Trump is not worth my time, other than to say that by mid-February, my first thought upon awakening was commonly “What stupid thing did Trump do overnight?”  I’ve since found the best way for me to cope with the stress of a dangerously demented President is to adapt an air of detached bemusement – and occasionally fire off brazen tweets which, surprisingly, have not gotten me blocked. 

I have had more than enough to deal with otherwise.

I slammed into my 50s with an almost simultaneous diagnosis of high blood pressure, sleep apnea, and an inguinal hernia.  Surprisingly, dealing with the hernia was considerably less complicated than the apnea: I was diagnosed, surgery was scheduled, performed, and I recovered.  Sleep apnea was first suspected by my doctor in February.  It was not until June that I was able to undertake a sleep study, another month to get the results, then a dental consultation in October, fitting for an oral appliance in November, which I finally received in December.   And American politicians have the gall to warn about the dangers of universal healthcare by trotting out waiting times in the UK and Canada!  Of course, none of these politicians have ever had to deal with private health insurers or providers.

Prepped for the sleep study

2017 marked nine years since Dan & I bought our home in South Euclid.  On the home front, we only undertook one project this year – a new fence.  2018 will bring a small expansion – a small mud room leading to the back door.   There was a time, mostly 2009-2011, when I worried moving here was a mistake.  But 2017 saw continued evidence of a renaissance in our city.  The newly rebuilt shopping center and Mayfield and Green Road opened to 100% capacity and brisk business – so much so that the parking lot had to be expanded.  This is on top of Oakwood Commons and the newly renovated Cedar Center North - both of which are well filled and busy. 

2017 is also the year South Euclid city council began work on a new, comprehensive non-discrimination ordinance.  City Council, for the most part, have courageously stood up to the bullying tactics being carried out by the local Catholic Church – including an outrageous web posting I previously blogged about.  I am hopeful the ordinance will be passed in early 2018.

2017 was not all gloom & doom, nor hell-fire and brimstone.  Dan & I enjoyed our first ever cruise in March, and had a brief but eventful visit to LasVegas in September.  We have tentatively signed on for another cruise in 2018.

And there will be other events on which to report.

Saturday, December 9, 2017

An Open Letter to South Euclid City Council

The following is a slightly modified version of an email I sent to South Euclid's City Council:

Last night, while perusing Facebook, I was confronted by one of the most offensive, distorted political screeds I’ve ever seen

As someone with whom I’ve spoken before, I know you’re too intelligent to fall for this nonsense.   

The article (which, of course, shows no specific author) claims that Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender people and their advocates are bullying people of faith into accepting LGBT people.  Excuse me?  Is there an epidemic of LGBT people beating up on Catholics, on Protestants, Jews, Muslims, or members of any faith?  Was Matthew Shepherd killed because of his faith?  The article goes on to claim that members of the LGBT community and those who advocate for equality are in favor of a “demonic gender ideology” that stems from a “deadly impulse” and “ideological colonialism.” 

Then there’s the image at the top of their page.   It was obviously included to inflame rather than to illuminate.  Does this look like anyone you know in South Euclid?  It shouldn’t, because the picture itself was taken in New York City.  For someone to use a photo from a New York event (where people tend to go over the top) as an example of life here in South Euclid is profoundly dishonest.  If you want to see a typical South Euclid couple, I invite you to look at the most recent issue of South Euclid magazine (image attached).  Standing next to Councilman Marty Gelfand are my husband Daniel and myself. My husband is originally from Puerto Rico and works as a medical technologist at a South Euclid facility.  I grew up in South Euclid and Lyndhurst, graduated from Brush High School in 1985, and have worked at Progressive Insurance for the past 13 years.  Both Daniel and I are productive, taxpaying residents of South Euclid.  I am pointing out these facts, which you probably already know, for the following reason:

At the October 9th Council meeting, a contingent of people spoke against passage of Ordinance 12-17.  The Sun Messenger reporter gave a cursory rundown of the event.  I attended both the Council and Committee of the Whole meetings.  I carefully noted where these people stated they were from and with which group they were associated.  Nearly every person who spoke against the Ordinance was either tied to the Sacred Heart of Jesus Church or to the Lyceum school, which is located on the church’s property.  Many of the speakers were not South Euclid residents/taxpayers – from as far away as North Royalton, Newberry Township, and Concord.  In other words, this was a carefully coordinated flash-mob intended to sway council into believing that they represent the majority.  I doubt a true South Euclid majority, or even a majority of religious people would agree with them.  Indeed, I spoke with several Catholic members of my family, and they were appalled to learn of this group’s action. 

I spoke briefly at the council meeting, abandoning my prepared remarks and speaking from the heart.  As the time for commenting at council meetings is limited, I’d like to address a few of the other comments point by point (my responses are underlined):

Someone at the Committee of the Whole meeting brought up the case concerning the cake baking facility currently before the Supreme Court – in which the bakery is being sued for refusing to bake a wedding cake for a gay couple’s wedding.   If the Court rules in favor of the couple, then the law will already be on the books in South Euclid and can be enforced.  If the court rules in favor of the bakery, then that portion of the law will simply not apply.  However, if the Ordinance is not passed and the Court rules in favor of the couple, then Council will have to go back to the drawing board and address that in a future Ordinance.

Luke Macik stated that religious organizations need to be free to hire/reject applicants based on religious principles.   Ordinance 12-17 has an exemption for religious organizations.

Mark Langley stated that the Ordinance is unnecessary because there is no evidence of anti-LGBT discrimination in South Euclid.  Do we need to wait until someone is killed by a drunk driver to outlaw driving while intoxicated?

Jeanette Flood of Lakewood stated the Ordinance was telling businesses who they could hire.  The Ordinance does not tell people who they can hire.  It merely states that employers cannot discriminate based on certain criteria, as does the Civil Rights Act of 1964 – which has been upheld numerous times by the United States Supreme Court.

Molly Monaco stated she was fearful that perverts would use the Ordinance as cover to enter public bathrooms/changing rooms and prey on children.  No one in South Euclid’s LGBT community wants children to be placed in danger.  But let’s be realistic.  Child endangerment is against the law and will remain so if the Ordinance is passed.  Other communities have passed similar Ordinances with no increase in the type of incidents Ms. Monaco imagines.  It is well known that those who prey on children are most often members or friends of the child’s family.  Does Ms. Monaco, or any of the others who raised this issue, really believe that Transgender people have gone to the trouble and expense of hormones, multiple surgeries, dealing with the bureaucracy to have their identity forms updated, not to mention the emotional trauma of telling their families – all for the thrill of using another restroom?  All to prey on children?  That’s a hurtful insult to my Transgender friends.  

Michael Rodriguez of Newberry Township stated the law is not necessary as Ohio is an Employee at Will state in which someone can be hired or fired at any time.  While Ohio is an Employee at Will state, if a fired or non-hired Employee can prove in a court of law that they were discriminated against due to their race, religion, or several other criteria, they are entitled to recompense.  South Euclid should add Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity to that criteria.

Christy Raynor of Lyndhurst stated that if the Ordinance is passed people would move out of South Euclid, as people have already moved to West Geauga.  Here is where I put my cards on the table.  Ms. Raynor is correct that certain people have left South Euclid for West Geauga – as well as Lake County.  We all know why these people moved: Because over the past three decades South Euclid has become more diverse and there are those who are uncomfortable with ethnic, religious, and other forms of diversity.  Frankly, if these are the types of people who panic when an African-American or other minority family moves next door, then South Euclid is better off without those who’ve abandoned our community.  Good riddance.

Martin Joyce of North Royalton stated that Catholic Christians have certain religious tenets they must follow and that passage of the Ordinance will prevent them from honoring those tenets.  Throughout history, religion has been used to justify the most egregious behavior, from slavery, to sexual exploitation, to genocide.  Even today, there are “honor killings” in which a family member can be killed for trying to make their own religious choice, for refusing to be sold into marriage, or for being gay.  In several nations, being gay is a “death penalty” offense – including Iran, Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan, Yemen, and Nigeria.  Freedom of religion does not give one the right to break the just laws of this country or this community – and there are already adequate exemptions in the Ordinance.

The article to which I have linked, as well as other articles that can be found online, including one from a group called “C-Fam” that compared LGBT people to NAZI’s, are examples of how low some people will stoop to prevent another group of people from obtaining their just rights. 

I hope you will see through the smokescreen this group is trying to create, and support Ordinance 12-17.

Respectfully Yours,

Hank Drake

This is not a South Euclid gay couple

This is.