Monday, August 30, 2004

Let the Deception Begin!

OK, the Repubs are at it, shamelessly exploiting the 9/11 tragedy at their national convention in New York. Of course, Chief DINO (Democrat In Name Only) Zell Miller is featured prominently at the convention. In the meantime, Former Senator Pineapple is sniping at Senator Kerry because Kerry exercised his First Amendment Right to Free Speech over 30 years ago and criticized U.S. involvement in Viet Name, and the Idiot In Chief (who got a cushy National Guard assignment that guaranteed he wouldn’t see one day of combat, thanks to Daddy’s intervention, and then went AWOL from that) stands by and does nothing while the Swift Boat Liars continue their smear campaign. And the corporate-owned media keeps hammering away at that (just like they hammered Gore for “sighing” and his supposed “misleading comments” during the 2000 campaign, and the way they stuck it to Clinton throughout all 8 years of his candidacy), doesn’t do a damned thing about investigating Dumbya’s one-year absence from the Guard, his outright lies during his term in office, yada yada yada.

Meanwhile, American jobs keep getting shipped overseas, the deficit continues to skyrocket, the rich keep getting richer and the poor keep getting poorer, and young men & women keep dying in Iraq because the Shrub had to have his war. And the media is more concerned with lies told about Kerry and making the Idiot Prince look good than they are about what’s really affecting everyday Americans.

Objective reporting? HA!

Friday, August 27, 2004

Musings Upon Return From Vacation . . .

Well, I’ve been back since Sunday night. It’s been a busy week at the office since my return. I tried to write in my blog earlier today, but then my computer (or the website, or my Internet connection) froze up on me, so I lost everything. Dadgummit!

Monday and Tuesday were very frustrating days. I left the office on August 13, confident the grant that I had been working on – the one where I spent a whole morning trying to balance the budget – would have made it through the approvals bureaucracy & be on its merry way to Washington. Wrong! I get back, and it still hasn’t left Tulsa. I am informed that after all the hair pulling, the damn budget still wasn’t right. Then one of the senior management persons decided that she wanted to make some last-minute changes. How frustrating … after all the hard work I spent over a several-week period, pushing to get things done so the grant would be done and on its way to Washington by the time I got back – then to find out upon my return that things still weren’t done the way I had hoped they would be.

Tuesday I arrived to discover a letter of intent for another grant (that I had been working on for some time) sitting on my desk – that included revisions that my boss had requested – with a rather bitchy comment to the effect that my work was substandard. I felt like walking out and never returning. Really, why bother if nothing I do is good enough? So I basically cried the whole morning. A colleague told me that this was really “constructive criticism,” and likened it to when a sports coach yells at a player who has potential and who’s trying to “motivate” the player. Well, I’m not an athlete; I don’t get motivated when I’m reamed out (it only makes me give up and figure “why bother?”), and when musicians get reamed out by conductors, they only get pissed off – and sometimes they get back at the conductor through sabotage. Suffice to say, getting yelled it will not get results from me.

Fortunately, the rest of the week has been much calmer. And the Letter of Intent that my boss reamed me out over was praised at a meeting today by a someone from the U.S. Department of Justice who’s working with us on this grant.

Wednesday night there was some wonderful news. Casey Cantwell, who has been Interim Organist/Choirmaster since Tappe’s departure in June, has been offered the position on a permanent basis. The “Interim” has been removed from Casey’s job title. Hooray! This was exactly what I hoped would happen. Shortly after Tappe announced his departure, I approached our Senior Warden and told him that I thought Casey had proven himself more than capable of handling this position during Tappe’s frequent absences. A search committee was formed, they wrote a job description, came up with a list of qualifications, and prepared an ad for publication in national church music journals – then they reported to the Rector that the person meeting all of the qualifications was none other than Casey. The Rector questioned the search committee to ascertain that they were as certain about this as possible, and then concurred with their decision. A recommendation was made to the Vestry, which approved. Fr. McKee made the announcement Wednesday night – and the cheers and applause were positively deafening! Everyone I’ve spoken to couldn’t be happier about Casey’s new status. He’s earned it.

Besides Casey’s unquestioned musical skills, he has the people skills that Tappe so obviously lacked. He’s built excellent working relationships with choristers, parents, clergy, lay staff and parishioners. I’d be shocked if anyone at Trinity didn’t like Casey. I’m hoping he’ll be on the organ bench for many years to come.

Friday, August 13, 2004

Sticking it to the poor

For the life of me, I can't understand what's so Christian about increasing money for war and making sure the wealthy have their tax cuts, tax loopholes, etc. while services to the poor keep getting cut!

Yesterday the Tulsa Housing Authority Board of Commissioners made the difficult decision to close our waiting list for Section 8 housing assistance. Section 8 is a housing assistance program where recipients can use vouchers to pay a portion of the rent to any landlord who will accept the vouchers. Right now demand is so tight that we have a waiting list of 2-5 years. The U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development has been cutting funding to local housing agencies, which means we have to make the choice between number of vouchers available and amount of rent we will subsidize. Our board decided that we don't want to cut benefits to current recipients if we can at all help it. So, they voted to stop accepting new applications. Nobody wants to see someone in need denied assistance -- and we have lots of people in need, right now, who aren't getting assistance. And we may not be out of the woods yet. We have been able to stave off cuts thus far by dipping into reserve funds. But that won't be an option next year. Unless Congress votes to put more money into HUD, we may have to start cutting vouchers to current recipients next year. As our Executive Director puts it so eloquently, who do we cut? The single mother of 3 children who's managing to hold down a full time job & go to Tulsa Community College at night so she can qualify for a job that pays more than minimum wage and get off public assistance? The disabled vet who can't work because of war injuries who's receiving assistance after having been homeless? The elderly gentleman who's pension was gutted by corporate malfeasance & who has no family to help him? The teen mother who got kicked out of the house when her parents learned she was pregnant, and who's struggling to get a GED and raise her baby?

The trouble is, the folks in Washington see our residents as numbers -- or, worse yet, they subscribe to the Welfare Queen myth. Those of us working here see real people, with real needs. Most of these Real People want to get off public assistance -- but they are thwarted every step of the way by wealthy Republican politicians who are more concerned about protecting tax loopholes & tax cuts that benefit the wealthy, plus the huge contracts for their corporate buddies who are funding their campaigns, than they are about good, honest, hard-working individuals trying to make ends meet.

Then, last night, I heard on the news that Morton Health Services has suspended operations due to political infighting on the board. (They just fired the clinic's director Monday night -- after this guy got the clinic back in the black.) Now we have a bunch of uninsured persons in North and East Tulsa, as well as Nowata, who have nowhere to go for health care. What is it about that Board that's more concerned about their political turf issues than it is about maintaining services for the folks who need them?

Tell me, what's so Christian about sticking it to the poor?

Wednesday, August 11, 2004

Thoughts on my hometown . . .

I never cease to wonder at how my thoughts go back to my hometown of Barrington. I've spent more than half my life in Tulsa now, yet I still yearn for my hometown. I guess part of it is the never-ceasing yearning for a quieter, simpler time. Part of it is missing some of the things that make Barrington what it is: the lovely tree-lined streets, the quiet, safe neighborhoods, the wonderful school system (Barrington High School is as good, and probably better than, the private schools around here), the beautiful century-old (and older-some dating back to the Civil War era) houses on Hough, Lake and Cook Streets, as well as Lincoln Avenue (when I was a fifth grader at what was then the brand-new Hough Street School we made up ghost stories that took place in a scary house on Lake Street), the historic St. Paul's United Church of Christ on Main Street (just across from North Avenue), the train station and the square area at the intersection of Main, Cook, Park and the Union Pacific crossing -- and the still goofy Musical Gates. (Still goofy after 35+ years!) Barrington residents/expatriates know what I'm talking about!

Of course, the aforementioned Catlow Theatre, St. Mark's -- and, as I promised, here's the Octagon House:, located at 223 West Main Street. According to documentation on file at the National Register of Historic Places' website, the Octagon House was built by "Mr. Brown" about 1860. Mr. Brown stated he built the house in an octagon shape because "everyone else's is square." One thing I just learned about the Octagon House is that despite its shape, all the house's rooms are traditional square or rectangular-shaped rooms. Closets and other built-in storage units are used to make the rooms traditionally-shaped. Interesting. I used to pass this house every day walking to Barrington High School, but I never knew any of this until recently.

When I reminisce about my hometown, I always remind myself that if I were to move back to the Chicago area (which I hope to do someday), I might not be so appreciative of Barrington. It's an hour's train ride into Chicago, for starters, and if I were to drive into the city I'd have to put up with the traffic jams on the Northwest Tollway & Kennedy Expressway -- not to mention the hassle of trying to find a place to park, and then paying and arm and a leg to park! Evanston is so much more convenient -- not to mention much more progressive. With my unabashed liberal Democratic views, I'd be something of a fish out of water in Barrington. Although, Barrington isn't quite as white-bread conservative Republican as it was back in the 1960's-1970's: there were a group of Barrington High School Students protesting the Iraq War at the intersection of Main & Hough when the Idiot In Chief started the bombing, and Barrington High School now has a student chapter of Amnesty International. Not to mention the students elected a Latina as their Homecoming Queen last year. I'm so proud of today's Barrington Broncos!

I guess another reason I'm proud of my hometown is they've been smart enough to preserve the beautiful old homes and buildings in the business district. When tear-downs reared their ugly heads in places like Arlington Heights and Hinsdale, Barrington's village leaders put their heads together to prevent that from ruining the town's character. They enacted historic district zoning with strict mandates regarding demolition, remodeling, etc. -- all intended to preserve the unique character of these neighborhoods. For homes outside the historic district, Barrington has village ordinances to ensure the size of the house is proportional to lot size, that homes don't block the sunlight or otherwise infringe upon the rights of neighboring homeowners, etc. So, I'm pleased that the Barrington residents of today appreciate the uniqueness of their town, and will do whatever they can to preserve Barrington's charm. Barrington is a far cry from Palatine, or Arlington Heights, or even Park Ridge. I, for one, hope it stays that way.

I guess what brought on this morning's nostalgia is hearing from an old high school buddy of mine, Kent. Kent played in the orchestra with me, and was always very kind & understanding. He and his wife are now ministers in the United Church of Christ in Michigan -- but the e-mail said they're getting ready to take on a new pastorate in Minnesota. I confess I'm feeling a tinge of guilt at not having made more of an effort to keep in contact -- I'll have to write him. I'll invite him to take a look at my blog -- I wonder what his memories are like. I also owe Mike an e-mail. Mike was the person who I got into my one and only fight with back in our junior high days. He's now an emergency room physician outside Kenosha, Wisconsin, and he also does medical missions in developing countries. Interesting how we're now friends!

Well, I gotta get some work done . . . maybe I'll do a search on the Blogspot website, just to see if any other Barrington residents or expatriates are remembering our hometown!

Tuesday, August 10, 2004

Some Political Links!

OK, I didn't realize that Lee's link had been discarded . . . so, crossing my fingers, here's his link -- along with some other political links: -- Build a Better Bush! -- the wacko Republican running for Oklahoma's open senate seat. (Why does Oklahoma always get the bible-thumping loonies?) -- Brad Carson's website. He's the Democrat running. He's sane, and he stood up to Idiot Inhofe in his attempts to help the folks in Picher and Cardin who've been poisoned by Tar Creek for the past 20+ years. -- Doug Dodd, Democrat for Congress (Oklahoma's First District). The Dodds are a wonderful family, and Doug is a big-time supporter of education, having been president of the Tulsa Board of Education. His wife, Elaine, is a retired schoolteacher, past president of the Tulsa Classroom Teacher's Association, and current chair of the Tulsa County Democratic Party. I look forward to Doug kicking John Sullivan's sorry ass out of congress! -- Democrats of Oklahoma forum. I have a lot of fun here! Yes, I'm a Yellow Dog Democrat. If you need a definition of Yellow Dog Democrat, let me know & I'll gladly explain.

Happy websurfing!

Hopefully this link will work:

I was attempting to post Barack Obama's website, but Lee's website kept coming up, even after numerous edits. Guess Blogspot just will not cooperate today.

So, let's try this link:{8683FB66-C0DB-4FAB-85C7-2FBCF770436E}}

Meet the next Senator from Illinois, and see why he's creating such excitement in the Land of Lincoln. My mother tells me Obama credits the late, great Paul Simon for mentoring him.

Pretty good mentor to have, to say the least!

Trying to Post! (Hope my links work this time)

OK, it took some effort to find my blog this morning. I had previously created a blog that kept coming up -- hadn't posted to it in over a year. So, I've deleted that blog & hopefully my new bookmark will take me directly to this site!

The websites du jour: This was on the old blog -- the historic Catlow Theatre in my beloved hometown of Barrington. Please take a look at this site -- the history, and take time to look at the pictures. This theatre was designed in the 1920's by Betts & Holcomb of Chicago, and is built to depict a medieval English hall. The theatre started out as a vaudeville house -- there's still a small orchestra pit & real stage, and there was a pipe organ in there when we first moved to Barrington in 1967. The organ is long gone (alas), but the casing is still there. The Catlow Theatre is still open and showing pictures for a discounted price. They sell sandwiches from the next-door deli, Baloney's (and they are mighty fine sandwiches, too -- one of my mother's former students runs the deli with her husband). And you can pick up a beer to wash down your sandwich -- so, it's truly Dinner and a Movie in Barrington. Add in the cheaper tickets and the historic setting -- and you will never want to see a movie at the suburban multiplex again. The Catlow is currently showing Fahrenheit 9/11 -- I'm thrilled! Of course, they never did shy away from controversy when I was growing up -- I remember when the showed Midnight Cowboy (which was rated "X" when it first came out -- some townsfolk were, shall we say, concerned about an X-rated movie showing in our hometown). By the time All the President's Men came to town people didn't blink an eyelash. (For the uninitiated, Barrington is -- or at least, was -- a very Republican community.)

OK, enough on the wonderful Catlow theatre! I'm definitely going to have to find some more hometown sites . . . probably the Octagon House on Main Street, Barrington High School (of course). Does anyone know any Barrington High School alumni who can give me ideas on showing off the hometown? -- the next Senator from Illinois! I heard this guy speak at the Democratic National Convention, and to say he's fantastic is the understatement of the millennium! -- A businesswoman from my hometown is fixin' to retire (sorry, had to use an Oklahoma term here!) the sorry-ass Phil Crane. I'm thrilled she's from Barrington! And she's on the board of the Barrington Children's Choir (my mother was accompanist for them before she retired) and the Lines School PTO (where my mother taught for many years).

OK, I gotta get back to work right now. Maybe I'll get into the hardcore ranting later on . . . before I go, if you haven't seen Fahrenheit 9/11, it's a must-see. My mother took her Republican cousin & a very Republican friend -- suffice it to say, their eyes were opened about the Bush family connections to the Saudi Arabian royal family.

Confidential to Slu -- thanks for your comments! I took a look at your blog, and we're in total agreement about the terrorist threats! Keep the comments coming! Any Barrington residents reading this . . . please ring in!

Monday, August 09, 2004

OK, I'm New at This!

OK, I'm new to blogging . . . this is my first post! You can call this random thoughts of a displaced Tulsa symphonic musician. Don't really know what to rwrite right now . . . but I'll post a few neat websites:

http:// -- my cyberparish, so to speak. I've met some wonderful people here, and will invite them to comment. I hope things pick up soon in Common Round! (Hi, Lee, Kim & Slu!) -- my bricks & mortar parish -- St. Luke's-Evanston, IL. A wonderful parish where I became an unabshed liberal Anglo-Catholic. I was there when Rt. Rev. Tom Ray was rector -- he later became Bishop of Northern Michigan (now retired.) BTW, Richard Webster got a very raw deal, IMHO. And the widow of one Richard's most esteeemed predecessors agrees with me.

http:// -- St. Mark's-Barrington Hills, IL. This was where I grew up. My mother was organist/choirmaster here from 1966-1986 (I THINK those are the correct dates). Mother & I were confirmed on the same day here (she was raised Lutheran) in March 1969.

Well, I need to get home & get some housecleaning done. Pretty pedistrian stuff for my first blog . . . I'll probably do some venting before too long. Still feeling the sting of the Please do not consider yourself to be my friend e-mail message sent by the now-former organist/choirmaster of my parish. I'm still tempted to contact the dean of the cathedral he went to to warn others not to get hurt the way I was.

Well . . . gotta run & invite others to view this blog & contribute their comments! I'll probably add some more fun websites as time goes on . . . Lee sent me something hilarious today! (Thanks, Lee!)