And the Band-AIDS Played On

A Day to Recast Our Vows
& Commitment to Healing

When the AIDS epidemic broke free from the gates of hell, in the early 1980s, those who believe in gates of hell thanked their cruel invisible gods. Some hoped the ‘plague’ would wipe out a certain love they work so hard to convince themselves it’s there only to torment them.
This Dec 1 AIDS Day is a triumph for such an unjustly stigmatized disease. It proves, for the 29th year in a row, that intolerance has no place in human experience, and that in many ways, the crisis has turned a corner, as it may be finally on its way to oblivion.
The initial killer onslaught of AIDS did slaughter scores but, unlike what those who sided with it expected, it also reawakened that most selfless of human feelings: compassion. By the end of the decade, it was those haters who were being considered cursed, while the afflicted became heroes to be emulated.
The fatal group of infections caused by the HIV virus has ended the lives of some 35 million people worldwide. Slightly more are living with it, under intense control. And even if there’s no great merit in dying, those left behind, who’ve lost dear and close ones, did become better people.
There’s a new dangerous complacency towards AIDS, however, and while a minority can’t put up with the meds that’d keep them healthy, a great many simply assumed, irresponsibly, that a cure exists. That may explain the spike in new cases, despite an almost universal awareness about how the virus strikes.
AIDS is no longer considered a ‘lifestyle’ disease. Class-wise, it’s steadily moved on from a young, male, and relatively well-to-do urban crowd – the majority of early casualties in this devilish war – to multi-gender generations in mostly impoverished nations. Down to the very young.
In fact, 400 babies are born every year already HIV-positive. They may not be AIDS victims per se, but are still falling through the gargantuan income gap, that keeps on widening and swallowing ever more lives everyday. In 40 years, HIV infection never ceased to track a harsh class disparity.
The day also serves as a checkpoint reminder. It’s a refresher for global awareness, a spotlight on its current stats, rosy or dark, a review of strategies employed to address it, progresses on therapy (more)
Read Also:
* Vis-a-Virus
* Fading HIV
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Half-Man of Orlando

Not To Be Forgotten (Carlo Allegri/Reuters)

Of Lives Lost But
Never Extinguished

Every single one of those 49 people shot down in Orlando, Florida, last week, is now worthier remembering than their killer. And so are the other 53 injured. Any of them has now a meaningful story, to be told for generations. But not the shooter.
In fact, when, and if, we’ll manage to finally put aside the hurt and pain of the brutal massacre at the Pulse gay club, all we’ll have to inspire us it’ll be those lives cut short way too early; even their normality surpasses the murderer’s misguided path.
There’s an eerily prescient passage in Virginia Woolf‘s novel about a person who changes sex, Orlando: ‘Nothing can be more arrogant, though nothing is commoner, than to assume that of Gods there is only one, and of religions none but the speaker’s.’
Its deep insight into the nature of belief throws a surprising light on the known life of Omar Mateen and others like him. The fact that comes from a book with such a contemporary subject, despite having been published in 1928, may be more than pure happenstance.
On the other hand, Mateen’s not so well known life may be the other possible motif for the horrific crimes: self-hatred for the fact that he was likely a closet gay man himself. Visits to the club along the years as well as his digital track on gay date apps have attested to that.
The most important revelation, or rather, reaffirmation in the shooting’s aftermath, though, was the abundant grief and solidarity on display all over the world, even at places not exactly considered friendly to gays, such as Russia and the Bible Belt America.
The same world that doesn’t need us to write another digression about pain, or worn out protests against gun availability in the U.S. Thus the post below, which seems appropriate now, because it was written long ago and with absolutely no clear purpose than to express a feeling.
As such, it stands as our humble memorializing of such a tragedy, without even speculating whether it’ll do its part to soothe broken hearts. It’s a meditation on what always winds up happening to deranged killers like this one: utter, complete, and absolute oblivion.

The Shortcomer

A diminutive man is well aware of his stunted existence among giants. Yet, like the tiny droplet that hovers for a moment before the wave crashes back into the sea, he pretends to own the whole vast ocean by reflection. For an instant, all waters exist within his confines.
It’s not up to this half-creature the full arch of a liquid narrative, starting by the infinitesimal grain to its grand end (more)
Read Also:
* Hands Off
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Used Books

City Fined for Destroying
Occupy Wall Street Library

It was an act of truculence from the NYPD, just as the many arrests and illegal surveillance of members of the Occupy Wall Street movement, which even at its peak, remained an example of restrain as far as protest rallies go. An act that, even after two years, has no defenders.
A mistake, it’s now agreed, that will cost New York City, or rather, its taxpayers, $230,000, which includes reparations for the destruction of the volunteer-maintained People’s Library, plus the small windfall that lawyers, hired by the movement to litigate the case, have earned.
OWS has gone through many phases since that spring, summer and fall, still the only consistent act of rebellion against the widespread multi-billion malfeasance, perpetrated by Wall Street bankers, that brought most of the world’s finances to an almost standstill. Not quite, though, as it turned out.
Neither the U.S. government has managed to punish a single character in that tragic operetta, which bankrupted entire nations across the world, along with millions of working families. On the contrary, as far as anyone know, those same bosses have since thrived and are, in fact, wealthier than ever nowadays.
That’s why the raid of Zuccotti Park, in Lower Manhattan, was so out of proportion then, and utterly absurd now even as it recedes in time. While the city was wasting its highly trained law enforcement agents, their very own pensions were too being raided by the same chiefs who’d called them to clear the park in the first place. Not even Machiavelli could’ve envisioned such a mascarade.
The movement has found other venues to remain relevant since that fateful year. Whether it’s found its true calling by purchasing and forgiving debt of common citizens, as in the Strike Debt initiative (see on your left), or just being instrumental whenever needed, as it did during the devastation of Hurricane Sandy, it’s a discussion for another post.
In this context, beating the city in a lawsuit is not even its greatest achievement. But it sure helps. Thinking about that, here’s what Colltales published about the raid, and the chilling message it sent to some of us, to whom any time libraries and books are destroyed, burned, or dumped, the hair in the back of our neck stands up. Enjoy it.

Booking the Future

When Libraries Are Destroyed,
Bad Memories Drive the Protest

When the New York Police Department raided the Occupy Wall Street encampment in Zuccotti Park, Lower Manhattan, last Tuesday, destroying its free makeshift library, it unwittingly joined a sad and brutal roll call of fanatics that stretches back many centuries.
The NYPD became just the newest member of an infamous club that includes the Taliban, German Nazis, the Khmer Rouge, Imperial Japanese forces, The British Empire, the Catholic Church, and an assortment of despots and bloody occupation armies across time, religions, cultures and ideologies.
All at one time or another, have been singled out by history for being responsible of the destruction of millions of books. The volumes will never be recovered or even identified, and those who did away with them exist now mainly under the general banner of scourge. But what has been lost to mankind certainly goes way beyond their horrific deeds.
Even before Gutenberg officially invented the modern print, books were perceived as a threat to power. Thus, the way the police confiscated the 5,000-odd volumes covering a wide array of subjects that had been donated to the OWS movement, was but a small, albeit not new, Continue reading


Sandy & the Random
Kindness of New Yorkers

No one should be surprised if, among Hurricane Sandy’s misery and flotsam, altruistic, selfless acts of comradery were also on the rise, as spontaneous in nature and crucial in timing as any organized relief effort. Which never turns out to be enough anyway.
Scraped notes about such anonymous lifesaving events would number in the thousands, we’re sure. Since such story may never be completely told, here are a few examples in lieu of what may have happened, a record of what’s been lost in the darkness of the power outages.
From the simple, but utterly practical, bikers who spend their personal calories to charge their neighbors’ cellphones and computers, to the website listing the names and brief bios of those who perished during the storm, to the efforts by the Occupy Wall Street’s volunteer ‘splinter’ group, Occupy Sandy, to even those who simply post videos about devastated areas of the city on the Web.
More examples abound throughout the region and it’s almost contriving to make too much of what comes naturally to some of our fellow city dwellers. But we need to know that with all the gritty, and the powerbrokers, and the heartbreaking, and the widening income gap, New York still comes through as a community of decent folks, no matter what they say about it, you know where.
Even if the latest, and thankfully unnamed, nort’easter failed to live up to its billing, freezing rain and a potential new round of electricity cuts may rub the wrong way the still raw gashes and open wounds that Continue reading