Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Today's MOZEN: So, Why Should I Care?

F LoBuono

First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Socialist.

Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out— 
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out— 
Because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.
Martin Niemoller
This, my friends, is how it begins.

At first, we hardly notice.

We say, "what's the big deal? He made lewd comments about women. It was not MY woman. So, why should I care? He wants to build a wall. I don't know any illegal Mexicans. So, why should I care? He shut down a reporter. There are plenty of reporters. So, why should I care"?

Because, eventually, it will happen to you.

Caring is not easy. In fact, it's a lot more simple to not give a shit. It involves deep thinking and commitment. Awareness on that level can raise our blood pressure and keep us up at night. Quite frankly, it can be downright exhausting.

So, why should we bother?

Because, ultimately, by doing so, we make the world a better place, not only for ourselves, but for those around us, as well. Why this is such a difficult concept to fathom is beyond me - especially now.

We have elected a man who doesn't seem able to grasp this as a concept. In fact, in every word, in every deed, President-elect, Donald J.Trump seems to be the antithesis of the notion of goodness, kindness, and compassion. And, it happens right in front of us on a startlingly regular basis. And, yet, his followers continually find ways to dismiss his boorish behavior in myriad ways. He mocks a disabled man and his minions say, "no he didn't. He was only joking". Instead of building bridges between people, he wants to build a wall and have the people he wishes to exclude pay for it. And, his followers chant, "Build the Wall - Build the Wall"! He disparages our dedicated intelligence professionals calling them "fools and liars". His supporters say, "of course, they are". Now, he has decided that a free press shouldn't be so free anymore and refuses to answer tough questions from those he simply does not like. The partisan crowd agrees with him that the media deserves to be banished - especially if they should have the temerity to disagree with him.

When do we say ENOUGH?!!!!

Well, I have - a long time ago.

Friends that I respect have asked me to give him a chance. My response is this: when he shows me something, ANYTHING, that I can respect, much less admire, I will give him that chance. Until that time, I will resist him tooth and nail.

Until they come for me . . .




Saturday, January 7, 2017

Today's MOZEN: Failure Is Not An Option

F LoBuono
I believe that I am every bit as frustrated with the current situation in America as most of my readers are.

And, for the people who actually do take the time to read my screeds, hopefully, I'm preaching to the proverbial choir.

The real issue is who is willing to listen and what can we really change if we do? People made up their minds a long time ago and, now, we are left with the consequences.

It sure as shit seems that, despite what the working-class voters for Donald Trump may have thought would happen, the rich and powerful now rule in ways we haven't seen since the days of the Czars. Greed, avarice, cruelty, ignorance, sexism, and bigotry are considered virtues while compassion, honesty, and integrity are seen as weaknesses. To be labeled an intellectual is now to be synonymous with arrogance. And, if you think that they (i.e. the Republicans) have your best interests at heart, I just may have a few more fantasies to sell ya'! So, we find ourselves often feeling deflated and asking things like, "what's left to say that hasn't already been said"? And, "what can we possibly do to change things"?

So, with the risk of sending too elitist, what's a thinking person of conscience to do?

Do we simply throw our hands in the air and give up?

That would certainly be the easy thing to do. Perhaps, it may even be prudent. But, would it be right?

I think not.

In fact, I believe the opposite tact must be taken.

Allow me to use a quote from the film "Apollo 13". When confronted with the possible loss of the mission and the crew, Mission Control Commander, Gene Kranz (as portrayed by Ed Harris), utters the legendary command, "Failure is NOT an option". It's implication is obvious: the situation is just too damned serious not to find a solution.

Those words have never been more appropriate than they are right now.

Failure is not an option.

In the face of a Donald Trump administration that continually and rapidly grows in idiocy and demagoguery, we must NOT pull back. In fact, we must remain continually vigilant and be even more proactive in our pursuit of our TRUE American ideals: justice for ALL, opportunity for ALL, equality for ALL. There are those who claim that these principals were always more theoretical than practical. And, they may be correct in saying so. But, they were goals to aspire to and strive towards until we actually achieved them. Now, they seem further away than ever.

Day after day, we are confronted by a leader who does not speak well, does not think clearly, and believes in communicating complex political issues in 140 characters or less!! He has even taken the time to "Tweet" a comment regarding a vapid, "reality" show, denigrating its host because the ratings lacked the vigor of those when he hosted the same program!

Really.

He has discounted the overwhelming amount of evidence gathered by our best intelligence professionals that the Russians hacked into our political Internet grid and influenced our election. Is Mr. Trump concerned that this Russian interference may have dangerous implications for the safety of our Country? Hell, no! He is more concerned that it might tarnish his victory, sully his reputation, and damage his ENORMOUS EGO. And, the hypocrisy doesn't end there. I can give many more examples of a man tripping all over his pride instead of putting it aside for the good of others. There is simply not enough time to list them all!

And, this is a LEADER? YOUR leader?

Unfortunately, the time to change that has passed. We MUST deal with him. We have to. And, remember, Failure is not an option.

So, what can we do?

We can be HEARD, especially on the local level. Express you concerns and displeasure to your local leaders - write them, email them, even TWEET them when you encounter something that betrays our ideals. Be present. Be loud and be proud. SCREAM if you have to. But, don't accept what should never be tolerated. And, vote! Use the power of the vote to elect those who support your ideals and counter the acrimony of the Orange Man. He was elected on a grassroots level. He can be challenged in the same way.

Failure is not an option.

Fight on!!!!!!!





Sunday, January 1, 2017

Today's MOZEN: Dealing with a Bully

F LoBuono
When I was a kid, I was painfully thin. Well, it might be more accurate to say that I was downright skinny. And, I hated it. As I have written previously, virtually all of my role models were macho men. My father and all of my uncles were combat veterans. My sports heroes were usually the biggest and the baddest of the bunch. Naturally, I wanted to be like them. But, I was so damned frail! To compensate, I participated in every tough or violent activity I could. I played football. I wrestled. I boxed. And, I lifted weights to try to get bigger and more muscular. Nothing seemed to really work.

But, I was strong and tough - tough as nails, as a matter of fact. Where I grew up, and with the situations I put myself in, I had to be. If I wasn't, I might not have survived. The bullies were merciless. And, I hated to be picked on. I just wasn't going to take any shit from ANYONE. So much so, that I think that I must have gotten into some kind of a fight just about every single week of my youth. And, I don't think that I won any of them. I'm not THAT tough.

But, winning the fight was not that important. Standing up for myself WAS. This I was taught by my parents - both of them. My father would explain to me what he had learned when he was in the Service. It starts with respect - for yourself and for then others.

NEVER let anyone put their hands on you.

FORBID anyone to insult you or your family.

DEMAND the same respect for yourself that you give to others.

ALWAYS walk away from a fight if you can, but never lose face in doing so.

If these criteria are not met, be prepared to fight back - even against a physically superior foe.

And, I did - no matter the consequence.

I would come home from one of these encounters battered, bruised, and, often, crying. My mother would greet me at the door and say, "Frankie, what happened? Are you OK? Did someone hurt you"? She would dust me off, dry my tears, check to make sure that I wasn't seriously hurt and then ask, "do you want to talk about what happened"? And, I always did. I would explain that someone had made fun of me until I just couldn't take it anymore and I just HAD to fight back. Usually, he was bigger, stronger, and older so my chances of winning that fight were slim and none. But, I didn't care. Stella would always chide me to not get into so many scraps while at the same time supporting the fact that I was standing up for myself and what I believed was worth fighting for.

Therefore, it's safe to say I KNOW a bully when I see one and how to deal with him.

President-elect Donald Trump is a BULLY of the highest (or, lowest) order: an insolent, intolerant one with money. In other words, he has all of the abhorrent traits of an "ordinary" bully with the resources of a multi-millionaire. So, he doesn't even have to do the dirty work himself. He can pay others to do it for him. And, he does.

Well, I'll deal him like I have with all the bullies that I have encounter in my life: I'm not going to take his shit and I'm going to fight back in every way that I can - not with my fists but by having a voice and using it to defy him in every way possible. From my experience, the more you oppose one, the less likely they are to come after you. When I was a kid, I fought back so often, even after getting my ass kicked time after time, that the bullies simply stopped from shear exhaustion! They would say, "leave him alone. I'm tired of beating the crap out of him". Let it be the same with Mr. Trump.

I am not afraid.


Saturday, December 31, 2016

New Year's Eve 2016

F LoBuono
We should commit to making the world a better place EVERYDAY. But, should you need the incentive, so be it - HAPPY, HEALTHY NEW YEAR, ALL!

Thursday, December 29, 2016

TalkFrank's Message for the New Year

Words and photo by F LoBuono
This is the time of year when people experience a great deal of emotion. For most of us it is joyful. But, for some, it can be downright painful. Where many of us have the pleasure and warmth of family and friends, others feel the pang of loneliness and abandonment. And, that can be devastating.

What can we do or say to someone who is suffering?

Well, first, we can be present. Let someone who is hurting know that you are THERE for them. They are not really alone. Sometimes, a simple phone call with a kind word is enough. And, that ain't so hard to do now, is it? Also, if you can, plan to visit someone you know who might be alone and hurting. It really takes such little effort. And, it can save a life.

Often, because of their situations, people can be overcome simply by looking for the answers to their problems.  They ask, why am I alone or why is this bad thing happened to me and why isn't life easier, etc.?

Well, I may not have the answers but I can offer this: sometimes, it is not necessary to know ALL of them anyway. In fact, it is impossible to. We must learn to accept what we cannot even understand, much less CHANGE. It always reminds of the title of a popular Broadway show from the late 70's called Your Arms to Short to Box with God. The musical took the title from a 1927 sermon, "The Prodigal Son", by James Weldon Johnson.

Now, anyone who knows me also knows that I am not a formally religious person - it's just too restrictive for me. Still, I do believe that there is a higher consciousness that drives the Universe in some way. The issue is that consciousness is SO MUCH higher than our own we can never even hope to fully understand it (Buddhists believe that Enlightenment is reached if, and when, we do - a discussion for another post). Hence, the title. Sometimes, we must just accept what is given us without reservation or question. It just IS. When we learn to accept what we cannot change, our lives will improve and we can move forward in peace and harmony.

And, that is a good thing.

So, I hope that you are not suffering my friends and that the New Year brings you health, happiness, and, above all else, PEACE.





Monday, December 26, 2016

Today's MOZEN: The Day After Christmas, 1944

F LoBuono

He was just one among millions. Still, they were an exceptional group - The Greatest Generation. There may never be another bunch quite like them.

My father was the son of Sicilian immigrants. His father ran a grocery business in Cliffside Park, N.J. until he died suddenly of a heart attack when my old-man was just 12. Being the oldest boy in a family with a widowed mother and 3 other siblings (he had an older and a younger sister as well as a younger brother), he was forced to become the primary bread winner. Of course, his entire family helped out but most of the responsibility fell on his shoulders. Then came the depression and after that, WWII. Life couldn't have been easy for any of them.

Still, they did their duty when it mattered most.

Both my father and his brother, Ralph, joined the service and went off to fight. My father, Joseph, became a combat engineer and served with Patton's legendary 3rd Army while his brother became a tanker with the equally lauded 2nd Armored Division. During the course of the War, both saw considerable amounts of combat - from Normandy to The Battle of the Bulge.

My father rarely spoke of his "hard core" war experiences. He would often tell me that he actually enjoyed being in the Army but not of the more difficult times he experienced in combat. Perhaps, he wanted to spare me the horrific details. But, he did speak of one: it was the day after Christmas, 1944. After a forced march through terrible winter conditions, he and his outfit reached the division that became known as The Battling Bastards of Bastogne - the 101st Airborne. Their defense of that rail-head town was the key to the allied victory at The Bulge, perhaps the most crucial battle of the war. Their stubborn resistance against the German Army became almost mythical when their commanding officer, General Anthony McAuliffe, responded to a request to surrender with this simple, eloquent response: NUTS!

The cold was brutal and their was no shelter for the troops. Sleeping in foxholes, my father remembered the awful, punishing cold. And, when they weren't fighting the terrible conditions, they were battling the Germans. But, they never stopped. They knew brave men were dying in Bastogne and that the 3rd Army was not only their only hope but also the key to an Allied victory. They also knew that if they didn't make it, the war could still be lost.

But, they did make it. And, they did win the battle and, subsequently, the war.

So, today, on this day after Christmas 2016, when you kickback, enjoying the gifts you given and received, drinking your wine and eating your left-overs in the warmth and comfort of your living rooms, remember those sacrifices made on our behalf on this very day 72 years ago.


Thursday, December 22, 2016

On My Health


As open as I want to be with this blog, I don't often share details concerning very personal issues like finances or health. Not only is it generally no one's business, it's boring - who gives a shit?! But, at times, not sharing with people who genuinely care is rude - especially since some word has already leaked out.

So, here it is:

This past Tuesday, I went to do the laundry in the basement of our apartment house. While I was loading the machine a horrible feeling came over me. It was as if I KNEW something terrible was either happening or going to happen to me or someone close to me. It filled me with dread and actually made me weak in the knees. I gathered myself, shook off the feeling, and continued with my laundry. I remember leaving the room - and that's ALL I remember.

Here's what I am told happened next:

My next door neighbor heard a load CRASH on the porch. When he looked out he saw me convulsing on the porch deck. While his wife called 911, he rushed out to attend to me. He said that I was "completely gone", kicking and foaming at the mouth. After a time, I tried to right myself only to collapse again. When I did say something, it was incoherent babbling. Eventually, the paramedics game and loaded me unto a gurney for a trip to Nyack Hospital.

At the hospital I continued my incoherent behavior. Tests were taken and my blood pressure was found to be over 200!! Not good. It may have caused a small stroke. After more tests and some medication, I began to be myself again - weird but coherent. After 14 miserable hours, I dismissed myself from the hospital and walked the mile home (at 4am - see WEIRD). But, this is a story for another day.

I am the first to admit that I am terrible with my own health care. I haven't been to a doctor for a checkup in over 25 years - haven't had to - my health has always been EXCELLENT. Well, this has been a serious wake-up call and I have appointments with healthcare professionals to deal with it. I may be crazy but, generally, I'm not stupid! I don't want to die - not tomorrow anyway!

Let me take this moment to assure everyone that I am fine - for now - and am moving forward to make sure that it doesn't happen again. I would also like to THANK everyone for the outpouring of concern and support that I have been receiving. YOU will help me beat this!!

MERRY CHRISTMAS, ALL!!


Wednesday, December 21, 2016

GOOD WILL TO ALL 2016

Words and photo by F LoBuono

As a young man, I was, in many ways, obsessed with violence. ALL of my heroes were Men of Machismo: Heracles, Caesar, Napoleon, Patton, Marciano. The more powerful, the better. All of them seemed to have achieved greatness, if not immortality, through violence. I admired the strongest, the toughest, the fastest, the meanest. They dripped with testosterone. I loved war movies and could spend countless hours playing with toy soldiers. At my parents house in Fort Lee, I would stage huge battles by organizing the acorns I gathered from the trees in the yard into elaborate armies. Of course, I was the Field Marshall.

I played the most violent sports. I LOVED playing football and excelled particularly at the defensive positions. In fact, despite my lack of great size or speed, I set my college football team record for the most tackles in a single season (the team was eventually disbanded). I enjoyed the physicality of the game. I boxed, entering a tournament at Rutgers University as a light-heavyweight. I was also a college weightlifting champion.

I looked for things that were the most physically challenging. I continually drove myself to do more and more difficult things. I needed to prove something- not only to others but, most importantly, to myself. I needed to KNOW that I could take it. And, I always believed that to think it was not enough - you had to LIVE it.

At the same time, I was incredibly conflicted. In my heart and in my very soul, I am a truly gentle person - so much so that I think that I did all of these violent and physical things to hide that fact: it's not easy being a gentle man in a VIOLENT WORLD. We are surrounded by images of macho-men who settle disputes at the end of gun barrel. I needed to prove that I COULD be as violent in order to survive in a world where violence is virtually worshipped. And, it hasn't changed. In the time it has taken me to write this, with my TV on in the background, there have been 3 commercial ads for new films - one more violent than the next.

But, the older that I get the more committed I am to the path of NON-violence.

I have always believed in the transcendent power of love and remain convinced that the path of non-violence is the ONLY way to the salvation of the human race. TRUE courage lies in the ability to accept this. We have been shown the Way countless times by a multitude of messengers that we sometimes worship and still too often ultimately ignore. At this time of year, we call it Christmas Spirit. Whether, we practice it for what it actually represents is a matter of interpretation.

If we don't have the courage to resist our baser instincts, especially to retaliate when we are wronged, we are destined to repeat the cycle of violence and we will never achieve peace in our time. And, being wronged isn't restricted solely to the physical. Mental transgressions are often more painful and long lasting. I found myself particularly egregious with the later. I have learned to control my temper, mostly, physically, but I'm still still capable of mental warfare. And, if I am guilty of these things, I must acknowledge that they exist in others. In extension, if we wish for others to forgive us our sins, we must respond in kind.

It really is that simple.

But, it is also HARD because it takes an extraordinary amount of courage. It takes the fortitude of belief. It means letting go. But, to do so you must first ask (and, answer) this: if you have no fear in the face of brutality, who is the more courageous - the brute, or the one who resists the brute? Millions profess this every Sunday but few LIVE it. You know, turn the other cheek and stuff. You either accept the doctrine or you don't.

Now, at this moment in history, at this time of  the Season, when we prepare to receive The Prince of Peace and profess Good Will to All Men, we must recommit ourselves to the WORD - not withstanding the strictly religious connotation - and the word is  LOVE - Only love Conquers Hate.


MERRY CHRISTMAS-HAPPY HOLIDAY-PEACE ON EARTH




Saturday, December 17, 2016

Today's MOZEN: Summer vs. Winter

F LoBuono

There are those who revel in the cold weather. They find it clean and refreshing - much needed relief from the summer's swelter. I am not one of them. In fact, no matter how Zen I try to be about it, Winter is just not for me.

Perhaps, it's my Sicilian genes and dark skin. But, it never gets too hot for me -especially if I can get to the water. Wading and swimming are great but a nice, cold shower will do in a pinch. I can always cool off with water. This is not the case for me in the cold weather. In winter, once I get cold there seem to be days when I feel like I may never get warm again.

So, it's pretty simple: Hot, humid weather may be uncomfortable. But, freezing cold weather with a biting wind thrown in for good measure is downright painful.

That is all.

Friday, December 16, 2016

Today's MOZEN: They Deserve One Another.

F LoBuono

Of the hundreds of interviews I have been involved with as either a producer, correspondent, or photographer, there is one that sticks out in my mind as simply the worst EVER: Kanye West.

Period.

A few years back, just as he was becoming a "mega star", a CBS News producer and I (I was shooting) were scheduled to meet with West for an interview at his suite of rooms at The Mandarin Hotel at Columbus Circle in New York. I remember the room being crowded with dozens of sycophants and other hangers-on.There was barely enough room to set up my gear. Eventually, as he finally entered the room, West's minions were so impressed by his presence that they almost gasped. He took his seat and the interview began without further drama.

After a few minutes of informal banter, the producer asked Mr. West who some of his early influences might have been. Without hesitation, this was his response (paraphrasing):

I really haven't had any influences. I see my myself and my work as totally unique. There really has never been anyone quite like me.

Really.

And, the interview continued in that vein - each comment more arrogant than the last. I have never experienced a person more full of themselves than Kanye West. But, then again, even though I have photographed him, I have never actually met Donald Trump.

Now, Kanye is currying favor with this Giant of Self-inflated Importance, the President-elect himself.

All I can say is that they deserve one another.