Friday, December 2, 2016

When You Think About It: What's in a Photograph?

F LoBuono with Jen Palmieri

It's a simple photograph - two friends meet, greet, and smile. I could never have anticipated the reaction it created.

Jen Palmieri is a friend. The fact that she also happened to be Hillary Clinton's Director of Communication is irrelevant to me. What position people hold in life plays no significant role in who I choose as a friend. The are either good people or they aren't. And, Jen is one of the best.

I met her about 10 years ago when she married one of my closest childhood buddies and we've been good friends ever since. I have always found her to be witty, intelligent, and charming. When you go out to dinner with them, she is often interrupted with important messages from the likes of Leon Panetta or Nancy Pelosi. Still, she is gracious enough to not allow it to divert her full attention from you and the evening. This, I'm sure cannot be easy for either one of them. But, she always seems to be upbeat. When I would run into her while I was covering the campaign, she seemed perpetually smiling - even when her boss was taking a beating over one issue or another. And, she always appeared indefatigable! When I met her at the VP debate in Virginia I expressed to her how exhausted I was just covering the event. I could only imagine how tired she must have been. But, she poo-pooed that smiling, laughing, and saying, "hey, this is what it's all about". I admired her stamina!

When I had this photo made, it was with the idea to send it to her husband (my friend) with the quotation: hey, look  who I found!? It was all so INNOCENT. There was absolutely NO political intent what-so-ever: just two old friends sharing a hug and smile.

Then the comments started coming in.

I received ugly, vitriolic posts from people I not only have never met but had NO idea who they even were! Mike M. said: two, very big pieces of worthless SHIT (his capitals). and,"liberal piece of Clinton sucking scum".  Brian W. exclaimed: "she's deplorable" and "you should be embarrassed to call her friend." Loretta M-H claimed, "who insults Catholics?"! (referring to a leaked email accusing of anti-Catholic bias. By the way, she IS Catholic).

Really.

I can only imagine the ugliness that lurks in the hearts of these people. How can you make a simple photograph of two friends the object of such hate? These people were ANGRY with her AND me, simply because she is my friend and they disagreed with the candidate she represented. Perhaps, this is the new way - the Trump way. He has certainly emboldened the haters to do what they do best: hate.

Look, there is anger and disappointment in the Clinton camp. They failed - miserably. Despite winning the popular vote, she will not be President. This, I'm sure is devastating to Jen and her husband. In fact, I know that it is. And, perhaps, over dinner someday, we can discuss exactly what went wrong. But, that's a conversation for another day.

In the meantime, I am proud to call her friend and will defend that bond for as long as we remain as such, i.e. FOREVER.


Today's MOZEN: Welcome to the Age of Trumpism

F LoBuono
What can you say that hasn't already been said? It is what it is. Ain't gonna' change. You get what you pay for. Read it and weep. Se la vie. And, so on and so forth. You can use every cliche' and hackneyed phrase that you can muster, but the FACT remains:

Donald Trump will be President of the United States.

In the last view weeks there have been a plethora of articles, mostly of the "hand-ringing" type, warning of the potentially devastating effects a Trump administration would have on the middle class. This may or may not be the case. I KNOW which side my feelings lie. But, only time and history will tell with certainty. Besides, that's not THE point.

It's too fucking late.

From the VERY beginning of the campaign, Trump's millions of followers could not be shaken in their devotion to him - NO MATTER WHAT he may have said to insult millions of fellow Americans. As long as he didn't insult THEM, it was just fine. NO MATTER WHAT false promise he may have made to them, it was irrelevant. He promised THEM. He said "believe me" and that was enough. One of the few things he was absolutely right about was the statement he made saying that he could shoot someone on Park Ave. and it still wouldn't matter to his minions.

And, I ask you friends, now that he was WON IT ALL, why, in heaven's name, would THEY change that ??

A recent focus-group interview on CNN with Trump supporters showed a shocking misinterpretation, if not a flat out denial, of the facts involving the Presidential campaign. Simply because Mr. Trump claimed something to be true was enough for them - the latest being his outrageous and unsubstantiated claims of voter fraud. It was frightening to watch.

Despite his momentary lucidity when he rolled back some of his more outrageous campaign promises, he is back to the old DONALD - arrogant, bellicose, patronizing. His latest "Victory Tour" is amble evidence of his enormous ego. And, instead of Draining the Swamp he has simple re-populated it with more old alligators. He has filled his Cabinet so far with Washington and Wall St. insiders.

Welcome to the age of TRUMPISM.

And, I ask you friends, now that he has WON IT ALL, why, in heaven's name, would HE change that?

So, please spare me the articles deriding Trump's plans. I never believed him from the beginning.

And, I ask you friends, now that he was WON IT ALL, why, in heaven's name, would I change that?

No, second guessing and speculation about our future is not for me. I live day to day, doing the best that I can to live my life in a just and fair way. I see no need to change that now. I suggest that you do the same.




Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Today;s MOZEN: Stop Blaming the Media

Words and photo by F LoBuono
The media, the blanket term we use for the providers of information (at least that's what we hope they do), has taken its fair share of abuse these days. Some of it is warranted. Much of it is not. It's easy to blame the media for all the ills of the world. It's right in front of us in so many forms each and every day making it "accessible" for criticism.

When it's justified, I encourage critical review of the media. It DOES help to keep us honest. However, so much blame is affixed to us that is simply nonsense.

It is true, and disappointing to me, that the media, i.e. "the news" has become inundated with stories and features that can be seen as less than newsworthy. In addition to the hard news reported on a daily basis, local news is filled with gossip and what we in the business call "infotainment". An "Eye on Entertainment" report is included in virtually every nightly local newscast. However, people should keep in mind that news outlets air these stories in response to viewers' demands for MORE entertainment-like features. None of these decisions are made in a vacuum. Focus groups conducted by the industry consistently demonstrate what the public wants - entertainment.

So, in a sense, you are getting what you asked for.

Another thing to keep in mind is that the media, i.e. the News, is a BUSINESS. Nationally, it is a multi-billion dollar industry that employees tens of thousands of people. And, by the nature of ALL business positive cash flow is essential. It was not always this way. For years, news was "immune" to the rigors of profit and loss. But, those days are long gone. Profit rules. Therefore, now there is pressure to produce not only for content, but for money. This is one of the sad reasons that Donald Trump received so much news coverage during the Presidential campaign. In a classic case of Catch 22, it was no accident that the higher he drove the ratings, the more coverage he got.

Still, at least by my experience, the news outlets that I have worked for have ALWAYS functioned with the highest integrity. I have witnessed, on a daily basis, journalists who work their butts off to tell honest, informative, and balanced stories. If others have experienced otherwise, let them speak up and demonstrate how. Are they always right? Of course not! But, are they correct far more often than wrong? Absolutely.

Besides many people blame the news for the ills of society simply because they expect it to always be there and to always be perfect. Of course, that's impossible. And, furthermore, most people seem to be lazy when it comes to acquiring information. Instead of seeking the truth themselves through multiple sources (as a GOOD journalist does) they prefer to be spoon fed their information by a third party. In other words, it's EASY to BLAME. It's HARDER to KNOW.

There is no excuse. So, stop the blame game. The truth is there for the taking. You just need to make the effort.







Sunday, November 27, 2016

Today's MOZEN: Arrogance

F LoBuono

TEMET NOSCE!

Know thyself!

Temet Nosce! This inscription is located near the entrance to the ancient Greek temple at Delphi. Delphi is the place were the ancient Greeks went to hear their fate and receive guidance as predicted by the Pythia, or Oracle, who presided there. Through a kind of hypnotic trance, she answered the pilgrims' questions in a cryptic language left to interpretation.

The expression, as it is presented at Delphi, is usually depicted with an exclamation point suggesting that is a command rather just a suggestion.

I have always held this in my heart as one of the keys to living a complete, honest, and, therefore, rewarding life.

However, because this involves a sense of confidence in one's abilities (which includes acknowledgement of our shortcomings), it is often seen as ARROGANCE.

Of all my failings, perhaps I am excused of this more than all others. And, that disturbs me - to a degree. Arrogance is a particularly egregious fault. It implies that one sees oneself as "better" than others. This is hurtful, particularly because one of my goals in life is to do no harm. However, this is not possible. We simply cannot live a life of conviction without stepping on some toes. This is inevitable and, therefore, MUST be an accepted risk. And, I have. Still, this can leave others with the impression of arrogance.

The key to having strong opinion, and having them "accepted", is finding a way to express them with strength and honesty without sounding dogmatic. This is, indeed, a challenge that I often struggle with. Still, I realize that this is part of the process.

In my work as a journalist, I strive for impartiality, i.e. balance in my stories. This is our creed. However, as I have expressed before, there is a difference between reporting and editorializing. I have always tried to separate the two. However, it is not possible to not have one cross-over into the other. And, ALWAYS, expressing TRUTH, as you see it, MUST be the most important factor. Recently, international award winning reporter Christiane Amanpour, has been exhorting reporters to be truthful, not neutral, saying "truth is not biased".

When I feel that I armed with the truth, my approach can be seen as aggressive. I make my points forcefully. But, I also do so respectfully. I never use pejoratives and avoid personal attacks. I do my best to accept other, differing opinions. Of course, when conversations get contentious, especially on social media, I can lose my cool just like everyone else. However, I am aware of how loud I can be and how obnoxious that can seem - especially if I believe that someone is wrong on the "facts". I do KNOW MYSELF.

To stifle myself would be to NOT know myself. THAT is not what I am. I am loud and proud. It is part of my essence. I DO like myself (at least mostly). And, I'm working on being more EFFECTIVE in my interactions. To not be so is to earn the label arrogant - something that I know in my heart I am not. And, I believe that those who know ME, understand my intentions. To not be truthful with MYSELF is the ultimate dishonesty.









Friday, November 25, 2016

Today's MOZEN: Shame on You!


Words and photo by F LoBuono
Please forgive what might become an epic rant, full of vulgarity. But, I just can't help myself. I just read a post from a man I thought that I respected - an Italian-American. Good guy with a sense of community. Really. It was about a Muslim-American woman who no longer feels safe wearing her head scarf. The reaction to her was simply DEPLORABLE: "Go home, sand nigger". "Good riddance". "Who gives a shit - LEAVE", were just some of the quotes.

REALLY???

This is what we've become????

LISTEN DOUCHE BAGS - you have NO CLUE as to what it means to be an AMERICAN. You're the first scumbags to wave the flag in someone's face without having a REAL clue as to what it truly means TO BE A REAL AMERICAN. It's written all over the world's GREATEST SYMBOL OF FREEDOM - the Statue of Liberty. Instead of using it like a weapon, read it. BELIEVE it. LIVE it!

The New Collossus
Emma Lazarus


Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.
"Keep ancient lands, your storied pomp!" cries she
With silent lips. "Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"

Today's MOZEN: BLACK FRIDAY

F LoBuono
BLACK FRIDAY
is to
AVARICE
as a
4TH of July
HOT DOG EATING CONTEST
is to
GLUTTONY.

i.e. The Super Bowl of Bad Human Behavior


Wednesday, November 23, 2016

TalkFrank's Thanksgiving Message

Words and Photo by F LoBuono
These are the times that try men's souls.
                                               Thomas Paine, "The American Crisis" -  December 23, 1776

Wow. A strange way to begin a Thanksgiving message? Perhaps. But, certainly, considering the current state of affairs in America, not inappropriate.

Those words, written almost exactly 240 years ago, still ring true today. A most contentious and brutal campaign season has left us with the most controversial leader of my lifetime as President, Donald Trump. The fact that he won the election despite losing the popular vote by nearly 2 million people to Hillary Clinton has created a palpable rift among the populous. In fact, it would not be hyperbole to say that most Clinton supporters are simply devastated. And, those people fear the direction that Mr. Trump appears to be pointing us in. In other words, they feel they have little to be truly thankful for.

But, that's not what Thanksgiving is all about - at least not to me.

On this day, the world can take care of itself - and, it will if we just take a moment to count our own blessings. No matter how small they may seem to be, when we acknowledge the good in our lives, we assist in its healing. And, the good things ARE there: family, friends, food, health, home, safety, serenity, peace, light, love, and life. I have these things and I wish you all the same.

HAPPY THANKSGIVING!!




Saturday, November 19, 2016

Today's MOZEN: WAKE UP!!!!!!!!!!

Words and photo by F LoBuono
America, wake up! The Country we once knew is gone. November 8th changed all of that. Get it through your heads: The reports on the death of the GOP were greatly exaggerated. In fact, just the opposite happened. The Republicans now rule in ways beyond their wildest dreams. They control the Presidency, Congress, and, soon, the Supreme Court. And, the feckless, impotent Democrats are, once again, left looking like scolded children.

You can scream. You can hold your breath. You can stomp your feet. You can walk out of every Broadway production known to mankind and Donald Trump is still going to be President. And, the GOP is going to make your lives as miserable as possible - unless, of course, you happen to be a millionaire or billionaire. This is my take on things, anyway. I hope for all of us that I'm wrong. But, based on the past performance of the GOP, I don't think that I am. How they managed to convince working people that they are actually for THEM, with a track record of Union busting and anti-labor legislation, is baffling to me!

The sad thing is that we could have changed towards THE OPPOSITE DIRECTION. We were offered a chance to say NO to bigotry, misogyny, and greed. Instead, we choose them as NEW American values. More disturbing is the thought that, perhaps, they always were . . .

As for the future, we all would like to think that no one man can change America that much. Well, it ain't just one man. Trump is just the tip of the iceberg. Beneath will lie a mountain of icy, mostly white men with malice in their hearts. I'm sure that they believe in their vision. Unfortunately, I do not. But, I'm just one little shit-head with a blog. What can I, or anyone else like me, do against the MACHINE? I fear the damage done. The Orange Genie is out of the bottle.

Certainly, I don't want to sound like such a pessimist. By nature I tend to be more "up" than "down". But, this is the real deal, gang. This new administration has the will AND the power to put into a play a vision of America that excludes instead of includes, negates when it should affirm, and punishes rather than rewards. But, unfortunately, that's America. Apparently, at least it is now.

And, I have no answers . . .

Friday, November 18, 2016

Today's MOZEN: NOT Girl Power

Words and photo by F LoBuono
Well, ladies, I hate to do this but I have a bone to pick with y'all. While it's true that white men voted for Donald Trump in sufficient numbers for him win the election, white women share the "blame", as well. CNN exit polls have indicated that nearly 53% of white women voted for Trump over Hillary Clinton. The fact that Clinton is a woman and Trump made several disparaging, if not down-right misogynistic, statements about women seemed to have little, if any, effect on many women. Their reasoning seem to be encapsulated in these quotes:

"That's because he's not working off a TelePrompTer or a script fine tuned by a consultant and focus groups," the Women for Trump site stated. "We look at his actions, not his words."

and

"Groping is a healthy thing to do. When you're heterosexual, you grope, okay? It's a good thing," Jane Biddick, a female Trump supporter, told New York Magazine.

Really.

And, by my own empirical observations on Facebook and other social media, MANY women flat-out despised Ms. Clinton in ways they could not even articulate beyond "I don't trust her". How they could come up with that conclusion after Ms. Clinton's successful defense in the Benghazi investigation AND the judgment by the FBI that there was no criminal intent in the e-mail fiasco, baffles me. It even infuriates me to think that SO many women were willing to vilify Hillary for her indiscretions while giving the obviously sexist and misogynistic Trump a pass. On a personal basis, I know that all the women that I have close associations with were OUTRAGED at the prospect. Still, I had other friends and family (women) who insisted that Trump's transgressions with women were irrelevant. IRRELEVANT???? How can the character of a man who will lead hundreds of millions be irrelevant? I'm sorry ladies for the vulgar comparison but, with that kind of logic, I assume that it's OK to "grab women who voted for Trump by the pussy simply because I only mean it in good male-type fun"!!

Really.

So, ladies, please spare me the holier than though attitude when it comes to this election. In addition to the tens of millions of voters who never even showed up, there's plenty of blame to go around. And, many of you share the burden.

Epilogue: First, let me thank EVERYONE for their comments. This is a passionate time and everyone's emotions seem to be especially raw. I get it. And, I appreciate the participation. If I might add my two-cents worth (surprise - surprise): I'm a big "character" guy. I will follow anyone that I believe shares the same values of honesty, compassion, passion, fairness, and equality that I do. I see NONE of these things in Mr. Trump. None. And, I've felt that way from the very beginning. He's a bully - and the worst kind of bully - a rich one who pays others to do his dirty work. I cannot follow someone that I don't respect. And, I have NEVER respected him - not from day one. From before the time he MOCKED a disabled reporter to his denigration of certain ethnic groups to the continued bully pulpit tactics, Mr. Trump has shown me nothing to be admired. Nothing. And, you women who "defend" him. Let me add this: if he spoke of the women I associate with in the way he spoke on that bus, he'd have to answer to me. And, I'm a MAN. Ladies, if you wanted to be treated as equals, then act like one!!!!!!!!!!! Don't take that shit!!!!!!!!!!! But, it's too late now. The damage is done. Now, live with it.




Monday, November 14, 2016

Today's MOZEN: Joannie

Words and photo by F LoBuono
In the beginning, I only knew her as The Woman Who Waits (first published 12/13/2013 http://talk-frank.blogspot.com/2013/12/a-short-story-woman-who-waits.html). A solitary figure, she stood in front of her apartment building on Broadway in Nyack in all types of weather, often for hours, smiling, waiving, and spreading love and good cheer to whomever she met. Children were particularly fond of her most gentle nature.

After a time, I got to know Joan, or Joannie, as I affectionately named her. She calls me "Al" because I remind her of Al Pacino  (although she says that I'm better looking!). She is part of a large family in the area with many sisters, all characterized by their red hair. I learned that Joannie had been through a lot in her time on earth. As a younger woman, she lost many years to addiction and, from time to time, still struggles with those stubborn demons. One of the ways that she dealt with her misfortune was, instead of feeling sorry for herself, to give back to others in the most simple of ways - by spreading joy to everyone who came in contact with her. And, through this, she became one of our towns most beloved figures. I look at her as what the Buddhists call a Bodhisattva or Spirit Guide, i.e. one that, by example, helps to show us the path to righteousness and salvation.

About two years ago, Joannie felt like she needed a change. So, she decided to move in with one of her sisters in California. Of course, this left a huge hole in the collective consciousness of our little village. It was as if someone had let some of the love escape. We could not help but notice the loss of her calming presence. But, ultimately, it was a good move for her and she is thriving. She has found comfort in her renewed faith, the foundation of her recovery.

We speak on the phone from time to time. But, Joannie is not much of a "phone person". That's OK. I don't need to talk to her to feel her presence. She will always be a part of this place and, therefore, me. Besides, like today, she does get back for the occasional visit with her sisters. We met for breakfast this morning at Johnnie Cakes and, of course, it was like we had never been apart. She beamed when she saw me and the feeling was mutual. Love and affection just exudes from this women. We made a few stops along Broadway to visit some old friends. The reaction was always the same: JOANNIE!! So good to see you. We LOVE you! It did her heart and mine, good.  At her request, we held hands and prayed together. She is always trying to save my soul - and, despite my misgivings about formal religion, I always accept her blessings - ALWAYS.

After a few hours, it was time to go our separate ways. Joannie would be returning to California in the morning. But, there was no sadness - only joy in each others company with the knowledge that we will always be there for one another.

God Speed, Joannie.

She would like to hear that - from me.

:)