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Aug 27 2012 I want to get a refill on a prescription. Using my iPhone, I opened the Walgreens app and scanned the bar code on the pill bottle which had printed on it “3 refills until 12/2/2012” and this is only August. While the scan was accepted, a message came back telling me I would have to call a Walgreens’ pharmacist since I could not get my refill accepted online.

When I called, the pharmacist looked up the prescription and queried Medco, my insurance provider. A message came back to her that they’d have to get permission from my physician to okay the refill. So, the idea that I could get refills easily by just asking seems not to be an option. She said she’d take care of contacting my doctor and they would then let me know when the prescription was ready.

About 15 minutes later, the phone rang. It was a recorded voice from Walgreens telling me that “your prescription scheduled to be picked up at 1:45 today has been delayed. We will contact you when your prescription is ready.” Since there had been no time mentioned for any pick-up and I already knew the prescription hadn’t gone through, I wondered why I got this recorded message.

And 10 minutes later my iPhone chimed with a text message from Walgreens: “Your prescription is not yet ready for pick-up. Call xxx-xxx-xxx for details.”

Sort of like the old Saturday Night Live news report: Generalissimo Francisco Franco is still dead. Yes, my prescription is still not ready.

Aug 23 2012 I’m worn out by all the blather on TV that masquerades as advertising for various candidates. How the other person is a doofus and has done all sorts of things reigns the airwaves. No matter if the truth, whatever that is, has been genetically modified to suit the video rant. It’s not what a candidate stands for. It’s what his/her opponent stands for even if that’s been distorted and out of context.

There are, to be sure, some reality being projected. The whole brouhaha around Todd Akin is one where video/audio doesn’t lie. Then there is the obfuscation by his own party pretending that they repudiate Akins’ words. Yes, parsing, they don’t like the stupid statement about raped women being able to “shut down” and not get pregnant. But about abortion even in the event of rape? About redefining what rape is? Just read that party’s platform.

But I digress. I am worn out from all this nonsense. When ads from either party come on, I mute them or change channels. I’ve been inundated all summer with the Missouri primary and now we’re into the general election. Billions are being spent to spew negative vibes into the air, to vilify, to distort. If this election (either locally or nationally) is determined by this set of crud on TV, we’re in a very sad place as a country.

We’re in an election of not what I’m for and what I will do. It’s what the other person supposedly is for and what he/she will do. Tired of it all. Tuning out.

Oh, Todd, please stay in the race. It’s about the only entertainment that’s out there.

Jul 14 2012 [Originally I spoke this piece at a meeting of the board of directors of the Jewish Federation of St. Louis in 1970 when I was 30 years old. I had just returned from a week in Israel with other young leaders from all across the country and then a national conference of Jewish communities in Kansas City, MO. I reproduce it here verbatim not only for its place in my personal history of writings, but also for some of its current relevance.]

St. Louis Jewish Light, December 2, 1970

This report is a little bit different from most reports you hear about trips. Whereas it would be interesting to tell you the details day-by-day of my week in Israel, this can be done in private or at a different time. Again, whereas a detailed presentation of what I learned in Kansas City a weekend ago would be useful, this also can be accomplished in private. What I would propose would be to give you not what I did, but what I experienced as the results of my experiences.

If this report had a title, it would be “Wasn’t that a time?” There is an American folk song that, using the words of Tom Paine, states Our Fathers bled at Valley Forge,/the snow was red with blood,/their faith was warm at Valley Forge,/their faith was brotherhood./Wasn’t that a time/ Wasn’t that a time./A time to try the soul of man./Wasn’t that a terrible time.

Too often in our history have we looked back and we have said: “Wasn’t that a time?” Wasn’t that a time when Masada fell? Wasn’t that a time when Jews were mercilessly killed all throughout the Middle Ages? Wasn’t that a time [during] the Spanish Inquisition? Wasn’t that a time when the world stood by as Germany murdered six million? Wasn’t that a time when Jews were imprisoned and executed in great purges in Soviet Russia? Wasn’t that a time when the world virtually turned its back on Israel before and after the Six Day War?

So, as you can see, our history is filled with a retrospective reviews of the tragedies in our past.

Read more: Wasn't That a Time
Jul 31 2012 Recently, a friend was hired to a position in economic development at an agency that is not part of government, but whose board is appointed by the County Executive. From what I understand, he was hired after a thorough job search by an independent company. He once held the same position years ago, but had to resign as I explain below. Over the past many years, he has been an executive at two of the area’s largest commercial real estate developers and, as far as I know, well respected by that community.

There was a public attack on him by the county’s prosecuting attorney who questioned his hiring,  asked that he be fired, and said: “the Economic Council's move was akin to the county Health Department hiring a drug addict to buy pharmaceuticals,” according to the St. Louis Post Dispatch.  While I believe in analogies, this is both over the top and inaccurate in my estimation.

My friend resigned within a few weeks of being hired not wanting to put the agency or the county through unneeded attention and distress. He is the only one in this parade who showed any sense of decency and courage. The newspaper quotes part of his letter of resignation: “I accepted the position believing I could make a contribution to the economic growth and community health of St. Louis County. Unfortunately, my mistakes in judgment nearly twenty years ago have now become political fodder and I fear will distract from the good work of the Economic Council.”
Read more: Vilified
Jul 08 2012 I’m a photographer, poet, long-time community volunteer in the arts, and we support the arts financially as well as attend plays, opera, visit galleries and museums. I’ve been asked how I got interested in the arts. Some important steps along the way:

·      Mother was an advanced amateur classical pianist, who just played for her (and our) own pleasure.

·      Dad was a photographer all his life getting new equipment to try as it emerged in the marketplace.

·      There was visual art all around the house: paintings, prints, watercolors, sculpture.

·      Our parents were active in arts volunteer boards, something that continued until they died.

·      The St. Louis Symphony had children’s concerts (Kinder Concderts) where we were all bussed to what was then Kiel Auditorium for an afternoon of music and learning.

·      We went to the Muny every summer, every show. We saw touring plays and opera.

·      Dad was head of an advertising agency where ideas and art came together.

·      Music appreciation (classical, opera, liturgical) was part of the curriculum at our high school.

·      We all went to what they called “Fortnightly” to learn ballroom dancing (and manners).

I could add to this list, but it’s an indication of our immersion in the arts as part and parcel of everyday living.

Where it led me includes:

·      I went to a dancing school for a few years learning jazz and tap, acted in school plays all the way through high school.

·      After early tries at the piano, clarinet, and saxophone, I learned how to play the guitar and was a song leader at national Jewish youth group summer institutes.

·      I became a photographer at about age 10 with my first camera: Brownie Hawkeye. At 15, I had a darkroom and did all of my own developing and printing. I was photography editor or co-editor in high school and college of the newspaper and yearbook.

Our own children were raised in similar surroundings and milieu as my sisters and I were. And each of them has a job in the arts. Which brings me to the point of all this.

Given:

·      the overwhelming level of activities (sports, clubs, etc.) that consume the time of parents and children;

·      an increasing focus on “I” rather than “we” with the iPad, iPod, iPhone, laptop, desktop vortex;

·      a serious decrease in arts funding at the school district, state, and federal level reflecting how low the arts have sunk as a priority;

·      the death and aging of the generations that gave serious money to support the arts;

will the next generation be as involved in the arts, be as interested in the arts, be as supportive of the arts as my parents’ and my generation?

Since I believe for a civilization to be great it has to nurture and value the arts, where will we be if we do not engage the upcoming generations so they have the arts as a natural and important part of their lives?