Saturday, June 14, 2008

Fathers Day - Dedicated to Tim Russert

Tim Russert at Boston College's 128th Commencement Exercises on May 24, 2004

I'm dedicating this year's Fathers Day post to Tim Russert.

As a Catholic with a lot of Irish in me and a solid base of Catholic upbringing and Jesuit education, I connected with Tim's public persona. I didn't know him. I wish I'd had an opportunity to know him. I recall passing him in the hallway at the 2006
Clinton Global Initative meeting in Manhattan while
he was on his way into a room to interview President Clinton and thinking to myself, "Wow...that's Tim Russert." He was obviously in a hurry to get to his destination, so I never did get to talk with him. If I'd only known he'd be taken from us so soon, I'd have sat and waited, hours if necessary, until he came out and I could tell him just how much he'd meant to me, a political blogger, in his work as a political journalist. I admired his spirit, however, both in a personal and a public sense.

What I did know of Tim in a personal sense was taken, in good part, from what he gave all of us in his wonderful book about his father, of whom he lovingly referred to as "Big Russ."

I especially enjoyed Tim talking about his faith and how his father helped to shape the faith that would last his whole life through.

In his book "Big Russ & Me" which, incidentally, has remained on my Dad's bedside table ever since I gave it to him for Father's Day a couple years ago, Tim talked about the faith of his father in times of in the seen and unseen:

"From time to time my parents would bring me with them to a wake, where the custom was to have an open casket. When my paternal grandparents died, I watched as Dad reached into the coffin and tearfully squeezed their hands in a final gesture of farewell. At the funeral the coffin would be sealed, and that required a different kind of faith as we sent the deceased on his or her way to their eternal rest."

Tim's childlike brilliance and humor would show through his writing in the same Chapter he'd written on Faith. Speaking about his time spent as an altar boy, he humorously recalled:

"There was a brotherhood among the altar boys, and we used to share stories of which priest liked the bigger serving of wine. There was also mischief, or at least talk of mischief. If you had a friend who was receiving the host, you might take the patten, the little golden plate, and accidentally hit him in the throat. Most of the joking centered on the wine, and some of the boys were known to have raided the priest's supply closet - but I'll never tell."

I trusted Tim Russert because of the common faith we shared. Week to week, Sunday after Sunday, he seemed to have never lost the magical spark of childhood while some others in his professional field and many out here in our respective private lives had obviously lost the manual on getting past all the little daggers and pitfalls that life often mercilessly throws in front of us.

When Tim's favorite rock singer Bruce Springsteen sang the words:

"Show a little faith....there's magic in the night.."

.....I happen to think that Tim and I took a similar message away from that well-known and well-loved line. Faith is a light that guides us through darkness. About this life we share, Christian writer Frederick Buechner has recommended: "Listen to your life. See it for the fathomless mystery that it is. Touch, taste, smell your way to the holy and hidden heart of it because in the last analysis all moments are sacred moments and life itself is grace."

Tim was a touch of grace for me and for many others who only were able to know him from what they learned about him each and every Sunday morning.

God knows I'll miss him.

Tim, this one's for you.


To my own Dad:


Here's me with the most honest and decent man I have ever known
(and a loyal and die-hard Yankee fan to boot):

Happy Father's Day, Dad.


.......serenaded by you.

Me and Dad
Niagara Falls, N.Y.

"Certain is it that there is no kind of affection so purely angelic as of a father to a daughter. In love to our wives there is desire; to our sons, ambition; but to our daughters there is something which there are no words to express."

- Joseph Addison


Christmas 1965
Me with brother Peter and Dad

Wishing a Happy Fathers Day to every loving father, and a very special Fathers Day to my own Dad..

Friday, June 13, 2008

Tim Russert Has Died

Breaking: Tim Russert has died at the age of 58.

My deepest sympathies go out to Tim's father, who Tim lovingly called "Big Russ", Tim's wife, Maureen Orth, and Tim's son, Luke, who lost his Dad just a couple days before Father's Day.


WASHINGTON - Tim Russert, NBC News' Washington bureau chief and the moderator of "Meet the Press," died Friday after a sudden heart attack at the bureau, NBC News said Friday. He was 58.

Russert was recording voiceovers for Sunday’s "Meet the Press" program when he collapsed, the network said. He and his family had recently returned from Italy, where they celebrated the graduation of Russert’s son, Luke, from Boston College.

No further details were immediately available.

Also at:
- NYT Caucus blog
- Buffalo News

A Talking Points Memo YouTube production, "Tom Brokaw Reports Death of Tim Russert":

Was Jeremy Waggoner Victim of Hate Crime?

Daily Tribune [Detroit]: Hairdresser found dead
This story is haunting me this morning. What happened to Jeremy Waggoner? I'm not the only one wondering if this brutal murder may have been a hate crime. From "Does anyone know what happened to Jeremy Waggoner?" You can see a video at this site.

Update 10:45 am: "JohnBerk" at DiscussDetroit writes

"Just received this e-mail:"

"A gay man has been murdered in the Detroit area and Triangle Foundation needs your help to solve this crime and bring justice for him and his family.

Jeremy Waggoner, a 37-year-old Detroit resident, was murdered early this week. Jeremy, a stylist at the Michael Angelo Salon in Royal Oak, was well-known and deeply loved.

On Tuesday, June 10, 2008, Jeremy Waggoner’s body was found in a grassy field on Detroit’s eastside. He was brutally bludgeoned and possibly stabbed. Police are not sure whether Jeremy was killed in the grassy field or at another location and his body then dropped off. Few details of the murder, including the possible motive, are known at this time. His green 1997 Mazda MPV has not been found. If anyone has information about the murder of Jeremy Waggoner, please contact Melissa Pope at 313-909-3634 or via e-mail at All calls are confidential.

UPDATE Sat, Jun 14:

- "Information sought in the murder of Jeremy Waggoner in Detroit" - Mark

- "Gay American Heroes Foundation: Gay man murdered in Detroit" - [Miami Herald]

- Seen today at

Gay Murder in Detroit, Jermey Waggoner
37 year-old openly gay hairdresser,
suffered violent death June 10, 2008.

Another HERO to be remembered on the
Gay American Heroes National Memorial?
Police have not at this point, classified this
as a hate crime, but through our experience
in these cases we believe it has the distinct
signs of a hate crime!

- "Gay man in Detroit murdered" -

Why Fewer Homeless in Istanbul Than in Seattle?

The Rev. Patrick Howell, S.J., in a special report to The Seattle Times, gives us his insight regarding a part of the reason why, as he observed on a recent trip, there are so few homeless people living on the streets of Istanbul:

"We saw a few beggars in Istanbul, but the homeless, if they exist, were not visible to us. Our Turkish hosts, most of whom had completed college degrees in the U.S., said, "Tight family ties and the Muslim faith mean that no one is left out. We don't have homeless like Chicago or San Francisco or Seattle would have." The Prophet Muhammad said, 'One who sleeps while their neighbor is hungry is not one of us.'"

Rev. goes on to say, "Though Turkey is a constitutionally secular society, it supports the Muslim faith by building mosques and paying the salaries of the Imams. Out of a total population of 70 million, it has only 100,000 Christians and 25,000 Jews."

Rev. Howell ends with a saying by Rumi, the great Sufi mystic, scholar, and poet:

"There is a candle in your heart, ready to be kindled.
There is a void in your soul, ready to be filled.
You feel it, don't you?"

A great song by Joni Mitchell

One of my favorite songs of all time ..
it's by Joni Mitchell....

Monday, June 09, 2008

My video on Global Warming

The 2004 Onondaga County Music Educator's Association's All-County Music Festival presented the song "Whose Garden Was This?" My son was in the festival chorus you'll hear in the video I've created. I was struck not only by the beauty of the song, but by the message itself.

Songwriter Tom Paxton reminds us that there are countless ways in which we take nature for granted...and soon, if we continue to ignore the warning signs of climate change, it may be too late.


Whose garden was this?
It must have been lovely.
Did it have flowers?
I've seen pictures of flowers,
And I'd love to have smelled one.

Whose river was this?
You say it ran freely?
Blue was its color?
I've seen blue in some pictures,
And I'd love to have been there!

Chorus: Ah, tell me again; I need to know. The forest had trees; the meadows were green, The oceans were blue, and birds really flew. Can you swear that was true?

Whose grey sky was this?
Or was it a blue one?
Nights there were breezes?
I've heard records of breezes,
And you tell me you've felt one?

Please listen to Jeremy Symons, Executive Director of the Global Warming Campaign for the National Wildlife Federation, speak to you about the first vote held on Global Warming in the U.S. Senate in three years. Unfortunately, even with all of the discussion about the perils of Global Warming, it's taken this long for the message to start getting through to our Senators. This week legislation was blocked, but the stage has been set for 2009 when we'll have a new President and key Democrats who will help to eventually pass legislation to protect our life on our planet and to protect our economy.

Let your Senators hear from you today.