Saturday, December 1, 2012

Day Without Art

Coinciding with today's World AIDS Day was the 24th Day Without Art to raise AIDS awareness. Robert Mapplethorpe was diagnosed with AIDS in 1986 and died on March 9, 1989 at the age of 42. Less than a year before his death he took this simple but striking self-portrait that is considered one of his best and most influential works. During that last year of his life he also created the Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation which has since raised millions of dollars for AIDS research.

"Robert Mapplethorpe shows himself in a 1988 self portrait withered and dying from AIDS. He grasps a cane topped with a small skull. It is one of the photographs in which every part is not fiercely defined by sharp focus. In stark, silvery black and white, the shiny detail of the skull is chillingly juxtaposed with Mapplethorpe’s haunted face – floating out of focus, receding into darkness." John Ingledew, 2005.

self-portrait, Robert Mapplethorpe, 1988
The J. Paul Getty Trust and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art

Observations 12.1

Today is World AIDS Day. On a trip to New York when I was maybe ten I met a friend of my mom's who I now barely remember but I do remember as possibly the funniest person I have ever met. If somebody would ask me to describe him today what comes to mind is the Nathan Lane character in The Birdcage. My mom didn't tell me until later that he had AIDS because she didn't want my reaction to that fact clouding how I reacted to him. I never met him again and he died from the disease a year or so later. I can't even remember his name.

Since HIV/AIDS* was recognized by the CDC in 1981 over 30 million people have died and currently 35 million are HIV positive of which 3.5 million are children born HIV positive. In the United States 50,000 die every year and 150 are diagnosed every day. In comparison in 2009 10,839 people died in alcohol related traffic accidents.

I know comparing AIDS to drunk driving deaths is totally messed up but if you asked the average American what killed more every year, AIDS or drunk driving, I'd be willing to bet a majority would say drunk driving. This country's priorities always seem to be messed up that way. If we as a nation took half the money we spend on war, weapons, and killing and spent that money on AIDS and Cancer research we could probably go a long way towards wiping out both. Never going to happen.

For what it's worth ....


On World AIDS Day, more than 30 years after the first cases of this tragic illness were reported, we join the global community once more in standing with the millions of people who live with HIV/AIDS worldwide. We also recommit to preventing the spread of this disease, fighting the stigma associated with infection, and ending this pandemic once and for all.

In 2010, my Administration released the National HIV/AIDS Strategy, our Nation's first comprehensive plan to fight the domestic epidemic. The Strategy aims to reduce new infections, increase access to care, reduce health disparities, and achieve a more coordinated national response to HIV/AIDS here in the United States. To meet these goals, we are advancing HIV/AIDS education; connecting stakeholders throughout the public, private, and non-profit sectors; and investing in promising research that can improve clinical outcomes and reduce the risk of transmission. Moving forward, we must continue to focus on populations with the highest HIV disparities -- including gay men, and African American and Latino communities -- and scale up effective, evidence-based interventions to prevent and treat HIV. We are also implementing the Affordable Care Act, which has expanded access to HIV testing and will ensure that all Americans, including those living with HIV/AIDS, have access to health insurance beginning in 2014.

These actions are bringing us closer to an AIDS-free generation at home and abroad -- a goal that, while ambitious, is within sight. Through the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), we are on track to meet the HIV prevention and treatment targets I set last year. We are working with partners at home and abroad to reduce new infections in adults, help people with HIV/AIDS live longer, prevent mother-to-child transmission, and support the global effort to eliminate new infections in children by 2015. And thanks to bipartisan action to lift the entry ban on persons living with HIV, we were proud to welcome leaders from around the world to the 19th International AIDS Conference in Washington, D.C.

Creating an AIDS-free generation is a shared responsibility. It requires commitment from partner countries, coupled with support from donors, civil society, people living with HIV, faith-based organizations, the private sector, foundations, and multilateral institutions. We stand at a tipping point in the fight against HIV/AIDS, and working together, we can realize our historic opportunity to bring that fight to an end.

Today, we reflect on the strides we have taken toward overcoming HIV/AIDS, honor those who have made our progress possible, and keep in our thoughts all those who have known the devastating consequences of this illness. The road toward an AIDS-free generation is long -- but as we mark this important observance, let us also remember that if we move forward every day with the same passion, persistence, and drive that has brought us this far, we can reach our goal. We can beat this disease. On World AIDS Day, in memory of those no longer with us and in solidarity with all who carry on the fight, let us pledge to make that vision a reality.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States do hereby proclaim December 1, 2012, as World AIDS Day. I urge the Governors of the States and the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, officials of the other territories subject to the jurisdiction of the United States, and the American people to join me in appropriate activities to remember those who have lost their lives to AIDS and to provide support and comfort to those living with this disease.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this twenty-ninth day of November, in the year of our Lord two thousand twelve, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirty-seventh.

Barack Obama

*A few links if you want to learn more:
AIDS Healthcare Foundation
HIV Law Project
Wikipedia HIV/AIDS

Observations from the Window 12.1

This is one of those totally strange posts I throw in now and than. The kind I come up with, I should say the kind Ash comes up with when I suddenly have no idea what to write about. She just throws something around like "hey, what are your top played songs on iTunes and what the hell does it mean?" So here you have my ten most played songs from iTunes but I have no clue as to what they mean other than I don't seem to have a fav genre of music. Keep in mind I do wipe out the play numbers now and than so Carly Rae Jepsen is pretty much a fluke that I'm going to blame on the Olympics. Also, I removed any Lady Gaga or Britney tunes from the list because I just didn't want to seem weird.

Call Me Maybe (Manhattan Clique Remix), Carly Rae Jepsen
Miss You Paradise (Shogun Remix), Emma Hewitt
Impossible, Anberlin
Pray Tell, Anberlin
Colours (Armin Van Buuren Remix), Emma Hewitt
Drive By, Train
Hypocritical Kiss, Jack White
A Lot of Things Different, Kenny Chesney
Amerika, Rammstein
That's Life, Frank Sinatra

I thought about adding a top Christmas song list to make it seasonal but than I realized too many of the top tunes were Mariah Carey. I dropped that idea because, like I said, I didn't want to seem strange or anything.

So there you have it. My first, and hopefully last, iTunes top ten list. Plan your holiday parties accordingly.