Saturday, December 31, 2016

We Have It Darker

Musings of A Sane Man

“Ring the bells that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack in everything
That’s how the light gets in ”

Leonard Cohen, “Anthem” from The Future (1992)

Little Light brings some clarity but not much detail.
Photo Credit & Source: ©Perry J. Greenbaum, 2016

More Light brings more clarity and more detail.
Photo Credit & Source: ©Perry J. Greenbaum, 2016

Morning Light  reveals greater clarity and much detail.
Photo Credit & Source: ©Perry J. Greenbaum, 2016

Some like darkness; it’s in their design. The hearts beat the same rhythmic beat and the look is the same as you and me, but the like of such ones is darker, its fire of bleak liquidity, its desire of peak iniquity, its choir of speak acidity. [“You Want It Darker” (2016)]. They like acquisitions; they like money; they like power. Not for public good, or to make the world easier for those that would, but because they could. They like to mix cruelty with ambiguity and use this to deny others their freedom to be free. They like to cite “conscience,” but do not know where to locate it. Most of all, they like to kill the good, the flame of hope. It takes only a few to make it darker, and all the rest suffer like little children without a father. Fatherless. Hopeless. Faithless. Or so it seems in the dark when you can’t see, when you can’t find your way, when you have forgotten where to go. We now have it darker, a darkness which is darker than the one before it. A darker darkness. It’s not only a political problem; it’s a denial of the human possibility of belief taking on fleshly form, of the burning bush and hallowed ground, moving men of light and willingness to work out their faith in goodness, not with certainty but fearfully in the trembling awe of the unknown. It will takes many to allow the light to get in through the small cracks that have survived for thousands of years, for almost Eternity. We have the prophets, both modern and ancient, to guide us, to point the Way. It’s possible.… It will take place before the enterprise becomes too unsteady.  For Me & For You.
Are you Ready? Bist ir tsugegreyt?/?ביסט איר צוגעגרייט
Perry J. Greenbaum, “Notes from the Sixth Floor,” December 2016

Friday, December 30, 2016

Leonard Cohen: You Want It Darker (2016)

The Flame

“Blessed is the match, 
consumed in kindling flame.
Blessed is the flame that burns 
in secret fastness of the heart.
Blessed is the heart with strength to stop
its beating for honor’s sake
Blessed is the match, 
consumed in kindling flame.”

Hannah Senesh [July 17, 1921–November 7, 1944], “Blessed is the Match,” 
Hannah Senesh: Her Life and Diary, The First Complete Edition (2004)
Composed in Sardice, Yugoslavia, May 2, 1944
Translated from Hebrew by Marie Syrkin [1899–1989]

Leonard Cohen [1934–2016] sings “You Want It Darker,” the title track of the album, You Want It Darker, released by Columbia Records on October 21, 2016. The songs were recorded (April 2015 to July 2016) at a home studio set up in Cohen’s living room at his house in the Wilshire neighborhood of Los Angeles.

The song, like the eight others on the album, are stripped of all that is unnecessary, which shows a man who has worked hard all of his adult life to not only find le mot juste, but to apprehend the essence of life. This took Cohen on a journey looking to spirituality, religion, mysticism and the ancient Tradition and Text to answer questions of why Man and God do what They (must) do.

It might be that we have less free will than we think we do or that we fail to exercise it in the best possible manner. We, who are imperfect beings, fail often and fail easily. That is, we fail to understand; we fail to appreciate; we fail to judge wisely; we fail to forgive; we fail to love; we fail to have grace; we fail to let go. We fail to acknowledge our failures, fearing the consequences from those we love and from those that we don’t.

Regardless, what we apprehend here is Cohen, an ordinary man blessed with extraordinary insight, at the peak of his poetic powers. Leonard Cohen died a couple weeks after the release of the album, on November 7, 2016; he was 82. You want it darker/We kill the flame/Hineni Hineni/I’m ready, my Lord. 

You Want It Darker
by Leonard Cohen

If you are the dealer
I’m out of the game
If you are the healer
I’m broken and lame
If thine is the glory
Then mine must be the shame
You want it darker
We kill the flame

Magnified and sanctified
Be Thy Holy Name
Vilified and crucified
In the human frame
A million candles burning
For the help that never came
You want it darker
We kill the flame

Hineni Hineni
I’m ready, my Lord

There’s a lover in the story
But the story is still the same
There’s an lullaby for suffering
And a paradox to blame
But it’s written in the scriptures
And it’s not some idle claim
You want it darker
We kill the flame

They’re lining up the prisoners now
The guards are taking aim
I struggled with some demons
They were middle-class and tame
Didn’t know I had permission
To murder and to maim
You want it darker
We kill the flame

Hineni Hineni
I’m ready, my Lord

Magnified and sanctified
Be Thy Holy Name
Vilified and crucified
In the human frame
A million candles burning
For the love that never came
You want it darker
We kill the flame

If you are the dealer
I’m out of the game
If you are the healer
I’m broken and lame
If thine is the glory
Then mine must be the shame
You want it darker
We kill the flame

Hineni Hineni
I’m ready, my Lord

For an interesting rabbinical interpretation of this song, based on the parsha of “Vayera” by Rabbi Jonathan Sacks, go [here].

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Making Something Out of Nothing

Modern Thought

The Glow: This image is pretty, but one wonders what it has to do with the concept of nothingness, nevertheless I share it here, chiefly because I like the effect of the yellow and blue—warm and cold colors co-existing, and consider it as some form of modern art.
Photo Credit: Ted Kinsman
Source: WSJ

In a book review article of “The Strange Physics of Nothing,” Peter Pesic writes for The Wall Street Journal that the book’s author does a fine job of explaining the incomprehensible, namely, that James Owen Weatherall, a professor of logic and philosophy of science at the University of California, Irvine, has an inkling of what nothingness (the “empty” space between matter) is composed of, or at least what it might represent. Well, actually, he has more than an inking; Prof. Weatherall has devoted 224 pages to the subject. This is more than most of us can say.

In “The Physics of Nothing” (December 22, 2016), Pesic writes:
The concept of “nothing”—a total void or vacuum—has given rise to all kinds of questions, beginning with the ancient Greeks. What is left when the air is removed from a container? How do we know that there is really “nothing” there, rather than, say, an ever more attenuated gas? And if we conclude that “nothing” is indeed there, what would we mean by there, where there is nothing?
These issues weren’t settled by the ancient Greeks’ introduction of the concept of atoms, which just transferred such questions to the submicroscopic realm. Aristotle argued against the existence of atoms because, adrift in the void, unconnected to surrounding matter, they would have no way of knowing in which direction to move. It is good to see Mr. Weatherall treat Aristotle’s acute arguments respectfully, though briefly. But he concentrates more on Isaac Newton’s argument that, in addition to the relative space defined by the distances between bodies, there was an absolute space, completely empty and at rest—“an infinite, otherwise empty container,” as Mr. Weatherall writes.
Just like the book and the review of it, this reveals nothing new, nothing important; it will have zero effect on how the planet spins and on the daily lives of its inhabitants, who are focused on the more mundane, ordinary and everyday matters like working, living and survival. It will not (likely) answer the question it is trying to answer. (Neither will the answer be found by the methods and means of physicists or philosophers, no matter how many papers and books they publish.) But it will keep a number of physicists and philosophers and publishers employed. And it will entertain and provide cocktail banter, conference discussions and more academic papers. I guess that’s making something out of nothing. There is a beautiful expression in Yiddish which captures this idea best: Gornisht mit Gornisht (גאָרנישט מיט גאָרנישט).

For more, go to [WSJ]

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Ofra Haza: Eli Eli (1977)

Ofra Haza sings “Eli Eli.” (אֵלִי אֵלִי). This is the fifth track on the album, Atik Noshan, which was released in 1977, when Haza was with the Shechunat Hatikvah Workshop Theatre (Hope Neighborhood Theater), a local theater troupe founded by Bezalel Aloni in 1971 to protest the social situation in Israel.

Hatikvah, the working-class neighbourhood in southeastern Tel Aviv, was the area which Haza came from, and it was generally very poor. There will always be poor areas and poor people. It is what you do afterwards that counts. In this case, this theater group wanted to make a difference through music. That it did and more: for one, it produced the irreplaceable singing voice of Ofra Haza, who it seems never forgot her roots, her humble beginnings.

Speaking of which, there is this song, officially called “Halicha L’kesariya” (הליכה לקיסריה) or “Walk to Caesarea.” The poem of 14 words and six lines was written in Hebrew by Hannah Senesh, at Sdot Yam, Caesarea, on November 24, 1942, as a prayer to God—a prayer with overtones of Psalm 22. The poem was set to music by David Zehavi in 1945, after Hannah Senesh’s death by a German firing squad on November 7, 1944. She was 23.

הליכה לקיסריה

אלי, אלי
שלא יגמר לעולם
החול והים,
רשרוש של המים,
ברק השמיים,
תפילת האדם.

Walk to Caesarea
Words by Hannah Senesh
Music by David Zehavi

My God, may it never end
the sea and the sand,
the splash of the water,
the brilliance of the sky
the prayer of man.

In “My God, May This Wonder Never End" (February 24, 2015), Vivian Eden writes:
It was the Israeli composer David Zehavi (1910-1977) who set the poem to music. He doubled the first Hebrew word “Eli” – “my God” – recalling Christ’s words on the cross: “My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken me.”
Such is the question of Eternity. The answer will have to wait.

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Ofra Haza: Yerushalayim Shel Zahav (1998)

The Spiritual Heart

“If I forget thee, O Jerusalem, let my right hand forget her cunning.
Let my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth, if I remember thee not; if I set not Jerusalem above my chiefest joy.”
Psalm 137: 5-6

אִם אֶשְׁכָּחֵךְ יְרוּשָׁלִָם תִּשְׁכַּח יְמִינִי:
תִּדְבַּק לְשׁוֹנִי | לְחִכִּי אִם לֹא אֶזְכְּרֵכִי אִם לֹא אַעֲלֶה אֶת יְרוּשָׁלִַם עַל רֹאשׁ שִׂמְחָתִי:
Tehillim 137: 5-6

Ofra Haza performs Yerushalayim Shel Zahav (“Jerusalem of Gold,” ירושלים של זהב‎) on Mount Scopus; Naomi Shemer [1930-2004] composed this beautiful song in 1967. The song is considered by many as Israel’s unofficial national anthem, since the city is the spiritual heart of the nation, both historically and currently.

Ofra Haza [1957-2000], the Israeli-born singer of international fame, has been described as a mezzo-soprano of near-perfect tonality, which is clear in this heartfelt performance of the song at Pa’amonei Hayovel (“Bells of the Jubilee”), Israel’s 50th anniversary Independence Day celebration in 1998.

Haza’s story as a singer and what she represents to Israelis is poetically summed up here in The Jerusalem Post tribute to her in 2000: “Raised as the youngest of nine children to a traditional Yemenite family in the Hatikva neighborhood of Tel Aviv, Haza's fairy-tale climb to fame and fortune has become the stuff of local legend.”

Ofra Haza died of Aids-related pneumonia on February 23, 2000. She was 42. Her beautifully inspiring voice, ringing clearly like a bell, will be missed. 

Ofra Haza: Kaddish (1990)

Ofra Haza [born Bat-Sheva Ofra Hazaעפרה חזה, on November 19, 1957, in Tel Aviv, Israel] sings “Kaddish” at the Montreux Jazz Festival in 1990, which is the last and 13th track on the live album, Ofra Haza At Montreux Jazz Festival, released in 1998; the video of the performance was released in 2007. The song is the 11th and last track on the studio album, Desert Wind, which was released on January 16, 1989.

Her voice is remarkable for not only the range, but also for the sincerity of the heartfelt emotion expressed in the words. She sings as if she means it, that the prayer is a genuine and necessary offering. Ofra Haza died on February 23, 2000, of AIDS-related pneumonia; she was 42.

Kaddish (קדיש) is an Aramaic word for “Holy;” in Jewish liturgy it takes on the form of hymns of praise to God. The most well-known Kaddish is the “Mourner’s Kaddish,” so that even in death, at a time of profound sadness and loss, the name of God is magnified and sanctified. This defies human understanding, which makes it heavenly, transcendent, other-wordly. Perhaps, it says that we need to be lifted up on high, which I think partly explains the power of Ofra Haza’s voice. It lifts you up. It gives you a small but satisfying taste of Gan Eden (גַּן עֵדֶן).

by Ofra Haza and Bezalel Aloni

For salvation, Kaddish,
For redemption, Kaddish,
For forgiveness, Kaddish,
For health, Kaddish,
For all the wars victims, Kaddish,
For all the holocaust victims, Kaddish

Why do I cry at night?
Why do I feel so bad?
Something holds me tight
It’s something in the air.

I have a prayer, a prayer,
A prayer from my heart
Night after night after daylight,
Memories of home...


בְּחַיֵּיכוֹן וּבְיוֹמֵיכוֹן - קַדִּישׁ
עַל יִשְׂרָאֵל תַּלְמִידֵיהוֹן - קַדִּישׁ
עַל נֶחָמָה עַל שֵׁיזָבָא - קַדִּישׁ
עַל רְפוּאָה וּגְאֻלָּה - קַדִּישׁ
עַל סְלִיחָה וְכַפָּרָה - קַדִּישׁ
עַל הַצָּלָה עַל הַצָּלָה - קַדִּישׁ

עַל נֶחָמָה - קַדִּישׁ
עַל רְפוּאָה - קַדִּישׁ
עַל סְלִיחָה - קַדִּישׁ
וְכַפָּרָה עַל הַצָּלָה עַל הַצָּלָה - קַדִּישׁ

אוֹ - קַדִּישׁ דְּרַבָּנָן
אוֹ - קַדִּישׁ דַּאֲמִירָן

בְּעָלְמָא דִּי בְרָא - קַדִּישׁ
הוּא יִתְגַּדַּל וְיִתְקַדַּשׁ - קַדִּישׁ
עַל נֶחָמָה עַל שֵׁיזָבָא - קַדִּישׁ
עַל רְפוּאָה וּגְאֻלָּה - קַדִּישׁ
בְּחַיֵּיכוֹן וּבְיוֹמֵיכוֹן - קַדִּישׁ
עַל יִשְׂרָאֵל תַּלְמִידֵיהוֹן - קַדִּישׁ

עַל שְׁלָמָא - קַדִּישׁ
מִן שְׁמַיָּא - קַדִּישׁ
יְהֵא לָנָא - קַדִּישׁ
וְכַפָּרָה עַל הַצָּלָה עַל הַצָּלָה - קַדִּישׁ

Monday, December 26, 2016

Bob Dylan & The Band: Forever Young (1976)

Bob Dylan & The Band perform “Forever Young” at the Winterland Ballroom in San Francisco, on November 25, 1976, in a concert called The Last Waltz, the Band’s farewell appearance. The song is the sixth and last track on Side 1 on Planet Waves, Dylan’s 14th studio album, which Asylum Records released on January 17, 1974.

The song is in the form of a heartfelt prayer of a father to a son, which has echoes of the Priestly Blessing, ברכת כהנים‎, the Birkat Kohanim. This has its origins in the Bible (Numbers 6:23–27), where it was first performed by the Temple priests, led by the high priest Aaron. Together, in unison, they raised their hands to bless the children of Israel with this threefold benediction.

It is still performed today, every morning in Jerusalem, and during the major Jewish festivals outside Israel. It is also customary for Jewish families today to bless their children with this benediction during the Friday night Sabbath (Shabbat) meal.

Forever Young
by Bob Dylan

May God bless and keep you always
May your wishes all come true
May you always do for others
And let others do for you
May you build a ladder to the stars
And climb on every rung
May you stay forever young
Forever young, forever young
May you stay forever young

May you grow up to be righteous
May you grow up to be true
May you always know the truth
And see the lights surrounding you
May you always be courageous
Stand upright and be strong
May you stay forever young
Forever young, forever young
May you stay forever young

May your hands always be busy
May your feet always be swift
May you have a strong foundation
When the winds of changes shift
May your heart always be joyful
May your song always be sung
May you stay forever young
Forever young, forever young
May you stay forever young

Priestly Blessing
ברכת כהנים
Birkat Kohanim

May the LORD bless you and guard you
יְבָרֶכְךָ יהוה, וְיִשְׁמְרֶךָ
‎(Yevhārēkh-khā Adhōnāy veyishmerēkhā)

May the LORD make His face shed light upon you and be gracious unto you 
יָאֵר יהוה פָּנָיו אֵלֶיךָ, וִיחֻנֶּךָּ‎
(Yāʾēr Adhōnāy pānāw ēlekhā viḥunnékkā)

May the LORD lift up His face unto you and give you peace
 יִשָּׂא יהוה פָּנָיו אֵלֶיךָ, וְיָשֵׂם לְךָ שָׁלוֹם‎
(Yissā Adhōnāy pānāw ēlekhā viyāsēm lekhā shālōm)

You can view a video of the Birkat Kohanimat Jerusalem’s Western Wall (the Kotel) [here].

Chanukah 2: 5777


The Second Night of Chanukah (5777): A little light can dispel the darkness; a little light can displace the harshness; many little lights can deter the heartless.
Photo Credit & Source: ©2016. Perry J. Greenbaum

Blessed Is the Match: The Life and Death of Hannah Senesh (2008)

Blessed Is the Match: The Life & Death of Hannah Senesh (2008)
Via: Youtube
I was unaware of this film, despite having seen many Holocaust films, including many documentaries; this requires immediate rectification. You must see Blessed Is the Match: The Life and Death of Hannah Senesh, if only to get a sense of what heroism is like in the flesh. The 2008 documentary film was directed by Roberta Grossman and written by Sophie Sartain and Roberta Grossman. The documentary gives some excellent background to the story of Hannah Senesh (also known as Hannah Szenes), born July 17, 1921 in Budapest, Hungary.

The PBS site writes about the making, by Roberta Grossman, of this independent film:
At age 22, Hannah Senesh parachuted into Nazi-occupied Europe in an effort to save the Jews of Hungary. As a poet and diarist, she left behind a body of work that has inspired generations. Narrated by Academy Award nominee Joan Allen, BLESSED IS THE MATCH is the first film to present the life story of this remarkable, talented, and complex woman.
Filmmaker Roberta Grossman first read Hannah’s diary in junior high school, and for the next 20 years continued to be inspired and captivated by her act of fighting back. A modern-day Joan of Arc — bold, brilliant, and uncommonly courageous — Hannah was safe in Palestine in 1944 when she joined the only military rescue mission for Jews during the Holocaust. After parachuting behind enemy lines, she was captured, tortured, and ultimately executed by the Nazis. Her mother, Catherine Senesh, witnessed the entire ordeal — first as a prisoner with Hannah and later as her advocate, braving the bombed-out streets of Budapest in a desperate attempt to save her daughter.
While Hannah Senesh is a figure of great renown in Israel, she remains largely unknown in the rest of the world. BLESSED IS THE MATCH brings this heroine to life through interviews with survivors who knew her — classmates at a Budapest girls’ school, kibbutz members in Palestine, prisoners from Hannah’s time in a Gestapo jail, and two of her fellow parachutists. With unprecedented access to Senesh family archive, including hundreds of unpublished letters and photos, the film uses Hannah’s diary entries, poetry, and correspondence with her mother to look back on the life of a talented and complex girl who came of age in a world descending into madness.
The more things change, the more they stay the same. Or they don’t change sufficiently to become permanently anchored in our human conscience, which allows the return of dark forces that threaten humanity. Are they ever vanquished? A question that has no immediate answer. But we can learn from the past, from the story of this remarkable young woman, the Jewish Joan of Arc.

Such stories can inspire people long after they have taken place; they can inspire individuals who willingly, knowing the risk, take up the mantle to conquer the sources of evil and darkness that periodically take up residence in places that have forgotten to be vigilant against hate, discord & fear and, equally important, who fight to keep in proper perspective the eternal flame of love, the essence of life and the preciousness of light. The Flame. The Match. Such a desire is manifest in “setting the captives free.” There is no failure in such a desire.

The poem below, which is well known in Israel, is the one that Senesh penned in Yugoslavia (in Sardice, on May 2, 1944),  a couple of months after she had parachuted in behind enemy lines, with the aim of freeing Hungarian Jews scheduled for deportation to the Auschwitz death camps. But after crossing the border from Yugoslavia into Hungary, she was captured within hours by Hungarian police. She was handed over to the German Gestapo, who brutally tortured her, but Senesh did not divulge any information of her mission.

In retrospect the poem is prescient; Hannah Senesh was killed by a firing squad in the courtyard of a Budapest Gestapo prison on November 7, 1944. She refused a blindfold, wishing to face her murderers.

Ashrei Hagafurer
Related image

Blessed is the Match

Blessed is the match consumed in kindling flame.
Blessed is the flame that burns in the heart’s secret places.
Blessed is the heart with strength to stop its beating for honor’s sake
Blessed is the match consumed in kindling flame.

You can hear an older earlier recording of the song [here].

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Leonard Cohen: Anthem (2009)

Leonard Cohen and his band perform “Anthem” at Ramat Gan Stadium in Ramat Gan, Israel, on September 24, 2009. The concert’s setlist (28 songs, including three encores) is listed [here]. The full concert is available [here]; and this song in relation to the concert begins with an introduction [here]. In terms of record-keeping, the song is the fifth track on Cohen’s ninth studio album, The Future, which Columbia Records released on November 24, 1992.

Like many of his later songs, this one takes on the form of a prayer, which is understandable given that for this song Cohen drew on the writing of Rabbi Isaac Luria [1534–1572; known as ARIZaL and Ha’ARI Hakadosh], the father of contemporary Kabbalah (“received tradition“), or medieval Jewish mysticism. Cohen himself was both a poet and a seeker & revealer of truth, which makes him a mystic, or at the very least a mystic of music.

Band Members/Musicians
Roscoe Beck: bass, backing vocals, musical director
Sharon Robinson: vocals
Rafael Bernardo Gayol: drums, percussion
Neil Larsen: keyboards, accordion
Javier Mas: laúd, bandurria, guitar
Bob Metzger: guitar, pedal steel guitar, backing vocals
Dino Soldo: saxophone, clarinet, harmonica, keyboard, backing vocals
Charley Webb: backing vocals, guitar
Hattie Webb: backing vocals, harp

by Leonard Cohen

The birds they sang
at the break of day
Start again
I heard them say
Don’t dwell on what
has passed away
or what is yet to be.

Ah the wars they will
be fought again
The holy dove
She will be caught again
bought and sold
and bought again
the dove is never free.

Ring the bells that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack in everything
That’s how the light gets in.

We asked for signs
the signs were sent:
the birth betrayed
the marriage spent
Yeah the widowhood
of every government --
signs for all to see.

I can’t run no more
with that lawless crowd
while the killers in high places
say their prayers out loud.
But they’ve summoned, they’ve summoned up
a thundercloud
and they’re going to hear from me.

Ring the bells that still can ring ...

You can add up the parts
but you won't have the sum
You can strike up the march,
there is no drum
Every heart, every heart
to love will come
but like a refugee.

Ring the bells that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack, a crack in everything
That's how the light gets in.

Ring the bells that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack, a crack in everything
That's how the light gets in.
That's how the light gets in.
That's how the light gets in.

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Bob Dylan: Last Thoughts on Woody Gutherie (1963)

Poetry of Hope

Bob Dylan recites his poem, “Last Thoughts on Woody Guthrie,” live during his April 12, 1963 performance at New York City’s Town Hall —the only known recitation of the poem. Here is a sample of the words that Dylan wrote:
No but that ain't yer game, it ain't even yer race You can't hear yer name, you can't see yer face You gotta look some other place And where do you look for this hope that yer seekin' Where do you look for this lamp that's a-burnin' Where do you look for this oil well gushin' Where do you look for this candle that's glowin' Where do you look for this hope that you know is there And out there somewhere And your feet can only walk down two kinds of roads Your eyes can only look through two kinds of windows Your nose can only smell two kinds of hallways You can touch and twist And turn two kinds of doorknobs You can either go to the church of your choice Or you can go to Brooklyn State Hospital You'll find God in the church of your choice You'll find Woody Guthrie in Brooklyn State Hospital
Dylan, who admired Woody Gutherie [born Woodrow Wilson Guthrie on July 14, 1912, in Okemah, Oklahoma], regularly visited him in the hospital (first at Greystone Park Psychiatric Hospital in Morris County, New Jersey, and then at Brooklyn State Hospital in East Flatbush, New York), where he was confined as only one could be when he is suffering from Huntington’s disease, a genetic disorder that he had inherited from his mother. Gutherie died as a result of this disease on October 3, 1967; he was 55. 

Gutherie gave voice to the poor, the powerless and those who lacked the ability to state their heart. Gutherie was their proxy of hope. In 1941, Gutherie placed a message on his guitar: “This Machine Kills Fascists.” They are still alive and have become emboldened and enlivened once again by political figures who peddle hate, division and disorder; they offer no hope. How can they do otherwise when they know it not themselves? (They have the possibility of learning and doing otherwise, but this rarely happens.)

Dylan, Gutherie’s disciple of hope and seeker of truth, places hope in its proper place. The poem is about hope and where one can find it, and how one can live it once one has found it. Dylan, who learned a lot from this man, transformed his language to our modern times, countering the flatness and dullness of the soulless “machine man,” he devoid of the full range of human emotions. The tragedy is that such people, despite appearances to the contrary, have not only forgotten what it is to be human, they have choked the life out of it. They have become trapped in its doorless room of darkness; they have normalized inhumanity and cruelty. They know only hate, which they live out fully to its final awful end.

As for Hope, I would recommend that you listen to and then read the complete 1,705-word poem [here].

Friday, December 23, 2016

I Am (Still) Waiting

Musings of a Sane Man

“The Maestro says it’s Mozart 
but it sounds like bubble gum 
when you’re waiting 
for the miracle, for the miracle to come.”

Leonard Cohen & Sharon Robinson
Waiting for the Miracle,” The Future (1992)

The Light Sky: What a little light can do/It can move you from a mood blue.
Photo Credit & Source: ©Perry J. Greenbaum, 2016

I am still waiting. I move easily between sadness and busyness, between doing and nothingness
between thought and existence. I am here waiting, without patience, to recall a memory soaked with meaning, and not a healthy momentary pleasure. My Self is not present, when it walks alone,
finding itself in the familiar shadows of yesterday’s unicorn dreams. Who holds the plans for the future? Its promises denied to me, and to all of us, who reside not in this sarcophagus of lavish lineage. We poor ones live for today and anxiously consume all of its offerings, as tiny as a mustard seed. The present is darker still, filled with an abundance of unrequited hope, contained in fleshpots overflowing with promiscuous hunger. I hold no faith and hope for today, or of the many tomorrows, so my weakened hands cling to a past wine-pressed from fables of glorious victory. What can be found in memory are the multitudes of the past, where for me so long ago the myths were told in a language of high Stoic seriousness. I stand beneath LED lights of faithless promise, casting a long shadow on the sitting room of my soul, cursing the proper resting place of the prominent penitent. I, too, long for a restful rest. Where is that peace which passes all understanding? I want to bathe in it. Where are you, Lord? Why do you tarry? איך בין נאָך ווארטן/Ikh bin nokh vartn.

Perry J. Greenbaum, “Notes from the Sixth Floor,” December 2016

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Peter, Paul & Mary: Puff, the Magic Dragon (1965)

Peter, Paul & Mary perform “Puff, the Magic Dragon” in 1965, around the time I first heard the song and fell in love with it. The song is the fifth track on the group’s second album, Moving, which was released on January 15, 1963. Although I was only seven I understood this song was about childhood and an ageless dragon and about staying forever young. Here I am 50 years later, and the song resonates with me and my generation, some (or many) of us who look back with fondness at our childhood. Childhood innocence. How to be child-like but not childish when getting old and aging, Magical Realism.

The sadness, and it is palpable and genuine, is that people born decades later have not enjoyed what we freely did—jumping over and considering all kinds of musical genres just for the sake of experimentation and enjoyment. Imagination is now taught and packaged as a course instead of living within us as part of human existence, a mistake in understanding, no doubt. We see the results in cheap imitations.

The voices of humanity, born generations ago, are dying off. Who (or what) is succeeding them?

Puff, the Magic Dragon
by Leonard Lipton and Peter Yarrow

Puff, the magic dragon lived by the sea
And frolicked in the autumn mist in a land called Honahlee
Little Jackie paper loved that rascal puff
And brought him strings and sealing wax and other fancy stuff oh

Puff, the magic dragon lived by the sea
And frolicked in the autumn mist in a land called Honahlee
Puff, the magic dragon lived by the sea
And frolicked in the autumn mist in a land called Honahlee

Together they would travel on a boat with billowed sail
Jackie kept a lookout perched on puff’s gigantic tail
Noble kings and princes would bow whene’er they came
Pirate ships would lower their flag when puff roared out his name oh

Puff, the magic dragon lived by the sea
And frolicked in the autumn mist in a land called Honahlee
Puff, the magic dragon lived by the sea
And frolicked in the autumn mist in a land called Honahlee

A dragon lives forever but not so little boys
Painted wings and giant rings make way for other toys
One grey night it happened, Jackie Paper came no more
And puff that mighty dragon, he ceased his fearless roar

His head was bent in sorrow, green scales fell like rain
Puff no longer went to play along the cherry lane
Without his life-long friend, puff could not be brave
So Puff that mighty dragon sadly slipped into his cave oh

Puff, the magic dragon lived by the sea
And frolicked in the autumn mist in a land called Honahlee
Puff, the magic dragon lived by the sea
And frolicked in the autumn mist in a land called Honahlee

Mary Travers [November 9, 1936–September 16, 2009] died from leukemia in 2009; she was 72. Peter Yarrow and Paul Stookey continue to perform as a duo.

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Bruce Springsteen: Darkness on the Edge of Town (1978)

Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band perform “Darkness on the Edge of Town,” which is a live recording at the Capitol Theatre, in Passaic, NJ, on September 20th, 1978. The song is the last track on Side 2 of the album, Darkness on the Edge of Town, Springsteen’s fourth studio album, which wes released by Columbia Records on June 2, 1978.

The song, like most on this album, speak of circumstances overcoming hope—a sad, perhaps tragic, reality for many today. It is about the lives of ordinary working class people, such as my father and his friends were, but fast forward a few decades. Whatever dreams such individuals once held were overun by the responsibilities of work and family and the (sometime) failures in both areas of life, resulting in dislocation, alienation, loss of dignity and tragic losses that take forever to grieve. Life is no easy struggle; few are born into a good life.

When you live like this as a young person, you tend to not forget, no matter what you “achieve” later on as an adult. Some see this song and album in a different way than I do. For example, one critic, David Marsh, for Rolling Stone magazine writes (July 27, 1978) that the album is not of despair: “[…] Darkness on the Edge of Town is about the kind of life that deserves survival. Despite its title, it is a complete rejection of despair.”

Perhaps so, but it’s not 1978 (or even 1980), and much has changed and not so much for what used to called “the public good.” We have regressed in many areas of public policy, which has influenced the public sphere, including most notably in social media, which has failed to understand the meaning of public good. (It takes only a few minutes on social media to encounter this absence.) Despair has turned many people into toxic bombs who feel inclined to poison the well from which most of us drink. Even so, we can learn from the despair and see what it is saying. Having despair is a telling sign that expectations have not been met, that something is not right, is not fair, that the deck is stacked, that the dice is loaded. That it can be fixed, but it won’t.

As Leonard Cohen says (1988): Everybody knows the fight was fixed/The poor stay poor, the rich get rich/That’s how it goes/Everybody knows.

Despair and hope can reside in the same person, often at the same time. Putting on a brave face will not make it better for such individuals; it will only make it better for some of those he encounters in the most superficial and insincere of relationships. It can be said that a “darkness on the edge”, or periphery, of a place, whether it is literally geographic or poetically present, does not linger in one place; it can and does often move to the centre. What is hope, but an apprehension and a recognition of a dark reality, and despite such a reality there is a holding on to a profound belief, an abiding faith and an expectation that it will “soon be light.”

Soon, however, is an imprecise word. It has always been that way.


The E-Street Band:
Steven Van Zandt: guitar, vocals
Garry Tallent: bass
Clarence Clemons: saxophone
Danny Federici:  keyboards, accordion
Roy Bittan: keyboards
Max Weinberg: drums

Darkness on the Edge of Town
by Bruce Springsteen

They’re still racing out at the trestles
But that blood it never burned in her veins
Now I hear she’s got a house up in Fairview
And a style she’s trying to maintain
Well if she wants to see me
You can tell her that I’m easily found
Tell her there’s a spot out ’neath Abram’s Bridge
And tell her there’s a darkness on the edge of town

Everybody’s got a secret Sonny
Something that they just can’t face
Some folks spend their whole lives trying to keep it
They carry it with them every step that they take
Till some day they just cut it loose
Cut it loose or let it drag ’em down
Where no one asks any questions
Or looks too long in your face
In the darkness on the edge of town

Some folks are born into a good life
Other folks get it anyway anyhow
I lost my money and I lost my wife
Them things don't seem to matter much to me now
Tonight I’ll be on that hill `cause I can't stop
I’ll be on that hill with everything I got
Lives on the line where dreams are found and lost
I’ll be there on time and I'll pay the cost
For wanting things that can only be found
For wanting things that can only be found
In the darkness on the edge of town

Friday, December 16, 2016

Working (Hard) on Nothing

Musings of A Sane Man

“…well I am the one who loves changing from nothing to one.”
Leonard Cohen, “You Know Who I Am” (1969)

As it is with all actions worth pursuing, it takes practice to do nothing “productive” and to live meaningfully in the present—it takes years and decades of practice to become a master at it. It is a matter of stripping away all that is non-essential, a most difficult work, especially when so much screams essential. If it sounds counter-productive, it is, which is the point of this exercise.

All beginnings are difficult. I find it easier to pursue now that I no longer have a job, but I still have much work to do, to distill all the knowledge and information to an essential meaning, a philosophy or poetry of life. I have begun the process a couple of decades ago, and it has been interrupted at times by family and professional obligations, which are important contributions to understanding, but some of it is of course non-essential; so I expect it will take me another decade or two (if I happen to live that long) to arrive at a point of sufficient understanding and appreciation.

It takes serious effort to do nothing; it takes much hard work, which might explain why so many are deterred by it. Another reason why it is practiced by so few is that this is hard to measure by some known measure, notably finding the point when you have achieved a measure of success. What precisely and definitively is the something that can be produced out of nothing: Ex nihilo. Then what? 

So, again, I must warn you in all earnestness that it’s not an easy endeavor or an undemanding exercise by any means. Some might even question one’s purpose in such a pursuit. My answer is that I am not sure, but I must find out. I know: hardly comforting. Even so, I do not have a timeline. It seems to me that inner peace, presence and happiness all work together in some unpredictable alchemy.

Perry J. Greenbaum, “Notes from the Sixth Floor,” November 2016

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Documenting the Local Effects of Climate Change

Species Reduction

Red-breasted Nuthatch at Calgary’s Fish Creek Provincial Park, is among the species a new study has deemed locally extinct in some parts of Canada due to climate change.
Photo Credit: Marcy Stader
Source: CBC News

An article, by Brandie Weikle, for CBC News says that scientists are already seeing and documenting the local effects of climate change, one of which is species reduction in local geographic areas. In “It's already happening: Hundreds of animals, plants locally extinct due to climate change” (December 8th 2016), Weikle writes:
The study, authored by John Wiens, professor of ecology and evolutionary biology, was published Thursday in the journal PLOS Biology. Wiens compared survey results of 976 species of plants and animals documented around the world 50 or 60 years ago to data on those same species gathered 10 years ago, he told CBC News.
He found that 47 per cent of those species — a representative sampling from around the world — were already locally extinct in the warmer parts of the regions where they were initially documented. “The striking thing is that this has occurred with only less than a one degree [Celcius] increase in global medial temperature and it's going to get much worse,” said Wiens. ” There's going to be an additional one to five degrees on top of that.”
Local extinction could lead to global extinction of some (or many species we now see) in worst-case scenarios or at the very least a large reduction in their populations. Almost 13,000 animal or plant species are on the endangered or critically endangered list of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), an international organization based in Switzerland. (In a quick Google search, I found articles that cite the reduction in Polar Bears & Peary Caribou, in Canada, as well as in the number of giraffes in the Savannah regions of sub-Sahara Africa.) 

Some are skeptical of such scientific stories, and see in such claims a conspiracy to hoodwink the public for some nefarious reason; and yet such persons might remain skeptical despite any evidence given, chiefly related to a lack of trust or trustworthiness of the source of information. Equally important, one can easily question the conclusions reached as a result of such information, perhaps as a way to not deal or face the worst-case scenarios. 

Undoubtedly, one can also point out that there are trust and credibility issues with some scientific news stories, particularly those that resort to increased use of hyperbole, which can make one numb or insensitive to the information. The Science is only as good and credible as the scientists doing the science and publishing the reports. The public in return places their faith in the honesty and credibility of the scientists making such claims. It is really as simple as this; anything else is a denial of reality. Scientists, it must be said, are not immune to the lures of fame and fortune, or for that matter to cognitive dissonance or the pressures of scientific conformity.

So, yes, there are trust and confidence issues that need discussing, not only by the layman public but by the scientists themselves. Despite this shortcoming, it seems that the evidence collected in regards to climate change does not directly suffer this problem. Quite the opposite. It is persuasive; it is factual; and it is undeniable. So, in this case, the denial of scientific facts only postpones the acquisition of good knowledge, which is often the precursor to good action.

More to the point, the scientific documenting of what is taking place with local species reduction will help us later on should the situation turn from bad to worse, which seems likely with a high degree of probability should one take a business as usual approach. It is always better to have some kind of record. Some think that we as a planet will never reach this point; I on the other hand do not know, but would like to think that we act intelligently and morally to counteract such a dire possibility.

For more, go to [CBC News]

Monday, December 12, 2016

The Nervous Epoch

The Modern Dark Age

American Gothic, by Grant Wood (1891–1942); 1930: The 1930s was a period of great anxiety for many; an exhibit of American paintings reflect the mood of the public then, which will likely resonate with many today. No, it’s not the 1930s, but we bear witness to another equally anxious time or period of uncertainty in modern history. Aesthetica Magazine writes: “Entering the gallery space, the salient themes are almost immediately apparent: political disillusionment, racial divide, class, gender and perhaps most pertinently, the search for a sense of national identity that can be comfortably shared by a divided population.” Forget about being stoic and having “nerves of steel.” Anxiety can be debilitating and can make one numb and insensitive, but it can also be liberating, leading to the abandonment of unfeeling rationalism and cold materialism and to the cultivation of imagination and inner contemplation of possibilities other than the present despair; this often leads to new or redefined forms of escapism, of cultural stories and of art. We look at the past, not to recreate it but to understand its essence and meaning. The Musée de l’Orangerie, Paris, is currently showing American Painting in the 1930s: The Age of Anxiety, which runs until January 30th 2017.
Photo Credit: ©The Art Institute of Chicago

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Bob Dylan: A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall (1964)

Bob Dylan [born Robert Allen Zimmerman on May 24, 1941, in Duluth, Minnesota] performs “A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall” at CBC-TV studios in Toronto, Ontario, taped on February 1st, 1964 and broadcast on March 10th, 1964. This is part of a six-song set performed for the show, Quest; the songs in order, all of which can be heard here, are as follows:
  1. The Times They Are A-Changin’
  2. Talking World War III Blues
  3. The Lonesome Death Of Hattie Carroll
  4. Girl From The North Country
  5. A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall
  6. Restless Farewell
You can hear Patti Smith, aged 69, perform her rendition of the song at yesterday’s Nobel Prize ceremony, in Stockhom, Sweden, in tribute to Bob Dylan winning the Nobel in Literature (2016). Dylan, aged 75, was not in attendance. A twenty-one-year-old Dylan wrote the song in the summer of 1962 and recorded it on December 6, 1962. It is the sixth and last track on Side 1 of his second studio album, The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan, released by Columbia Records on May 27, 1963.

The poetic lyrics tell an old and continuing story, but with a modern retelling and a grotesque twist, a story of man’s inhumanity to man, which includes poisoning our minds, both figuratively and literally: disseminating lies and deceptions as facts and truth, committing sins of commission and omission, normalizing false pieties and disingenuousness, tolerating the strong belittling the weak, and ignoring the powerless and the poor, and, most important, forgetting to love where and when it is most needed.

Is there not a price to pay for all this failure?

A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall
by Bob Dylan

Oh, where have you been, my blue-eyed son? Oh, where have you been, my darling young one? I’ve stumbled on the side of twelve misty mountains I’ve walked and I’ve crawled on six crooked highways I’ve stepped in the middle of seven sad forests I’ve been out in front of a dozen dead oceans I’ve been ten thousand miles in the mouth of a graveyard And it’s a hard, and it’s a hard, it’s a hard, and it’s a hard And it’s a hard rain’s a-gonna fall Oh, what did you see, my blue-eyed son? Oh, what did you see, my darling young one? I saw a newborn baby with wild wolves all around it I saw a highway of diamonds with nobody on it I saw a black branch with blood that kept drippin’ I saw a room full of men with their hammers a-bleedin’ I saw a white ladder all covered with water I saw ten thousand talkers whose tongues were all broken I saw guns and sharp swords in the hands of young children And it’s a hard, and it’s a hard, it’s a hard, it’s a hard And it’s a hard rain’s a-gonna fall And what did you hear, my blue-eyed son? And what did you hear, my darling young one? I heard the sound of a thunder, it roared out a warnin’ Heard the roar of a wave that could drown the whole world Heard one hundred drummers whose hands were a-blazin’ Heard ten thousand whisperin’ and nobody listenin’ Heard one person starve, I heard many people laughin’ Heard the song of a poet who died in the gutter Heard the sound of a clown who cried in the alley And it’s a hard, and it’s a hard, it’s a hard, it’s a hard And it’s a hard rain’s a-gonna fall Oh, who did you meet, my blue-eyed son? Who did you meet, my darling young one? I met a young child beside a dead pony I met a white man who walked a black dog I met a young woman whose body was burning I met a young girl, she gave me a rainbow I met one man who was wounded in love I met another man who was wounded with hatred And it’s a hard, it’s a hard, it’s a hard, it’s a hard It’s a hard rain’s a-gonna fall Oh, what’ll you do now, my blue-eyed son? Oh, what’ll you do now, my darling young one? I’m a-goin’ back out ’fore the rain starts a-fallin’ I’ll walk to the depths of the deepest black forest Where the people are many and their hands are all empty Where the pellets of poison are flooding their waters Where the home in the valley meets the damp dirty prison Where the executioner’s face is always well hidden Where hunger is ugly, where souls are forgotten Where black is the color, where none is the number And I’ll tell it and think it and speak it and breathe it And reflect it from the mountain so all souls can see it Then I’ll stand on the ocean until I start sinkin’ But I’ll know my song well before I start singin’ And it’s a hard, it’s a hard, it’s a hard, it’s a hard It’s a hard rain’s a-gonna fall

Friday, December 9, 2016

The Botanical Garden: An Urban Oasis of Natural Beauty

Montreal Memories & Nostalgia

The Chinese Garden: This is one of the many thematic gardens available to the public to visit. The site writes in “Elements of the Chinese Garden”: “The 2.5 hectares of the Chinese Garden contain more than 200 varieties of perennials, 50 of aquatic plants, 15 varieties of bamboo, 4 of annuals, 160 of shrubs and approximately 100 varieties of trees. In a Chinese garden, look neither for the lawns of the English garden nor the precise lines of the French garden. Chinese gardens favor plants and trees that tradition and history have imbued with symbolism. Designers prefer more natural-looking perennial flowers over annuals.”
Photo Credit & Source: espacepourlavie

The Montreal Botanical Garden (Jardin botanique de Montréal) is large, expansive and impressive, containing, the site says, “22,000 plant species and cultivars, 10 exhibition greenhouses, Frédéric Back Tree Pavilion, and more than 20 thematic gardens spread out over 75 hectares,” adding “ it’s also a perfect place to enjoy fresh air and natural beauty.”

The garden was founded in 1931 during the Great Depression. Two names are prominent in the Garden’s history: Brother Marie-Victorin (born in 1885, in Kingsey Falls, Quebec, as Joseph-Louis-Conrad Kirouac) and Henry Teuscher (born in 1891 in Berlin, Germany), whose persistence and vision brought it into fruition, making it one of the great public gardens in the world. Its size and the diversity of its plants are indeed remarkable and inspirational. You could spend days roaming around the large urban garden.

I have visited this place numerous times, and each time was enjoyable. My first memory of coming to this place is during the 1960s with my family as a young boy of no more than 10. It took us more than a hour to get here, to the corner of rue Sherbrooke E. and boul. Pie-IX, by bus from our home in the Mile End neighbourhood, situated on avenue du Parc not far from avenue du Mont-Royal, where another prominent green space existed. A place where I spent many happy moments during childhood and afterward. I credit Montreal with having many tree-lined streets and large planters everywhere. It makes for a more pleasant environment.

Leslie Hancock/Ericaceae Garden: One of the many gardens that are found on the grounds of the main Garden. This particular garden contains a multicoloured array of azaleas, rhododendrons, and wintergreen tea plants. 
Photo Credit & Source: espacepourlavie

For some, Nature requires destroying and dominating; while for others, Nature needs be cultivated and preserved. The differences are seen in the language each group uses to describe the future. One thinks that man-made and artificial products are equal to (or better than) what can be found in Nature, while the other appreciates the beauty and life-affirming value of what was there before us. Truly, I shudder to think of a world devoid of any flowers, shrubs, trees and of natural beauty.

There are hints of this in all major cities—some stronger than others; such places are lifeless and soulless valleys of grey concrete, of steel and glass structures, both inside and outside. Modernity at its worst; the buildings are designed with efficiency in mind, but disregard the need of humans. (Yet, people are forced to work in such places to “earn a paycheque.”) No doubt, working in such structures can only make one sick, where Man is alienated from his natural surroundings.

Small wonder, then, that some have natural green plants on their desk, if only to alleviate the symptoms of working in an artificial place and remind us of what is naturally beautiful.

Monday, December 5, 2016

Explaining the 4 Stages of Pericardial Mesothelioma


There are many wonderful people doing good work, often without much fanfare or great recognition; occasionally, a few decide to get in contact with me after they have viewed this blog. Such is the case with Ashley Stafford, who volunteers as a writer for, a cancer advocacy organization based in the United States. Stafford offered an article on pericardial mesothelioma, a form of cancer that affects the lining of the heart and, like most forms of mesothelioma, is a result of being near or in contact with asbestos—or, simply put, by exposure to asbestos. This article provides necessary information on pericardial mesothelioma, which is one major reason that I agreed to publish it on my blog.

Mesothelioma Stages: Here is a quick video to learn more about mesothelioma.
Video Credit & Source: Mesothelioma Treatment Community

by Ashley Stafford 

Currently, there is no established pericardial mesothelioma staging system. However, pericardial mesothelioma stages can be established using the TNM staging system. The American Joint Committee on Cancer developed this system and it is the most common system for staging various types of cancer including pericardial mesothelioma. Determining the stage of pericardial mesothelioma when it is diagnosed enables health care providers and researchers to exchange information about their patients. It also enables them to communicate in a common language when it comes to treatment, clinical trials and comparison of the outcomes of the different treatments and trials. .

TNM staging system

TNM system for staging different types of mesothelioma cancer can be described as follows:
  • T: This describes the primary tumor’s size and whether the disease has invaded the nearby tissues.
  • N: This describes the extent to which mesothelioma has spread to the lymphatic system.
  • M: This describes whether the metastasis cancer has spread past the point where it originated.
Staging pericardial mesothelioma

Pericardial mesothelioma affects the lining of the heart or the pericardium. Although less is known about pericardial mesothelioma’s pathology, researchers believe that it is caused by the inhalation or ingestion of asbestos fibers. Once inhaled or ingested, asbestos fibers move to the bloodstream and travel to the heart. Eventually, they lodge themselves in the pericardium where they aggravate the local tissues for many years and eventually cause mesothelioma cancer. Pericardial mesothelioma can be diagnosed any time during this period and staged using the TNM system.

Staging pericardial mesothelioma cancer

Stage 1: At this stage, the disease is characterized by small tumors that are localized without having spread to other organs or lymph nodes.

Stage 2: Stage 2 pericardial mesothelioma has a local tumor that has progressed into the tissue or organs further.

Stage 3: At this stage, pericardial mesothelioma has spread deeply into the local tissue and/or close lymph nodes.

Stage 4: This is the most serious stage of pericardial mesothelioma. At this stage, the disease has already invaded the local tissues and organs and has usually already started its progress on moving to distant organs and tissues.

What follows staging?

After being diagnosed with pericardial mesothelioma at any stage, a patient should undergo further tests. This helps in determining the extent to which cancer has spread and affected the body of the patient. Staging is based on the original tumor’s metastasis to the other organs and tissues in the body. Basically, pericardial mesothelioma staging enables doctors to come up with the most appropriate treatment program for each patient. This is very important because it improves prognosis.

Nevertheless, it is important to get a second opinion after the first diagnosis and staging of pericardial mesothelioma. A mesothelioma specialist may provide innovative treatment options that will extend prognosis and quality of the patient’s life.

Pericardial mesothelioma treatment

Pericardial mesothelioma has limited treatment options since it is located close to the patient’s heart. Surgical and radiation interventions can damage the heart tissues. Nevertheless, pericardiectomy, radiation therapy, chemotherapy and other forms of advanced treatments can be used to treat pericardial mesothelioma. That’s why you should consult the best mesothelioma specialist if you or a loved one has been diagnosed with pericardial mesothelioma at any stage.


Ashley Stafford is a writer and online blogger with special interest in rare diseases and the conspiracies of curing cancer. Her newest and self-proclaimed challenge is to provide every detail on every type of mesothelioma, in each of the four stages. You can find a lot of her latest work at where she is dedicating her time and talents as a volunteer writer. With a strong passion for helping veterans, raising mesothelioma awareness is her calling. 

Copyright ©2016. Ashley Stafford. All Rights Reserved. It is republished here with the permission of the author.

Friday, December 2, 2016

Luba: Everytime I See Your Picture (1983)

Montreal Memories & Nostalgia

Luba (born in 1958 as Lubomyra Kowalchyk in Montréal, Québec) sings “Everytime I See Your Picture,” a song she wrote after her father’s death in 1979. (My father died a year later, in 1980, so the song’s sentiments became mine as well, during a period in my life when I still acutely felt the loss of a guiding voice in my young life, at a time when I was still mourning, still grieving.) Moreover and perhaps more important, the song and the voice resonated with the public so it saturated the Montreal airwaves in 1983, becoming a major hit. Sure, the song is sappy, but if you can’t enjoy such music when young, when can you?

Luba is one of the most successful Canadian singers, Wikipedia notes “[being] a three-time winner of the Canadian music industry Juno Award for Female Vocalist of the Year (1985–1987).” She achieved success in Canada without charting across the border in the U.S., which is rare for a creative performer from Canada. Although no longer in the public spotlight, Luba continues to sing and record for her own independent label.

For more, go to [Luba Fanpage].

Everytime I See Your Picture
by Luba & Pierre Marchand

In my mind
I've got it all figured out
But the head
Does not always rule the heart

And I try to place him
Out of body and soul
Just when I thought I'd made it
His images start taking their toll on me

I feel his memory haunting me
Time and again
I feel weak because

Every time I see your picture, I cry
And I try to get over you
One more time because
Every time I see your picture, I cry
Oh, I cry

There you rest inside
The walls of a flame
Hurts so bad
I can almost feel your eyes

Calling out my name and so
Out of body and soul
You're everywhere I go
Illusion or reality, I don't know

I feel your memory haunting me
Time and again
I feel weak because

Every time I see your picture, I cry
And I try to get over you
One more time because
Every time I see your picture, I cry
Oh, I cry

Friday, November 18, 2016

Growing Up & Living in Leonard Cohen’s Montreal

Montreal Memories & Nostalgia

Nightly Presence: Saint-Joseph’s Oratory (formally named Oratoire Saint-Joseph du Mont-Royal) situated on the western slope of Mont-Royal, sits proudly on chemin Queen-Mary near chemin de la Côte-des-Neiges as this photo at night shows. The green dome was prominent and visible from many parts of Montréal , including my living-room window while growing up in the central neighbourhood of Cote-des-Neiges in the 1970s and later on as a young adult in the nearby neighbourhood of Snowdon. It was and continues to be a reassuring presence for many, including persons like me who are not Catholic.
Photo Credit: © Alain Carpentier, 2007

An article (“Leonard Cohen’s Montreal”; February 28, 2015), by Bernard Avishal (an ex-Montrealer), in The New Yorker gives a good sense of the Montréal in which Leonard Cohen [September 21, 1934–November 7, 2016] grew up, including the transition and change to a more modern and secular society in Quebec during the 1960s, a period known  as La Révolution tranquille (The Quiet Revolution).

Many of the insights of the writer resonate with me; these describe my experiences. Knowing and understanding the city in which Leonard Cohen resided as a child and young man might give you a better appreciation and apprehension of his music, notably its use of religious symbolism and the tension between the sacred and the secular.

Avishal writes in the article:
Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah”—a hymn to souls too carnal to grow old, too secular to give praise, and too baffled to mock faith—recently turned thirty. Cohen himself, now eighty, came of age in Jewish Montreal during the twenty years after the Second World War, and those of us who followed him, a half-generation later, can’t hear the song without also thinking about that time and place, which qualifies as an era. The devotional—and deftly sacrilegious—quality of “Hallelujah” and other songs and poems by Cohen reflects a city of clashing and bonding religious communities, especially first-generation Jews and French Catholics. Montreal’s politics in the early sixties were energized by what came to be called Quebec’s Quiet Revolution, which emancipated the city’s bicultural intelligentsia from Church and Anglostocracy. The pace of transformation could make the place half crazy; that’s why you wanted to be there.
Religious thoughts seemed to be the gravest ones in Montreal then, insinuated, even inculcated, by its architecture, seasonal festivals, and colloquialisms. Cohen grew up in affluent Westmount, the best part of Mount Royal, about a mile from my family home in Snowdon—a neighborhood on a lower Western slope, where “the English” (as my mother called them) had no choice but to make room for Jewish factory owners, lawyers, and doctors. Towering over both our neighborhoods, impressing itself on our senses, was the dome of St. Joseph’s Oratory, Quebec’s great basilica, the dream palace of (the now canonized) Brother André Bessette, who healed the body and spirit of pilgrims—the place we simply called the Shrine. A. M. Klein, the first of the Montreal Jewish poets, wrote, “How rich, how plumped with blessing is that dome! / The gourd of Brother André! His sweet days / rounded! Fulfilled! Honeyed to honeycomb!” Its neon-illuminated cross was visible from my bedroom window, an imposing rival for the whispered Shma Yisroel of bedtime. The city’s ironwork staircases, its streets tangled around Mount Royal, carried the names of uncountable saints (St. Denis, St. Eustache, St. Laurent); the fall air was scented by rotting leaves and, on Rosh Hashana, polished synagogues. Fresh snow sharpened Christmas lights. Our curses, borrowed from Québécois proles, were affectionately sacrilegious mocks of the Mass: “calice,” “tabarnak,” “osti”—chalice, tabernacle, host. 
Leonard Cohen in front of his Montreal home in  the Mile End neighbourhood in 1977.
Photo Credit & Source: Montreal Gazette
Although this could be said of any major city, there is no city like it—Montréal is unique; it certainly stands apart in North America. After a graveside service on November 10th, 2016, Cohen was put to rest at Shaar Hashomayim Cemetery, located on the slopes of Mont-Royal. This is a fitting and poetic end for a man who was not only a Montrealer true and true, but also always a romantic and a mystic, a man who was both an inquirer and a searcher. Cohen was a man who was trying to understand, and in doing so, his music helped us understand. It had such an effect on me.

For more, go to [NewYorker]

Addendum: The best interview of Leonard Cohen was at his Montreal home (across from Parc du Portugal), by Jian Ghomeshi of CBC’s Q show, first broadcast on Thursday April 16th, 2009. You can watch the fascinating and informative broadcast [here].

I am taking a short break; I will return next month.