Tuesday, February 24, 2015


The ITA's Lifetime Achievement Award recognizes people - living or deceased - who have distinguished themselves by their contributions to the trombone profession over a long career. If you added further qualifications such as selling over 30 million records, receiving a Lifetime Achievement Grammy and a Chubb fellowship from Yale, running for Congress, being a licensed pilot and playing a DEA agent on TV, Willie Colón would still be eligible.

Gerald Sloan, professor of music at the University of Arkansas in an article stated, "Willie Colón has probably done more than anyone since Tommy Dorsey to keep the trombone before the public. Stylistically the are poles apart, Dorsey representing an ultra-smooth approach, Colón a Hard-edged roughness reportedly inspired by Barry Rogers. Unfortunately, Colón's public was largely Latino, so his music and contribution have gone unnoticed or ignored by the general press". Critic Norman Weinstein has stated, "Willie Colón is to the history of Latin music what Don Drummond was to Jamaican ska and J.J. Johnson was to jazz".

A pioneer of what has come to be known as "salsa" William Anthony Colón Román was born in 1950 in South Bronx, New York, Raised by his paternal grandmother, he grew up surrounded by the sounds and images of "our heroes" Tito Puente, Machito, Tito Rodríguez and Charlie Palmieri. He spent the summers on the farm of his aunt near Manatí, Puerto Rico, where he absorbed the music and cultural traditions of the island. 

At the age of 11, his grandmother bought him a trumpet and he began to take lessons from a neighbor. At 13, he formed his first "conjunto", or group. "I was like a street musician and we used to pass the hat around. I had a kid who played accordion, I played trumpet, then another guy played clarinet and there was a conga player. We called the group "The Dandies", and we used to set up in front of the bar and play. People used to throw quartets at us; when we stopped, they'd throw dollars... but when I heard Barry Roger's trombone solo on this song called "Dolores" I didn't want to play trumpet anymore. I'd heard Barry roaring and ripping into that trombone, so that's what I wanted to play". 

The trombone has always been a presence in the music of the Caribbean, appearing in the Cuban "orquestas típicas"near the end of the 18th century. These ensembles faded in the 1920s, replaced by the smaller "charanga" (which did not use trombones) and jazz bands (which did). In the early 1960s, pianist and "salsa" pioneer Eddie Palmieri formed "Conjunto La Perfecta, which replaced the charanga's traditional violins with two trombones, one of whom was Barry Rogers. 

At about the same time, Puerto Rican musician Efrain "Mon" Rivera was leading a popular orchestra that featured an all-trombone (4) brass section. These two influences formed the basis of Willie's decisions to use trombones as the dominant sound of his music. At the age of 15, Willie was signed to Fania Records and at 17 recorded his first album "El Malo". 

This album brought Willie together with a young Puerto Rican singer named Héctor Lavoe (who had changed his name from Pérez) and was, according to "Salsa Chronicler" César Miguel Rondón, "of terrible quality, riddle with glaring deficiencies, and... a total success": It sold 300.000 copies and established Willie Colón and Héctor Lavoe as emerging stars, ensuring that the trombone would be the principal instrumental voice of "Salsa". Later on, I had jazz players like Grover Washington and Willie Campbell showing up at the gig and they're asking me [about it], but I didn't know what I was doing. It was just basically an instinctive kind of thing. We had a mixture of really rough, brassy, harsh trombones and a rhythm section. And on a couple of songs, we had Dwight Brewster playing a very light kind of jazzy piano. It was an interesting thing that happened". 

With his next several albums, Willie affected the image of a gangster and he's been known as "El Malo" ever since. In a interview with Frank J. Oteri for the online magazine "New Music Box" Willie explained, "I grew up on 139th Street, and it was a really rough neighborhood. I had my horn stolen a couple of times. I'd have to do all kind of things to make people not want to mess with me... So I got the nickname El Malo and they left me alone. But it was basically a tongue-in-cheek thing, too... it was always a joke. [...] 

This image did, however, help to emphasize the music of Willie Colón as coming from the barrio. Over the next several years, Willie and Héctor lavoe recorded 11 albums together and rose to international fame. On August 21, 1971, Fania records assembled its "All Stars", including Willie and Héctor, for a concert at the Cheetah ballroom on 52nd street in Manhattan. This event was recorded and the popularity of the albums and films from that night resulted in, in the words of César Rondón, the "establishment of salsa as a complete and novel form of music". 

In 1973, Willie became a producer, doing a number of albums with Héctor Lavoe as well as collaborations (as producer and performer) with other stars such as Celia Cruz, Mon Rivera, and Rubén Blades. Also during this time, he undertook studies in theory, composition, and orchestration and his work with Blades resulted in several albums including, in 1978, "Siembra", the biggest selling "Salsa" album of all time. By the end of the 1970s, the popularity of Willie Colón and his music had spread throughout Latin America. 

In describing his music Willie has said, "A lot of people like to characterize salsa as a pastiche of Cuban son. There's no denying that there is a Cuban influence and a Cuban base to it, but it's so much more. Salsa is not a rhythm, it's a concept. It's a way of making music. It's an open concept and the reason that it became so popular is because it was able to evolve and accept all of these other music. We put the "Bombas" and "Plenas" in it; we put "calypso, samba, bossa, and cumbia" in it. It's definitely not even a Puerto Rican or a Cuban music. It's a reconciliation of everything you can find. And I think it could have only happened here in New York, where you had so many different kinds of people living and playing together. We used to get a lot of the black jazz players. They wanted to come and play salsa so they can blow over the changes. Where are you going to find players like than other than in a big city like New York? This was not going to happen in Cuba or Puerto Rico; it had to be here" According to his website, www.williecolon.com, "as a musician, composer, arranger, singer, and trombonist, as well as producer and director, Willie Colón still holds the all-time record for sales.

ITA member Luis Flores was likewise inspired to become a trombonist after listening to Willie’s recordings as a child in Miami. He is an acknowledged expert on the music and career of Willie Colón and provided the author invaluable information and insight.

 So what’s it like for a trombonist playing the music of Willie Colón? Via email, Ozzie Melendez reported, “I really enjoyed playing his music. For about 15 years, I had the pleasure of playing lead bone and for the past 6 years was the musical director. Playing these parts is very exhausting on the chops. If you are not in shape… forget it! You really can’t coast. The music doesn’t allow for that. He always wants it [full throttle] Anything other than that, he’ll say … “sounds like you’re sitting down”*
Now 60, Willie shows no signs of sitting down himself.  As busy as he is working for the City of New York, his 2010  calendar was full, with performances all over the world, including Amsterdam, Paris, Brussels, and a number of cities in central and south America. Willie also enjoys aviation and holds a private pilot certificate.

Considering the place of the trombone and its importance in the music of Willie Colón and how that sound was central to its popularity, a case should be made that Willie deserves considerably more from the trombone community. Where else are the trombone players always the stars? Now that he has been awarded ITA’s life time achievement award, it might be time to consider a place for his statue.


Tuesday, February 24, 2015

13 febrero 2015

Willie Colón "EL MALO"

Willie Colón probablemente ha hecho más que nadie desde Tommy Dorsey para mantener el trombón ante el público. (Asociación Internacional Del Trombón)

En esta ocasión RET os trae un magnífico artículo sobre uno de los trombonistas de música latina más conocidos del mundo. WILLIE COLÓN

Gerald Sloan, profesor de música en la Universidad de Arkansas en un artículo escribía, "Willie Colón probablemente ha hecho más que nadie desde Tommy Dorsey para mantener el trombón ante el público. Estilísticamente son polos opuestos, Dorsey que representan un enfoque ultra-suave, Colón una rugosidad inspirada por Barry Rogers. Desafortunadamente, el público de Colón fue en gran parte latina, por lo que su música y su contribución ha pasado desapercibido o ignorado por la prensa en general ". El crítico Norman Weinstein declaró, "Willie Colón es a la historia de la música latina lo que Don Drummond era al ska jamaicano y JJ Johnson era al jazz".

Un pionero de lo que ha llegado a ser conocido como "salsa" William Anthony Colón Román nació en 1950 en el sur del Bronx (Nueva York). Criado por su abuela paterna, que creció rodeado de los sonidos y las imágenes de "nuestros héroes": Tito Puente, Machito, Tito Rodríguez y Charlie Palmieri. Pasaba los veranos en la granja de su tía cerca de Manatí (Puerto Rico), donde absorbió la música y las tradiciones culturales de la isla.

A la edad de 11 años, su abuela le compró una trompeta y empezó a tomar lecciones de un vecino. A los 13 años formó su primer "conjunto" o grupo. "Yo era como un músico de la calle y solíamos pasar el sombrero alrededor. Tuve un chico que tocaba el acordeón, yo tocaba la trompeta, y luego otro chico tocaba el clarinete y había un conguero. Nos llamábamos " The Dandies", y nos juntábamos para tocar en frente del bar y la gente tiraba cuartos de dólar. Cuando nos detuvimos a mirar vimos que echarían dólares ... pero cuando yo escuché un sólo del trombonista Roger Barry en la canción que se llama "Dolores" yo no quise tocar más la trompeta. Oí a Barry rugiendo y rasgando en el trombón, y desde entonces quise tocar eso".
El trombón siempre ha estado presente en la música del Caribe, que aparece en las típicas orquestas cubanas cerca del final del siglo XVIII. Estos conjuntos descoloridos en la década de 1920, fueron reemplazados por la "charanga" más pequeño (que no usaba trombones) y bandas de jazz (que si). A principios de 1960, el pianista y pionero de la "salsa" Eddie Palmieri formó el conjunto "La Perfecta", que sustituyó violines tradicionales de la charanga por dos trombones, uno de los cuales era Barry Rogers.
Casi al mismo tiempo, el músico puertorriqueño Efraín "Mon" Rivera dirigía una orquesta popular que contó con una sección de metales con 4 trombones. Estas dos influencias fueron la base de las decisiones de Willie para utilizar trombones como el sonido dominante de su música.A la edad de 15 años, Willie firmó para Fania Records y a los 17 grabó su primer álbum "El Malo". Este álbum trajo a Willie junto con un joven cantante puertorriqueño llamado Héctor Lavoe (que había cambiado su nombre de Pérez) y fue, de acuerdo con (el letrista salsero) César Miguel Rondón, "de pésima calidad, con deficiencias flagrantes, y ... todo un éxito ": Se vendió 300.000 copias y estableció a Willie Colón y Héctor Lavoe como estrellas emergentes, asegurando que el trombón sería la voz principal instrumental de la "Salsa".
Más tarde, tuve jazzistas como Griver Washington y Willie Campbell presentes en el concierto y me estaban pidiendo explicaciones [al respecto], pero yo no sabía lo que estaba haciendo. Era sólo básicamente un tipo instintivo. Teníamos una mezcla realmente áspera, estridente, trombones fuertes y una sección rítmica. Y en un par de canciones, teníamos a Dwight Brewster tocando una especie de jazz ligero al piano. Era una cosa interesante lo que ocurrió ".
Con sus próximos álbumes, Willie adaptaba la imagen de un gángster y ha sido conocido como "El Malo" desde entonces. En una entrevista con Frank J. Oteri para la revista en línea "New Music Box" Willie explicó: "Yo me crié en la calle 139th, y era un barrio muy peligroso. Me robaron el instrumento en un par de ocasiones. Tendría que hacer todo tipo de cosas para que la gente no quisieran meterse conmigo ... Así que me dí el apodo de El Malo y me dejaron. Pero era básicamente algo irónico, también ... siempre fue una broma.

[...] Esta imagen, sin embargo, ayudó a hacer hincapié en la música de Willie Colón como procedente del barrio. En los próximos años, Willie y Héctor Lavoe grabaron 11 álbumes juntos y saltaron a la fama internacional. El 21 de agosto de 1971, Fania Records montaron sus "All Stars", incluyendo a Willie y Héctor, para un concierto en una Sala de Baile en la calle 52 en Manhattan. Este evento fue grabado y la popularidad de los álbumes y películas de esa noche dio lugar, en palabras de César Rondón, al "establecimiento de la salsa como una forma completa y novedosa de la música".
En 1973, Willie se convirtió en productor, haciendo una serie de álbumes con Héctor Lavoe, así como colaboraciones (como productor e intérprete) con otras estrellas como Celia Cruz, Mon Rivera y Rubén Blades. También durante este tiempo, emprendió estudios en teoría, composición y orquestación y su trabajo con Blades resultó en varios álbumes, incluyendo el de 1978, "Siembra", el album de salsa más vendido de todos los tiempos. A finales de la década de 1970, la popularidad de Willie Colón y su música se había extendido por toda América Latina.
Al describir su música Willie ha dicho: "A mucha gente le gusta caracterizar la salsa como un pastiche de son cubano. No se puede negar que hay una influencia cubana y una base cubana en ella, pero es mucho más.

Salsa no es un ritmo, es un concepto. Es una manera de hacer música. Es un concepto abierto y la razón por la que se hizo tan popular es porque era capaz de evolucionar y aceptar todas estas otras músicas. Ponemos el "Bombas" y "Plenas" en ella; ponemos "el calipso, la samba, la bossa, y cumbia" en ella.
Definitivamente, no es ni siquiera puertorriqueña o música cubana. Es una reconciliación de todo lo que puedes encontrar. Y creo que podría haber sucedido sólo aquí en Nueva York, donde había tantos tipos diferentes de personas que viven y tocan juntos. Solíamos tener una gran cantidad de los músicos negros de jazz. Querían venir a tocar la salsa para poder probarla. ¿Dónde vas a encontrar músicos que les guste como en una gran ciudad como Nueva York? Esto no iba a pasar en Cuba o Puerto Rico; tenía que estar aquí "
Según su sitio web, www.williecolon.com, "como músico, compositor, arreglista, cantante y trombonista, tanto como productor y director, Willie Colón todavía mantiene el récord de todos los tiempos en las ventas. Él ha creado 40 producciones que han vendido más de treinta millones de discos en todo el mundo ".

by Bruce Gunia
Fuente: International Trombone Magazine Volumen 39, Nº1 de Enero de 2011
Traducción ofrecida por RET

Friday, February 20, 2015

When Justice is Mocked

When Justice is Mocked

By Mansfield Frazier
He said what?
Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor’s remarks in a drug case illustrate the inner-workings — and failings — of our federal criminal justice system.
According to an article by David G. Savage, writing for the Los Angeles Times, Justice Sotomayor “filed a rare statement commenting on the court’s refusal to hear an appeal.”  She took a federal prosecutor to task for “citing the race of a defendant as grounds for convicting him of a drug deal.”
Sotomaor wrote that the prosecutor had attempted to “substitute racial stereotype for evidence and racial prejudice for reason.”
Those words were a strong rebuke from the Court’s first Latina Justice. The harsh words were not only warranted: they perhaps didn’t go far enough.
Justice Stephen G. Breyer signed on to the statement, and added, “I hope I never see a case like this again.”
The facts are essentially this: Bongani Calhoun was indicted on a drug conspiracy charge. His defense was that while he did go on a road trip with some friends, he didn’t know they were planning to purchase cocaine.
Admittedly, that would sound a little fishy to a jury. Two of his co-conspirators testified that Calhoun knew what was about to go down, and the $400,000 in cash they were carrying in a bag is what’s known in detective work as a “clue.”
But Sam Ponder, the assistant federal prosecutor in San Antonio, took the point further.  He said that “common sense” should inform the jurors as to why the men were in the hotel room. 
“You’ve got African-Americans, you’ve got Hispanics, you’ve got a bag full of money,” he said.  “Does that tell you… a light bulb doesn’t go off in your head and say ‘This is a drug deal?’”
Was the jury to suppose — from the prosecutor’s statement — that had the men in the room been white, everything would have been hunky-dory?  That when whites conduct business in hotel rooms, with large sums of cash, everything is on the up-and-up?  
Justice Sotomayor, who once was a prosecutor in New York, further wrote: “By suggesting that race should play a role in establishing a defendant's guilt, the prosecutor here tapped a deep and sorry vein of racial prejudice that has run through the history of criminal justice in our nation.”
She continued: “It is deeply disappointing to see a representative of the United States resort to this base tactic more than a decade into the 21st century.”
Justice Sotomayor was right to be outraged at the prosecutor’s remarks (he later made the lame excuse his words were “taken out of context, ” an excuse that doesn’t pass the straight-face test, since he made the same comment during his closing argument).
But she should have been equally outraged at the defense attorney who sat in the courtroom and said absolutely nothing at the time.
Either Calhoun’s lawyer was totally inept for not realizing how prejudicial the comments were, and for failing to call them to court’s attention (he immediately should have jumped to his feet, objected, and call for a mistrial), or he was deathly afraid of the might of the federal government and elected to remain silent out of a form of timidity seen all too often among members of the defense bar.   
This type of outrageous conduct by federal prosecutors has not gone unnoticed before.
“The rule of law has vanished in America’s criminal justice system,” the late Harvard Law Professor William J. Stuntz wrote in The Collapse of American Criminal Justice.  “Prosecutors now decide whom to punish and how severely.”
Stuntz’ call for a complete overhaul of our criminal justice system is being noted in the highest levels of the legal profession; but sadly, no organization is making too much noise.
Which raises the question: why? Clearly something is amiss.
In America, we’re not supposed to attempt to frame even those we highly suspect of being guilty.  The real question is, why hasn’t this prosecutor been fired?
Common sense seemingly dictates that the judge hearing the case would have taken note of such a racist remark and addressed it in the proper judicial manner. But, after all, the case was in Texas, so the judge also remained mute, when even a first-year law student would have known how far out of line the comment was.
The end result was that the defendant paid the price for judicial malfeasance. He was convicted and sentenced to 15 years in federal prison.
Certainly the facts of the case are such that, even without such prejudicial comments, Calhoun was likely to be convicted. His co-conspirators had turned on him. Nevertheless, the fair administration of justice dictates that such racially inflammatory comments would be challenged at some point in the process.
But they weren’t.
And since the attorney failed to do his job in court (or in the initial appeal), the Supreme Court ruled that Calhoun was not entitled to get a new trial, in spite of the prejudicial comments made by the prosecution.
The ruling brings to mind the case of a prisoner condemned to death who, in the 1990s, petitioned a Virginia Circuit Court to review new evidence on his behalf.  The state’s then-Attorney General Mary Sue Terry argued against such a review by stating: “Evidence of innocence is irrelevant.” 
Cases are often overturned citing “ineffective assistance of counsel,” and this case is so egregious, so beyond the pale, that it calls into question the “effectiveness” our entire system of justice at the federal level. 
To deny an appeal in a case that was so obviously flawed in the manner in which it was handled by the attorney of record — to keep someone in prison because the lawyer didn’t do his or her job — makes a mockery of justice and threatens the rights of all citizens.
The fact that Justice Sotomayor later wrote a scathing condemnation of the prosecutor’s actions is all well and good.  But in the end the man is still in prison, is being denied a new trial, and the law — once again — is being made into a complete ass.
Mansfield Frazier serves as the executive director of Neighborhood Solutions, Inc. in Cleveland. His column can currently be seen weekly on CoolCleveland.com and The Cleveland Leader. He also occasionally contributes to The Daily Beast. Frazier is the co-publisher of Reentry Advocate, a magazine that currently goes into all Ohio prisons, select prisons in Michigan, and the Federal Bureau of Prisons. He welcomes reader comments.

Standing up for "Disposable" People

Standing up for "Disposable" People

By Erik Roskes

Well, after six weeks, our Iraqi visitors have returned home. During their visit, they told us that things were becoming more difficult at home, and one of them was considering relocating to the US, if possible, even knowing that he likely would never be able to practice psychiatry here.
During their visit, we became close colleagues and friends.  It was amazing to me how easy it was to get close to them, how much more alike we all are than one would think.  As the psychiatrist and psychoanalyst Harry Stack Sullivan said over a half-century ago, “We are all more human than otherwise.”
Think about the lesson this teaches us.  We who choose to work within the criminal justice system have chosen to work with those whom society has deemed “disposable” people.  I’m not saying that some—maybe many—incarcerated people have done quite horrible things.  The recent case in Connecticut reminds us that there are, in fact, evil people in the world.
But, many people with mental illness are unfortunates who suffer with serious impairments in their decision-making capacities, their insight, at times even their volitional control.  For many of these individuals, jail is the only place that doesn’t say no.  I have already described a woman arrested for “being mentally ill in public.”
Here’s another case: 20 year old Ryan is arrested after seriously assaulting his mother.  He is a talented student athlete, home from college for winter break.  After describing his actions as “I had to do it – she was possessed,” he is referred for a psychiatric evaluation and found to be suffering with a psychotic illness rendering him severely delusional.  He denied drug use, and his urine and blood are clean.  He is admitted to a hospital, treated with medications and therapy, and within 2 weeks has become asymptomatic.  Profoundly remorseful over what he has done, he becomes severely depressed.
What should happen to Ryan, who is so similar to you, reading this blog, and to me, writing it?  Should he be charged with assault?  Should he be diverted for treatment?  Both?
In our country, we struggle mightily with issues of liberty and personal autonomy, and conversely with holding people accountable for their choices.  But accountability assumes the freedom to make choices – and Ryan’s case, can we truly conclude that he made a free choice while struggling with a new-onset psychosis?
Back to my opening: We are all more human than otherwise.  Cases like Ryan, so similar to me when I was a student – except, of course, for the psychosis and the athletic skills – make me ever grateful that I have not developed a serious mental illness.  Meeting my new friends from Iraq, where psychiatrists are held hostage for ransom, or even occasionally assassinated, make me ever grateful that I was born here in the US.   But at the end of the day, we are all pretty much the same, but for the random nature of where we were born, what genes we are born with, and what our early life experiences are.
Finally, if you are losing faith in the positive impact you can have on those you serve, read Phil Taylor’s latest column in Sports Illustrated.
Erik Roskes is a forensic psychiatrist and currently the Director of Forensic Services at the Springfield Hospital Center in Maryland. The opinions expressed are those of the author only, and do not represent those of any of Dr. Roskes’ employers or consultees, including the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. He can be found at http://mysite.verizon.net/eroskes/

What Do the Gulf Oil Spill Victims Deserve?

What Do the Gulf Oil Spill Victims Deserve?

By Mai Fernandez

“Are the victims of the Gulf oil spill getting what they deserve,” asked a recentWashington Post editorial (11/25/10). I’ve been asking myself the same question since visiting New Orleans for our National Conference several months ago. What is the scope of the damage, and what response do the victims deserve?
Answering these questions requires knowing who the victims are. The oil rig workers and their families are clearly victims, but what about everyone else in the Gulf? Anyone whose property, health, or livelihood was damaged by the oil spill (even if the damage takes years to fully emerge) is a victim. Those who lose income as an “indirect” result of the spill (such as laid-off public employees in financially stressed Gulf jurisdictions) are also victims, as are those suffering from other spill-related damage—such as PTSD, alcoholism, depression, and increased domestic violence in some Gulf communities.
How will our nation compensate these victims? The $20 billion BP compensation fund, administered by Kenneth Feinberg, is a start. As the cost estimates ($40 billion recently) for the spill continue to rise, Mr. Feinberg is sorting through the 450,000 claims for emergency assistance to tide victims over until they can receive a final settlement. Only those directly affected by the spill are eligible, and damage “must not be too remote in time or place from the spill.” Once victims have made a final claim and receive payment, they must give up their right to sue BP or its partners, no matter what the ultimate impact of the spill on their lives and property.
Our criminal and civil justice systems can provide some measure of justice to victims. The U.S. Department of Justice must investigate whether crimes under the Clean Water Act, the Oil Pollution Act, the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, and other laws were committed and if so, how to prosecute. But these efforts will take time.  And even successful prosecutions will produce no financial relief for the Gulf region because under current law, no funds (such as fines or restitution) awarded as a result of prosecution can go directly to the victims. Negligence claims brought by individuals and groups (an option only for those who do not receive final compensation fund payments) might help meet some victims’ medical and financial needs. Yet these civil actions, which are often unresolved for many years, neither cover all damages nor always end favorably for victims.
Clearly, the compensation fund is not enough, and our justice systems are not equipped to address the massive trauma, financial strain, crime, and long-term damage caused by the spill.
To respond to such disasters, our nation needs a better set of remedies. We need better victim support and compensation systems for direct and “indirect” victims, and laws that allow restitution for victims of environmental crime. We need more comprehensive, coordinated responses to such catastrophes, and we must take steps to learn from this disaster how to prevent the next one. Until we make this kind of progress, the victims of the Gulf oil spill (and future disasters) will never get “what they deserve.”
Mai Fernandez is the Executive Director of the National Center for Victims of Crime.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015



(I was inspired by a piece that   a veteran Philadelphia police officer and now a firearms instructor wrote about this and I took it upon myself to translate it into a layman's terms)

There was a time when people who did not have the mental, physical, or emotional capacity to interact with society on a day to day basis were provided with a place for them to sleep, eat, and have their physical and emotional problems cared for. State and local facilities were built to house the mentally, emotionally, and physically challenged. These places also housed criminally insane and those who tended to hurt themselves and sometimes others. 

Many big cities had "Tenderloin Districts", comprised of buildings turned into rooming-houses. These buildings rented out rooms by the day, week month, etc at very inexpensive rates, sometimes a dollar per day. They provided the bare essentials, bed, blankets, etc. a bathroom down the hall, usually one or two per floor. People who had more control of their mental, emotional, physical well being and didn't want to live in a state or city institution could live in a rooming house.

Today, in an ironic, twisted rationale these places are closed for various "humanitarian" reasons like defending the rights of of the mentally ill or structural code violations in the case of the rooming-houses; leaving legions of people to fend for themselves on the streets.

Many times these "Tenderloin Districts" are wiped out to make room for gentrification. Leaving legions of homeless people with mental, emotional, physical problems without support.

In a classical example of benign neglect government has washed it's hands of the responsibility to care for these folks and thrown the problem to law enforcement. The proper public health policy in place could have prevented many past tragedies.

Police have to deal with these elements when they finally commit criminal acts; pan handling, trespassing, violent outbursts to the public at large from a cast of social "untouchables" has become law enforcement's responsibility.

Police are not set up to handle a public health problems, and they should not be involved. The government has caused this problem with their lack of developing a plan to take care of these folks from a public health point of view. Too many times these unattended public health issues escalate into serious threats to public safety. 

Wednesday, February 11, 2015


Kayla Jean Mueller was killed during airstrikes. (Photograph: Courtesy of the family)

We Americans are arrogantly naive about the world we live in. Kayla Jean Mueller's death is tragic.  Whether it was her parents, mentors or her religious counsel, whoever put in her head that going to Syria was a good idea was an idea that is seriously flawed.

What is one young defenseless girl going to do in a world where you will be killed for showing your face? There are many people here in the states that need help. Here, at least, you have some protections.

It is so sad that these young well meaning people get themselves into these horrible situations but we have to understand that walking into these ancient conflicts will probably not end well. 

It's like walking into the bullring and expecting the bull not to gore you because you're a vegetarian.

I feel so bad for her parents who raised a girl with such a big heart. Believers seem to be a problem in today's world of violence and horror. Many young innocents die full of unrealistic expectations and ideals, often urged on by people who know (or should know) better. 

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Willie Colón les dio un tremendo ‘asalto’

Willie Colón les dio un tremendo ‘asalto’

Agatha Mitchell /VIVA / Fotos: Lente Paparazzi
Sábado, Febrero 7, 2015 - 00:00
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Ahora sí se dio el “asalto”, pero al mejor estilo carnavalesco, y es que después de que debido a las fuertes lluvias que se dieron en diciembre, el concierto “Asalto Navideño” tuvo que ser pospuesto para febrero, la noche del jueves los salseros tiraron sus pasos hasta más no poder.
Las Terrazas del Panamá Convention Center fueron el escenario perfecto para que los presentes gozaran, bailaran y cantaran a todo pulmón los éxitos de Osvaldo Ayala, los hermanos Gaitanes y, por supuesto, del neoyorquino Willie Colón.
Las puertas se abrieron a eso de las 7:30 p.m. y el primero en poner a todos a bailar fue el “Escorpión de Paritilla”, Osvaldo Ayala. “Óyeme mamacita”, su conocido lema, se escuchó en cada una de sus piezas durante toda su presentación. “Si tú me quisieras”, “Los sentimientos del alma”, “Reincidente en tu cama”, entre otras melodías, pusieron a bailar toda la noche al público. A este evento se sumó también la reina de Calle Abajo de Las Tablas, Gabriela Alejandra Garrido, quien fue invitada por el tipiquero a subir al escenario.
Tras un breve receso, los hermanos Gaitanes subían a escena muy animados para poner a todos a tirar sus pasos. El dúo panameño se lució con temas de su autoría como “Mi amor no es un favor”, “Hazme sentir”, entre otros. Gaitanes permaneció en el entarimado por unos 20 minutos.
Los ánimos se elevaron, pues era el turno para el exitoso trombonista Willie Colón. El maestro irrumpía a eso de las 11:00 p.m. con “Idilio de amor”, que de inmediato fue disfrutado al máximo.
Colón se disculpó con el público, pues estaba padeciendo problemas con la voz, el cambio de clima al llegar a Panamá le había afectado, sin embargo, prometió una buena rumba por más de 2 horas.
“Sin poderte hablar” fue su segundo tema en escucharse. Al son de su éxito “Celos”, Willie provocó que las emociones se elevaran. El neoyorquino invitó a subir a la pista a Ricardo y Alberto Gaitán, con quienes cantó su tema “De que me vale”. Colón se encontraba muy emocionado y no fue sino hasta pasada la 1:

Japanese hospital uses magnetized stem cells in cartilage restore surgery

Posted in: Asia-Pacific

A Japanese hospital on Friday conducted a regenerative surgery using magnet to concentrate iron powder-containing stem cells around damaged cartilage, the first of its kind in the world, according to the Kyodo news agency.

A team at Hiroshima University Hospital led by Mitsuo Ochi, a professor at the hospital, conducted the operation on an 18-year- old senior high school girl, whose cartilage at right knee joint has been lost.

The endoscopic surgery is less arduous for the patient, said the team. Conventional treatment needs surgery twice to repair cartilage.

In the operation, the team extracted mesenchymal stem cells from bone marrow of the patient and cultivated them mixed with iron powder to create iron powder-containing stem cells that can develop into various tissues.

The team injected the stem cells into the patient's right knee joint and used the magnet to concentrate them at a point where cartilage has been lost. These cells are expected to develop into cartilage.

Cartilage absorbs shock and prevents friction between bones so that its loss causes pains. Cartilage has limited repair capabilities.

It will take at least a year to determine the effectiveness of the regenerative surgery on the patient, although previous animal tests have been successful, the team said.

The team plans to conduct further operations to reaffirm the regenerative surgery's safety in clinical research.
Posted in: Asia-Pacific

Tuesday, February 3, 2015


The division between groundhogs and America is widening every day. After Mayor de Blasio dropped Staten Island Chuck, groundhogs are letting people know that they are tired of being used, type casted and stigmatized as mere purveyors of meteorological voodoo and amusement.

Jimmy the Groundhog made a suicide attempt on Wisconsin Mayor yesterday in the middle of their Groundhog Day Ceremony.

In retaliation we see many jurisdictions striking back. An Ohio prosecutor is reportedly seeking the death penalty for Punxsutawney Phil who emerged from his home in Gobbler’s Knob, Pa., on Feb. 2 and did not see his shadow.

Close encounter: Sun Prairie Mayor Jonathan Freund, left, leans in for Jimmy's prognostication just before being bitten on ear by the groundhog during the Groundhog - the critter's handler, Jerry Hahn, is seen right

Close encounter: Sun Prairie Mayor Jonathan Freund, left, leans in for Jimmy's prognostication just before being bitten on ear by the groundhog during the Groundhog - the critter's handler, Jerry Hahn, is seen right

“Let's face it, Punxsutawney Phil has let us down,” Gmoser said, tongue firmly in cheek, after filing the necessary court documents. “I awoke this morning to a snowstorm, low temperatures and howling wind.”
"Maybe it's time for a Phyllis instead."
- Butler County (Ohio) Prosecutor Michael Gmoser
Spring began Wednesday, but local forecasts in the Pittsburgh area and throughout Pennsylvania show a good chance of snow this weekend and into next week.
“We in Butler County, like everyone in the nation, depend on Phil to give us a breath of spring in time,” Gmoser said. “You know, Phil lives his life behind bars as it is. This is the only penalty available. Maybe it's time for a Phyllis instead.”