The wheels of justice may at times move agonizingly slow, but in Massachusetts at least they do move

The Boston Globe calls for an investigation. They are more circumspect than I will be: this judge should be out of a job.

Click on screen cap or click here to go to the editorial.

Good for the Globe, This case cries out for justice so that Bernard Baran’s name may be finally cleared and those most responsible who are still alive can face some punishment.

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Sometimes it takes the dramatic arts to make you see things in their true light

I remember a long way back when a friend of mine used to get his hands on the printed program from Fantasia Fair, the trans event held every year in Provincetown since 1975. We used to go down the list of presenters and organizers and chuckle at what, at the time, seemed to us to be the overly-feminized names and odd spellings of traditional names (Riqqi, Dihanna, etc.) To us this smacked of trying too hard; the trans version of over-compensating.

Jeffrey Tambor (Maura) received his name from Marcy (Bradley Whitford) in the Amazon series Transparent.

Jeffrey Tambor (Maura) receives his name from Marcy (Bradley Whitford) in the Amazon series Transparent.

I hadn’t thought about those times much until i was watching “Moppa,” the fourth episode in the first season of Transparent, the ground-breaking series from Amazon Studios. The show revolves around Maura (nee Mort) the MTF college professor who has spent the first four episodes coming out to some of his offspring as Maura, interspersed with flashbacks of Maura’s dipping her toes in the trans waters for the first time.

At one point Maura is in a bookstore, still living as mild-mannered Professor Mort as Mort tries to surreptitiously return a trans publication to the magazine rack. It is there where he makes a chance encounter with another MTF (Mark/Marcy, played by none other than Bradley Whitford of The West Wing fame) whom he ends up rooming with (in a later flashback) in a hotel at a trans event where they present for the first time the outward representation of their true selves to one another in their hotel room. Maura is lounging and luxuriating as Maura in the bedroom of the hotel room while Mark is in the bathroom getting ready to unveil Marcy.

The encounter goes like this:

Marcy’s disembodied voice from another room: “No one has ever seen me but me.”

Maura: “No one has ever seen me except me.”

Marcy walks out of the bathroom, shyly: “Ta da.”

Maura, choking up slightly: “You look beautiful.”

Marcy, beaming, does a twirl and holds her hand out to Maura: “Hello.”

Maura, also beaming, extends her hand, “Hello”

Marcy: “I’m Marcy.”

Maura: “I’m Daphne Sparkles.”

Marcy frowns at Maura’s initial name choice.

Maura; “You hate it.”

Marcy: “No, no, no. It’s…it’s too … strippery. [pause} I’m sorry. [pause] But’s it’s not right. You need something … elegant. [eyes Tambor up and down] You’re Maura.

Maura, wide-eyed looking in mirror, as if having an epiphany, clutches her chest and walks over to Marcy, extending her hand: “What is your name?”

Marcy, with certainty: “My name is Marcy. What is your name?”

Maura, with certainty: “My name is Maura.”

With that scene it struck me how childish our laughter at the Fantasia Fair program names used to be.

Try to imagine someone coming up to you as an adult and asking you to pick out a name, based on all your years of experience and cultural biases, that embodies all that you see in yourself and all that you hope to be.

(I have an Asian friend who is going through something not nearly as wrenching as coming out as trans, yet he cannot decide which Americanized name he wants to choose because he is tired of people mangling is Asian name. I’m sure name choices in even that situation can seem over the top to some of us who have not gone through it.)

I’m sure on some level I could have figured this all out on my own. But sometimes it takes actors and a good script to bring alive situations that makes sense intellectually, but don’t touch you until the moment you see them dramatized in a movie or television role.

One other thing: We are taught that feminine beauty is the Cover Girl/Maybelline version of beauty. And as far as it goes, I don’t have any problems with that. But it is not the only way to be beautiful, and at that moment when Maura looks at Marcy and says with wonder, “You look beautiful” it’s hard not to look at them and think: “Ya know, they really ARE beautiful.”

Free to be, you and me. That’s what it’s all about, is it not?

I’m loving this series.

How far can you be into heart failure and still be walking around? About 90%.

At least that’s how far I was into heart failure when I walked under my own power into the emergency room at Advocate Illinois Masonic Medical Center (MMC) on October 13.

When I last posted I informed all of you that I had a terrible bout of pneumonia. And I thought that was it. Except it didn’t get better with meds. It got worse. Much worse.

So much so that I went back to Howard Brown, my primary care health center in Chicago. I’m still not quite sure why, but a doctor there thought I should have an EKG.

After the first one the EKG tech and the doctor exchanged concerned looks and she said to run it again. Apparently it was just as worrisome the second time around because they told me I needed to go to the emergency room at MMC.

I rejected the idea of an ambulance — remember all I thought I had was an intractable case of pneumonia — and hopped into a taxi and asked the driver to take me to the emergency room at MMC.

Cardiac Catheterization Lab

Cardiac Catheterization Lab

The taxi driver, being nice, said he hoped nobody I knew was too terribly sick, to which I said, “It’s not somebody else. It’s me,” after which he quickly asked me in a roundabout way whether I was going to drop dead in his taxi. Admittedly that would be a bummer.

I said no, that I felt fine, and then he took me to the wrong hospital.

We finally made it to MMC where I was checked in for tests, which led to an echocardiogram, which led to three cardiologists standing at the foot of the bed in the ER looking incredulous that I made it to the hospital under my own power and that I was still even conscious.

My heart was pumping at 10% capacity. Put the opposite way, 90% of my heart was not working properly.

A few days later and I was discharged last night.

Some mysteries remain, the first one being how I was still walking around. My docs finally decided it was because my underlying state of health was so good, my body was efficient enough to still make me mobile with only 10% cardiovascular capacity. If I were an obese smoker who never exercised, things would have been much worse. And it would have gotten much worse had someone at Howard Brown not had the idea to give me an EKG.

The other mystery is why my heart was giving out. We will never know the exact answer. But my cardiologists have conjectured:

I have had a heart valve murmur since birth. That might have been the likely beginning of this, along with the fact that the virus that gave me pneumonia also attacked my heart and made a chronic condition gravely acute.

Whatever it was, they think it happened fairly recently — within the last two weeks — since the chances that I would have walked around or even survived for long with only 10% heart pumping capacity are not good.

Whatever the reasons, I feel lucky to have had friends who came to visit me. You are the best.

What now? I’m taking nine new medications. If I take these as I should and watch my diet, this will likely be enough to repair most or all of the damage to my heart. I was lucky to have been within taxi distance of a Level One Cardiac Trauma Center with a staff of top cardiology doctors and nurses. I cannot say enough good things about this hospital.

My personal training days are over for a bit, but I can live with that.

Back to regular blogging this afternoon.


Advocate Illinois Masonic Medical Center