THE TRUTH (AND ALL THAT JAZZ)
GRUB IN AN ELEVATOR Last night I had the pleasure of being treated to dinner by my cousin Hilary. Hilary (who lives in California with my cousin Kevin), Julia (my wife), and I chose a jazz restaurant in Philadelphia called Zanzibar Blue. When we arrived, the band wasn’t scheduled to go on for about 45 minutes so we started off with some drinks and took the chance to catch up. I have to tell you, the bartender at Zanzibar makes one hell of a mojito. The appetizers we ordered were also wonderful. I had the calamari. I’d highly recommend it. About the time our meals were being served, the band began to play. The opening number was quite good. I can’t pretend to tell you what song it was, but I enjoyed it. When the first song was over, the bass player thanked the audience and welcomed the front man, saxophonist Andrew Neu, to the stage. I was pretty shocked when he walked onto the stage. Andrew New was not at all what I had been expecting. Andrew was a white guy, probably about 30 years old, with some of the worst hair I’ve ever seen. Imagine Kenny G’s white-boy Jheri curl with bleached blonde highlights. Now imagine it’s ten times worse than that. In addition to his bad hair, he had this look about him like he thought that playing the saxophone instantly made him cool. It did not. (Don’t believe me? See for yourself: http://i78.photobucket.com/albums/j94/spoonfulloftruth/SPOON%20FULL%20OF%20TRUTH/andrewneu_wall_bk.jpg) He announced the first number and they began to play. My wife instantly leaned over to Hilary and called him a cheese-dick. If the reference cheese-dick is unfamiliar to you, Andrew is the dictionary definition. If there was a world’s biggest cheese-dick’s book, he would grace the cover. Determined not to let his appearance ruin my appetite, I turned my attention to my meal. While the tasty food was easily able to avert my eyes from the stage, my ears were not as fortunate. Hilary commented that she felt like we were on an elevator. To me, it felt more like I was enjoying a good meal while I was stuck on hold. “Thank you for calling. Your call is very important to us, and will be answered in the order in which it was received. Your approximate wait time for decent music is: the rest of the evening”. We were seated very close to the stage and the music was loud enough to make conversation virtually impossible so I did my best to enjoy my dinner. Between numbers, Andrew announced that they would not be selling Andrew Neu Group CD’s that evening because they had sold out of them. The CD was available however on I-tunes. I had two thoughts. One, congratulations! It’s quite a feat to produce 25 CD’s and sell them all. How long did it take, three years? And two, what has my I-pod ever done to me that I’d want to get back at it by introducing it to the Andrew Neu Group? We finished dinner and decided to check out the dessert selection. Everything looked pretty good but it quickly became apparent to me that nothing they had for dessert would taste as sweet as running on stage with a pair of clippers and shaving Andrew’s awful hair off (lock by lock) so we made the decision to pay the bill, and go for dessert somewhere else. We wound up going for gelato a few blocks away which was a wonderful decision. The gelato was wonderful and I was able to enjoy catching up with Hilary. My call had finally been answered. After waiting for most of the evening, I was finally no longer on hold. ONE MAN’S ILLNESS IS ANOTHER MAN’S GOLD On Tuesday evening I attended a paid focus group for people with Diabetes. They wanted us to share our opinions about new Diabetes products and the thought processes that led to those opinions. Basically, we were paid (quite well) to be used as market research. I figured if I have to live with Diabetes, and someone was willing to pay me to talk about it, I might as well go. Shortly after the session began, it became clear to me and the other diabetics, that regardless of what new products they come up with to treat Diabetes, we were only really interested in a cure. One of the men in the group had been living with Diabetes for 35 years; one of the women for 27. They both mentioned that their doctors had told them early on that a cure was on the horizon and would be developed within a decade or so. I was told the same thing when I was diagnosed 14 years ago. We are all still waiting. When we continued speaking about diabetic products, one of the women mentioned she had no health care coverage (along with almost 50 million other Americans) and talked about the high costs of paying for these items out of pocket. A single test strip used for blood sugar testing costs about a dollar. A diabetic is supposed to use about four of five of these daily. That would cost a person a bare minimum of $1,460 per year, and that’s just for the testing strips. A bottle of insulin can run $300 or more without insurance (and generally lasts less than a month). You can’t take insulin without syringes so add that cost on as well. These are only the bare necessities for Diabetes. While many diabetics do have health coverage, the companies who manufacture and sell these products are still paid by insurance companies. My disease is making some people very, very rich. It got me thinking, do these companies have something to do with a lack of a cure for Diabetes? I know that George Bush doesn’t make decisions for himself, mega corporations, their lobbyists, and checkbooks do his thinking for him. Why would these companies, who make billions of dollars a year (if not more) from diabetic supplies, want diabetes cured? Although it hasn’t been proven that stem-cells will cure diabetes, I’m sure it’s scared these corporations enough to throw some extra money at preventing stem-cell research. If it was suggested that stem-cells could cure runny noses, do you think Kleenex would be for or against them? It makes me sick to think that there are people out there who are more interested in keeping me (and millions of others) ill because it’s more profitable. To these companies I am not a person, I’m just a number (with a dollar sign in front of it). Being a diabetic is like being a drug addict. Our government sanctions these corporations to be legal drug dealers. Without our fix, we will die. We’re hooked. I remember the footage of a man trapped on his roof during the aftermath of hurricane Katrina with a sign that read, “Diabetic! I need insulin”. Many diabetics died on their rooftops. Even though insulin exists, they couldn’t get it. If they had been cured, they might have survived. I appreciate that medical science has come up with products (like insulin) that have kept me alive for the last 14 years, but I know that the technology to cure the disease is being held up because keeping diabetics reliant on these products is so profitable. I urge all of you to contact your Senators and Congressmen in this election year and tell them that you will only vote for a candidate who supports stem-cell research (and has the voting track record to prove it). You may not have diabetes, you may not know someone who does, but that could change. You, your spouse, parent, child, or friend could develop it tomorrow without warning. Please help me and the other diabetics of the world realize our dream of a cure. I THINK I JUST SAW A GUY ON THE STREET BURST INTO FLAMES Yes, it’s that hot. The temps aren’t the only thing heating up, so is the situation in the Middle East (and right here at home). We’ll be looking more into this growing conflict in an upcoming addition of the Spoon, Full of Truth. I am home from Canada (where there was little relief from the heat) working on lots of hard hitting truth, to Spoon feed to all of you next week. There will also be stories of my first experience at Elvis Fest. In the meantime, I hope you all enjoyed today’s post and please do your best to stay cool. I’d also like to send out a very special HAPPY BIRTHDAY to my friend Jeff today, I hope you’re having a great one buddy!