A LIFE TOO SHORT

By now, he may have been a huge international star.  There may have been concert tours and record deals.  There may have been television appearances and interviews.  His good looks and winning smile may have captivated generations.  All that was not to be.  It was on this date ten years ago that the young singing star, enjoying what was the beginning of a storybook success story, died in a Paris hospital waiting for a lung transplant.  Once you have seen the young man perform, you will immediately recognize the tragedy of this tale. You may then understand why fighting the battle Gregory was forced to fight is one of the saddest tragedies our youth can face. When I wrote this originally, Gregory was new to me.  I had just discovered his story and the odyssey launched by his dream to sing.  Now at the 10th Anniversary of his passing, I would like to introduce you, or reintroduce you, to this talented Frenchman: 

Grégory was not even two years old when he was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis. That is a genetic disease of the lungs primarily, also the liver and intestines. Its name comes from the scarring and cyst formations in the pancreas. CF can rob you of your breath and then your life.

While he did consider sports journalism as a career path, Grégory decided to pursue a singing career. Perhaps some would see that as a futile choice for a boy suffering with cystic fibrosis, but it was his real passion. In 2003 he was involved in musical comedy theater, but his big break came in 2004 when he joined in the competition on Star Academy. That would be the French version of the Idol programs in the UK and America. While on the show he got the chance to sing with Yannik Noah, former tennis star and father of a well-known Chicago basketball player. Grégory won the competition in a final landslide vote an American politician can really appreciate. It launched him on a red-hot career.

Grègory had become himself, the person he wanted to be. Appropriately his first album was Je deviens moi (I become me). Television shows, personal appearances and even a concert tour followed the release of his first single and its radio popularity. A live album and DVD of his concerts was an immediate hit in Europe. Music videos of his popular singles were released and can be found on You Tube. He sang mostly in his native French, but also English and Italian. His good looks, great vocal range, albums, dvd, and European popularity would make it seem like he had it all, but he was being robbed. CF was taking his breath away. In 2007 Grégory said his doctor ordered him to take a few weeks off to recuperate. He died waiting for a lung transplant. (He was 23.)

The story would just be ultra sad if we ended it there, but it did not end. Besides the outpouring of emotion in France, a posthumous album earned money for the Association Grégory Lemarchal to aid those with the disease. His sister published a photo book “Mon frère, l’artiste” of her pictures of her brother with the proceeds going to the cause. His mother wanted to put Grégory’s earnings after his death into helping those with CF, so that others would not suffer like her son did. Millions and millions have been raised, and yet young people are still dying.

If you know someone who is suffering or has passed you may want to consider helping here: http://www.cff.org/ Charitable giving is down but the need remains. It is tragic to lose anyone so young. Grégory’s short but successful career helps to shine a light on that.
I learned of his songs five years after his death, but like many, I wonder how great a career he might have had. I also wonder if the bright future of many others can be saved.

From Olympia 06, the only live album and DVD.  This tour was cut short, as was Gregory’s life. It is not high quality but the entire concert is here and begins with Je deviens moi.

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A TRIP TO ALSACE

Along the French and German border, a photo gallery

It’s time for a new adventure to France and Germany so I thought I would revisit a few of the pictures from the last trip.  I have made similar trips in recent years to sites in the Alsace region of France.  The reason for these trips is not just the scenery or historic sites.  It is something even more important.  This was explained on SERENDIPITY in “Where Would You Travel?”

The last trip went from Chicago to New York with a five hour lay over.  I explained to my friend that spending vacation with him was the only reason I would spend 5 hours in JFK airport.  From there it was on to Frankfurt, Germany and a two hour lay over waiting for the Lufthansa bus to Strasbourg, France.  The bus arrived near the Strasbourg train station two and one half hours later.  There my friend collected me for our trip back to his town.

You can go to Paris and connect by train to Strasbourg.  The trip is just as long and I did not believe the connection would be as easy.  Now there is a train from Charles De Gaulle airport direct to the Strasbourg station which means I would arrive at the same spot.  They did not have this train until recent years so perhaps it is a better way to go.  I let price and connection time determine which airport to use to go to Alsace.  This time it is American Airlines to Frankfurt via Charlotte and a return on Aer Lingus via Dublin.  All of this is on a British Airways ticket.  I guess there is no good explanation for how the travel industry sells us airline tickets.

Click on any image for a larger view and go through the gallery.

Christkindlmarket Chicago

A Holiday Photo Gallery

The Christkindlmarket in Chicago is a relatively new tradition. Many Chicagoans might actually claim it has been here for a long time because it is such a big part of our holiday festivities.  Based on the market in Nuremberg, Germany which began in 1545, and in partnership with that city, the first Christkindlmarket in Chicago was held on Pioneer court in 1996.  It was an immediate success and the following year the city invited the event to move to the somewhat larger Daley Plaza.

Today the event not only fills the downtown plaza, home of many civic events, it also makes its way down Dearborn alongside the building.  Vendors come from all over Germany to participate along with a few select vendors from Chicago, France and other locales.

Click on a picture and go through the gallery to see larger versions of above.  These pictures are from the recent past.  This year the event was a little whiter and a lot colder.

Lorraine American Cemetery and Memorial

Today is V-E Day (Victory in Europe).  This World War II cemetery at St. Avold, France contains the remains of American soldiers who fought for freedom but did not return home.  It is the largest American WWII cemetery in Europe.  It is 113.5 acres and contains 10,489 graves.  A memorial wall commemorates another 444 missing in action.

 

Click on a picture and go through the larger versions of each. To read more about the Lorraine American Cemetery and Memorial visit Serendipity blog here.

A life too short

It was on this date nine years ago that the young singing star, enjoying what was the beginning of a storybook success story, died in a Paris hospital waiting for a lung transplant.  Once you have seen the young man perform, you will immediately recognize the tragedy of this tale. You may then understand why fighting the battle Gregory was forced to fight is one of the saddest tragedies our youth can face. When I wrote this four years ago, Gregory was new to me.  I had just discovered his story and the odyssey launched by his dream to sing.  Now at the 9th Anniversary of his passing, I would like to introduce you, or reintroduce you, to this talented Frenchman: 

Grégory was not even two years old when he was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis. That is a genetic disease of the lungs primarily, also the liver and intestines. Its name comes from the scarring and cyst formations in the pancreas. CF can rob you of your breath and then your life.

While he did consider sports journalism as a career path, Grégory decided to pursue a singing career. Perhaps some would see that as a futile choice for a boy suffering with cystic fibrosis, but it was his real passion. In 2003 he was involved in musical comedy theater, but his big break came in 2004 when he joined in the competition on Star Academy. That would be the French version of the Idol programs in the UK and America. While on the show he got the chance to sing with Yannik Noah, former tennis star and father of a well-known Chicago basketball player. Grégory won the competition in a final landslide vote an American politician can really appreciate. It launched him on a red-hot career.

Grègory had become himself, the person he wanted to be. Appropriately his first album was Je deviens moi (I become me). Television shows, personal appearances and even a concert tour followed the release of his first single and its radio popularity. A live album and DVD of his concerts was an immediate hit in Europe. Music videos of his popular singles were released and can be found on You Tube. He sang mostly in his native French, but also English and Italian. His good looks, great vocal range, albums, dvd, and European popularity would make it seem like he had it all, but he was being robbed. CF was taking his breath away. In 2007 Grégory said his doctor ordered him to take a few weeks off to recuperate. He died waiting for a lung transplant. (He was 23.)

The story would just be ultra sad if we ended it there, but it did not end. Besides the outpouring of emotion in France, a posthumous album earned money for the Association Grégory Lemarchal to aid those with the disease. His sister published a photo book “Mon frère, l’artiste” of her pictures of her brother with the proceeds going to the cause. His mother wanted to put Grégory’s earnings after his death into helping those with CF, so that others would not suffer like her son did. Millions and millions have been raised, and yet young people are still dying.

If you know someone who is suffering or has passed you may want to consider helping here: http://www.cff.org/ Charitable giving is down but the need remains. It is tragic to lose anyone so young. Grégory’s short but successful career helps to shine a light on that.
I learned of his songs five years after his death, but like many, I wonder how great a career he might have had. I also wonder if the bright future of many others can be saved.

From Olympia 06, the only live album and DVD.  This tour was cut short, as was Gregory’s life. It is not high quality but the entire concert is here and begins with Je deviens moi.

A SCREWED UP WORLD?

Last year after the Charlie Hebdo attacks in Paris, I wondered which way the world is heading. I still do.

SERENDIPITY

What direction are we going? by Rich Paschall

My closest friend lives in France and is one of the nicest people I know.  He avoids conflicts and always has a sunny disposition.  I could sing his praises all day and yet, he surprised me with a facebook post recently.  It was totally out of character.  He exclaimed, “Fxxxxd up world…”  He said nothing more.  It was the day of the massacre in Paris of 12 at the French satirical publication, Charlie Hebdo.  It sparked a massive manhunt and additional killings in France.

The proliferation of terrorist attacks, the wars and various conflicts around the globe, as well as the accusations against police, make the day’s news disturbing at the very least.  Scandals and corruption stun us.  Political hijinks appall us.  Societal polarization dismay us.  The daily news offers little source of comfort.

Recently I followed back someone on Twitter who followed me. …

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SUNDAY NIGHT REVIEW

Writing the Blog

Years ago, before I had a blog, I would tell people after they did something a little crazy, or I caught them in a candid picture, “You will be on my blog by midnight,” or “You will be in my blog on Sunday.”  I really did not give much thought to actually doing a blog.  It did not seem there was enough time for it and besides, who would read it anyway?  So it was just a running joke, nothing more.

I did have a Windows Live Space, however.  I think it was supposed to compete with the popular myspace.  This was all before facebook began to dominate social media.  My Windows Live Space was more of a repository of photo albums than anything else.  Only a few friends actually looked at anything I posted there.  I had no thoughts of promoting it to the general public, although that was a possibility.  I also had a myspace, still do I guess.  It was THE social media outlet of its time.  I used it to play Mobsters for a while.  Now it is a site for promoting music and entertainment news.  I rarely visit it.

When it was clear Windows Live was never going to hit it big, they decided to migrate everyone to Word Press.  Some of the content transferred when I finally got around to moving everything, most did not.  All the pictures are in some Windows cloud off in cyberspace that I can find if I explore my Outlook.  The Word Press page, named after my long running joke, sat idle for a long time.  A couple of articles came over in 2010.  I wrote nothing in 2011.   Then I started to post things in 2012.  It was fun, for a while.

At the end of 2013, Marilyn Armstrong offered me a Sunday spot on SERENDIPITY.  I offered a Christmas story.  We both liked it enough to run it every year.  So the true Sunday blog posts ended up over there.  There is something new on SERENDIPITY every day and Marilyn has a following.  A site with new content daily is far more successful than a weekly site, I think.

I am CharlieThe most posts for this site appeared in 2014, but the readership never grew and I decided to concentrate on the SERENDIPITY posts.  For 2015 most of what appeared here were actually written for SERENDIPITY in 2014.  There were original posts too.  The most topical and political pieces showed up here.  Here are the top 5 of the past year written for Sunday Night Blog:

  1. HASHTAG: I am Charlie  This followed the Charlie Hebdo attack in Paris.  It was more than an attack on freedom of the press.  Millions came together to support a publication they had never head of before.
  2. A life too short I have run this story several years in a row.  It concerns the life of French singer Gregory Lemarchal and his losing battle with Cystic Fibrosis.  I don’t feel I have adequately explained it yet and have tweaked it every time trying to do better.
  3. WE STAND WITH PARIS  This political commentary came 11 months after the Charlie Hebdo piece and following another terrorist attack.
  4. Beyond Freedom of Speech  This was a follow-up to the Charlie Hebdo story.  There was another side that I felt needed to be said.
  5. A TRIP TO ALSACE  A short article plus a photo gallery of my trip to France.

All of these had something in common.  It was not intended but likely speaks to the influences of my life.  They all have to do with France.  So it is no surprise that after American readers, the next country on the “views” list is France.  Photo galleries really skew the stats in deceptive ways.  A look at each picture counts as a “view,” which is equal to reading a whole article.  One person can run your total way up by looking at every picture in several galleries.  One day I had 136 views (according to the stats page) but only 3 visitors.  We can not take the stats page too seriously as they seem to be behind real-time.

Interestingly, the stats say my most popular day is Sunday.  Imagine that!  I wonder why that is, LOL.  Search engines, facebook and teepee12.com (SERENDIPITY) drove the most traffic to this site.  I was surprised to see StumbleUpon drove traffic here as well.  I thought the site did nothing for me so I stopped posting there.  Their stats did not reveal views on anything I posted there.  I may have to resume posting there.  Like my tumblr posts, the StumbleUpon posts are just links back to here or SERENDIPITY.

My most read post ever all time is ANGEL COMES OUT.  It was written for SERENDIPITY in 2014 and almost immediately found an audience.  It’s the true coming out story of someone I saw on You Tube and subsequently located.  It’s harrowing, to say the least.  Angel kindly let me proceed with a dramatic retelling, although it certainly is an episode he would like to leave behind.  His dramatic telling of it is still on You Tube.

WE STAND WITH PARIS

We Stand With Humanity, a political commentaryribbon-black_68

On September 11, 2001 we stood with our fellow citizens of New York, and Washington DC as well as those who died in a field in Pennsylvania.  It was a natural reaction to a terrorist act on the homeland.  We were not the only ones to stand up and condemn this action.  It was condemned across the world.  The acts of 9/11 were not just taken symbolically around the world as an attack on all citizens of the earth.  The bringing down of the World Trade Center was literally an attack on the world.  People from more than 90 countries died in New York.  People everywhere were outraged.

In the wake of the tragedies in Paris, Beirut, Egypt over the Sinai and elsewhere across the globe, do not let your Tea Party friends explain that some right-wing bigots with hand guns could have stopped these tragedies.  Don’t let their hate of immigrants or other religions fool you.  Some of the worse tragedies of all time have happened here, they are not confined to other countries.  No idiots “packing heat” will stop a well-coordinated attack by terrorists.

We stood with Paris after the attacks on the French magazine, Charlie Hebdo.  At that time I explained, as did many that “Je suis Charlie.”  It was not that we could identify with “Charlie.”  The magazine was a bigoted publication that repeatedly provoked a particular “religious” group.  It was because an attack on freedom of the press anywhere in the world, is an attack on all our freedoms.

Credit: Courtesy of Jean Jullien/Instagram

Credit: Courtesy of Jean Jullien/Instagram

Now we stand with Paris again.  The coordinated attacks this week in the French capital are an indication of the lengths these terrorist groups will go.  Are they to be feared?  Of course, that is what they want.  Will the world stand up against ISIS and those who claim responsibility?  It is the only response.  Humanity must stand together or this type of thing will never end.  We should learn the lessons of a house divided.

It is important to point out that no matter what terrorists spokesmen may claim, this is not an act of religion.  The phrase “Terrorism has no religion” has been trending on social media.  Muslim leaders around the world condemned the attacks (Washington Post).  Pope Francis has referred to the global terrorist attacks as “piecemeal WWIII.”  It is probably in that light that we should consider our global response.

All attacks on innocents should be taken somewhat personally  As a society we must consider what is next.  Putting hand guns on the persons of right-wing bigots will protect no one and is not a plan at all.  Certain Republican candidates will now find the opportunity to spread hate and fear while spewing the NRA (National Rifle Association) party line.  We need something better.

I did not know anyone in New York or Washington on 9/11, but I watched in horror as many of us did.  They were my countrymen and citizens of the world that died that day.  We did not have to know them to mourn them.

Now I have come to realize that I have many friends in Paris, so this recent tragedy hits home to me more than it does for some in our country, I would guess.  Four of my friends reported their safety on facebook.  A few others have not yet commented.  I have sent them my concerns.  Any tragedy in Paris is like a tragedy down the street from me.  The world is our global village. Good people of all colors, nationalities, and religions must have a coordinated global response to the “piecemeal World War III” or we will be standing up and mourning these tragedies over and over.

 

Lorraine American Cemetery and Memorial

Last year I visited this site on V.E. Day (Victory in Europe).  This World War II cemetery at St. Avold, France contains the remains of American soldiers who fought for freedom but did not return home.

 

Click on a picture and go through the larger versions of each. To read more about the Lorraine American Cemetery and Memorial visit Serendipity blog here.

A life too short

For a few years in a row I have tried to explain the story of Grégory Lemarchal.  Once you have seen the young man perform, you will immediately recognize the tragedy of this tale. You may then understand why fighting the battle Gregory was forced to fight is one of the saddest tragedies our youth can face. When I wrote this three years ago, Gregory was new to me.  I had just discovered his story and the odyssey launched by his dream to sing.  Now at the 8th Anniversary of his passing (April 30), I would like to introduce you, or reintroduce you, to this talented Frenchman: 

Grégory was not even two years old when he was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis. That is a genetic disease of the lungs primarily, also the liver and intestines. Its name comes from the scarring and cyst formations in the pancreas. CF can rob you of your breath and then your life.

While he did consider sports journalism as a career path, Grégory decided to pursue a singing career. Perhaps some would see that as a futile choice for a boy suffering with cystic fibrosis, but it was his real passion. In 2003 he was involved in musical comedy theater, but his big break came in 2004 when he joined in the competition on Star Academy. That would be the French version of the Idol programs in the UK and America. While on the show he got the chance to sing with Yannik Noah, father of a well-known Chicago basketball player. Grégory won the competition in a final landslide vote an American politician can really appreciate. It launched him on a red-hot career.

Grègory had become himself, the person he wanted to be. Appropriately his first album was Je deviens moi (I become me). Television shows, personal appearances and even a concert tour followed the release of his first single and its radio popularity. A live album and DVD of his concerts was an immediate hit in Europe. Music videos of his popular singles were released and can be found on You Tube. He sang mostly in his native French, but also English and Italian. His good looks, great vocal range, albums, dvd, and European popularity would make it seem like he had it all, but he was being robbed. CF was taking his breath away. In 2007 Grégory said his doctor ordered him to take a few weeks off to recuperate. He died waiting for a lung transplant. (He was 23.)

The story would just be ultra sad if we ended it there, but it did not end. Besides the outpouring of emotion in France, a posthumous album earned money for the Association Grégory Lemarchal to aid those with the disease. His sister published a photo book “Mon frère, l’artiste” of her pictures of her brother with the proceeds going to the cause. His mother wanted to put Grégory’s earnings after his death into helping those with CF, so that others would not suffer like her son did. Millions and millions have been raised, and yet young people are still dying.

If you know someone who is suffering or has passed you may want to consider helping here: http://www.cff.org/ Charitable giving is down but the need remains. It is tragic to lose anyone so young. Grégory’s short but successful career helps to shine a light on that.
I learned of his songs five years after his death, but like many, I wonder how great a career he might have had. I also wonder if the bright future of many others can be saved.

From Olympia 06, the only live album and DVD.  This tour was cut short, as was Gregory’s life. It is not high quality but the entire concert is here and begins with Je deviens moi.