Monthly Archives: February 2011

Moment of Zen: Blue Plaid


His beauty just gives me a warm fuzzy feeling, and he looks so comfortable and content.

Gian Gastone de’ Medici, Grand Duke of Tuscany

Last of the Medici – Brian Sewell

The House of Medici or de’ Medici was a political dynasty, banking family and later royal house that first began to gather prominence under Cosimo de’ Medici in the Republic of Florence during the late 14th century. 6a00d8341cc27e53ef01053617c20d970b-350wiThe family originated in the Mugello region of the Tuscan countryside, gradually rising until they were able to found the Medici Bank. The bank was the largest in Europe during the 15th century, seeing the Medici gain political power in Florence— though officially they remained simply citizens, rather than monarchs. The Medici produced four Popes of the Catholic Church and in 1531 the family became hereditary Dukes of Florence. In 1569, the duchy was elevated to a grand duchy after territorial expansion. They ruled the Grand Duchy of Tuscany from its inception until 1737, with the death of Gian Gastone de’ Medici. The grand duchy witnessed degrees of economic growth under the earlier grand dukes, but by the time of Cosimo III de’ Medici, Tuscany was fiscally bankrupt.

Their wealth and influence initially derived from the textile trade guided by the guild of the Arte della Lana. Like other signore families they dominated their city’s government. They were able to bring Florence under their family’s power, allowing for an environment where art and humanism could flourish. They fostered and inspired the birth of the Italian Renaissance along with other families of Italy, such as the Visconti and Sforza of Milan, the Este of Ferrara, and the Gonzaga of Mantua.

439px-Retrato_oficial_de_Gian_Gastone_Medici,_por_Ferdinand_RichterGian Gastone de’ Medici (Giovanni Battista Gastone; 24 May 1671 – 9 July 1737) was the seventh and last Medicean Grand Duke of Tuscany. He was the second son of Cosimo III de’ Medici, Grand Duke of Tuscany, and Marguerite Louise d’Orléans, Princess of France. His sister, Anna Maria Luisa de’ Medici, the Electress Palatine, married him to Anna Maria Franziska of Saxe-Lauenburg, a wealthy widow, in 1697. Unfortunately, Gian Gastone despised his new wife, and she, him. The union produced no offspring. As Grand Prince Ferdinando, Gian Gastone’s elder brother, predeceased Cosimo III, Gian Gastone succeeded his father as Grand Duke in 1723.

His reign was marked by the reversal of his predecessor’s ultra-reactionary policy; he abolished taxes for poorer people, repealed the anti-Semitic penal laws and discontinued public executions. The Medici were wanting in male heirs; his father, Cosimo III, wanted the Electress Palatine to succeed Gian Gastone. However, Spain, Great Britain, Austria and the Dutch Republic disregarded Cosimo’s plan and appointed Don Carlos of Spain—whose mother,Elisabeth Farnese, was a great-granddaughter of Margherita de’ Medici—Gian Gastone’s heir.  Don Carlos later transferred his claim to Francis III of Lorraine pursuant to a preliminary peace that was finalized in 1738. Francis duly succeeded at Gian Gastone’s demise, on 9 July 1737, ending almost 300 years of Medici rule over Florence. For the latter part of his reign, Gian Gastone chose to remain confined in his bed, tended by his entourage, the Ruspanti. (Italian for free-range, as in chicken or poultry, even back then they had the concept for twinks, young good looking men, or fresh chicken).

Where Go The Boats?

Where Go The Boats? by Robert Louis Stevenson

Dark brown is the river,
Golden is the sand
tumblr_lfuhhdweHp1qfhvvko1_500It flows along forever,
With trees on either hand.

Green leaves a-floating,
Castles of the foam,
Boats of mine a-boating
Where with all come home?

On goes the river
And out past the mill,
Away down the valley,
Away down the hill.

Away down the river,
A hundred miles or more,
Other little children
Shall bring my boats ashore

Moment of Zen: OHM or AUM (ॐ)


Om (ôm), [Skt.,=yes, so be it] for Hindus and Buddhists, a mystic word or mantra. Om is regarded as the syllable of the supreme Reality and is sometimes called “the mother of mantras.” It is often found at the beginning of prayers, mantras, and scriptures as a word of invocation and adoration. In Hinduism its three Sanskrit phonemes (transliterated a, u, and m) symbolize the triad of Brahma the creator, Vishnu the preserver, and Shiva the destroyer, or the three levels of consciousness: waking, dreaming, and deep sleep. In Buddhism it is often understood as symbolizing the true “empty” character of reality, as that truth has been communicated by various historical Buddhas, celestial Buddhas, and, directly, by the true character of reality itself.

Read more:

The Year of the Rabbit


The Chinese New Year, or Spring Festival as it’s been called since the 20th century, remains the most important social and economic holiday in China. It was celebrated yesterday, February 3, 2011.  Originally tied to the lunar-solar Chinese calendar, the holiday was a time to honor household and heavenly deities as well as ancestors. It was also a time to bring family together for feasting. With the popular adoption in China of the Western calendar in 1912, the Chinese joined in celebrating January 1 as New Year’s Day. China, however, continues to celebrate the traditional Chinese New Year, although in a shorter version with a new name–the Spring Festival. Significantly, younger generations of Chinese now observe the holiday in a very different manner from their ancestors. For some young people, the holiday has evolved from an opportunity to renew family ties to a chance for relaxation from work.

From Huffington Post:

Queering the Lunar New Year: We Are (All) Family

by Ben de Guzman (Co-Director for Programs, National Queer Asian Pacific Islander Alliance)

“When we come out, it’s not just to parents and siblings…. sometimes it’s to an entire clan. “

Lunar New Year: a time for renewal, a time to promote prosperity and good luck, a time to be with family. Families from places like China, Korea and Vietnam bring a variety of traditions to bear in marking the New Year on February 3rd. Cities with large Asian American populations will welcome the Year of the Rabbit with festive parades and celebrations. We expect that President Obama will make an official statement celebrating Lunar New Year on behalf of the entire American family.

Asian Americans/ South Asians/ Southeast Asians/ Pacific Islanders (AAPI) who are lesbian/ gay/ bisexual/ transgender (LGBT) often think about Lunar New Year in a unique way. On one hand, the family and cultural obligations that come with this time of year remind us that we often create and define family in very different ways than other members of LGBT communities — our non-AAPI counterparts. The mutual interdependence we create among our families transcends small nuclear units, and requires us to think about our lives as openly LGBT people against a large backdrop. When we come out, it’s not just to parents and siblings, but sometimes it’s to an entire clan.

The ways in which we are out and assert our visibility in our families and communities must be unique as well. The mantra of “We’re here! We’re Queer! Get Used to it!” may suit us at the Gay Pride Parade and can even be part of our demand for the full inclusion of our AAPI communities within the LGBTQ rubric. But as we engage our own racial and ethnic communities, often including our own biological families — our parents, siblings, aunts, uncles, cousins, grandparents, even great grandparents — we have had to find different mantras and strategies that better fit into these distinct cultural contexts.

Lunar New Year parades and cultural festivals have become a flash point for activists and organizations to claim our space within our AAPI communities. Last year, a Vietnamese LGBT contingent marched with its allies in Westminster, California’s Tet Parade to observe Lunar New Year despite the vocal opposition of religious conservatives and elected officials. In Manhattan’s famous Chinatown, the “Lunar New Year for All” coalition convened what’s considered to be the first ever-queer contingent for the historic Lunar New Year Parade there.

Our Asian American/ Pacific Islander LGBT communities work hard to figure out the best ways to come out and create visibility in all our communities. The message of “Lunar New Year for All” is not only a stirring call for unity and an end to tolerance; it unapologetically claims our rightful space in our families and our communities:

Homophobia and discrimination continue to divide Asian American families and communities. Lunar New Year is a time when families come together to strengthen ties to our communities. This year, we are joining the Lunar New Year Parade to challenge homophobia and to honor all the different kinds of families in our community.

This week then, Asian American /Pacific Islander LGBT people will observe Lunar New Year in our families and our communities in ways large and small. In cities like New York, San Francisco, and Westminster, CA, queer contingents will march with pride to recognize Lunar New Year. In Los Angeles, the LGBTQ contingent is expected to be the largest contingent of any in the entire parade. At the same time, we will make progress with our families on a face-to-face level. We may do so by giving a traditional red envelope to a loved one as part of a committed same-sex relationship, or by creating good karma for the New Year by being more open in our families. Visibility may take different forms, but it “looks” the same regardless.

As we think about our life and times at this moment of challenge and adversity, the Lunar New Year hopefully signals a fork in the road for us to take and change our circumstances for the better. We take this moment to call for our families, our communities and our lawmakers to embrace each other and us despite our differences, and sometimes, because of them.


A special Happy Chinese New Year to Fan of Casey.  May your New Year and the New Year of all my Asian readers be one of health, prosperity, fortune, vigor, ardency, and potency (in other words, do it like rabbits, LOL).

Dust of Snow

tumblr_lf0xf4gILI1qbo6vuo1_500Dust of Snow

by Robert Frost (1923)

The way a crow
Shook down on me
The dust of snow
From a hemlock tree

Has given my heart
A change of mood
And saved some part
Of a day I had rued.