Thursday, April 18, 2013

April 18

Gay Boston Policeman Javier Pagan
Among Boston Bombing’s First Responders

The cover of this week’s Sports Illustrated magazine shows three Boston policeman assisting a fallen Boston Marathon runner who was knocked off his feet during Monday afternoon’s bomb blast, although he recovered enough to complete the race.

The policeman at the far right of the photograph is Javier Pagan, the Boston Police Gay Liaison to the city’s LGBT community. Officer Pagan, who was patrolling the finish line, happened to be standing right behind the flags where the first bomb went off. Boston Globe photographer John Tlumacki stated that, “my photograph was taken about one second after the first explosion. The runner was blown over by the blast and fell to the ground. The cops were just reacting as cops. They didn't know what was going on. They're pulling their guns out, looking left and right. They were close to where the explosion went off and could have been killed or injured also.”

It seems heroism runs in the family. Officer Pagan’s husband of four years, Pedro Velazquez, is a retired sergeant from the NYC Police Department who rescued many people when the Twin Towers collapsed on September 11, 2011. The couple live in West Roxbury, Massachusetts. Javier Pagan, age 42, is a native of Puerto Rico who grew up in Boston. He came out as homosexual a year after joining the police force, and in 2002 he was profiled by the Bay Windows LGBT newspaper when he was named to the Gay Liaison position.

Pagan (at left in photo with husband Pedro) is a member of the Gay Officer's Action League (GOAL), a national organization of gay law enforcement officers. He says he personally hasn't experienced any repercussions for being out on the job, nor is he aware of homophobia on the part of police officers when dealing with the gay community. “People's main concern is..., ‘I don't care whether you're black or white, gay or straight, when I need help, I just want someone there’. I think when people see me walking through they don't see me as a Hispanic gay man, I think they see me as a police officer. And that's all that should matter.”

Javier Pagan also had the recent honor of escorting LGBT civil rights attorney Mary Bonauto to a celebration at Boston's City Hall plaza on the day same-sex marriages became legal in Massachusetts: May 17, 2004.

But I digress. On to the tan lines:

True Team Mate Dedication (just because):

A Tulip Tale

In ancient Persia, to give a red tulip was to declare your love. The black center of the red tulip was said to represent the lover's heart, burned to a coal by love's passion. To give a yellow tulip was to declare your love hopelessly and utterly.

Tulips, native to Persia (Iran), were first cultivated commercially in the Ottoman Empire during the sixteenth century. The tulip is today the national flower of both Iran and Turkey, as well as the symbol of the great city of Istanbul, which boasts over 13 million tulip blooms during an annual festival during the month of April. In a few days your blogger is headed to Istanbul to have a look at those tulips and witness the finale of the 49th annual Presidential Europe-to-Asia Cycling race.

The interiors of many mosques are embellished with glazed tiles depicting tulips (see photo below). The best examples of these are from artisans from sixteenth century Iznik (Nicaea), Turkey. Thousands of these tiles adorn Istanbul's great Blue Mosque.

At right: a wall tile from the Rüstem Pasha Mosque (c. 1563) in Istanbul, near the famed Egyptian Spice Market. The elegant shape of tulip blooms is prominent in the adornment of this mosque designed by the famed Ottoman Empire architect Sinan.

During the late sixteenth century the tulip was exported to western Europe, eventually finding its epicenter in Holland. “Tulip Mania” refers to the period during the 1630s when rare tulip bulbs fetched astronomical prices. Citizens of Holland mortgaged whatever they could to raise cash to participate in speculative tulip trading. In 1633, it was recorded that a farmhouse changed hands for just three rare tulip bulbs. At the peak of tulip mania, in February 1637, some single tulip bulbs sold for more than 10 times the annual income of a skilled craftsman. But within a year futures trading in tulips crashed spectacularly. Within a few days of the highest recorded prices, tulip bulbs were trading at one hundredth of their former value. The term "tulip mania" is often used metaphorically to refer to any large-scale economic bubble.

I prefer to think of tulips as one of the effusive glories of spring.

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