Feedback 3/18/20: Trump and the coronavirus, the children in Congress, and a Rochester musician 

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Alec Wilder deserves RMHF recognition

The Rochester Music Hall of Fame recently announced the names of this year’s inductees (“Rochester Music Hall of Fame announces 2019 inductees,” February 26). While I applaud their choices, it seems to me there is one name lacking who should have been admitted years ago. 
click to enlarge Christine Lavin (front left) performing at the 2019 Rochester Music Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony last April with Ron “Bumblefoot” Thal (front right) and Al Jardine (far right). - PHOTO BY PETER PARTS
  • Christine Lavin (front left) performing at the 2019 Rochester Music Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony last April with Ron “Bumblefoot” Thal (front right) and Al Jardine (far right).
Alec Wilder was a prolific composer and native of Rochester; in fact, his grandfather built one of the buildings at the Four Corners that bears the family name. Although he moved to New York City with his mother as a boy after the death of his father, he returned as a young adult and studied at the Eastman School of Music. In his later years, he was a frequent visitor to the area. Today, he is buried in Avon, Livingston County.

Wilder was probably best known for his popular and jazz compositions, among them “I’ll Be Around,” “It’s So Peaceful in the Country,” and “While We’re Young.” Some well-known musicians and singers have recorded albums devoted to his compositions, including Marlene VerPlanck, Roland Hanna, Jackie Cain and Roy Kral, Vic Juris (for which Bill Dobbins wrote the liner notes), and Marian McPartland, whom he met during one of his frequent stays in Rochester when she was playing at the Monticello Room on Jefferson Road.

Although his jazz and popular music compositions numbered in the many hundreds, he was versatile. He wrote classical music compositions, including operas, film scores, ballets and chamber music. Beyond that, he composed orchestral pieces and music for solo instruments. In fact, Frank Sinatra made an album of his classical music and conducted it himself — the only time Sinatra ever conducted an orchestra. He wrote a book of lullabies, illustrated by Maurice Sendak, and our own Jan deGaetani recorded an album of those lullabies. Using comments written by children at a local school, he composed “A Children’s Plea for Peace,” which was performed at the Eastman Theatre.

On a more literary level, this man wrote a book entitled “American Popular Song: The Great Innovators 1900-1950” which was a finalist in 1973 for a National Book Award.

This summary is only a sketch of what Wilder accomplished in the field of music. With that, I ask the Rochester Music Hall of Fame: How could you have ignored this giant talent for so many years?


Grow up, Congress

Houses of worship are built for a specific purpose, and much time is spent designing them to reflect the highest values of love, peace, and sacredness they are intended to convey. Nevertheless, it is up to those employed within that structure to give life to those values.

The Capitol Building in Washington is also such a building. But lately, it’s been difficult to feel that.

People in Congress whom I had held in high regard I don’t even recognize anymore. While we have had conflict in Congress for years, the immaturity in our government at the present is disheartening. It is as if almost everyone has forgotten they are adults.

Lying, intimidation, and conspiracy theories abound. Instead of rationally addressing this behavior and entrusting our nation’s law enforcement agencies to investigate and put them to rest, people within the hallowed halls of Congress are encouraging all of them. I am outraged by this behavior because it is definitely not what I am looking for from people who work in a building designed for such a high purpose. The thought, effort and cost to build our democracy has been too high to not point out such unwelcome behavior in our country’s leaders.

I am really getting tired of political commentators of both factions questioning the loyalty, ethics and motives of one another. There are commentators out there who are trying to get us to believe the very worst about each other, to get us to hate each other.

I don’t want to hate my fellow Americans. It’s a democracy, there are going to be differences. We should work out those differences like the adults we are. Party politics are ruining the unity of our country. Get back to acting like mature, respectful leaders of Congress who protect the spirit, as well as the laws, of our Constitution!


Judge Telesca was a noble man

So many people have a story about federal Judge Michael A. Telesca, who died recently at the age of 90 and for whom the downtown local legal services building is named.

He loved his wife, Ethel; his children, Michelle and Steve; his grandchildren; his country; the spirit of the law; his fellow men and women, and the underserved.

His many gifts included nurturing friendships, gathering his friends together so they could forge relationships with each other. Judge Telesca was truly evolved. He did not need to pray for wisdom, he had it.

We picture Judge Telesca in tennis whites, racket in hand, pocket copy of the Constitution at the ready, at the heavenly gates, where the Archangel Michael greets him with, “You’re much taller than even I thought you’d be.”


President Trump is not prepared for a crisis

If the novel coronavirus pandemic has made anything abundantly clear, it is that President Donald Trump is not prepared for a crisis. 
click to enlarge Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump during a Rochester-area rally in 2016. - FILE PHOTO
  • Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump during a Rochester-area rally in 2016.

Trump has put us in grave danger almost from the outset of his presidency. But in 2018, he closed the National Security Council Directorate for Global Health Security that was designed to prepare us for disease outbreak, like the one we are confronting now.

The result today is delay after delay in dealing with the pandemic. Throughout the early stages of the crisis, Trump has been a poor role model by shaking hands at rallies, initially claiming he didn’t need to be tested for COVID-19 after meeting with infected Brazilian officials, and telling us repeatedly that the public was not in danger, even though the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has being warning of danger since January.

Last month, Trump claimed that with warm weather the virus would “miraculously” go away. He failed to make use of World Health Organization-developed tests and waited for our labs to produce test kits still not fully available today.

Recently, and still without a full-scale plan, Trump announced “I am not concerned at all.”
Our president responded too slowly to COVID-19 and dispensed faulty information from the beginning. He is not only unprepared for a crisis. He is ill-prepared to lead our country.


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