Month: August 2011

A LEGEND NEVER DIES

Posted by – August 16, 2011

When an automobile accident left Max Starkloff a quadriplegic at age 21, his family sent him to a rural nursing home where he quickly concluded, “This is no way to spend a life.”  He then began to conceptualize the idea that a disabled person could live independently.

This is my portrait of Max.  I worked with him when I had the opportunity to collaborate with a group of creatives to promote Paraquad, the organization Max founded.  Among its many successes, Paraquad helped push passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act in 1990.

Max was a relentless crusader and tenacious watchdog for the disabled.  He met with three standing US presidents in an effort to promote barrier-free access to businesses and homes.  Max’s tireless efforts helped St. Louis become the first city in the country to install lifts on city buses.  Due in part to his efforts, St. Louis also built wheelchair-accessible sidewalks, improved general accessibility and provided parking for the disabled.  Max also helped promote assistive technologies and employment opportunities that help people with disabilities fully participate in society.

Max’s immortal soul left his broken body on December 27, 2010.  He was known for what he could do — not what he couldn’t do — but he never wanted to be considered a hero.  So I’ll just say he was an extraordinarily ordinary person whose accomplishments will live forever.

YOU’LL LOVE THE VIEW FROM HERE

Posted by – August 1, 2011

Motor from Miami down “Avenue A1A,” gateway to the Florida Keys, home to the famous and infamous, pirates and poets, and discover the beautiful bracelet of keys Ponce de Leon first stumbled upon, still dangling in the ocean, barely 90 miles from Cuba.

Proceed with due trepidation through Key Largo and continue south across Seven Mile Bridge (guess how long it is).  Take your time; soak in the scenery, but don’t dawdle too long; you’re traveling the haunts of such nefarious characters as Edward G. Robinson, Bogie and Bacall.  If you should see a bale of ganja washed up on the beach, don’t be tempted.  The original owner, his AK-47 and his twin pit bulls might not be far behind.  The Keys are always a series of contradictions.

Your destination is the same as it once was for literary giants like Ernest Hemingway and Tennessee Williams — Key West, where drinking is compulsory, fighting and running-with-the-bulls-type acts of bravado are optional and “chilling out” is de rigueur.

When you finally run out of land, stand on the dock at Mallory Square at day’s end, wander among its daily cadre of performing characters such as jugglers, mimes, musicians and fire-eaters.  Reverently observe the sunset celebration as the ocean slowly swallows Ol’ Sol.  Catcalls, wolf whistles and thunderous applause are all proper sunset decorum in the Conch Republic.

Now stroll down DuVal Street in the cooling twilight to Sloppy Joe’s, Margaritaville, or about a hundred other bars and restaurants and enjoy a well-deserved beverage with your new best friends.  Say hi to Captain Tony.  You may even qualify as an honorary Parrot Head.  And when you finally have to leave, don’t worry; they’ll keep the fun going until you return.