Monthly Archives: June 2021

Artist Cuffed and Detained In His Own Apartment

Sadly, the news regularly reports stories of people wrongfully cuffed, threatened, and in some cases killed by police. The frequency should horrify us, but the regularity may numb too many to the news of yet another example of injustice.

Today I learned this happened to an acquaintance of mine last month. I have known John for over 30 years.

John Sims is an artist-in-residence at the 701 Center for Contemporary Art in Columbia, S.C. His work is political and provocative, often featuring Confederate flags and other white supremacist icons turned upside-down, with colors changed, burned, buried, strung from gallows, etc.

Sims’s current work, “AfroDixia: A Righteous Confiscation,” includes a piece with five flags from Confederate states hanging from a gallows. Beside the gallows are five urns, symbolizing the ashen remains of the confederate flags. Behind the gallows are the same flags, now displayed in red, green, and black, the colors of the Pan-African flag.

A Group Hangjng 2.jpeg

John Sims, Five Flags: A Group Hanging

Unsurprisingly, he and his works are often the object of threats and violence from people who wish to protect and/or proudly display these icons of the Confederacy and white supremacy.

Columbia police in South Carolina enter the apartment of artist John Sims with guns drawn.

Columbia police in South Carolina enter the apartment of artist John Sims with guns drawn. (Photo: WLTX)

Around 2 a.m. on May 17th, police entered Sims’s apartment, next door to the art gallery where his work is displayed. Guns drawn and yelling commands, they woke Sims up and ordered him to turn his back to them. He did not comply because he thought they were white supremacists posing as police officers wanting to vandalize and destroy his work.

He requested to photograph the officers but was denied. This was one of several rights denied Sims. He was handcuffed for at least 8 minutes before police finally determined he was, in fact, the artist-in-residence and had permission to be in the building.

How close did my friend get to being seriously injured or killed? Too close.

I have not mentioned Sims’s race. Do I need to?

Here are two news reports you may read. The first includes a video from his dangerous encounter with the police.

Political artist John Sims detained, handcuffed by S.C. police in his gallery

Black artist detained by police in his gallery residency in South Carolina

Cessation of Isolation, part 2

Continuing with the theme of activities now possible post-vaccination…

I got to hug and enjoy dinner with my mother. It’s been over a year, and to enjoy a meal and conversation, maskless, with my indefatigable mother was such a joy! Mom turns 88 in just a couple weeks!

As mentioned in my previous post, I scheduled myself to donate platelets. Although I trust the safety precautions of the Red Cross and did donate a couple times during the pandemic, I decided to hold off donating again until I was fully vaccinated. The last time I donated was 5 months ago.

This morning I went in early, got prepped, and spent a couple hours on the bed as my blood was drawn, platelets separated out, and the rest returned to me.

I relaxed, listened to podcasts, and thought about family members, friends, and strangers whose lives have depended on donations like mine.

I plan an ambitious schedule of donations going forward. I hope to donate every two weeks, maybe weekly (with platelets, one can donate every 7 days).

Not everyone is eligible to donate. If you can, please consider donating. People needing platelets include cancer and leukemia patients, those undergoing major surgeries, and accident victims.

If you are squeamish, I’ll gladly accompany you to the Portland Red Cross and assist you through the process. I used to be squeamish about needles, but have overcome that fear over the years through donations.

If you are hesitating on receiving a Covid-19 vaccine, I will say that they use the smallest needle I have ever seen. I felt almost nothing when I got my shot. The peace of mind for yourself and those you care about is absolutely worth it!

Cessation of Isolation Thanks To Vaccination

Everyone would agree the past year and a half has been difficult. I had a rough year, though I am well aware how fortunate I was (and still am). In no way do I intend to minimize the much greater struggles and losses suffered by so many.

What has been most difficult for me has been the social isolation. Not seeing and hugging friends, singing together, playing chamber and orchestra music, meeting friends for a beverage or meal – I’ve felt the absence of these activities acutely.

Having received both my Covid-19 vaccines and diligently waited two weeks following the second dose, I now feel safer to venture out, reconnect with friends and family, and participate in activities I’ve missed for the past 18 months.

Last weekend was an embarrassment of riches for me. Any other year, it would have been a good weekend. This year, I constantly teetered on the precipice of being emotionally overcome with gratitude.

Online Karaoke Surprise

Friday night I hosted my bi-weekly online karaoke party (as I have done since May, 2020). It’s always a delight seeing the smiles of and hearing the laughter and music from friends near and far.

One thing we cannot do in online karaoke, though, is to sing together – unless people happen to be sheltering together in place. So no duets, no harmonizing.

The party started off as normal and people joined in and our screens filled up with a grid of squares of participants.

We were all taken aback to see two of our friends suddenly walk off-camera and appear in the frame of another. All having been fully vaccinated, they were safe to gather, and the three partied together, singing 2- and 3-part harmony at times.

The rest of us were delighted (and more than a little bit envious).

I have already started planning on making my online karaoke hosting setup mobile so I can join them in future parties!

Chamber Music

Last time I played chamber music was last fall. We played on my driveway, masked, sitting 6 feet apart, challenged by bright sun and breezes threatening to carry away our sheet music. Fall wet weather and darkness brought an end to my driveway concerts.

On Saturday I hosted friends for a string quintet party. Although vaccinated, all arrived masked. By unanimous consent, we removed our masks and enjoyed a delightful afternoon of music. My heart soared with the music and I shared more hugs than I’d received or given in over a year.


A dear friend invited me to join her for a late-night showing of Monty Python’s “Meaning of Life” at the Tigard Joy Cinema. I hadn’t seen the film in a theater since college. I donned my mask and joined her and her daughter.

Tickets were a mere $2, and with popcorn and a drink, my total came to $10. I added a couple dollars to a tip jar, grateful this little theater had survived the pandemic.

Everyone wore masks and there was ample distance between theater-goers. I spent a couple hours laughing more than I have in many months.

Singing Together

Still moved and a little envious of my friends singing together a few evenings before, I visited the host of the prior get-together. We spent an evening singing duets and harmonizing together – and hugging frequently. How I love to sing and play in harmony!

Moving Forward

There are so many more activities I feel more comfortable am looking forward to doing!

Although I have donated platelets a couple times during the pandemic, I decided to halt until I was fully vaccinated. I have now set my next donation appointment for this coming Friday. Please join me in donating if you can! There is always a need and the demand has increased significantly because of the pandemic.

I hope to start swimming again. My local pool has opened with a strict pre-scheduling program.

There are so many family members and friends I haven’t seen in person or hugged. I so look forward to that.

Not everyone likes to hug. If you see me approaching with my arms open wide and you prefer not to hug, just raise and point your elbow at me. I’ll understand and we can tap elbows.