Nothing is original…

Nothing is original. Steal from anywhere that resonates with inspiration or fuels your imagination. Devour old films, new films, music, books, paintings, photographs, poems, dreams, random conversations, architecture, bridges, street signs, trees, clouds, bodies of water, light and shadows. Select only things to steal from that speak directly to your soul. If you do this, your work (and theft) will be authentic. Authenticity is invaluable; originality is non-existent. And don’t bother concealing your thievery – celebrate it if you feel like it. In any case, always remember what Jean-Luc Godard said: “It’s not where you take things from – it’s where you take them to.”

-Jim Jarmusch

Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy: A Wake-Up Call

Timothy P. Cripe, MD. PhD
Associate Professor of Pediatrics
Division of Hematology/Oncology
Director, Translational Research Trials Office
Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center

“Your child has cancer” is devastating news and until today I thought it was the worst news that a parent could receive. I now believe that “your child has Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy” needs to sit at the top of the list. I am a pediatric oncologist and cancer researcher and unfortunately have had the opportunity to witness the ravages of a cancer diagnosis to both the child and the family. There is no question that the diagnosis of cancer is bad news, but I am proud to say that there has been significant progress in the field. We are at least running a reasonably effective offensive attack against many pediatric malignancies. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for boys affected by Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy (DMD).

Because my wife is a pediatric cardiologist, our family recently attended the closing banquet of the Parent Project Muscular Dystrophy annual meeting. At the meeting there were ~250 families affected by Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy gathered together to promote research and education in DMD. At our table was an adorable, blond six-year-old boy named Charlie. He had that generic “healthy boy-look,” with no outward difference apparent from my two sons, who were seated across the table. However, there was an important difference. Charlie is a ticking time bomb as he was recently diagnosed with DMD. If there are no significant research advances made soon, Charlie will face certain death sometime within the next 10-15 years. And it won’t be pretty. It will be a slow, painful, downhill spiral. Charlie will eventually lose the ability to walk followed by the ability to breathe. His heart will slowly lose its ability to function. At this moment in time, there is little that anyone can do about it. Unfortunately, medical science has not orchestrated any effective treatment strategies against the disease that is slowly destroying the muscles in his body.

Thirty years ago, that’s the way it used to be with many types of childhood cancer: almost guaranteed death. We can now cure nearly 70% of children with cancer. Forces in the U.S. were mobilized with a 1972 Presidential declaration of war on cancer, and legions of scientists and doctors worldwide have since spent countless years and dollars investigating the biology and treatment of cancer. Childhood cancer afflicts 1 in 300 children younger than 20 years old in the United States (data from the National Cancer Institute SEER Program).

That number includes many readily treatable forms of cancer. Because of hundreds of clinical trials conducted by multiple cooperative groups, only about 1 in 1,000 children die from cancer. As a result of these efforts, hearing that your child has cancer is no longer a death sentence.

The incidence of DMD is 1 in ~3,000 male births. However, in contrast to cancer, DMD currently is uniformly fatal. As a result there is only a 3-fold difference in the number of childhood deaths due to cancer vs. DMD, but DMD research is relatively scarce. A search of the NIH website for open clinical trials (; searched 7/18/03) revealed 2,368 for cancer (including 936 that were open to children.) There were only 3 for DMD, a 790-fold difference. The paucity of research may be the reason that there is no cure for this devastating neuromuscular disease. Without research, there is no hope. Shouldn’t all people at least been given the chance to hope?

Why the disparity in resource allocation? Why has no war been declared on muscular dystrophy? Whatever the reason, it’s time to change. Every person, even a blonde little boy, should at least be able to face tomorrow with hope. Having the opportunity to meet Charlie and his family was a wake-up call.

Taking a Break

I’m taking a break from the whole TIRC Productions show-promotion/booking thing. Why? Well, I feel like Bill Streeter and I really busted our asses to promote the Show-Me Blowout, only to have it not meet our expectations. I don’t mean that in terms of the quality of the performances of each band (they were all fantastic, as expected), but due to the very poor attendance both nights at Off Broadway (not even close to what I was shooting for, as a matter of fact). There were also dozens of people that I fully expected to see there (some of them from actually TELLING me they’d be there) who, for whatever reason, decided not to come either night (or show up at the free barbecue at Apop, for that matter). I don’t mind working hard to promote things that people enjoy and/or support, but when you work hard to promote something only to have it fail time and time again (and lose money doing it), it just starts to lose its appeal. It’s just not fun anymore. So I’m tired of it, tired of the disappointments, and am simply going to take a break. So don’t be surprised if you don’t see me promoting (or showing up at) any shows for a while. I just need some time away from music promotion and the whole local music scene in general. Whether or not this break becomes permanent or not is yet to be decided, but no matter how much I try to remain positive about the rock’n’roll scene in St. Louis, I keep getting reminded of how much it really sucks ass. Those two nights at Off Broadway were big, daunting, humiliating reminders of this for me.So the big question remains: Will there be a Show-Me Blowout 2? Don’t hold your breath.



Darrin & KopperOriginally uploaded by KopperI was going through some of my mom & dad’s old photo albums at my sister’s house yesterday and came across some good ones that I’ll be adding to my Flickr account soon. Here’s one I don’t ever remember seeing before… it’s my friend Darrin Lowery and I taken in the driveway at my parents’ house in St. Peters. This would’ve been the week of Spring Break, 1988. Darrin and I were pals at CMSU in Warrensburg, it was my senior year, and since he had nothing going on (I didn’t either, really) and didn’t have any money to go anywhere fun, we just decided to spend the week wreaking havoc in St. Louis. While there, we got pulled over by the cops once for speeding (we weren’t speeding and we ended up not getting a ticket) and we even had cops in a completely separate incident pull guns on us and do one of those classic “get out of the car with your hands up, turn around and put your hands on the car!” scenarios where we had to get frisked and almost got our asses thrown in jail… for what, you ask? Spinning my wheels as we pulled into a gravel parking lot on Euclid in the Central West End. See what happens when you bring a black friend home with you for spring break?

“I Love Living in the City”…

My house smells just like the zoo,
It’s chock full of shit and puke!
Cockroaches on the walls,
Crabs crawlin’ on my balls!
Oh, but I’m so clean cut,
I just want to fuck some slut!
I love living in the city
I love living in the city
I’ve spent my whole life in the city,
Where junk is king and the air smells shitty.
People puking everywhere!
Piles of blood, scabs, and hair.
Bodies wasted in defeat,
Young people dying on the streets.
But the suburban scumbags they don’t care,
They just get fat and dye their hair!
I love living in the city
I love living in the city

Great song by Fear, eh? Brings back memories of college for me… drinking cheap beer, smoking clove cigarettes and driving long distances in beat-up, old cars to see punk shows in some dingy, faraway venue (usually in the middle of a cornfield). But as nasty and abrasive as the lyrics were in that song, I personally couldn’t wait to actually LIVE in the city, once I was done with college and could move away from the parents’ nice prefab house in the suburbs. All my life I’d been intrigued by city living, and when my wife and I moved back to St. Louis from Kansas City (where we’d also lived in the central city), we immediately began looking for an apartment on the south side. That was in the spring of 1994, and we’ve been here ever since. As anyone who lives in the city and has close friends or relatives in the outlying suburban areas can probably attest, you often have to defend your decision to live in such a “dangerous” area. It used to come up quite frequently with some of my family members early on, but hasn’t really been an issue lately. Anyway, I wanted to post a link to this great blog entry on called “Why I Live Where I Live.” I think it pretty much nails it for my feelings on why I live in the city. Please check it out.

Coin Collection… GONE.

I just discovered this morning that they also got my COIN COLLECTION. It was in a wooden box on a shelf in my closet. That really hurts… lots of sentimental value, there. I’d collected those coins since I was a kid, and in fact inherited a lot of them from my dad. There were hundreds of coins in there, too. None of them were all that rare or valuable… the most valuable one was an 1884 silver dollar that might’ve been worth $20 or $30. A 1964 mint set I had was worth about the same amount, but I’m sure all of the coins combined totalled well over a thousand bucks. This fuckin’ sucks ass, as insurance considers this “money” which they max out coverage on at just $200. Fuck.