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Elton John's tribute to Ryan White on the twentieth anniversary of Ryan's death, included a moving description of the pain he experienced during Ryan's final days.  This video shows Sir Elton talking about the significance of -- and then singing -- Candle In The Wind.

In the video, Candle In The Wind is followed by Elton's description of having agonized over what to sing at the funeral, finally deciding on one of the songs from his first album in 1969 -- a beautiful song called Skyline Pigeon. Ryan's soul was finally free to go anywhere, and his inspiration was free to inspire people all around the world.

I've also included four videos shot by WISH TV, including Ryan's mom, Jeane, and her tearful introduction of Elton John, and Elton's comments immediately before he began to sing for us.  It's almost like being there.

WISH TV News Piece About the Night's Event

Ryan's Mother's Tearful Introduction of Elton John

Sir Elton John Talks About How Ryan Saved His Life and the Results

Continuation of Elton John's Words About Ryan White Saving His Life and the Results

 
 
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Sir Elton John put on an amazing show last night -- of which I was a proud co-sponsor -- to help celebrate the 20th anniversary of Ryan White's passing.  There were many very emotional moments, not only in Elton's performance and his descriptions of his last moments with Ryan, but also in the remarkable comments made by Phil Donohue,  Jeannie White, and Judith Light (the actress who portrayed Jeannie White in the ABC TV movie, and most recently can be seen on Law & Order SUV as a judge).

Video-taped messages from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senator Orin Hatch emphasized the bipartisan nature of the successful efforts by the US Congress to reauthorize the Ryan White Care Act four times since 1992.  Photos of Jeannie standing beside Presidents Clinton and Obama as they signed the act into law were powerful reminders of what can be done if we work together. The Ryan White Care Act has helped millions of people, and remains an incredible legacy of this brave young man.

Ryan White almost single-handedly changed our nation's perception of AIDS and those who struggle with it in their own lives.  Tonight's celebration was both emotionally-charged and fantastically fun.  Thanks to the wonderful people at the world-renowned Children's Museum of Indianapolis for their Ryan White exhibit, and for working with Jeannie to bring Elton to Indianapolis for this once-in-a-lifetime experience.

Thanks, too, to Wayne Zink and Randy Deer for their support, and to all the people who came to support the museum and the Elton John AIDS Foundation (which matches funds to the Indiana AIDS Fund).

Finally, thanks to Sir Elton John for coming to Indianapolis to help celebrate the life of one of our nation's true heros. It was an amazing performance -- truly once-in-a-lifetime!

Photos: Jeannie White and me outside the VIP desert reception after the concert.  Some of my guests: Mark and Nancy Ruschman, John Pickett and Jeff Baker.

Read Amy Bartner's review of the event in the Indianapolis Star online.

See Indianapolis Star Photo Slideshow below.

 
 
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I've been in Los Angeles since early December, finally coming back home Monday morning for meetings and the Elton John event tonight (of which I'm a co-sponsor).  Getting back made me eager to check out the changes in our city, especially in my own neighborhood on the west side of downtown. Was I surprised!

On my side of town, progress on the new JW Marriott hotel -- a few blocks south of my home -- has advanced remarkably. This new blue, glass-skinned high-rise is beautiful; along with its two adjoining siblings, these three hotels fill in the link between the White River State Park and downtown perfectly -- while helping to frame the baseball park across the street to the south. I blogged earlier about the stunning 15-ton stylized sculpture of a Cardinal which has been installed in the multimillion-dollar plaza at this new hotel complex -- it's worth a read, here.

Closer to home, progress on 'my leg' of the Indianapolis Cultural Trail -- which is one block each way north and west of my home -- has been huge!  The trail is nearing completion along the Canal as well as along both St Clair and Indiana Ave, with beautiful new landscaping (in addition to the landscape beds along the curbs, many large new trees have been planted along the trail) and contemporary lights which have sprung up, one after the other, as you walk along the trail; they are beautiful at night!  Our Cultural Trail sends a message that Indianapolis is an innovative city of choice. This video explains it all!

The new, beautifully-designed Gateway Parking Garage, across West Street a half block from me, will add much needed parking for the IUPUI campus, as well as for the new retail, office and commercial structures which will adjoin it and sit along Indiana Avenue, across from the Madame Walker Theatre.  A few blocks further down the street on Michigan, the new $750MM Wishard Hospital is well under way, with demolition and site prep moving along at a fast clip.

One of the more exciting developments for those of us living along the Canal, is the new Left Bank Cafe, located at Canal Level, below the beautiful new COSMOPOLITAN On The Canal luxury apartment building.  Operated by the street-level Mo'Joe Coffeehouse, which has been across the street at Michigan and Senate for several years, this welcome addition to the Canal is set to open in early May.

It's hard to beat Spring in Indiana. This year, along with beautiful weather, Spring is bringing a lush, green, fresh start -- and several new structural additions -- to my downtown west side neighborhood.

It's a great place to live!

Enjoy a pictorial walk through my neighborhood. Just click on any photo in either of the two sets of photos below, to enlarge, and then flip through a slide show as fast as you want.


 
 
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The distress of anyone struggling with the impact of HIV/AIDS on themselves or their families, anywhere in the state of Indiana as I write this, touches all of us -- no matter where we read this.

In 1994 my friends David Hochoy and Rob MacPherson conceived "Partners Performing for Life" -- a brilliant idea to bring together, for the first time ever, each of the performing arts organizations in Indianapolis onto one stage for one night of music, dance, theater and singing performances. Ever since, this eclectic lineup of performers has only been seen one time each year -- and on only one Indianapolis stage.

This year, Clowes Memorial Hall is again home to the performance deal of the year!  On May 10th,  this stunning annual performing arts Gala, long ago renamed as SPOTLIGHT, will bring together more than 15 exciting performances -- all on one stage, at one event -- for $15.

Imagine, for one dollar each, you can see nearly every Indianapolis performing arts group including, the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra, Dance Kaleidoscope, Gregory Hancock Dance Theater, the Indianapolis Chamber Orchestra, Brenda Williams and the Pride of Indy, the Indianapolis Children's Choir, the Indianapolis Civic Theatre, the Indianapolis Opera, Meridian Song Project, Actors Theatre of Indiana, Asia La Bouche of the Ladies of Legends, the Indiana Repertory Theatre, the Indianapolis Men's Chorus, the Phoenix Theatre, and the (Re)Collective Dance Company, along with much more!

Amazingly, and especially for this year, the Kenyetta Dance Company has created an original piece for SPOTLIGHT that is directly about HIV/AIDS and women. Never before seen, this powerful piece will deeply move you.

In addition, the exceptionally talented poet, Tasha Jones, will be returning with a new piece written specifically for this year's show.

Fifth-teen years ago, as the founding chairman of the Indiana AIDS Fund, I helped lead our board through the process of relieving David and Rob of the arduous task of organizing SPOTLIGHT by themselves each year. Subsequently, working together, David, Rob and the IAF have grown SPOTLIGHT into the largest fundraiser for HIV education in the state of Indiana. Remarkably, because of corporate underwriting, every ticket purchased goes straight toward grant-making!

This year, in honor of the Indiana AIDS Fund's 15th anniversary, tickets are $115 and $15. The $115 VIP ticket includes a pre-performance reception as well as a ticket to the now-famous AfterGlow party immediately following the performance.

And… get this!! The first terrace is already sold out! If you want a $15 seat, you'd better reserve one fast. Of course, because the money raised benefits HIV prevention, education and testing programs across the state of Indiana, I strongly encourage everyone to purchase a $115 seat. These special VIP tickets are the seats that truly make a difference, because of the grant dollars they provide. When you purchase a VIP ticket, you help make an even more massive impact on efforts to prevent the spread of HIV in our state. All proceeds from SPOTLIGHT 2010 will benefit Indiana AIDS Fund and the agencies and programs across the state that educate and prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS, and which also serve those living with the disease.

I want to personally thank all the performers, participants, and extraordinary patrons who come together each year to make SPOTLIGHT possible. I also want to thank the board and staff of the Health Foundation of Greater Indianapolis and the Indiana AIDS Fund for never giving up, and for undertaking the formidable process of organizing SPOTLIGHT -- so perfectly -- every year for the last 15 years.

And finally, I want to express my deepest gratitude to the foresight and brilliant creativity of David Hochoy and Rob MacPherson, the founders of SPOTLIGHT so many years ago, who continue every year to work as hard as they can in helping to stage this remarkable event that helps so many across our state. They are my heroes!

Tickets are $15 and $115, and are on sale at the Clowes Hall box office or by calling 1-800-982-2787, at all Ticketmaster locations or TicketMastercom.

 
 
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As a former advisory board member of the National Institute for Fitness and Sport (NIFS), in downtown Indianapolis, I was a longtime member, and worked out there daily, until building my own extensive in-home gym in 1998, after which I stopped working out at NIFS. However, I have continued to get an annual physical at NIFS every year since.

The reason is simple, the Indiana University School of Medicine maintains its Executive Health, Corporate Wellness and Prevention Program (IU Executive Health Program) at NIFS, which is widely recognized as one of finest health facilities in the nation.

Created by my friend and personal physician, Dr. Mike Busk, the program's founding medical and research director, the IU Executive Health Program helps Indiana executives maintain a high level of health while helping to prevent disease, through a one-on-one interaction with guidance and reinforcement that sets this top ranked program apart from others in the United States -- including the world famous Scripps in San Diego, and the Mayo Clinic in Minneapolis. Some of Indiana's largest publicly traded companies have switched from sending their executives to San Diego or Minneapolis in favor of sending them to the IU Executive Health Program at NIFS.

Conveniently located on the IUPUI campus, within the White River State Park in downtown Indianapolis, NIFS is open to the general public, and is one of the best gyms in town, as well as one of the most well respected in the nation. The IU Executive Health Program is also open to the public.

I'll be back in Indianapolis in a few weeks, in time for my 2010 annual physical, and encourage my friends and readers to consider NIFS for your fitness needs, and the IU Executive Health Program for your ongoing health and disease prevention efforts.

NIFS Quick Facts: Convenient walking distance from downtown. Located in White River Park. Daily, weekly and monthly options. Features include a 65,000-square-foot fitness center, NBA-size basketball court, 200-meter rubberized running track, extensive equipment, group fitness classes (including Les Mills, BODYPUMP and Yoga), nutritional counseling and weight loss programs. NIFS also manages 40 Corporate Fitness Centers in eight states.

Video1 Below: Dr. Michael Busk in action.

Video2 Below: Twenty-year NIFS member and former Indianapolis Mini Marathon winner talks about NIFS and his own fitness program, with lots of video inside and out.

Video3 Below: Senator Barack Obama plays a pick-up game of basketball on the NIFS court in downtown Indianapolis on the day of the Indiana primaries in 2008.

 
 
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Here at the Azzurra building, where I live in Los Angeles, each residential level is dedicated to a different artist -- every floor is transformed into its own private gallery -- and my floor is dedicated to the works of Andy Warhol. Warhol's first one-man art gallery exhibition as a fine artist was here in Los Angeles on July 9, 1962 in the Ferus Gallery. That exhibition marked the West Coast debut of pop art.

It was during the 60s that Warhol began painting iconic American products such as Campbell's Soup cans and Coca-Cola bottles, as well as painting celebrities such as Marilyn Monroe, Elvis Presley, Mohammed Ali, Elizabeth Taylor and others.

As a long time Andy Warhol fan (and collector: I have a Warhol "Wooden Nickel" print), I'm excited about this fall's exhibition of more than 100 Warhol works, called "Andy Warhol Enterprises", which will be on display from October 10th through January 2nd, 2011 at the Indianapolis Museum of Art. Congratulations to Max Anderson and his superb team for bringing this world-class exhibition to our city.


Image Above: "Andy Warhol Dollar Sign", copyright and all rights reserved by the Andy Warhol Foundation.

Video Below: Indianapolis Museum of Art lively video of upcoming activities at The Toby this Spring.

 
 
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A remarkable development on the Indianapolis near-Eastside, specifically on the Tech High School campus, should produce huge benefits for that neighborhood, the entire near-Eastside, and the city of Indianapolis.

The amazing new community center and related improvements, which will total about $11.2 million, will be a massive shot in the arm for that side of downtown.

You can read more about this incredible Super Bowl project on the Urban Times online website, as well as on WTHR's website.

 
 
Housing sales and new construction are on the upswing here in California. And, for that, we are all grateful.

For those of us who live here in the Azzurra building, in Marina del Rey West Los Angeles, there's an exciting new mixed-use development going up right across the street from our building. The architectural design is beautiful, and this new building and the retail shops and restaurants that it promises to bring will be a welcome new addition in our neighborhood.

Click photo, above, to enlarge for detail.
 
 
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As the proud owner of a Tesla 100% electric Roadster, I was delighted to hear that the Tesla worldwide community of owners has driven a collective 4 million Electric Miles!

That means that Tesla owners have driven approximately 160 times around the earth without a single puff of tailpipe smoke.

Simultaneously, we have saved 200,000 gallons of gas, almost 11,000 barrels of oil, and have prevented over 2,000,000 pounds of CO2 emissions -- which is the equivalent of taking almost 60,000 cars off the road for one day.

Happy Earth Day!


Photo Above: A vermont Tesla owner charges from solar. According to the owner, the panel makes enough juice to go 10,000 miles a year. He uses his Tesla for daily commuting to work, and the day this photo was taken he happened to watch his odometer roll past 7777 miles.

Video below: legendary racecar and hydroplane driver, Chip Hanauer, puts a Tesla through its paces at today's Future of Flight  Earth Day celebration in Seattle. Impressive footage.

 
 
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Remembering Ryan
By Elton John

Twenty years ago this month, my friend Ryan died of AIDS.  I would gladly give my fame and fortune if only I could hand this letter to the child who changed my life and the lives of millions living with HIV.

Dear Ryan,

I remember so well when we first met.  A young boy with a terrible disease, you were the epitome of grace.  You never blamed anyone for the illness that ravaged your body, or the torment and stigma you endured in your community. 

When students, parents, and teachers shunned you, threatened you, expelled you from school, you responded not with words of hate, but with understanding beyond your years.  You said they simply were afraid of what they did not know. 

When the media heralded you as an innocent victim who contracted AIDS through transfusion, you rejected that label and stood in solidarity with thousands of HIV-positive women and men.  You reminded America that all victims of AIDS are innocent.

When you became a celebrity, you embraced the opportunity to educate the nation about the AIDS epidemic, even though your only wish was to live an ordinary life. 

Ryan, because of you, countless people now live the life of which you dreamt.  I wish you could know the world today, how much it has changed, and how much you changed it.

Young boys and girls with HIV attend school and take medicine that allows them to lead normal lives.  Children in America are seldom born with HIV or contract it through transfusion.  No longer are the insults and injustices you suffered tolerated by society.

Most important, Ryan, you inspired awareness, which helped lead to life-saving treatments.  In 1990, five months after you died, Congress passed the Ryan White Care Act, which now spends more than $2 billion each year on AIDS medicine and treatment for half a million Americans.  Today, countless people with HIV live healthy, productive, long lives.

It breaks my heart that you are not one of them.  You were only 18 when you died, and you would be 38 this year, if only modern medicine had existed when you were sick.  I think about that every day, because America needs your message of compassion as ever before.

Ryan, when you were alive, your story sparked a national conversation about AIDS.   Despite all the progress made in the past 20 years, the dialogue has waned.  If you were here, I know your voice would be among the many trying to resurrect that conversation today, at a time when the epidemic is, by some measures, worsening.  I know you would be the loudest among those calling for a National HIV/AIDS Strategy that was promised, but has not yet been delivered, by President Obama.  I know you would reach out to young people.  I know you would work tirelessly to help everyone suffering from HIV, including those who live on the margins of society. 

It would sadden you that today, in certain states, poor people with AIDS are placed on a waiting list to receive treatment.  It would anger you that your government still turns away from vulnerable people with HIV and high-risk populations.  It would upset you that AIDS is a leading cause of death among African Americans.  It would frustrate you that even though hundreds of thousands of HIV-positive Americans are receiving treatment in your name, more than two hundred thousand don’t even know their status, thanks largely to lingering stigma surrounding the disease.  It would disappoint you that our teenagers learn little of HIV prevention in school, at a time when half of new infections are among young people under 25 years of age. 

I miss you so very much, Ryan.  I was by your side when you died at Riley Hospital.  You’ve been with me every day since.  You inspired me to change my life and carry on your work.  Because of you, I’ve stayed in the struggle against AIDS all this time.  I pledge to not rest until we realize the compassion for which you so bravely and beautifully fought.

Your friend,

Elton

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