Friday, September 14, 2018

Welcome to the World

To my granddaughter:

I wish for you a heart full of compassion, a mind full of questions, eyes that see not what we are but what we can be, legs that take you where your dreams insist,  arms filled with love, a voice that demands the best in others and in yourself.

 I wish for you that every pain passes quickly, that each tear dries instantly, that the darkest night leads swiftly to the brightest day, that heartaches are few and vanish in the blink of an eye, that you are fierce and resilient, able to weather each storm with certainty and determination.

I wish for you that you are filled with wonder and expectation, joy and happiness, smiles and laughter, wit and humor.

I wish for you that your life is one of which you are proud, that each year brings you satisfaction, each day brings you hope, each moment brings you knowledge.

I wish for you that you feel in the core of your being the depth of a parent's love, the breadth of a family's trust in your greatness and potential to change the universe.

I wish for you that you believe in your own capacity, you rely on your strengths, you strive to meet all your promises, you act not on your fears but on your visions.

I wish for you romance and passion, excitement and anticipation, the touch of one that brings meaning beyond all others.

I wish for you a long and important life, deep and abiding respect for others, the desire to make this planet a better place than the one delivered to you, causes that stir you to act, ideas that matter and demand your attention.

I wish for myself that I am a part of your existence, that I bring you pleasure, that you await my arrival and are saddened by my departure. I wish that I am privileged to witness you in all your glory.

My wishes for you are without end. But beyond all I wish you are a good and decent person.

Welcome to the world. I love you.


Sunday, September 9, 2018

Tears of Sadness in Victory

We all rooted for Serena. Our American idol, almost two decades on top of the tennis world, domination interrupted only by the arrival of her child and the very real complications of childbirth. Now at the ready to reclaim the throne here, at home in NYC, at our Open. A perfect fairy tale ending. And then this.

We can argue the merits of Serena's claims of sexism another day, the propriety of prohibiting coaching during the match, the consequences of an outburst resulting in the loss of a game at such a crucial juncture.

But what struck me most was how the joy of the moment was sapped from a 20 year old new star on the horizon. Tears of sadness and pain, not accomplishment and wonder, making her cover her face in the immediate aftermath of her astounding victory. Serena eventually recognizing that her anger was doing such damage to this young woman who was among the many who revered our American Idol. And then publicly lamenting that her unhappiness had spilled over to the other side of the net.

This was to have been Naomi Osaka's time in the sun. Sadly, it was not. I applaud her for her extraordinary skill and determination. But most of all I will remember this day for why she cried.

Saturday, September 8, 2018

The less than supreme Supreme Court nomination hearing

The nomination hearing for Mr. Kavanaugh is ludicrous, a series of questions intended to increase the reputation of the solemn and increasingly discouraged inquisitors followed by replies intended to convey that either Mr. Kavanaugh is suffering from early onset Alzheimer's or that he doesn't have one fully formed opinion in his head.

It is a preordained determination masquerading as an important exercise in the preservation of our democracy. The Republicans already envisioning future victories for years to come, the Democrats still with righteous, smoldering indignation that two Supreme seats have now been stolen from them, one by a refusal of the opposition to acknowledge even the existence of Merrick Garland, the other a likely combination of bad timing on the part of James Comey and bad intentions on the part of Mr. Putin. 

There is no chance that even one Republican will break rank, no matter their opposition to some of the nominee's uglier positions, no matter his penchant for bending truth and logic. And so we are left with little or nothing to show for this show. 

Except, perhaps, increasing angst that our democracy has come to this. 

Friday, September 7, 2018

The Identity of Deep Throat, Revealed

Who is Deep Throat, Mr./Ms. Anonymous? 

It was a question I posed to my "sources" at the New York Times yesterday. Only give me the initials, I said. "And I promise not to tell anyone."

Surprisingly, the identity was not revealed to me. But then I, like countless other millions, began my own investigation, looking for clues in every syllable of the Op-Ed. And suddenly it struck me, the answer as obvious as the orange color of the President's face. A lightning bolt of revelation. It was Donald Trump himself.

The initials were the "tell". It was not mere serendipity that the last unknown hero and this one shared the same first letters. It was a clue, really the clue.

Mr. Trump was desperate to be released from the bondage of his office, the slings and arrows, the sticks and stones, the names that really did hurt him, finally all too much to take. The months and months of having to fight against an army of enemies who existed at every turn, too exhausting to allow him to continue. But he could not admit defeat, not to the public. It would be too humiliating to perp walk himself through the streets of DC, his bird's nest on the top of his head shorn, Samson no more.

And thus he conceived of his seemingly bizarre exit strategy, convinced that no one would possibly consider that he would orchestrate his own demise, certain in his knowledge that even the most astute would not reach the conclusion the President himself would ask the failing New York Times to be a co-conspirator in his own coup.

Only he knows the way this will play out in the coming days. He will manipulate us as he has every day of this presidency, pulling and pushing us hither and yon. Finally, one day we will awaken and the great man will be gone. And then we will be left with Pence.

We never thought we would long for George W. and his reign of Terrible.  But then D.T. came along and we learned the true definition of nadir. Until P.P.(President Pence) P.P's all over us. And then we will once again grieve what we no longer have. A bad case of the D.T's seeming much more palatable in our rear view mirror.

This man is a true genius.

Thursday, September 6, 2018

It Was the Best of Times. Or At Least, the Hottest.

It was one of those August days. When there seemed no air to breathe. When the temperature and humidity decided to try to collide at 100. When being outside was as dangerous to your mental well being as your physical.

Kind of the perfect storm of reasons not be wandering around a golf course for six hours. Particularly if you were not even playing. And your interest in the sport was definitely more lukewarm than the thermometer. And if you were in your last month of pregnancy you might strongly consider an alternative adventure for the day. Make that any alternative.

But there we were, my son, my wife, my daughter, with her omnipresent companion, and myself, from nearly sunup to sundown. We had all gathered to witness our daughter's husband attempt an ascent to the peak of this particular Mt. Everest, the club championship.

It was not enough that he was performing against an opponent of great skill, by most considered more than his match. He also carried the weight of winner's past, seeking to become the fourth successive generation of his lineage to wear the champion's crown. His mom and 91 year old grandma part of the human caravan wandering these hills, serving as constant reminder of the greatness of his golfing heritage.

For six hours the battle raged. Not only did I, as someone who has spent six decades with this sport's futility as a constant presence, find the event compelling, but so, amazingly, did the rest of my crew. My wife of 41 years, almost never subject to the fluttering of a nervous stomach, now riveted to the twists and turns of the moment. 

As for the pregnant lady, sometimes walking barefoot and looking for all the world as if she would, at any moment, announce the baby's imminent arrival, she was definitely going nowhere until the last putt had found its way into the cup. Even if she had to give birth on the final green.

One small asterisk was that I have a sneaking suspicion my son found the food at the halfway house nearly as memorable as the travails and triumphs unfolding upon this stage.

In the end neither rain (briefly torrential), suffocating heat nor that four putt on the fourth, could keep our hero from his appointed seat on the throne. He seemed to will his way to victory, refusing to allow his opponent any more than the most minimal of emotional air to breathe, the universe outside virtually identical to the one inside this contest.

He did not to wilt under the weight of expectations but thrived in them, absorbing the stress as easily as he did the scorching sun. In fact, as the euphoria pulsed over him, my son in law announced that, apart from every day with his bride, this was the best six hours of his life. A very wise young man indeed.

When husband and wife walked hand in hand, one golf shoed the other barefoot, up that last fairway and into glory, it was, for me, like the final scene of a movie too good to be true.

As for that unborn child, I could only wonder if she now felt pressure, in utero, of her quest to become a next generation star. Maybe even more pressure than she was exerting on her mom's belly.

I envisioned being part of her gallery on that day in the future. On an air conditioned course. Why not dream the biggest dream you can?


("I Am Part of the Resistance Inside the Trump Administration")

Are we to be grateful for these "heroes" of the administration, tasked with keeping the worst of Mr. Trump's impulses under control? 

Don't applaud yourself when you have allowed what you know is a grave danger to this nation to fester. Don't tell us it would be worse if you were not guarding us. If your sworn duty is to country over party, over self, then you long since had an obligation, a mandate, to not allow one more moment to pass without confronting this plague head on.

You have been complicit, an unindicted co-conspirator. You have colluded with others of your rank to protect not your country but your station and the charlatan masquerading as President. 

Do you want to be a hero? Show us your face and inform us in the light of day you are willing to sacrifice your career, and your party's future if necessary, to rid us of the madman. That there are things worth metaphorically dying for.

This is a battle not for the faint of heart or spirit. But it is a moment in our history that demands such a person step forth. Of such are heroes truly born. 

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Whose Funeral Was It Anyway?

("Mourning McCain, and America")

Whose funeral was it anyway? We mourned not merely the death of John McCain but the life of Donald Trump. Not merely the heart of McCain but the heartlessness of Trump. Not merely the loss of hope for a better tomorrow but the omnipresent fear of a worse today.

We came as much to bury our Caesar as to praise John McCain. It was remarkable that even without stepping foot into the sanctuary Donald Trump was seemingly front and center. Every speaker's remarks a rebuke of all Mr. Trump represented. It was a stark reminder of how much air in the room he occupies.

Whose funeral was it anyway? Miss Goldberg is accurate in her reporting of America's demise, at least the America symbolized by the best of John McCain, for it has now been buried deep in the quagmire. And thus we wailed our lamentations over a man who golfed while this country burned in its resentment for his continued assault upon the values we hold dear.

Sunday, September 2, 2018

If I Only Had a Brain

I would speak a little better
Read a book or write a letter
Stop drivin' you insane
I would stop all my tweetin', 
Stop behavin' like a cretin
If I only had a brain

I would sop up Keats and Plato
Or just stop bashing NATO
Maybe learn to fly my plane
I would start actin' nicer
Might even bring back Spicer
If I only had a brain

Oh I roar like a lion
But inside me I'm cryin'
Cause every little thing riddles me
Like one plus one, does it make three

Oh that Putin thinks he's so smart
But inside he has no heart
Oh he's drivin' me insane
I could shut up Mueller
Such a detestable fellow 
If I only had a brain

We could win the midterms easy
I might stop being sleazy
Might even cut my mane
But for now I'm a bad man
Just a really, really sad man 
Cause I don't have a brain

Oh I roar like a lion
But inside me I'm cryin'
Cause every little thing riddles me
Like one plus one, does it make three

That yellow brick road I'd sure find
The trip I know I'd not mind
Brave the wind or hurricane
Oh I'd be oh so clever,
Like Obama only better
If I only had a brain

Oh I'd be oh so clever
Like Obama only better 
If I only had a brain


Saturday, September 1, 2018

A Matter of Life or Death

("Could I Kill My Mother?")

My mother would not have wanted to live like this. Day after day, year after year, unaware of her very surroundings, unable to communicate her thoughts, incapable of attending to her needs. It was a helpless, hopeless nightmare that drained her financial resources and the emotional reserve of my sister and myself.

And yet, even had our mom been able to plead with us to end her most diminished state of being, we would have been powerless to comply.

Is this what our society demands, this act of seeming cruelty in watching a life fade away in this manner? Do we demonstrate respect, compassion, caring or is our moral compass askew when we wring our hands, hold our heads and our tongues and watch in silent agony as this plays out in excruciatingly slow motion?

For my mom, it was nearly a decade in this alternate universe, one in which everything that mattered most in her existence was taken away, piece by piece, and hour by hour until all that eventually remained was the physical shell.

And when it ended there was sadness not only that she was gone but that she had lingered so long in this ever declining state. Sadness knowing that this would never have been the way she chose to say goodbye, never have been the way she wanted us to see her, never have been how she chose her final act upon the stage to play out.

There is something fundamentally wrong, something wholly undignified, something disrespectful in our society's mandate on the issue of the sanctity of life no matter it's ultimate definition. Continued existence, whatever it's four corners, our only command.

For my sister and myself and for the many millions each day whose story unfolds in similar, painful watching and waiting, waiting, waiting there is the perpetual question of whether we are doing to, rather than for.

And whether the crime we commit is in keeping those we love alive instead of helping them die.

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

The Car Seat

My daughter can't give birth quite yet. Sadly, we haven't figured out how to properly install the car seat.

You can't tell me it is simple. Not when it is apparently common knowledge that one of the duties of the fire department is to rescue those in grave distress from failing to perform this seemingly most mundane of tasks.

I am a useless excuse for a person so when my son in law Brett and I set out last weekend to the location where the car is garaged, I knew my contribution to this endeavor would be limited to providing less than meaningless moral support.

We are in the midst of another in the seemingly endless heat and humidity waves of this summer. The car is housed on the fifth floor of the garage and so the walk up the stairs consumed most of our collective energy. There was nothing but lifeless,virtually suffocating air greeting our arrival.

Brett was clearly convinced this job was but a moment's undertaking. Apparently, in the store where the offending piece was purchased, there was a demonstration of the ease of installation. It provided him a false sense of hope.

You see, the car seat is actually cradled in another smaller apparatus. It is this one which is intended to latch into some metal bars, I think, hidden somewhere deep within the back seat of their automobile..

After several minutes of intense scrutiny, the approximate area where the surgery was to be performed was located. But the bars were not in their ordained position, or at least not readily within touch.

The temperature in this sauna seemed to increase with each uncomfortable moment. The hidden prize still proving most elusive. Though Brett remained ever calm after a very extended period of exertion, it was evident there was a rapidly fading possibility of success before we both passed out. "Two men found dead on top floor of garage. Car seat to blame. No foul play suspected."

I knew I had an ace up my sleeve while this debacle was unfolding. I now pulled it out in the hopes of saving both our lives. "Let's call Joanne." 

You see my wife can figure out any  problem of this nature. Have three truckloads of furniture to move. She can fit in all in a hatchback. Can't get your key to work in the door. Step aside, and then step inside.

Thankfully, Brett agreed this was not a task suited for mere mortals and so his attempted ascent of Everest concluded. We arranged to drive the car from the garage and meet outside Brett and Alex's apartment building. And let the maestro perform her magic.

Only that didn't happen. It was, to me, as if Houdini was unable to pull a rabbit out of a hat, or Pavarotti couldn't hit a high note. My wife, who never met a problem beyond resolution, merely stared as the apparatus lay mockingly untethered. Despite long minutes of pushing, pulling, prodding and poking, it remained achingly unsafe for the baby to exit the womb and enter the vehicle.

And so my daughter and I walked to one fire station (out on call) and then the four of us piled into the car and drove to a second fire station (out on call) before accepting humiliating defeat.

The following morning there was a text from Brett announcing progress in the battle. Seat installed, but at an acute angle (not his exact words, but that was the gist). Not the most reassuring of messages.

Alex is 38 1/2 weeks pregnant. But I fear she will have to hold the baby inside several more weeks until we figure this out. Or at least until the firemen return to fight maybe their hardest battle of all. With a car seat.