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Wednesday, April 7, 2021

Mr. Biden, Tear Down This Wall

AN EDITED VERSION OF THIS POST IS SCHEDULED TO APPEAR IN LETTERS TO THE EDITOR IN THE NEW YORK TIMES


 ("Biden Should Finish the Wall")


I have a different idea. Tear down this wall.

Even Mr. Stephens admits it would take years to finish. Thus, it has virtually no capacity to stem the present surge.

And beyond that, after 4 years of Mr. Trump using caricatures to create hatreds and stoke fears, the wall merely stands as a symbol, a testament to America's inhumanity, a sign of moral weakness not strength.

Yes, the sudden influx of immigrants creates logistical nightmares. But that is poor excuse for turning our backs, for shutting our eyes, for locking our doors to those in dire need.

We are better than the wall. We are at our finest when we find room in our hearts, and a home in our nation for those who seek shelter from the storm.

Mr Biden, tear down this wall.

Thursday, April 1, 2021

Opening Day 2021

The snow fell lightly here this afternoon. As though it was  mocking me, an April fool, fixated on an event happening over 100 miles away.

It brought to mind Opening Day 1996, as I sat in the stands, the snow swirling while Pettite toiled. A quarter of a century past. It seems even further distant, the space between then and now overflowing with events that moved me, that changed me.

But one thing neither years nor distance could ever do was diminish my attachment to this sport and to my team. 

Baseball is in my soul. It bears an importance that I find almost impossible to fathom as I approach the beginning of my 70th year. It should long since have shrivelled, blown away by the winds of time. But it has remained steadfast companion, a part of me as real as my arms or my legs.

In the bottom of the second, the 2020 sufferings of Gary Sanchez momentarily disappeared into the left field bleachers. I did not witness this feat, as I was then in my car. But my mind followed the ball's flight and I danced next to the Yankee catcher as he circled the bases.

This past year has been unlike any other, our collective pain almost incomprehensible, our separation from the people and places that give life its meaning, bringing us all to our knees. 

My team lost today and I am living too far away to head to the Bronx on a whim. There is a sadness in each of those thoughts.

But my heart is overjoyed knowing the game I so love is ready for my full embrace. My spirit elevated by its mere presence.

It is Opening Day 2021.

And, especially this year, its so much more than that.

Monday, March 29, 2021

Who Knew Pasta Was a Fruit?

 I am in desperate need of a lifeline.

I find myself in anticipation of a similar quandry as befalls many a participant on "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire". Uncertain of the correct response to the question posed, able to reach out to someone more knowledgable to help navigate troubled waters. A phone call, an answer, defeat  deferred, maybe even fully beaten back 

To appreciate my woes, you must first recognize that tales of my ineptitude are, unfortunately, not borne of exaggeration but all too troubling reality. And it appears I have now voluntarily placed myself in a most exposed situation.

Consider that my heart is in the right place. Having been double vaccinated and more than two weeks removed from my last shot, I have volunteered to work at a food pantry. In the abstract, this sounds like a mundane task. What, you may wonder, would be causing me such angst?

As with most everything else in life, my knowledge on the subject of food could comfortably fit on the head of a pin with ample room to spare. The kitchen and I have never been close, and at times something far less. Asking me to boil water is an invitation to calamity  I have to cut a bagel with my fingers, as a knife would hold the distinct possibility of disaster 

So, the difference between a fruit and a vegetable eludes me. Asking me to pick out kale poses a  challenge similar to my being able to earn a degree in quantum physics. Carbohydrates, gluten free? Are you kidding?

The existential issue of my deficiency is unknown to those with whom I will soon be side by side. They undoubtedly anticipate that the person with them is quite able to walk and at least carry a stick of gum in their pocket simultaneously.

My son in law has provided ominous warning to me. He volunteered at the same venue last week. "Normally I don't worry about you, but this is different. I really don't see how you will be able to make it." And this from the person who most believes in my capacity.

I well understand the world is filled with important concerns. That my limitations are of exactly no meaning to the larger universe . But when that family gets home expecting to find nutritionally satisfying goods that meet not merely their needs but their requests and instead finds themselves knee deep in my world, you will understand my trepidation.

Who knew pasta was a fruit?


Sunday, March 28, 2021

Framed

 ("Stop It  with 'Gun Control'. Enough Already")

Framing is a way of directing  perspective, a cognitive three card monte. It has relevance in every aspect of politics from "China flu"(looking for a villain rather than addressing our own failings) and "mandating" the wearing of masks (an infringement on personal liberty rather than a simple measure to save countless lives) to "clean coal" (making an old problem seem to disappear) or the Ronald Reagan not so subtle denunciation of "welfare queens" (not seeking a hand up but merely a hand out). 

It is in the way products are sold, "double stuf"(not more calories but more pleasure) or donations are sought ("can you give just $10"). And yes, it is in the language we utilize to try to rein in our out of control gun problem in this nation.

But I fear the "Second Amendment" and "they are coming for your guns" manipulation of this particular issue has been so deeply ingrained in the psyche of so many in this country that it will take far more than what Mr. Bruni now suggests to materially alter thinking.

Unfortunately, instead of referring to this as a "gun safety" matter and anticipating it could be an effective way to alter positions maybe giving a double stuf Oreo for every change of heart would be a more productive way to move the needle.

Thursday, March 25, 2021

Now That I Have Both My Vaccines



1. I have the capacity to focus my attention on all the things that used to annoy me.

2. I need a different excuse for why I am cranky

3. I have to find another reason why I can't go to the supermarket to do the shopping.

4. I can stop trying to figure out how you managed to get your shot

5. I have to discover something else to obsess about

6. I will have to figure out a different cause for my hypochondria

7. I no longer have to look both ways crossing state lines 

8. I noticed all my clothes are fitting tighter

9. I need a better explanation for why I am too easily distracted to read books

10. I determined I can take 46 large steps or 52 small steps to throw out the garbage

11. I recognize that people are now avoiding me for reasons that have nothing to do with covid.

12. I came to the realization I am the same person as I was a year ago. 

13. I am afraid my wife has already come to the realization I am the same person as I was a year ago.


Wednesday, March 24, 2021

An Edited Version of This Post Appears in Letters to the Editor in the Boston Globe - HONEST!

 Before there was Dr J, before there was Air Jordan, before there was Lebron, there was Elgin. Seemingly able to float in mid-air, to wait for the defender to finish his routine before he would simply complete his mission unimpeded.

There was an easy elegance to his game and his manner. He teamed with the more frenetic Jerry West in their annual battle to the death with the leprechauns from Boston. Always a dollar short.

It is hard for me to fathom how long ago this all transpired, how many generations of greatness have since arrived. But Elgin's skills were timeless, as if he could still today hang in endless mastery high above the lane.

While Elgin Baylor may be no more, greatness is never gone. And I am sure he would relish one more crack at the Celtics.

Tuesday, March 23, 2021

Our American Pandemic

 ("What to Know About the Colorado Grocery Store Shooting")


Over this past year death has come so rapidly that our brains can't possibly process, nor our hearts respond to every loss with equal compassion. We have been overwhelmed and understandably numbed. Then the guns come out, the bodies pile up in the blink of an eye and death reveals to us the faces of those suddenly taken.

Those lost in Georgia and now in Colorado are victims to a different insanity than the one that has stalked us for a year now. These tragedies not because we had no cure but because we had no political courage. Guns proliferating as a perpetual pandemic of our own doing.The shots this week not meant to stop our horror but to reenforce it. 

And yet we know from our history that tomorrow our response will become muted, this disease allowed to mutate, each new variant a momentary horror we recoil from and then merely catalogue. Death from these weapons of mass destruction but numbers on a page.

This sickness home grown and spread. Our American pandemic.

Monday, March 22, 2021

Troubled State of Mind

 These folks all went astray

On their holiday in this neighborhood
Party hard in Miami Beach cause they're in the mood
I'm making my exit 
From this third degree crime
I'm in a troubled state of mind

Seen all the police cars
Right outside the bars with a million teens
The signs of mayhem all about this scene
I've got to be leaving
No poetry here, no rhyme
I'm in a troubled state of mind

Its not been easy as you lived each day
With no touch, all alone in your room
Now you don't care the laws you break
You need this time, you're on the news
But there's a reality
That won't disappear even though you try
It's here on the streets there's just no way to hide
So I'm taking the first plane, waving you good bye
I'm in a troubled state of mind 

Saturday, March 20, 2021

Here Is A Sneak Preview of The New Yorker "CONTRIBUTORS" Page Featuring ME


Winston Brown ("My Life Behind Bars," p.29) was wrongly imprisoned for 32 years, during which he authored 14 best selling books including "Time Is A Social Construct", "The Myth of Winston Churchill" and "Cooking for Dummies."

Jennifer Sanborn ("Born Yesterday," p. 21) has been the New York Times managing editor for International for 16 years and a four star general in her spare time.

Thomas Highsmith  (Poem, p. 44) was home schooled and produced his first of more than 30 books of poetry ("Thomas and the Runaway Prostitute") at age 9, the year he became the youngest U.S. Poet Laureate.

Zephyr (Fiction, p. 51) graduated from Harvard with seven majors in 2020. His third novel ("The Sound of Your Heart in My Chest") is due out later this year.

Tennison Harvey (Books, p.71) has been a staff writer since 2004. His most recent book is "Why Oprah Is Rich and You Are Not."

Cassidy Jones (Puzzles and Games Dept.) founded the University of Crossword in 2019, which now has sixteen million subscribers.

Caroline Kennedy ("Room at the Top", p. 33) is a former ambassador to Japan, a lawyer, an author of two books on civil liberties, the soul surviving child of John F. Kennedy and Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis and an extremely good dancer.

Nathaniel Woodside (Cover) is in the middle of his most ambitious undertaking, spray painting every building ever associated with Donald Trump.

The Artist Never Known As (Music, p.69) won a record 19 Grammys in 2019 before quitting the business to start his own education company, "What's it to you!?."

Robert S. Nussbaum (Shouts and Murmurs, p.25) has lived a pretty long time without accomplishing anything of note.

PS THIS WAS INTENDED TO BE A SPOOF ON THE PRETENTIOUSNESS OF THE NEW YORKER, WHO "QUALIFIES" FOR CONSIDERATION OF PUBLICATION BY THEM, AND THE SELF DEPRECATING ABSURDITY OF A "REGULAR" PERSON TRYING TO GAIN ADMISSION INTO THIS CLUB

I AM NOT CERTAIN, FROM THE PRIVATE COMMENTS I RECEIVED, THAT THE ATTEMPTED HINTS IN THE FICTIONAL BIOGRAPHIES (APART FROM MOST OF CAROLINE KENNEDY'S) WERE SUFFICIENTLY LUDICROUS

TOO CLEVER BY HALF ON THIS ONE 

PPS - EVEN MY PS IS APPARENTLY UNCLEAR- I AM NOT SCHEDULED TO BE PUBLISHED IN THE NEW YORKER - PLEASE, NO MORE CONGRATULATORY WISHES - 

PPPS- MY EXPLANATION IS ALMOST LONGER THAN MY ORIGINAL POST

The Year of Living Dangerously

 It began quickly and then it never ended

This feeling of the loss of equilibrium

This belief that every door handle was bathed in danger

That the communal garbage room was not to be trusted

That the grocery store was housing not only fruits and vegetables but the possibility of death

Every sentence beginning with a question mark

Every person on the street greeted with suspicion

Every day an invitation to disaster

Each package marked "open with concern"

Our hands, our mouth, our eyes now enemies

Each sneeze a statement, each cough an exclamation mark, each fever a scream

The calendar marking our survival

We sanitized ourselves, removing everything, stripped naked of our intimacies, hibernating in our worry

Along the way we lost so much that at times we wondered if anything was left

Life interrupted almost beyond recognition

But now we stand on the precipice 

Vaccinated against our worst fears

Able to imagine once again

The playground swings no longer walled off in yellow tape like a crime scene

The shuttered doors now peaking open

The faces long covered in doubt now filled with hope 

Our path no longer strewn with explosives

Our dreams no longer off limits

Our endless year of living dangerously now ending

Not yet but soon, maybe tomorrow

For the longest time there was no tomorrow

For the longest time it was the longest time

For the longest time, time stopped

But now it is a new dawn