Friday, December 31, 2010

The Saving Face Book

("From Twins, Second Thoughts") It is the follow up to the tale of Mr. Zuckerberg, and it could be called the "Saving Face" book. As the Winklevoss twins are pictured, Olympian in stature, and the value of their settlement is now estimated at $140 million, it is hard to feel much sympathy for their plight (clearly, empathy would not be an applicable sentiment).

When the NY Times is advising that nearly 8.9 million people obtained unemployment benefits for the most recently reported week, the stories involving those of great wealth wrestling over unfathomable amounts of money seems obscene. Let us first become a nation of the fully employed, and then we will have time to turn our attention to righting the wrongs suffered by the rich and famous.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

The Storm from Within

It was the night after Christmas and all through the house not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse. Unfortunately, for the 2 central characters in this almost true tale, they were not in that house. Rather, they were alone (together) in the dark of night, in the barn that sat in the remote area behind the main residence. Or at least they thought they were alone.

Christmas had come and gone in this sleepy New England town. The next day, with all of Santa's presents unwrapped and in varying states of use or neglect, nature brought it's own gift: a blizzard.

The snow started in earnest about dinner time. It was the type of storm where footprints disappeared in an instant. A strong wind tossed the flakes to and fro. Neither man nor beast would venture out in this weather. Or so our 2 central characters believed.

These 2 young women had been coming to this barn for years. As teenagers they befriended 2 boys, brothers. Through the years, each and every winter, they met in this place. This barn had always served as their home away from home. It was a place where they had gathered to party with others. They knew every inch of this space and every noise that could possibly emanate from inside these walls. Or at least that is what they thought.

The house itself sat far off the main road. It was an old Victorian, sturdy and regal. It was here that the mother, father and younger sister of the 2 boys, were sleeping comfortably while the storm raged about them. There were no streetlights in this neighborhood. On this night, no sound of automobiles could be heard. There were no signs of life outside this barn. Well, none of which the 2 young women were aware.

At about midnight, the 2 brothers trudged the 100 feet back to the main house. A few steps from the barn, they disappeared from view. The swirling snow had snapped them up. It was as if they never existed.

The barn had been built well after the main house. Years ago, it's owners decided it would be converted into living space for their children. It was here that they could entertain, and it was here, in the loft above, that any guests could spend the evening. Now, the light in the downstairs of this barn was extinguished, and the 2 young women lay in the king sized bed, hearing nothing but the sounds of this building and the howling of the wind.

They both found sleep to be elusive. There was something not right in this place, on this night. They had never been frightened out here, not for one second. Tonight was different.

Suddenly, it sounded like the door opened. Both of the young women froze. They stopped breathing, so they could listen. In the dark nothing could be seen. But nothing certainly appeared to be something this evening.

From the perch of the loft, much of the lower region of the barn was hidden underneath. If someone was in here, even in the light of day, he could escape viewing if he chose the right hiding place. Tonight he could be hiding in plain sight.

The 2 young women fumbled to find their cellphones. They would call the main house, and tell the 2 boys what was happening, or maybe happening. The cell phones were not working. In this remote spot, on this night, in this blizzard, their contact to the outside world was gone. Dead.

One of these 2 young women was sure she heard movement from below. She feared the worst. The other thought she was about to throw up. Panic gripped them tightly and threatened to take away their reason. And maybe more than that. Thoughts of disaster filled their minds.

There was that noise again. This barn, that had served them so well for so many years, now held them captive.

In hushed and frightened tones, these 2 young women decided it could not end this way, not cowering under the covers. They would face their enemy, whoever or whatever it was. A small lamp sat on a table next to the bed. Fumbling in the darkness, a hand reached for the lamp. The light flickered, but then turned on.

The 2 young women looked at each other, hoping to see some small sign of courage to latch onto. Holding hands, they ventured forth.

They descended, slowly and as silently as they could, into the main room. Where was that noise? It was quiet, too quiet maybe. The door was wide open.

These 2 young women, scared in ways they could barely imagine, headed towards that door. If they could make it out of this room, the house, and all that it had to offer, was only yards away.

Suddenly, from out of nowhere, the sound appeared again. Was this how it was to end?

These 2 young women reached the doorway and leaped into the waiting darkness. The storm had covered any tracks made earlier, and there was no sign that anyone had come or gone from this place. They were now in full sprint. The house had to be steps away, if only they could see it. Safety was nearly in their grasp. And then......

In the end, the only intruder was Old Man Winter. For you see, the fears these 2 young women experienced, lay inside each and every one of us. Just waiting for the next storm, the next barn, the next dark night and the howling of the wind.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Food for Thought

It was the noise that caught my attention. The conversation was loud, and grew progressively louder. The laughter was loud, and it too escalated in intensity and volume throughout the course of the evening. It was hard to distinguish whether it was the wine or the company. It mattered not.

Through this little ski patrol, in this little town, with its little mountain, new friendships have developed. As the pasta carbonera cooked, and then cooked some more, the stories of lives past and present flowed. I learned of upbringings and ancestors, of travels and travails, of meetings and departures. There were coincidences and similarities. There were bad jokes and more bad jokes. There were conversations in small numbers, and discussions as a group. There was something always to keep the mind from wandering too far.

As the evening moved forward, and the intimate details and thoughts emerged, the caveat was heard with increasing frequency. "This", we were advised, "is not to go beyond the confines of this room". What was being said was being said in this time and place, for the consumption of only those who heard and saw. There was to be no recounting of tales, no hearsay recollections. And so, you get no details from me.

I once viewed the Berkshires as a purely collateral part of my existence. No connections of consequence could take place there. But I have learned that pre-conceived notions are only that. The bonds formed this night flowed as easily and naturally as wine from a bottle.

I do not know when this group will next convene, though I hope it is not too distant. For me, the evening will long be remembered for all it revealed and all it offered. There was a joy and a camaraderie unexpected in scope and intensity. While the carbonera may have been why we came, we certainly left with much more than full stomachs.


It is true (" A Return to Normalcy") that the Republicans in Congress did seem a little less skittish during the lame duck session. After all, the logic goes, they now own at least part of the pie, and nobody gets to cut a slice unless they get a taste. But to confuse what just happened with a return to anything is, I fear, more wishful thinking than reality.

What did the Republicans do, but compel a massive entitlement package for the wrong end of the financial spectrum before they would even consider much lesser "concessions" on other legislation? What did they grudgingly agree to but the continuation of the Start treaty that their party had long championed, or abandonment of opposition to the repeal of the "don't ask, don't tell" that virtually all in the military, who they looked to for guidance, said was long since without purpose or justification?

We know there are big battles looming in the coming months. I am skeptical that this is now the dawn of a new era of cooperation based on the pre- Christmas presents, handed out by the party of Boehner, Cantor et als. When there is a looming threat of a government shutdown, and there will be one, come back to me then. Let's see whether the Republicans are willing to offer anything to eat but the crumbs.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

The Snowstorm

There is a wonderful quiet to it. A stillness draws my complete attention. Footsteps make no sound and a peacefulness descends. It is the beauty of the snowstorm.

I venture out into every so often just to confirm that it is real. The flakes surround me, encompass me. They are everywhere at once. There is a grace to their movement. There is a dignity about them. Together forming a blanket that envelopes my sight and my imagination. We are in our own universe.

I peer out the window. I fear I will be disappointed, but I am not. I am thankful.

I will wake up periodically in darkness. I will look into the streetlights and strain to confirm that the snow has decided to keep me company throughout the night.

In the morning I will fly down the stairs and out into the world to play with my new present. I will measure the depth with the legs of my pants and proclaim the greatness of it all.

And I will view a world that is unlike anything I have seen before. There will be a freshness and a vitality that was not there yesterday. There will be an importance to this day.

I am happy tonight knowing that as this snowstorm continues I am no different than the little child peering out the window thinking the same thoughts as me.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Bigfoot, Small Brain

You must understand that I am essentially an idiot. I recall very little, comprehend even less, and observe nothing. My life is filled with round pegs and square holes. The things I can accomplish would fill up just about as many pages as the book on Jewish NBA stars of the 21st century. Thus, on the first day of this ski season, when my attempts to put on my ski boots proved useless, and it looked like I was trying to squeeze a size 8 into the baby's first booties, one thing was clear: these boots were not mine.

When I first began to ski, back in the days of ski straps and boots that barely went over the ankles, the stress of putting my feet properly into my equipment almost drove me from the sport. By the time I figured how to undo this buckle, open that up, put the foot at just the right angle, sit not too high or too low, and push like I was in labor, I felt like I was in labor. Utterly exhausted and in pain even before I made the first turn on the slopes, skiing was not so much an adventure as it was a job.

But, thankfully, things changed over time. First came the rear entry boots which provided no support but were easy to slip on and off. Then, as the technology improved, I was able to master the art of actually putting one foot at a time into a boot without having to exert enough energy to want to take a nap. So, when this ski season began earlier this month, the last thing I was worried about was whether the boots would cause me unhappiness.

Thus, as I sat in the patrol room bootless and disconsolate, Jo suggested that back at the house, in another boot bag, my friends had to be waiting anxiously to begin their season.

And so I left the mountain and returned to begin the search. Much like Goldilocks, I determined that this one was too big, this one too tight, and so forth and so on. Then, I opened up Richie's ski bag and the boots reached out and grabbed me. They went on my feet as easily as long lost friends reuniting.

For the last 2 weekends, I comfortably slid down the hill, giving little thought to any part of my equipment except the skis which did not always turn how and where I commanded. But that is a separate tale with no possible happy ending.

Last night we arrived at the ski house, Richie joining us for the first time in several weeks. One of the evening's activities is readying ourselves for the next morning's trip to the slopes. Suddenly, in a slightly animated tone, Richie advised that the boots which I had been enjoying so thoroughly were not mine. The ones I had tossed aside that first day were in fact my long time companions. How, he wondered, could I have forgotten what the boots looked or felt like that I had skied on for close to 100 days? There is no good answer to that question.

And so, I turned my attention back to the offending footwear. I knew I would have to go to war again, and this time find a way to emerge victorious.

In the morning I headed out of the house, determined and worried. I took the keys, put the bags in the car. Then, Jo called out and told me that we never use the car I was loading and that the skis were in the other vehicle, like every other day of past winters. Some days are even worse than normal.

At the mountain , I unpacked my bag and stared at my enemies. They did not seem concerned. However, I called over the best possible re-enforcement, my wife. She pulled and pushed, twisted and turned until the boot would have done anything to escape her grasp. Suddenly, it loosened it's grip on my foot, and my sole touched down, like a gentle moon landing. One small step for man.

We now add to the enormous list of items for which I require the assistance of my beleaguered bride, putting on my ski boots.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Eagles 38 - Giants 31

This one had to be described with adjectives and adverbs as nouns and verbs alone would not do it justice.

This one happened so quickly that it was virtually more than my mind could absorb.

This one almost made me pull the car to the side of the road.

This one was the reason that statistics were invented.

This one led to incarcerations.

This one created babies.

This one hurt all over.

This one could have been the one.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

A Holiday Present

(" With New Tax Bill, A Turning Point for the President")

Is this supposed to be a stocking stuffer?

I know we want to be grateful at this time of year but do we count our blessings for: extending unemployment benefits which should have been a moral imperative; cutting payroll taxes which will open the discussion for slashing of long term essential programs; and allowing monies needed to fuel the government and propel the recovery to instead remain in the pockets of the few?

I don't want to be the one to say we were all just handed a lump of coal, but really couldn't Santa have slid down the chimney with a better present than the Great Compromise of 2010?

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

I Demand an Investigation

I swear I could hear King George yelling from the great beyond. As Cliff Lee headed down the road, turning his back on pinstripes and dollars, the axis of the baseball world tilted towards Philadelphia. As a lifelong Yankee fan, I demand an investigation.

This is the time of year when everyone is supposed to be grousing about the inequity of it all. Once again, the story goes, the Yankee green has the rest of the world seeing red. Now it is just a Philadelphia shade of red.

Sure, we missed some along the way. The great Greg Maddux shunned us and teamed up with Glavine and Smoltz in Atlanta. That one hurt a lot. But now Lee joins Oswalt, Halladay and Hamels in a foursome that should be nicknamed "piling on". This is something only we are allowed to do.

So we have an infield whose combined annual salary is just short of the budget for the war in Afghanistan. So we retain every star in our galaxy because it is in our galaxy. Mariano and Derek belong to us. Don't touch our guys, and don't stand in our way when we want what we want because we deserve it.

I am asking the commissioner to intercede on our behalf. I don't want to go into spring training with the thought that we will have to be lucky to win the World Series this year. That is something for the rest of the world to contemplate. New York is well, New York. That is all I need to tell you, Mr. Selig. Just find some reason why this is illegal, immoral or at the least intolerable.

Monday, December 13, 2010


My dad passed away 31 years ago today. I almost never hear mention of him these days. Most of his friends have passed away, or don't live in the area anymore. My mom has long since lost the ability to recall the details of the 34 years that she and my dad spent together. She now only occasionally speaks in oblique references, inserting 'him' into present day events.

I find myself looking forward to days like today so that I can bring him back to life, if only for the time it takes for me to recall him on my computer screen. It permits me to strike up a conversation, even for the briefest of moments, to let everyone know that my dad was here and made his mark upon this earth.

I have written to you on past anniversaries. I have told of my dad's exploits, of his passions and of how he has shaped my life.I understand that years can have a way of taking away the smudges, and leave only clean images, but my dad did not have to be scrubbed clean. There was not one instant in my life with my dad where I was ever ashamed of him, or unhappy with him. His presence was always something that made my day better.

I know that human beings are a fallible lot, and that mistakes are part of the overall equation. But not my dad. To regret nothing that was, but only that it couldn't still be is one of the great joys of my life.

I want my children, and their children, to remember someone they never knew. I want them to believe in the fairy tale and know, that at least for me, it was, and will forever be, the truth. I want them to know that greatness exists. I want them to strive to be the best. I want them to strive to be Richard Jay Nussbaum.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Words Unspoken

He had not spoken with his father in 2 years. As the world of Mark Madoff collapsed around him, one can only imagine what was left unsaid.

At some point yesterday Bernie Madoff must have received the news. The tentacles of Madoff's wrongdoing had just claimed another victim. But this was not just someone, this was his oldest son. And this was not a discussion of a financial disaster. This was the end of a life.

At times along the journey of destruction, Madoff must have contemplated what would happen if everything went wrong. He must have weighed and considered, and made decisions as to what he could accept as collateral damage. He must have known that bodies would be strewn along the way. But not this one.

Friday, December 10, 2010

The Breakup


There are no more questions left to answer
There are no more paths left to pursue
The less we say the better
The less we try to do

This is our no more breakdown, break-up
This is our no more put down, wake-up
This is where beginning meets the end
This is where broken starts to mend

We were but now we're not
We could but never did
We thought but then it wasn't
We seeked but then we hid

This is our no more breakdown, break-up
This is our no more put down, wake-up
This is where beginning meets the end
This is where broken starts to mend

So let's leave bad enough alone
And hold on to what was good
Let's do better as we part
Then doing together ever could

This is our no more breakdown, break-up
This is our no more put down, wake-up
This is where beginning meets the end
This is where broken starts to mend

Wednesday, December 8, 2010


It was 30 years ago today, when his voice was silenced.

Imagine, from the sky above us, his words could be heard this morning.

Imagine what he would say as he viewed countries around the globe who are willing to sacrifice lives in the name of nothing worth dying for.

Imagine what he would say about religion as he watched our own country show such outright hatred for the Muslims in our midst.

Imagine what he would say about the powerful in this country and all their allies who continue to gather all the possessions, their greed without boundaries, and watch all the pain and hunger of others without any thought of a brotherhood of man.

We would surely say, in today's world, 30 years after the death of John Lennon, that he was a dreamer. We would say that the world does not live as one and it is hard to imagine, in this time and place, that his vision could become a reality. I imagine John Lennon would be sad today to see where the last 30 years have taken us.


Can't we leave Sarah Palin out of the discussion, just this one time ("Pass the Caribou Stew")? Just for now can we stop finding reasons to metaphorically move President Obama into her cross-hairs? We are trying to digest the pros and cons of the latest White House compromise, and the last thing we want or need is another Palin sighting. Let her, at least for the moment, go off to the wilds by herself (and with those who will follow her any where she goes). Just for today, you didn't have to put a gun in the hand of the woman who couldn't shoot straight. Just for today, let me chew on matters without adding in the flavor of Palin.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

The Battlefield

As we survey the battlefield, the destruction seems overwhelming. The stimulus package, weak and broken up to begin with, now lays almost motionless and broken down. Financial regulation, emasculated even as it emerged, has been cast aside like an annoying bug, and its opponents stand on top of the carcass, unscathed and unaffected. Health care reform almost died in childbirth and now breathes weakly, hoping it can survive future surgery. Now, to the rubble, we add the promised end of the Bush era tax cuts for the wealthy and the reincarnation of a meaningful estate tax. As our economy wobbles, barely able to stand, the carnage escalates. War is ugly, and this war has left most of our country bloodied and beaten.

Sunday, December 5, 2010


You can feel the sadness and the desperation in each of the stories. Each one unique in its pain, but all merely part of a whole. As friends and relatives watch helplessly, the ravages of old age take a mother or father down physical and mental paths that lead nowhere good. We all suffer alone, and we all suffer together.

The past few days have been filled with tales of troubled children trying to cope with failing parents. Surgeries to slow time, caretakers to tend to the most basic of needs, wrenching decisions to take away independence. Each told with an ' I know you can understand what this means'. Each told in a way that says 'I want there to be dignity and peace for my parent and I wish I knew what I could do to make that happen'.

Life is cruel in its certainty. For some, it is gone in a missed heartbeat. For others, it is an awkward dance, stumbling and falling to the finish line. It brings to mind images of the long distance runner who has become disoriented and unable to control his thoughts or his limbs as he tries to remember how to get from here to there. Like a drunk, he crawls, he falls, he meanders, each step becoming its own battle.

While we all understand the inevitability of it, in our universes we never think that now is destined to be that moment. When a life does start to disintegrate the immediacy of it can be overwhelming.

I have been part of the story involving my mom for several years. What I once found unspeakably unacceptable, is now merely part of what is. Over time, I seem to adjust, because I must. If it was only this bad, and never beyond this, but there is always a 'beyond this'. Then I am forced to recalibrate what is, and what must be.

And so, in a sad way, I become grateful each day for what remains.

Friday, December 3, 2010


David Brooks' "Vision" is not a dream, but a pure fantasy. It is a suggestion to the President to once more be swayed to abandon his core belief based on a promise that tomorrow will be a different day. Republicans, in the world according to Brooks, are thisclose to being your partners in moving this country forward.

We have been taught,over and over, by word and deed, that these parties will not be joining hands during the upcoming term. The Bush tax rates for all will shortly be extended, not because this will lead to a land of milk and honey but only as a means to the end of trying to allow any governing to occur during this lame duck session of Congress. It is not a dream, but an endless nightmare of obstructionism that will spur the Democrats to once more fail to draw a line in the sand.

We should not be fooled by the vision of Mr. Brooks. It is but a mirage.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010


"Unfinished Business" - "One major priority" (in the waning weeks of the current administration) is to "complete a task nobly begun" reaching "an agreement on deeper cuts in Russia and US nuclear arms"... "Washington can afford to be accommodating if it can verify the changes Moscow is proposing."... The President can "leave no finer legacy than to complete the task he has begun - diminishing the nuclear danger."

"For America's Health" - The President "promised to deliver worthy health care reform legislation to the Democratic Congress in his first hundred days. Victory assured... During the campaign the idea was stretched almost beyond recognition." Congress and the public will have to understand first, how (the plan) is supposed to work. That's the subject of this editorial. An editorial tomorrow will discuss what legislation is needed to make it happen."

"The Military Can Successfully Integrate Gays"- "The Armed Forces can adjust to openly gay and lesbian personnel." versus "Soldiers won't fight as effectively for leaders they can't respect and most soldiers will not respect a homosexual".

"Sexual Politics, The Real Thing" - "Two Sundays ago, I stumbled to the door to retrieve my Washington Post, and like most Washingtonians, scanned the headlines to see what was happening- a local euphemism meaning "What politician has been caught doing something outrageous or disgraceful?"

"We Are Not Amused" - "It is just foolish to speak plainly on a cellular phone because everyone knows technogeeks listen in".

"Buy Up the Guns" - "The Administration should explore whether we might be able to buy peace and humanitarian relief"- "If that doesn't work, then send troops".

If you think the above is a preview of tomorrow's headlines in the NY Times, you are mistaken. 18 years ago today, December 2, 1992 the above words appeared on the editorial and op-ed pages of the Times. As the first President Bush was being escorted out of office, and the young William Jefferson Clinton and his bride Hillary were ascending, the country wrestled with how to reach agreement on matters like nuclear arms control, health care reform, gays in the military, outrageous politicians, unauthorized access to private communications, and foreign involvement of our troops.

I stumbled upon these parallels by unwrapping a dish that these pages had protected through the Clinton administration, W's misadventures and the first 2 years of a mountain of troubles for Obama. While the print had yellowed and the words had begun to fade, time had barely diminished the relevance of the content.

While we anguish over the choices we make today, and those who make decisions for us, is the lesson learned that good or bad, wrong or right, we are destined, or doomed, to recycle our problems?

I intend to save tomorrow's paper and open it up again on December 2, 2028. Hopefully, it won't still seem like everything old is news again.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

The Babysitters

The back door had barely shut when we heard a thud and then a scream. It was coming from the den and it could mean only one thing: our babysitting had gotten off to a very bad start.

Our good friends were away for the weekend which gave Jo and me the opportunity and excuse to serve as surrogate grandparents for the evening. With the shiner that appeared to be forming underneath our ward's eye, our substitute career looked like it would be one and done.

I understand that mothers and fathers face minor disasters every few minutes of every day. But the baby had already gone to sleep before his parents left for their night out, and thus our responsibility was only to protect the health and safety of one little 4 year old.

Jo ran into the kitchen to find ice to help with the swelling. She came back with an icepack formed to look like a friendly face. The next few minutes were devoted to finding some way to convince the now calm tiny person sitting next to me that she should hold this freezing object directly against her eye. It was soon apparent that she could out-logic me and thus would have to come to this decision through her own devices.

Luckily, she determined that it was in her best interest to treat her wound in the manner suggested. Within a few minutes, the swelling subsided and our role as guardian seemed once more secure.

While our young friend normally had an 8 PM bedtime, that would not be the reality of this evening. As the movie she was now watching in its entirety for the second time in several hours did not end until close to 9 PM, it was only then that the next psychological battle would begin. We searched for just the right bedtime story, which turned out to be an old one involving Mickey and Minnie, Donald and Pluto. Somehow, she agreed that only one book would suffice.

When the story ended, the genius that resided inside her tiny head, surfaced. "Sometimes I have bad dreams. Sometimes I don't fall to sleep. Sometimes there are monsters." My words were soothing and I assured her I would be downstairs with Jo if she needed us. I tip-toed away and readied for the inevitable. It came within seconds. "I had a bad dream" she advised.

Jo prepared a make shift bed on one of the big chairs. "Lie down and close your eyes". Within a few minutes, the sound of gentle snoring was coming from that chair. The room was now dark, and Jo didn't dare turn on the light to read, for fear of the possible results.

A dark room, the fireplace blazing, and soon there were 2 people asleep in this room. Luckily, Jo managed to keep her eyes open until the return of the now refreshed parents at about 10:30 PM.

When we told of the evening's events, the response was knowing smiles and laughter. For us, it was all new and scary. To them, it was what yesterday was like and what tomorrow would certainly be. The baby started to cry from his crib, just as we put our coats on to leave. I didn't offer to go up. I decided to leave well enough alone.

Friday, November 26, 2010

The Songwriter

Paint me a picture inside my head
Show me the colors of life
Tell me, is anger a deep, dark red
And love a transcendent white

Speak of the cheating boyfriend's last chance
Or fears of a lonely wife
Talk to me of the very first dance
Or morning's translucent light

Weave me an image out of your words
Make it all beauty, or not
Bring me the dirty truth's that you heard
Or lies incandescent hot

I want to believe in angels and more
Feel passion's forever embrace
Make me cry out, forgotten and poor
In search of kindness and grace

Let me hear secrets only you know
Whisper them softly to me
Raise up my eyes to heaven's glow
And touch visions you alone see

You who write songs, write songs for my eyes
Write songs for my heart, my soul
Write songs of dreams, hellos and goodbyes
Write songs of the broken and whole

Paint me a picture inside my head
Show me the colors of life
Tell me, is anger a deep, dark red
And love a transcendent white

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Giving Thanks

This year, I give special thanks to:

1) The bicycle - At an age when "newly discovered" normally requires an anxious trip to the doctor, I found myself taking pleasure in pedaling through the Berkshires and around Manhattan. Does this mean spandex is in my near future?

2) Sarah Palin, Glenn Beck, John Boehner and the rest of the gang who couldn't think straight - Even as you try to 'refudiate' virtually everything I believe in, as you point, gesticulate and pretzel logic, as you strive to make stupid the new smart, you keep my mind active and my blog posts flowing.

3) Yankee Stadium - It is there that I find the pure joy of walking through the turnstiles with my children, knowing that I will spend the next hours happy, even if my team loses, the weather is bad, and the game drags. However, next year, just once could I actually be there to see victory for the home team while a gentle warm breeze blows across my face and a conclusion is reached in less time than a Congressional filibuster.

There is so much I have to be thankful for, but the rest I will hold for private moments. Yes, there are certain thoughts I do not share with you.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010


When I began reading the paper this morning, I decided that our government, and the New York Times, were playing an April Fool's joke on all of us. Then I checked the calendar and came to the sickening conclusion that what could only pass for bad fiction, was in fact an even worse reality. Can it be that we have really been in peace talks with a fraud ("Taliban Leader in Secret Talks Was an Imposter")?

Move over Clifford Irving. Step aside Michaele and Tareq Salahi. Get off that plane, Frank Abagnale, Jr. There is a new king of fake in town. His name is (or more accurately, is not) Mullah Akhtar Muhammad Mansour.

I don't understand this. I thought we were able to tell what each of the Taliban leaders was eating for breakfast. If we don't have a thorough and comprehensive knowledge of the workings of the enemy, is it too much to hope that we at least know what they look like? How can we aim our smart bombs at them if we can't even tell which ones we are actually trying to kill?

We are now almost a decade in to the Afghanistan struggle. We appear to be wandering the mountains without a clue of how to get out. As money pours out to a phony second in command, we place our hopes for peace on what turns out to be nothing but a mirage.

This war has been increasingly hard to justify, as we count lives lost or damaged beyond repair in pursuit of an indecipherable goal. It just got harder.

Monday, November 22, 2010

The Last Day with My Friend

A friend of mine passed away at the end of the summer. He struggled for months to try to overcome an illness that ultimately neither he, nor modern medicine could conquer.

There was no funeral service, no grave, no ceremony. As he wished, my friend was cremated.

Years ago we bonded in a common love for a little mountain in Massachusetts. In truth, we may have also shared a common love of my wife. My friend's wife often advised that, in the event of my demise, her husband indicated he would immediately divorce her and marry Joanne. But that is not the focus of this tale.

The morning was cold and drizzly, raw for mid-October in the Berkshires. Jo and I, along with several others, met, as planned, at ski patrol. Some dressed in rain gear, all were readied with gloves, hoods and other garments designed to combat the elements.

The parking lot was nearly empty. The patrol room we entered had not yet awoken for the coming ski season. It was full of clutter, unlike the way my friend had seen it for over 3 decades.

Images of other times in this room came flooding into my mind, and I am certain to all those gathered. For some it may have been of my friend addressing the urgent needs of those lying in pain, or maybe putting on his patroller's jacket as he prepared to meet the cold awaiting him outside the door. It could have been of his observing quietly as the events of the moment swirled around him, or as his wife told her tales. Maybe he was emerging from behind the door of the patrol director's office as he finished up a conversation with his good friend for whom he served as both sounding board and sometime mentor. I always pictured him, much like my wife, in the role of the sherpa, in charge of dealing with almost everything related to readying not only himself, but his other half for the day's events on the slopes.

The colors of the fall were all around. As we looked up towards our destination, we saw the oranges, yellows, reds, browns and greens that our little mountain offered as gifts to those assembled.. We all headed to the chairlift, which was started up for the sole purpose of taking us, and the remains of our friend, toward the heavens.

In groups of threes or fours, with flowers, booze, shovel, prayers, our thoughts, and one small box we ascended.

When the lift could take us no further, it gently stopped. We all stood as one, on familiar ground but in a very unfamiliar scene. The white of winter that had always been our partner at this spot was no where in evidence. Instead, we huddled against the damp and cold and discussed where we were heading.

This was where he had stood guard so often, waiting for the call to come to the aid of someone in distress. It was here he also met up with friends and fellow patrollers to begin a joyous descent down these slopes . It was here that so much of what was important to him resided.

Finally, a decision was made and we all walked along a trail that our friend had taken literally thousands of times over the past decades. After a short while, we halted. This was where he, and we, wanted his journey to end.

A small hole was dug just off to the side of our path. A portion of what had once been my friend was gently placed inside. A bottle of his favorite scotch was opened, and a shot or two poured where he lay. A prayer of thanks was said, a poem was recited and then we all put flowers on top of our friend's now covered new home.

Then we were done. It was short and it was peaceful, and it was wonderful.

What better resting place in death then in a place you loved during life. Where better to be?

While this little mountain in Massachusetts has always held a special place in my heart, it will forever more have a deeper meaning. Each time I pass my friend along the way, I will stop to ask him how his day is going. I hope he will tell me to wait a moment so he can snap into his skis and we can take a run. See you on the hill my friend.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

What Ifs

As we use our hands-on approach to combat terrorism, and grope our way to try to find solutions, I try to envision a different world. I know we don't reside in a land of counter-factuals, but what if:

The hanging chads had hung in the favor of Gore in those days after the November 2000 election? Or

The voices inside W's head had not told him to attack and attack again? Or

There had been the institution of a draft that required that not only their child, but yours and mine were at risk?

Would we still be looking for the inner secrets of the babies and the grandmothers as they prepared to take flight? Would we still be residing in a place of ever escalating fears? Would we still be subjected to the same level of psychological and physical invasions that we must now daily endure?

In retrospect, we seem to have made so many bad decisions that has led us to the screening room. If we had taken an alternate path would we now be stronger or weaker?

Those who perpetrated the wrongs of 9/11 could not possibly have envisioned the havoc that would consume our minds and bodies nearly a decade later. They have succeeded in creating a world where we are forced now to look inside the heads, and pants of each of those who come before us to assure that their hearts and their bodies are not wired for our destruction.

Terrorists seem to have grown more resolute, not less, over the years. I only ask what could we have done differently, what could we have done better. I do not pretend that the questions I raise are answers. I only wonder what if.

Friday, November 19, 2010

How Do You Spell Team (with an I)

In response to Paul Krugman's "Axis of Depression"-

Success in failure. This is the guiding principle for Republican response to Democratic initiatives. Forget that most of the emaciated remains of the health care bill mirror the earlier Republican plan of Mitt Romney. Disregard the fact that the Start treaty follows through on a concept championed by none other than the Gipper himself. If they seek it, we don't. What we have is a U.S. with no us in it. Self interest is not defined by the Republicans as what is good for the country but rather what is good for their party.

It is inconceivable that Mr. Bernanke could be stunned by negative reaction in our midst to what one would otherwise consider standard economic reaction to try to reverse the trend towards depression. We have watched for over 2 years while time after time the illogical has masqueraded as political philosophy.

It is a harsh time out there, made more brutal when we have to fight not only those from without but those from within. It is a day when the line between friend and foe has blurred. It is a moment when governing has become almost impossible.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Hocus Pocus

To the Editor:

Like the magician who tries to convince us he can pull a rabbit out of a hat, Brooks waves his wand in "The Two Cultures," hoping that he can make us believe in an illusion that he has created.

The reality is that liberals are the ones who respond both to the concerns of the people and of the marketplace. It is the conservatives who robotically subscribe to principles like the unregulated free market and the trickle down effect, even as these economic theories are proven wrong time and again, and businesses and individuals in the real world suffer. We are not in this place we now find ourselves because liberals are uncaring and doctrinaire; we're here because they haven't done enough to translate their empathy into action, or their sound economic science into policy. And Brooks' cynical dismissal of science is the same old tactic that many conservatives, faced with a mountain of evidence against their own theories, are using to stall real progress on environmental issues as well as economic ones.

Despite his smoke and mirrors, I, for one, am not fooled by Brooks' hocus-pocus.

-Richie Jay (with some help from dad)

Monday, November 15, 2010

Leaving Home


Several days ago I left my wife. Joanne was not only unperturbed, she actuallly sent me away with a kiss, a smile and a wholehearted request that I enjoy myself.

This story began when I received a call from my friend, Fred. He asked if I would go away with him. I am married almost 34 years and this was a decision that for many men would come with untold consequences. For some there would be screaming. For many there might be tears. Some would not even mention it though their heart and soul might want it. But not me.

So last Friday morning, very early, with bags packed, I headed out the door to the waiting taxi. Over the days after Fred had reached out for me, the number who would embark on this adventure had grown to 4.

It is now not quite 6 AM on this our third day together. I can hear Steve's quiet snore several feet away. Fred and Marv still sleep soundly in their bedrooms.

Soon, all those in this house will awaken, and we will shortly begin the activity for which we are here. I think our tee off time is 9:30.


I have to start drinking, heavily. I figure I have spent thousands of dollars over the years on alcohol I didn't even sip and never even ordered.

Being on vacation with the guys, part of the ritual is to dine in the evening. Due to a bad stomach, not some religious fervor or recovery program, liquor and I do not see eye to eye. Actually, from my vague recollections of my youth, the only consistent thing that alcohol brought me closer to was the toilet bowl. So, while others order wines, vodkas, scotches or whatever it is that grownups actually imbibe, my options are water or diet soda.

I have a reputation for being "cautious" with my money. Some would call me cheap. Let me just say that I am aware that it cost me $45 for a $9 salad and a glass of water last night.

This is not to place any blame at the feet of my fellow travelers. I choose my path through this world. It is just that I am a counter. I can tell you how many strokes each person in my group takes on every hole. I can tell you distances from this point to that, and how long it takes to go from here to there. Numbers circle around my brain, and monetary figures seem to get stuck there.

Joanne often tells me what bad company I make for adults as I not only don't drink alcohol, but I also can't stomach coffee or tea.

While others sit and enjoy their drinks during dinner and after, I don't. I like to eat on the run. My son often complains that he is forced to eat faster as I draw him into my patterns. Dining and relaxing are foreign concepts to me.

So given the confluence of my eating and drinking habits, my keen awareness of the costs that are being incurred and my natural affinity for keeping my money in my pocket, I sit and suffer. Being me is not as easy as you think.


After the psychological beating I endured today, I needed a respite. One bad swing followed in swift succession by many others can test the mettle of even the most patient. And I am not a person of outer, or inner, calm on the course. My shortness off the tee is mirrored by my shortness with my self and others within striking distance. It was time to think happy thoughts.

Escaping from the jaws of the 18 holed monster, the four of us returned to the rest of the world and of our day. There was still light left, and this interesting peak lay within shouting distance of where we were staying. Fred suggested we check it out and I definitely needed to burn off some frustration. And so we found ourselves hiking.

As we began our slow trek, people passed us by. Some carried walking sticks, some ran. Everyone was in better shape, and better able to climb. But it mattered not. I just felt released from the shackles of my disappointment and enjoyed the moment. Humor became my companion again. Fred and I bantered with one another and with those unfortunate enough not to ignore us. I stopped one young woman carrying an infant in a pouch, and asked "how old". When she replied "2 months", I responded, "No, not the baby, how old are you". Some of Fred's comments were even stupider. For all those who we encountered on our journey, it was definitely buyer beware.

We fumbled with the phones on our cameras, one more inept than the other. The mysteries of how to take a picture, much less how to store or send, were way beyond our grasp. But we persevered and managed to at least shoot some images that I am sure are unimagninably bad.

As daylight faded, we made our retreat back to our starting place. At our journey's end I realized that I had climbed much higher than the distance I had traveled.

Blowing Smoke

Was Bob Greene's op ed ("Smoke Got in Their Eyes") an indictment of us in the days of Sinatra or now? Arguably, a half century ago we were unsure of the cause and effect of inhaling tobacco into one's lungs. That debate has long since ended.

So we applaud ourselves for mandating ever more graphic and gruesome statements of the dangers associated with this addictive product. Not only are you doing harm to yourself, those around you can and do suffer the consequences of your decision. We prohibit its sale to minors. Don't smoke inside, don't do this and don't do that. But while we criticize and ostracize, limit and condemn, tell you that you should not, we never even dare to consider the words "you cannot".

When those whose function is to serve and protect know so much, how can they really do so little? It is one thing to fail to act out of uncertainty, naivete or even stupidity. That is not what holds the tongues of those who legislate. It is now only the power of money of the enormously powerful tobacco industry that controls. The images to be projected on these cigarette packs tell us much more than just the story of the sick and dying.

While smoke may have been in our eyes, and blurred our vision at the time Mr Sinatra sang his tune, that is not the case today. And, on many levels, what we now clearly see should make us ill.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010


It is the smugness that is so hard to accept. He sits there, seemingly carefree, suggesting that we have been the ones who were wrong all along. This man is really ground zero for so many of the calamities that weigh on us so heavily. Yet here he comes almost dancing into our living rooms, not asking or seeking forgiveness. Ready or not, W is back.

From Matt to Oprah and everywhere in between, we will once again be face to face with the man who redefined the Peter principle. How were we unable to stop him somewhere along his journey to destruction, to tell him that enough was enough, and he should be more than satisfied with having done badly as president of a baseball team, or being governor of the Longhorn state?

Now he asks that we join him once more, so we can decide, based on his words, whether what we witnessed over 8 years didn't really happen the way it really happened.

Riding on the wave of recent mid-term successes, where the problems that he laid in the lap of his successor, now somehow become problems created by his successor, W. strides forth. We can almost see the cowboy hat tipped upward and the 6 shooter being unholstered. For this man who left under cover of darkness, ignored or reviled, it is a new day.

Is there a benefit in studying the mind of one who could create wrongs that did not exist but then demanded righting, who could propel economic policies to the edge of the precipice, who could diminish the value of human freedoms and then be so comfortable in where he has taken us? Can we learn from someone who can justify so much based on so little? For me, reading "Decision Points" would be, in a word, pointless.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Suspended Disbelief

"Good evening, America. This is Keith Olbermann. For all of you who may be wondering, I am not Walter Cronkite. Mr. Cronkite died July 17, 2009."

Mr. Olbermann is now required to stand in the corner of the room with a dunce cap on, being reprimanded by the principal for practicing what he preaches.

With the advent of cable television, we have been inundated and suffocated with subjectivity. We have long since left behind the world of separation of personal and on-air opinions . While Mr. Olbermann is the loudest, and sometimes most bombastic voice of liberal views and causes on MSNBC, he is but one among many, on stations up and down the "dial", who attack relentlessly.

Journalistic integrity is no longer equal to emotional, or financial, distance from those about whom you "report". What we now watch every day and night is a forum for comment pieces barely masquerading as news.

We know all too well the abuses of the system by those on the right. Fox News has eradicated the lines between the world outside, and the universe within the confines of their studios. Many of those who project themselves as candidates for the Republican party nomination for president in 2012, now are paid handsomely by this network to "act" as commentators.

While once and future kings and queens get unfettered access into our homes to solidify their positions and their base, MSNBC places Mr. Olbermann on the disabled list for having the audacity to give relatively minor monetary support to three candidates, two of whom only he and a few other select people in the world even knew about.

This is a world where the Supreme Court has decried that major political contributions can be made without a face attached to them. While billionaires can go about their business of reshaping our political landscape without fear of reprisal for failure to disclose that they are pulling the strings, Mr. Olbermann's actions are denounced and punished.

If MSNBC, or Comcast, in talks to take over this station, wants Mr. Olbermann to morph into Mr. Cronkite, give him fair warning and let him choose his destiny. For now, apologize profusely and put him back on the air immediately. And put the dunce cap on your head.

Thursday, November 4, 2010


Mario Cuomo's dictum "We campaign in poetry, and we govern in prose" was never more in evidence than the past 2 years. Through the campaign leading to the 2008 election, we listened to the soaring rhetoric and were convinced that these words had meaning . For us, and for our beleaguered President, we now have learned the hard lessons of confusing that fantasy with the reality that awaited.

He believed he had a mandate. He believed the power given could translate policy into practice. He believed he had the wherewithal to pass health care reform, that had been waiting a century for the right time and the right man, and still have enough left in the tank to beat back the recession. He believed he would be able to undo the damage that President Bush had done abroad. He believed in energy conservation. He believed in rational immigration policies. He believed in human rights. He believed and we believed with him.

To pass health care reform, he spent too much time and too much effort, and had too little to show. He had no political strength left to deal effectively with energy matters. He could not stimulate us to provide the necessary monies to revitalize our economy. He was handed such a monumental mess abroad that he could make little headway. Immigration concerns and human rights became mere fodder for Tea Party conversations.

It was not for lack of will that this had come to pass. It was not for lack of passion that this had come to pass. It was not for lack of effort that this had come to pass. It was for lack of understanding that on that January morning in 2009, everything he said to that point was no more.

Mr. Kristof would ask Mr. Obama for an occasional verse of poetry ("Mr. Obama, It's Time for Some Poetry"). With John Boehner and Eric Cantor, with Sarah Palin and Glenn Beck, with the wolves howling at the door, there is no more time for great and wonderful dreams. There is no more time to believe that the power of the President's words and his visions will convince those who oppose him to step aside.

"Yes, we can", is no more. From today on, we must have a new motto. One carved out of sweat and tears, not hope and fantasy. We must be grown up now, and ready to face our foes head on. Yes, those who stand in the way are our "enemies" not "opponents". That has been made abundantly clear from the first day of this presidency . For Mr. Obama, and for those who continue to believe in him, we should now, finally, be ready to put the poetry aside.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

The Weather Report (a/k/a The Political Climate)

2 years ago I was so comfortable.

Though it was late fall, all of nature seemed in harmony, every color was brighter, every breath was purer.

While the sun is shining this morning, the cold is piercing. The leaves are withering and dying. There is a starkness that was not there yesterday.

On my way to work, I will enter the room, confirm my identity, push the buttons and disappear into the rest of my day. I will walk out with my disappointment and my disillusion. They will not protect me against the elements.

Winter will soon be upon us. I will dress as warmly as I can, try to shelter myself from its effects. No matter how much I would wish the harshness away, it will remain until it's time has passed. I must accept that and move on.

For every person like me, there is another who today feels renewed and validated, who sees beauty where I now see nothing. All I understand is that the seasons do eventually come and go. Everything beyond that is unclear.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

The Land of Alternate Feed (or One Saturday Afternoon in DC, as Seen from a TV in Mass.)

Before a crowd of somewhere between 100,000 and 10,000,000,000, in the shadow of the nation's capital, there was a plea for a toning down of the rhetoric. After Stephen Colbert had risen from beneath the earth and melted back into it, after Kareem Abdul Jabbar and Yusuf (formerly known as Lew Alcindor and Cat Stevens) had shown us the non-scary faces of Islam, after we watched the love train coming down the tracks, after all the nonsense and the noise, there stood Jon Stewart showing us images of many cars trying to cram into a tunnel. He explained that each car had its own passengers, each one with his or her own story and his or her own concerns. Yet, order prevailed because of civility and alternate feed. Sure, there was an occasional jerk who tried to cut the line from the outside, but even that person was forgiven for his trespasses. Our country 'tis of thee, sweet land of you and then me, me and then you.

For all the Democrats, and the one of two Republicans who were in the crowd, 234 years after the nation was formed, they had been witness to one of the most moving moments in the history of this great nation. Or maybe, a few hours of comedy central, live and in the fresh air. Either way, from my spot on the couch, it looked like a day of fun in the sun. In this season of political posturing and economic upheaval, fun is something we need almost as much as alternate feed.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

The Costs of Alzheimer's and Dementia

"The Age of Alzheimer's" presents a compelling economic argument for why this disease should be attacked aggressively. The financial costs associated with this illness are staggering. With scientific advances, we are now able to keep our population alive much longer. Yet what we have failed to be able to do is to assure the quality of that life.

For so many of us baby boomers, we have parents who are living diminished lives. It is the vanishing world of those that suffer from Alzheimer or dementia that is so difficult to watch. My mother, who will soon turn 93, struggles daily to cope with the constant battle of losing her memory and her attachment to her surroundings. The loss of independence and the fight to maintain her dignity in a foreign universe, has taken a severe toll. The pain my mom feels in trying to hang on, is multiplied by all those who love her and look on helplessly.

Former Justice O'Connor is right that it is in our own best financial interests, in a time of soaring health costs, to aggressively search for a cure to this disease. But, even more important is that the quality of our days should be able to match the quantity of them.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Lions, and Tigers, and Government Bureaucracy, Oh My!

- Rejecting a series of claims because 72-hour pre-approval was not obtained, even though they were urgent procedures, scheduled within 72 hours.

- After accepting the lack of possibility of preapproval, re-rejecting the same claims outright on account of minor coding discrepancies between planned and actual procedure (example, MRI with contrast vs. MRI without contrast).

- Denying an inexpensive eye exam for headaches, since routine eye exams are not covered, and then denying a subsequent neurological exam, since there were simpler, cheaper options for diagnosing headaches.

- Doling out permission for physical therapy visits one at a time, even though we're entitled to 30 annually, sometimes so slowly that there were uninsured visits while waiting for permission for subsequent insured ones.

- Excluding inexpensive, money-saving public health initiatives from insurance coverage, like flu shots and HPV vaccinations.

- Imposing a low lifetime maximum, such that one major prolonged illness or serious injury could potentially lead to the termination of coverage. Continuing to do so even after recent health care reforms made this illegal, since they're grandfathered.

- Charging $400 for each physical therapy appointment (found out after 11 visits, and one whopper of a bill), as opposed to the usual $20 for the same exact services, because the physical therapist in question performed her occupation in a non-hospitalization, walk-in clinical wing of a building that they classified as a 'hospital' instead of a 'physical therapist's office.'

- Treating a series of claims at a state's largest hospital as out-of-network, even though other patients who buy insurance from the same company, headquartered in that very state, are considered in-network.

- Denying a post-surgical hospitalization (and the entire hospital part of the surgical bill, as well) because the patient, who was under anesthesia, didn't call to say he'd be staying at the hospital after the procedure.

- Raising monthly premiums mid-year, without notice, and simultaneously raising that premium retroactively, debiting the excess amount from a personal bank account without permission or notice.

- Rescinding said retroactive increase under pressure from a state agency, but keeping the immediate increase going forward, even though both are equally illegal under state law.

- Pulling the same exact illegal stunt 2 years later, and attempting to argue, once again, that they're allowed to do it. (They're not.)

- Raising our monthly premiums by as much as 34% per year, with no increases in coverage.

- Terminating our benefits plan at the end of this year to sell us a watered-down package of benefits next year at an even higher price than we currently pay.

Off the top of my head, these are a few of the indignities that my family and I have suffered at the hands of our private health insurance providers over the past several years. (If you throw in Medicare Part D, the private, for-profit prescription insurance that my grandparents have, you can add really lousy drug benefits and 'donut holes' to the list, too.)

Please tell me, how could a government-run, single-payer system possibly be any worse than this?

The word 'socialism' by itself does not constitute a valid argument against better, more efficient health care.

Higher taxes are not a compelling reason to oppose it, since businesses and individuals are currently devastated by the astronomically high expense of privately buying health care, essentially a huge tax.

'Government control of health care decisions' is not a very compelling argument against it, either, since right now teams of for-profit executives and administrators already tell us what doctors we can see, how often we can see them, what procedures they're allowed to offer, and how much of the bill we'll get socked with.

So, again, what's so good about the system we have now? And what would we lose by implementing 'Medicare for all'?


With Friends Like These

Has there ever been a worse ally than Hamid Karzai? His contempt for the United States seems boundless. His verbal assault on everything American continuous. His latest attack on the US, for exposing that his pockets are lined with Iranian money, ludicrous.

We get that he doesn't want us in his country, and that he blames us if it rains. But couldn't he at least fake it for PR sake?

This is almost year 10 of what is rapidly approaching the lost decade for us in foreign wars. Iraq is a mess, but in comparison to Afghanistan, it looks like an overwhelming success. In the land of Karzai, we are losing lives and losing direction. We don't know whether we are there to kill with kindness or with bombs. We have tried to coddle the leadership, to bully them or to threaten. Everything has led to this point in time where we are ridiculed and maligned by the most corrupt leader of a most corrupt leadership.

We, in this country, seem to consider these front page stories back page news these days. We are more consumed with the troubles on our doorstep than those that occur in lands far away. It feels like our efforts there are merely for show now, with no real hope or belief in results.

When we begin our contemplated drawdown of troops next year, it will be the beginning of the end. What we leave behind, if in the hands of Hamid Karzai, will not be pretty.

Monday, October 25, 2010

The Chasm

"Falling Into the Chasm" captures, in one sentence, the essence of what is transpiring in front of our eyes, but what we refuse to see: "voters respond to facts, not counterfactuals, and the perception is that the administration's policies have failed".

It matters not to people who are hurting, that they would be hurting worse if the Republican party had been in charge of trying to dig us out of this economic hole. The Democrats for a variety of reasons, principal among them the Republican desire to see their policies fail, have clearly not taken the bold initiatives required to get our economic engine restarted. But the "why", and the "what could have been" are irrelevant. What "is" is ugly and as a result, what will be come the first Tuesday in November, is bound to be very ugly indeed for the Democratic party

Sunday, October 24, 2010

The Reunion

While those around me told tales, large and small, I remained mute. Intimidation played no small part in my silence.

We gathered last evening for our 40th high school reunion. While life has moved us in many directions, to many in this room, we remain defined by what we had been then.

So, it was decided that during the course of the evening, we would gather our chairs together. Each would have the opportunity to inform, amuse, recount or recall. Unlike most of our classes, we would not be called upon randomly but would only speak out of choice.

I had shown little of the intellectual curiosity that so many of my classmates had demonstrated during our years together. They were poets, musicians, scholars and searchers of the truth. I was concerned little of these things. Rather, to them, and in my own eyes, I was a jock.

I ran through my contemplated words, over and over, as others told their tales. I would speak of my intellectual awakening, of my love of writing. I would let them know that this school, despite my worst intentions, had readied me to do something in which I found a passion, and which some seemed to enjoy and validate.

But I feared that this would sound egocentric, and ring false. I did not see myself, nor did I believe that those around me, would see me as anything other than the one whom the teacher passed over to respond in French class because he was ill equipped to perform. I was the one who did not work as hard, did not test as well, did not warrant intellectual recognition.

I did not want to talk about my failing golf game, or the demise of the Yankees. At least not tonight.

As the minutes passed, my resolve ebbed and flowed. At certain moments I made a decision that I would be the next to speak. Yet, when it came time, I could not summon up the courage.

When the last words were done, it was announced that dessert was the next order of business. Chairs were put back in place, and the evening moved to its inevitable conclusion.

Before I left, I struck up a conversation with one who I had not seen since the end of my high school years. He had spoken of living in Vermont and teaching music, and how rewarding it had been to shape the lives of the children. He then asked the question that I feared so many were thinking when they looked in my direction. "Are you still playing golf"?

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Don't Follow David Brooks


David Brooks' "Don't Follow the Money" doesn't follow the unlimited influence of campaign spending on governing. These big corporations are not stuffing the pockets of the candidates because they "get to hang out at exclusive parties". This government runs on green energy: the more green you put in the coffers the more energy your candidate has to make sure your goals become his or hers.

Mr. Brooks can pretend that influence peddling doesn't exist, that the power of money is a myth, and that the moon is really made of green cheese. The engine that runs these campaigns, and this country is contributions to political parties. Mr. Brooks says "money makes people feel good because they think it has magical properties". Well, Mr.Brooks, it does. It can change an election and it certainly can change the course of our destiny. Not bad for a little piece of paper.

Spelling Be

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Monday, October 18, 2010

Freddy Sez

When the old Yankee Stadium was torn down, one piece of it remained intact - Freddy Schuman, with his frying pan, spoon and placard. Mr. Schuman, known to all of us by his self- proclaimed alter ego as Freddy Sez, died yesterday.

Here was this man, with one eye, seemingly without companions, walking night after night, and day after day, throughout the stands. He was as much a part of the fabric of the building as the Babe, the Mick, Lou and the rest of the Yankee immortals.

No matter the circumstances, if defeat was imminent, if the team was struggling, if the weather was cold and rainy, the sound of someone banging on that pan with that spoon would echo reassuringly that "Freddy is here". I would search the stands to see if I could locate my 'old friend', and his sign proclaiming that victory was assured. Whenever I caught a glimpse of him, I would smile and wave, like he was someone I had made arrangements to meet.

In the wrong light, he could appear an isolated, old and pathetic caricature. There seemed no existence for him outside the confines of what he made his adopted home. In the constant company of strangers, he would be forever in motion, never stopping long enough to make any meaningful connection.

But, I chose to see a different person, one of undying passion, and uncompromising devotion. In a world filled with half-truths and hidden agendas, Freddie was unfiltered and pure in his love for his team.

We recently were all witness to the unveiling of the larger than life memorial to the larger than life former principal owner of the Yankees. I wonder if there will be one day be a plaque commemorating the accomplishments of Freddy Schuman.

For most of the world there has always been only two great constants, death and taxes. For Yankee fans, there has been a third. The Stadium will forever seem a little quieter, and a little less embracing. For a man who walked in solitude, he left many a friend behind. Goodbye Freddy. You will be missed.

Friday, October 15, 2010

You're Out (Maybe)

There have been several theories that I have heard over the years for why instant replay has not been in favor in baseball.

First among these is that it will slow the game down too much. Has anyone noticed that games now seem to last somewhere between 3 hours and eternity? What's another few minutes? There may be many ways to speed up the game, for example, actually enforcing time limits between pitches, or not allowing batters to perform their maddening 'rituals' after each pitch. As with football, or even tennis, there can be a limited number of successful replay challenges allowed. In addition, as suggested by Mr. Rosenthal ('The Umpire in the Sky') there can be a clock on those reviewing the play.

In addition, it is has been suggested that there is a certain romantic mystique in allowing umpires to make mistakes, much as ballplayers might. Those espousing this belief, state that it is all part of the essential fabric of the game. They would ask you to believe that to take this away, would redefine the sport itself. I am not certain why this is so. When the game can actually be determined by the players and not the umpires, shouldn't that be the goal?

While we are at it, let's make sure that any replays are shown on the scoreboard so that all those in attendance can be made aware of what the review looks like, and can make their own judgments on what the outcome should be. This information should not be cloaked in secrecy. This is entertainment, not national security.

Will there come a time when we find that umpires are unnecessary impediments to the game? Will technology one day be deemed the only path to follow? That may be so, but that is an argument for another moment. For now, let's not get rid of the umpires, only their bad calls.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Choking on a Kosher Salami

"Rabbi Breaks with Paladino over Apology" - (New York Times, October 14, 2010)

I only wish that Rabbi Levin's mouth had been too full of the kosher pastrami sandwich he said he was eating when he learned of the anti- gay "betrayal" by Carl Paladino, to speak. By way of freudian slip, he later referred to almost choking on a kosher salami.

What he said about Paladino is of little moment. But as to the message he sent out as a religious leader preaching open hatred of gays, I have but two words, "oy vey".

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Thank You

Several years have passed since my initial meeting with Shirley Porter. On that day, as I said my goodbyes to Shirley, and watched the front door close behind her, I knew that a part of my life had disappeared forever. I stood in her driveway and cried uncontrollably. What follows is how and why I ended up in that place and in that state of mind.

My first contact with Mickey was at one of Alex's softball games. Mickey was not even a year old then. He had been beaten as a puppy, and blinded. The remains of his eyes had recently been removed. Mickey was then up for adoption. During a weekend 'trial' visit , Mickey showed us that the traumas he had endured may have scarred him on the outside, but not on the inside. He was loving and trusting and, soon after, a permanent member of our family.

Shadow, and later Banjo, came to us from Alex's summer camp. For Shadow, we would be at least her third home, and Shadow would be at least her second name. Banjo was a kitten and would show up, unannounced to us, as Alex exited the camp bus at the end of a summer away.

We lived, ate, slept and traveled as a group for many years. Jo and I worried, like all parents do, about whether all of those in our care were happy, healthy, well fed and well nurtured. Banjo was clearly under the impression that she had two very large siblings, whom she would often groom and clean. Shadow was in some ways a guide dog for Mickey. But Mickey, left on his own, could figure out and navigate his way around any surroundings in a matter of minutes. Like all of our children, these 3 had their own special qualities in which we took great pride.

Over time, signs of aging appeared. Banjo, used to eating not only her food but Mickey's and Shadow's, became ever and ever fatter. Shadow developed symptoms of arthritis and some incontinence.

Then, life interrupted our journey together. We were going to have to move to a place where we would not be able to take these 3 along for the ride. How does one possibly exit this scene gracefully? Who would come to our rescue?

Jo and Richie put together biographies, filled with love and photos. But still, the reality was that these were stories about an obese Banjo, an aging and slightly infirm Shadow, and a dog without eyes. Who could see past all this? Who could take on these burdens?

Among those who read the posts was one of Jo's fellow ski patrollers. While he was not the person to answer our pleas, he knew of a person with a big heart and a love for animals who might. Thus, Shirley Porter entered our lives.

The concept of all 3 of our pets descending on her, was initially even a little too much for Shirley. After speaking with her, we were told that Shadow and Banjo would be welcome in her home. One of our very close friends, who had picked out our very first dog from an animal shelter many years ago, volunteered to take Mickey.

When the day came for Shadow and Banjo to leave us, Mickey also took the ride to Shirley's. Jo thought it might ease the transition a little for Mickey to say one last goodbye at the same time we did.

When we arrived at Shirley's house, which was almost a 2 hour drive from where we lived, the animals emerged from the car, one by one. Mickey jumped out and soon was making his way around Shirley's place, avoiding a piece of furniture, or walking down the back steps and cruising around the backyard.

About an hour passed, while we got to know Shirley a little better and she got to know us and those that would soon become part of her world. As we readied to leave Shirley stopped us. She said it would be a shame to separate Mickey from Shadow and Banjo. If it was ok with us, and if Mickey wasn't already spoken for, she would be willing to try to add all 3 to her household.

I called my friend who had accepted responsibility for our blind dog and told him of the offer we had received. I asked him to be honest as to whether this would be ok with him. He was as generous in his response as he had been in his initial offer.

And so I stood on the driveway, as Mickey, Shadow and Banjo stayed behind. But while that door closed, it did not shut.

Over the past several years, we have remained in very close contact with Shirley. She wrote us often of the funny things that helped brighten her day, and ours by the retelling. We visited whenever we could, and Shirley made sure to make us feel not only welcome but wanted guests.

Shadow has since passed away, and then Mickey. Banjo has had some health scares, but for the moment anyway, remains relatively healthy and apparently slightly thinner. Shirley has remained constant in her clear devotion to those entrusted to her. She has made it seem like she is grateful to us, while the truth is that we are unspeakably grateful to her.

I saw a note from Jo to Shirley today saying that she missed her and that we had to get together soon. That thought triggered this piece.

I know this has been said often over the years, but never often enough. From me to Shirley Porter, thank you.

Friday, October 8, 2010

The Little Engine that Couldn't

The United States is a nation in contraction. "Think small" should be the motto of Christie and so many others like him. He is small minded and without vision. The world he would create is one that does not diminish our debt but does diminish our value. Here is a man who is gutting our state's educational system and is now taking away our opportunity to grow our rail system to meet 21st century demands, and literally to propel us forward.

We seem very likely to be handing more significant control of our future to leaders like Christie in the coming weeks. If that is what happens, then we as a country will face a future not as a big, powerful locomotive but as the little engine that couldn't.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Changing the Course of Destiny

How is it that I actually believe I may be changing the course of baseball destiny from the seat in my living room?

The pattern that emerged last night was clear and simple: when the Twins were up and there was a rally brewing, I had to turn the channel and watch something, anything else. I ended up viewing parts of "Boardwalk Empire"(very gripping new series with a deliciously evil main character) and Bill Maher (fairly mundane), while the Yankees were struggling to retain their lead. I missed almost all of what was occurred the last 3 innings that Minnesota was at bat, but by doing so, I think I preserved the victory for my team.

On other nights, I have discovered that I couldn't get up to go to the bathroom. Sometimes I have found that if I even imagined something bad that might transpire, I was witness to it immediately thereafter.

Maybe it is because my mother loaded me down with superstitions that I carry with me to this day. No hats or keys on the bed. You have to exit a house from the same door you enter.

Maybe all the repetitive superstitious activity I see in the game convinces me that there must be something to this. After a batter strikes out, the ball does not return from catcher to pitcher but follows an elaborate series of throws to various infielders before finally reaching its intended destination. Few people know that CC Sabathia only catches the return toss to him in his bare left hand. Once I was at a game and noticed, for the first and only time, that Sabathia caught the return throw in the glove on his right hand. The next pitch was deposited over the left field wall for the one run the opposition would score that day.

Can it be that if Nick Swisher did not look up to the heavens between every pitch, that he would suddenly be unable to catch up with a 95 mile per hour fastball? Or if he did not thrust his arms up in the air to give thanks every time he reached base safely that he might find he was never again the same player? If Pedro Martinez didn't jump over the baseline on his way to the mound one time, but actually stepped on the chalk, would the magic have left forever? Can I deem those actions to be meaningless and still find meaning in my behavior?

Yesterday, Doc Halladay threw a no hitter. Baseball tradition demands that there be no discussion between the pitcher and his teammates during the game about what is unfolding. Often, in late innings, the pitcher is treated almost as a pariah, left to sit by himself, seemingly ignored by those around him. I have listened to games where even announcers appear hesitant to give mention to this most rare occurrence. People who make a living informing us of the most insignificant details of the game and of anything and everything else that pops into their mind, don't want to talk about the 800 pound gorilla in the room.

Over the years, fans have tried to will their team to victory wearing baseball caps inside out. If we tossed our hats in the air, and sang a chorus of "New York, New York" would that be the magic we need to secure victory?

So, if any of you happen over to my apartment during the next few days to watch a game, do not be surprised by almost anything you see. As I may be not only master of my fate, but of Jeter's, A-Rod's and the rest of the pinstriped players, I bear a heavy burden. If I decide to cluck like a chicken, or perform a voodoo ritual, do not be alarmed. I have yet to find the perfect answer but I am working on it.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

A Stolen Moment

It was in the pitcher's eyes. He was not looking in his direction. Brett Gardner's decision was based on those eyes.

Last night, in the seventh game of the 2010 World Series, the score was tied in the top of the ninth. Two men were out and Gardner stood 90 feet from his ultimate destination.

The Phillies had made the decision to pitch to Derek Jeter even though first and second base were unoccupied. The great Doc Halladay was on the mound and Jeter had been overmatched all night.

The noise of the crowd alerted Halladay to what was happening. It startled him to see the streaking figure in his periphery. He flinched, imperceptibly, but it caused the flight of the ball to be altered, slightly higher and a little to the left.

Carlos Ruiz noticed Gardner's movements at virtually the same instant as his pitcher. He sprung out his catcher's crouch, but maybe a little too violently. He found himself a few inches too far in front of the plate he was trying to protect. It left Gardner a tiny window of opportunity.

Jeter had seen almost everything imaginable in 16 major league seasons. This was the unimaginable. As he watched runner and ball on a collision course, as he felt the force of the catcher move from behind to in front of him, as he heard the roars and saw the images, he became as much a witness as a participant.

How could the human eye not be deceived by the events unfolding? The overwhelming speed of runner, catcher and ball all joining forces in that smallest of spaces, for just a whisper of time. The collision of these random particles had to be quicker than the eye could see or the mind could comprehend.

As Gardner's left hand seemed to strain beyond its limits, as the ball lodged in the glove of Ruiz, as Jeter fell backward, the umpire tried to freeze time.

When the umpire began to raise both hands, the Yankee dugout erupted in shouts, hugs and laughter. These were not men being paid millions of dollars to perform a task, but children enjoying the purity of the moment.

There have been many yesterdays and there will be many tomorrows in baseball lore. There will forever only be one last night.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Feelings, Nothing More Than Feelings

Re - Frank Rich- "The Very Useful Idiocy of Christine O'Donnell"

In bad times, the Republicans have cornered the market on feeling badly. Democrats, the party who have demonstrated true concerns for the poor, for the elderly, for the sick, for the homeless, are relentlessly portrayed as aloof and out of touch.

'Empathy is the capacity to, through consciousness rather than physically, share the sadness or happiness of another sentient being' (Wikipedia). It is the emotion around which this political uproar revolves.

The sad truth is that the Republicans seek to capture the hearts, not the minds of their supporters. They don't want to present facts and figures because that might stimulate the brain to analyze and that is the last thing they need. The dumbing down of America is their game plan. Who better to hand the task to than political charlatans who won't debate, who can't control their anger, or their finances, or their personal lives? The non-thinkers to send out the non-message to the non-thinking.

All the O'Donnell, Angle, Brewer, Palladino anger and unhappiness clones of Palin need to do is stay away from anything political. The Democrats have no answers for the party of no answers. This is a harsh reality that those who think just can't comprehend.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Political Animals

Do you find, as I do, that elephants are too often



and hiss

If so, don't you wish that one day they could stop (start) being jackasses?

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

For the Love of the Game

As I watched the last part of the Ken Burns' "The Tenth Inning" it struck me how baseball is, in it's most basic sense, a marriage between game and fan. For better or for worse, in sickness and in health.

It is a ceremony in which we said "I do" the first time we smelled the glove's leather, or slid into second, or cheered on a teammate. We were smitten the first time we walked into the stadium, the first hot dog we ate with the mustard running down our sleeves, the first day the sun beat down on us relentlessly. We were drawn in by our father, or our mother, our big brother or our sister.

We committed knowing there would be bad times. When the bad times came, when the sport seemed sick we did not abandon it. When our team disappointed we did not seek another. We didn't commit for the moment, but for all the moments.

When the good times arrived there were sights and sounds that made us not only thrill in the instant but also seemed to connect us to the first catch with our dads or the first radio broadcast we listened to and imagined the arc of the winning home run. We fell in love day after day and year after year.

As players came and went, as scandals created headlines, as stadiums got torn apart, we remained steadfast. For me, and others like me, baseball was and is, not a game but a feeling. 'Til death do us part.

Monday, September 27, 2010

An Uphill Climb

As I walked along the highway with the cars whizzing by at 50 mile per hour I thought to myself that this was definitely not where I had expected to be at that moment.

Let me rewind about 90 minutes. Richie, Alex and I decided to take a short hike in the woods. We drove to a spot where our walk would take us past a pond and into a thick forest. In my simple mind, I envisioned being back in the car before I could break a sweat.

As the trail meandered up a hill, the sounds of the cars below became faint. While none of us had been up this road less traveled, I trusted that what goes up must of necessity come down.

We were the only human beings in these environs. In fact, as our journey continued it felt as if we were the only members of the animal kingdom here. I recall not a tweet of a bird, not a slither or a snap of a twig. Nothing but our breathing, and the weight of our steps broke the silence.

Our first course was north, but this ended in relatively short order. As Richie advised, a double blue marking on a tree informed us that a distinct change in course was imminent. Only this time it didn't take us down and south. Instead we found ourselves going further up and south. Yet, on we trudged, anticipating that just around the bend lay the path home.

Being highly neurotic, I soon began to think about those things that could be waiting around the bend. I wondered whether bears inhabited these woods. Do I stand still, do I curl up into fetal position, or was I to create such a commotion that the bear would be scared into retreat? While still only several hundred feet above where I started, I had taken myself to a place where Daniel Boone once resided. I was now a mountain man.

Richie pointed out that the entire forest was changing before our eyes. Whereas the trees were initially mature, thick and tall, we soon were in a place where you could put your hand around the entire circumference of each young tree. Alex and I posed and Richie snapped a photo from his phone. If we never made it out of here alive, at least Joanne would have a lasting image of us in our final hours.

We questioned whether we had missed a turn along the way. We were still following the blue triangles, but maybe there was one that had pointed us back to civilization, and we had just been distracted at that instant. We reasoned it would be foolish to retrace our steps, as an exit had to be close by.

Minutes turned into an hour and every arrow was still sending us where we didn't want to go. Then, when I was just about to fall into despair, we spotted a white triangle, and a sign. We were entering a different protected area, one which seemed to at least be heading down. Within a short period, the sounds and sights of the rest of humanity appeared.

Exiting from the jungle, to my consternation, but to no one's surprise, we found ourselves no where near the place of beginning. Now, at the back of a community center, we were about a mile down the highway from where our car sat and waited.

So, here I was walking along that highway. Richie had called Joanne and she was trying to come to my rescue from her remote location. Within several hundred yards of my destination, I spotted her car. Finally, safe from the traffic and in comfort, I relaxed.

Today's lesson is that no matter how certain you are of life's course, you may suddenly find yourself with an unexpected uphill climb, or feel like the world is whizzing by you out of control. In these most stressful moments, just put one foot in front of the other and trust that your wife and children are there to keep you on the right path and out of harm's way

Sunday, September 26, 2010

When Pigs Fly

I never thought I would see pigs fly but I just watched as a squadron in formation whistled by my window. Thank you Jeff Zeleny (Democrats Unleash Biting Ads Based on Rivals' Pasts), for expanding my horizons by providing an image of the seemingly impossible: Republicans cast as the party of sympathetic victims of unscrupulous personal attacks.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

The Center Fielder

I always wanted to see Bernie play one more time. Tonight, to a house erupting with chants of "Bernie Williams, Bernie Williams", I got my chance.

We took our seats and waited with great anticipation.The players took the stage, one by one. The names were not familiar. Instead of Derek or A-Rod, out stepped people like Joel Rosenblatt and Eren Cannata. After the other 8 had jogged to their positions to quiet applause, HE appeared. Looking much the same as I remembered, HE acknowledged the thunderous cheers with a slight smile and a tip of his head.

This was most definitely a different field of dreams. This was not the house that King George built but one that only held several hundred. There were many empty seats. I wondered if this would embarrass HIM. Would HE not play as hard?

The answer came quickly as this team erupted with energy. For the next 2 hours we were enveloped in the sounds and sights of men hard at work. HE was sweating profusely, straining to prove himself to us, much as he had for those 16 years.

As the evening came near a close, the crowd stood as one. Like so many other times when I had been in HIS presence, there were a series of standing ovations. Finally, to a hauntingly beautiful, if somewhat sad version of Take Me Out to the Ballgame, the stage emptied. The last to leave was the star. HE acknowledged the crowd and then HE was gone.

My daughter and I waited by the exit for HIS autograph. We stayed for almost 30 minutes, and then were told HE would not be coming our way. Once outside, we saw the team's bus. We considered waiting, Bernie groupies, but finally decided to leave.

We turned on a cell phone and learned that the Yankees were in the process of losing 10 to 8 to the Red Sox, and falling out of first place. Meanwhile, I envisioned their old center fielder packing up to head, with his guitar and the other jazz musicians in the band, to another small venue in a world where the score of a baseball game mattered not.


Thursday, September 23, 2010

Standing Up

It is a time when campaigners know no objective reality, when issues of substance are not part of the discussion. It is a universe where there are seemingly no boundaries to overstep. It is the time of Sharon Angle, Rand Paul and Christine O'Donnell. Now we add Carl Paladino's voice to the cacophony.

"Cuomo's Image as Unstoppable Suffers A Blow" examines the dilemma facing Andrew Cuomo as he considers how to respond to spurious attacks from Mr. Paladino. As those at his side chide Mr. Cuomo to "Stand up and fight the guy- do something", the Times reported that Cuomo confirmed "he would not respond to Mr. Paladino't more outrageous provocations". While his poll numbers slip, Cuomo fiddles around.

It is eerily reminiscent of "The American President". In this political world where fiction passes as fact, why can't a scene from a movie 'come to life'? Let us hear the 'real' Andrew channel President Andrew Shepherd (Michael Douglas) and admonish his Tea Party opponent that: "Carl, we've got serious problems and we need serious people, and if you want to talk about character you'd better come at me with more than my lack of backbone to face you. If you want to talk about character, just tell me where and I'll show up. Carl, your fifteen minutes are up. My name is Andrew Cuomo and I am the next governor of the great state of New York".

As the Times reported from an anonymous source inside Cuomo's campaign "People want to see Andrew get up and say something". The time to ignore abusive irrational attacks is over. If you want to energize your base, energize yourself. Stand up for yourself so we can stand up and applaud for you.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

The Art of Cheating

Sports, it seems, condones and even applauds the act of passive wrongdoing. Has there ever been a time in the history of the game where a baseball player corrected an umpire's blown call and said he didn't check his swing, or he didn't steal that base, or he didn't catch that ball? No matter the error of the umpire's subjective opinion, it has been a central element of this sport to allow these mistakes to occur. The theory is evidently that it is not your job to call the plays, but only to play the game.

However, watching Derek Jeter pirouette out of the batter's box in apparent pain from being struck on his arm by a very hard object was far from allowing events to take place in the standard baseball universe. It was an act of creation. As I watched the replay and saw the Oriole manager run from the dugout to vehemently protest the call, I discussed with Richie what was happening. We surmised that although the ball had hit the bat and not the batter, perhaps the impact had caused shooting pains in Jeter's arm. This could not have been an act of intentional deception, not by one who had spent the last 15 years building up a war chest filled with moments of grace, dignity and integrity.

Once the contest was concluded, we waited for a plausible explanation. As Jeter had not been hit, and since, as we later learned, he was not hurt, then certainly this charade would be rationalized by Jeter as having occurred in a moment of panic. It was a close game, the Yankees had been playing terribly of late, Tampa Bay would not disappear, and Jeter would beg forgiveness. But there was no mea culpa. Not from Jeter, not from his manager. Even Showalter, who had been tossed out of the contest for arguing so vociferously, found no fault in the Yankee captain. It was all attributed to the 'win at all costs' philosophy of baseball.

I imagined what the reaction would have been if it had been A-Rod, not Jeter, in that batter's box. The insults about his lack of integrity would have been endless. Remember when he distracted the player on the other team and caused him to drop a fly ball between second and third base? Remember when he knocked the ball out of the glove of the first baseman, as he tried to do what was needed to reach safely? The crescendo of negative comments would have caused him to go into hiding.

I don't agree with what Jeter did. I don't believe the game was intended to foster the type of action that we saw from him. It diminishes the game, and it diminishes the man.