Thursday, October 29, 2015

Three Down in Colorado. How Many More?

Donald Trump is packing. No, not for the White House. He is packing a gun. Maybe even as we speak. He just won't tell us, as he wants to keep it a surprise, so his would be assassins won't know whether to go after him. And, oh yes, it would be a splendid idea if everyone in his employ was ready to unload on the next person who walked through the door.

Ben Carson is napping. Or maybe just trying to put us to sleep with his oh so quiet speech and soft demeanor hiding the fact that his answers make absolutely no sense.

Ted Cruz is yapping. At the media, as he and Marco Rubio and just about everyone else on the stage took up an enormous amount of time and energy complaining about the main stream, left wing media, conspiring to ask the wrong questions of the candidates, the ones they actually had to answer.

Jeb Bush is sapping. As in sapping all the energy out of his candidacy. He is not an attack dog, not an alpha male and he is overwhelmed by a field who are comfortable with zingers. Poor Jeb! was almost completely undressed when he went after his one time protege. Yes, Jeb, I cut school, but so did Barack. A lot.

John Kasich is failing. In what he thought might be his breakout moment, he almost broke down. His zinger on Trump's immigration nightmare of a plan brought only a major league putdown by the king of major league putdowns. Anybody can put you in the corner, baby. You can have him America.

Rand Paul is missing. Was he actually on the stage last night? Ted Cruz stole his ideas on the economy and everybody else seemed to steal his air time. What was left for the kind of libertarian was merely to be one of the physical bookends, along with Mr. Kasich at the end of the line, figuratively and literally.

Marco Rubio is rising. As in the polls, as he nimbly dodged ugly questions and every attack upon his financial missteps and his voting record, or lack of one. He and Mr. Cruz are the slickest of the pack, able to use bigger words and full sentences to their advantage. Watch out for this one.

Carla Fiorina is tricky. She maneuvered away from her dismal record at HP and instead had us focus on the image of her taking down one Hillary Clinton. In an all girls fight, she would end up on top. World Wide Wrestling come to the big stage.

Chris Christie is sincere. Forget those cones that he did not move. In fact, forget everything he did wrong to bring his state to such a dismal place. No, he was not talking to the moderators or even to his fellow competitors. He was talking directly to you, looking directly at you and telling you that he knew what it took to make America great again. Except that the yutz who kept reminding us about the tank that is Atlantic City had already stolen that line.

Mike Huckabee is preaching. What else can he do, as Ben Carson has stolen his evangelicals? He was standing next to Mr. Kasich, for God's sake and wasn't that already bad enough?

All of them assembled on the stage had a plan. This madness was rehearsed and choreographed. The anger, the resentment, the belittling of those who dared to ask the questions. Ten voices all going at once, all trying to make you believe that he or she held the secret in the palm of his or her hands. And none of them actually responding to any inquiries but merely directing their 60 seconds (who actually only spoke for 60 seconds?) to their stump speech on whatever it was that would sound most authentic.

Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young once cried out to us "Four dead in Ohio. How many more?' For us it is three Republican debacles, I mean debates in the books. How many more?

Sunday, October 25, 2015

The Walk to My Mom's Apartment


I will soon be walking  slightly less than a mile, repeating a journey I have taken several times a week for nearly a decade.

I will stroll past the church with its rotating message out front, welcoming guests but warning that those who park illegally in its lot are subject to being baptized. I will move past the flashing signs at the intersection of the road notifying drivers of their speed and informing those who drink and drive of the penalties that surely await.

Past all the high rises that a few decades ago were the first to dot the horizon on the Jersey side of the Hudson just south of the Great Gray bridge. Past the myriad banks that seem to crop up everywhere, like daisies in a field or bamboo chutes that take over a landscape.

Past the law office that is home to one of those "I recognize that name from those television commercial" firms.

Past the hot dog establishment that used to sit next to the other hot dog establishment, non-identical twins, but now stands alone, triumphant. My mom used to love eating here, at the place with the really good french fries and the hot dogs that had meaning.

My mom doesn't get to this place to eat anymore, doesn't go past the law office or the banks or the flashing signs or the church. She doesn't walk or ride to my residence, which sits a few minutes from where she has resided for well over three decades. My mom's world begins and ends within the confines of  her apartment, the one at which I will soon be arriving.

It is a late October morning, the air has turned markedly colder today and there is a fine mist spraying everything between where I sit and my mom's. Part of my routine in spending time with her is to speak of the colors that I see outside. Her apartment faces west and recently the fall foliage was at its peak. I was mesmerized by the far away hills and all their hues on proud display.  I am concerned that I am less than adept at mastering the words needed to convey the beauty and majesty of what can be viewed from her balcony, what she could see if only she still had her vision.

I will inform her of what the world holds as though she is still capable of understanding my meaning and its meaning. I will tell her tales of my children, of myself and my wife, of my work and my play, of anything and everything as though she retained the faculties that have seeped out of her head, like a constant trickle from a fissure that could never be closed. She sits mostly mute on some days and on others she will respond, for a moment or two and then fall back into that place that is now her home.

From my apartment window I look east, staring now into a gray sky and at the softly moving waters of the Hudson. At the buildings that sit across the river, at this distance, as silent as my mother, but which I understand are teeming with life and noise the closer you approach. At the planes, the helicopters, the boats, all signaling the vibrancy of this moment, this locale.

My mom knows none of this anymore. For her there are images in her brain of her parents and grandparents, her sisters and brother, of a small town cigar store and a big family. Where she lives there has not been a second World War, not a husband or children, not grandchildren. Not loves come and gone, hearts broken and mended, triumphs and tragedies of the past day, week, month, year or decade. There are no new sunrises or sunsets, no leaves turning the most miraculous shades, no today and certainly no tomorrow.

I will go to my mom's on this day and for all the days hereafter that remain for her. I will walk past the church and the warning sign, past the apartment buildings and the law office, past the hot dog stand. I will continue this journey for as long as she continues hers. Though she is no longer with us, she is still here.  And I will forever try to bring the mysteries and wonders of the world inside the apartment where my mom resides but no longer lives.

Saturday, October 24, 2015

The Group Photo

I got a haircut yesterday, will probably not eat a lot today (a two meal diet) and  likely dress well, at least in my terms, this evening. For those who know me, attention to physical detail is not my strength. But tonight is something special: my high school reunion.

Most of us don't get to make an impression on our classmates more often than the Mets travel to the World Series. Each time counts. 

I understand that little is likely to change in my life, or the others in attendance, whether I shave or not today, whether I wear my new glasses or contact lenses and whether or not I even appear. 
But vanity and ego can be no more evident than on that stage where you get to show yourself before some you seemingly didn't form deep kinship with even as you sat side by side in class during the Lyndon Johnson years.

My grade was only 100 or so strong and tonight will be barely a quarter that. So there is no hiding in these bushes. Four or five of those assembled have remained the closest friends for the last half century. The rest I recall mostly as pages of a good book I read in my youth. But somehow it is important that they all walk away from this gathering impressed by my stature, physically at least.

When later asked by our spouses, our children or even our mirrors we will weigh our success in large part by how we held up in that group photo. The one where we are all tightly bunched, where we gauge our ability to beat back time in relation to the statistical norm of those around us. "I looked pretty good" or "where did that second chin come from?" will be echoed throughout the households of my classmates in days hence.

I got a number two buzz, as though cutting the few remaining hairs on my head very short will serve as statement that a near empty scalp shows me in my full glory. 

I will probably wear that sports jacket with the wide shoulders, making my rather puny upper body grow larger in stature. I understand that a lifetime of studiously avoiding working out cannot be fully hidden by my attire, but it can at least distract from reality.

I comprehend intellectually that the measure of a man goes far beyond the width of his girth or the cut of his tresses. That attention to the outer being is shallow and without purpose. But on this night I am seemingly compelled to give great weight to those without it and high kudos to old acquaintances who appear anything but.

So I will suck in my gut, trim my nose and ear hairs and head off for the evening, with the fervent hope that the guy standing next to me in that photo does not have a picture of Dorian Gray in his closet.

Friday, October 23, 2015

Trey Gowdy's 15 Minutes


Thank you Mr. Gowdy. You have succeeded, in your never ending quest, to produce one clear and resounding finding: Hillary Clinton is strong, resolute and of Presidential timber.

Can one imagine Mr. Trump after a morning, afternoon and night's ceaseless grilling of one of his questionable endeavors or reckless pronouncements? Can the images instantly conjured not but contrast unfavorably with the performance of the former Secretary of State?

For all that this Congress should focus it's attention upon, for all the profound problems that face this nation, it is well past time that the Republican obsession with this tragic event come to an end.

Your position is clear and in continually resurrecting this charade in an effort to break Ms. Clinton, you have only made yourself look small and ugly.

Mr. Gowdy, your 15 minutes (or 11 hours) are up.

Friday, October 16, 2015


I remember Oscar Gamble, his helmet looking helpless trying to contain the ever burgeoning afro that cried for freedom. How about the Oakland A's teams full of facial hair, none better than the twirled masterpiece of Rollie Fingers. And then there was Johnny Damon and his free flowing locks and impressive beard making a mockery of the buttoned down Yankees. Or Randy Johnson, standing impossibly tall on the mound, with something resembling a long flowing mullet tumbling out from beneath his beleaguered cap.

From the San Francisco Giants and the intimidating if hirsuitically questionable black beard, to the mass of wavy beauty that exploded from the head of Jacob DeGrom, the tradition of expressing one's inner freak through a vast array of hairy options remains a quintessential part of the last half century of baseball lore.

That is not to say that the pursuit of everything hair is but a hardball phenomenon.  From Bill Walton, his red hair flopping as he raced up and down the court to Troy Polamalu and the incredible mass of twists and turns that cried out for national recognition, athletes in every arena have vied not only for the most talented on the field, court or diamond, but most follically blessed.

But somehow, watching a baseball game, with the players in generally static pose for minutes unabated, gives particular focus and emphasis to the challenge of naming the best in class.
And there stands the Dodger third baseman, Justin Turner, his number 10 a reminder of Ron Cey, as I survey his beard and significant locks and wonder what the old hot corner star would have looked like if given full reign to let his wild thing out.

Not everyone on the field  has enjoyed the luxury of freedom of hairy expression.  Nearly a quarter of a century ago, Don Mattingly, who happens to be Mr. Turner's manager, was a star performer and captain of the most storied franchise in baseball.   The team's principal owner imposed a strict mandate on hair length and when the first baseman's tresses reached near his collar, he was ordered to the barber for a trim. When he refused, Mattingly was suspended. The next day, he was shorn.

And the aforementioned Mr. Damon, upon his appearance in Yankee pinstripes, looked more the part of Wall Street banker than descendant of Samson. Even today, the mere hint of excessive hair is a literal non-starter with the Bronx bombers.

For those like me, there are only myriad jokes about the reasons no hair finds a home on top of our scalps. I don't know which I envy more, the grace and athleticism of those upon this stage or their capacity to demonstrate they are world class hair growers. 

In the midst of all this contemplation, it appears that a baseball game broke out yesterday, an often thrilling and exhilarating display of talent. The deciding contest between the Dodgers and Mets produced a star performance by Daniel Murphy, stealing an unprotected base and clubbing a game winning home run against a mostly dominant and very impressively coiffed Zack Greinke. The only problem was that Murphy's beard is fairly sparse and in need of something more compelling. 

Maybe if the Mets last several more weeks Murphy can improve his look if not his already stellar game.  

Somewhere George Steinbrenner must be vigorously shaking his well manicured hair in disapproval.

Monday, October 12, 2015

McDonald's Love of Chipotle

BACK STORY - I recently attended an Audra McDonald concert in which she spoke of an undying ardor for everything Chipotle

There is gastronomic irony here
And it feeds a hungry mind
For McDonald to dine at Chipotle
Is an  edible slice unkind

She has the great Audracity
The stomach and the heart
To order tortillas with meat or sofritas
Not Big Mac a la carte

She claims she keeps an office
Near the guacamole and rice
And would rather dos tacos, black beans and cilantro
To  McNugget with fries super sized

It must ibble the great Mickey D
That it let Chipotle escape
The soprano's high trillas for their tomatillos
Is the icing on the cake

She loves her burritos and quesadillas
No room for burger with cheese
Dear Audra sings praises of Mexican places
And brings McDonald's to its knees

So though it is just food for thought
It fills this writer's plate
A sumptuous meal of irony
A joke too great to waste

Friday, October 9, 2015

The Stink

("Hillary Clinton's Opportunist Solution")

Stop the presses!! A politician with shifting views to meet the needs of the moment. Is this really where Mr. Brooks wants to go?

The top vote getter on the Republican side is not a career politician and has thus not been subjected to endless inquiry and inspection on his views. But even in that context, look at Mr. Trump. A Democrat seemingly a minute ago, Mr. Trump's changing sentiments were analyzed on a recent segment of Meet the Press . We witness the Republican front runner praising Hillary Clinton, applauding President Obama's economic policies, defending Obamacare and characterizing himself as strongly pro choice. I am certain Mr. Trump would say that was a different time and he was a different person when those views were stated. Uh-huh.

Who can forget a tongue tied Rick Perry trying to castigate Mitt Romney by suggesting he had "before he was before" changed his stripes on the second Amendment, abortion and Obamacare?

The plain truth is that politicians are well, politicians. And yes, they pander to the electorate. Hillary Clinton has spent the last 25 years squarely in the bulls eye. She is a seemingly difficult person to love and yes, she will say what is required for her to get elected. But for Mr. Brooks to single her out as though she is somehow unique is ludicrous. Wake up and smell the roses Mr. Brooks. They often stink.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015



("Take Me Out to the Nosebleeds")

The Nosebleeds. Mr Leitch would suggest that it is only here that the real romance of the game lives. Where the true fan of baseball exists, where the stories abound and the recollections are not manufactured. Where there are no "Johnny come latelies".

I have been chasing foul balls for six decades now all over Yankee Stadium, old and new, front row to last. From days when I poured water over my head to battle the heat to those when I took shelter from the cold and wind in the bathrooms. From Mickey Mantle to Derek Jeter, but also Phil Linz to Horace Clarke. And while there is a mythology associated with being in the Nosebleeds, I want to report that the best fans do not congregate in only one section of the stands.

The seats of the die hard are scattered about, living wherever one locates someone  in whose heart the beauty of the game beats fiercely. I have had a continuing love affair with the Bronx Bombers from the 1950's to this evening, when I will take my seat in the third tier out by the foul pole and try to will a worn out and staggering team to victory.

I am a Nosebleed fan no matter where I am located.  Nosebleed is a state of mind.

Sunday, October 4, 2015

The Other Foot

("Seeking President, No Experience Necessary)

After years of filibusters, after focusing not on what could be accomplished but what could be shut down, after spending all their political energy on destroying the legacy of a sitting President, the Republicans had no answers when they were thrust into a position of power in both Houses in the last election cycle.

What is it that makes the likes of Trump, Carson and Fiorina so attractive in this bizarre alternate universe? It is merely that they have not been party to the failure to dismantle all that the President accomplished during the first six years of his term in office.

Mr. Wehner would suggest the core issue is one of tone that can be corrected by putting a better foot forward. But there is no better foot. This is what being a Republican looks like in 2016, with obscenely conservative stances parroted not only by the "newcomers" but those long on the political scene. 

The Democrats suffered through years of having the trappings of power but not its reality. Too many victories eluded their grasp. Too often they seemed on the defensive. It is a now all too familiar scenario only being played out on the other side of the aisle. The party faithful on the right turn their gaze away from those who, whether they were any part of it or not, are perceived as being unable to undo the intransigence and obstruction they in fact birthed. Government, once and still the problem. Only now it is their own.

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Bad People

Why have speed limits when those who drive recklessly are likely to do so anyway? Why have regulations on food products or emission standards or the myriad other laws which make us healthier, safer and more secure?

If the rationale of Mr. Guiliani and those on the right is that bad people are going to do bad things despite the intended restraints then why even bother to pass any laws? Or is that really the underlying theme? Is this not Reagan's "government is the problem" gone to it's most illogical and vile conclusion?

Friday, October 2, 2015


("Obama Condemns "Routine" of Mass Shootings, Says US has Become Numb")

He has been derogatorily referred to as "no drama Obama". Blessed with the ability to speak with great eloquence and depth of knowledge on critical matters, this is a President who many believe does not often enough reveal his inner fire. But not on this issue.

From Fort Hood, to Tuscon, Newtown to Aurora, Charleston to Roseburg. For Mr. Obama, these have been the moments when he has voiced his  pain and pleaded with a nation to respond. Especially in the wake of Newtown, there was reason to believe some sanity might prevail.  Yet,an endless stream of massacres has been met, ultimately, with national indifference.

Was anyone not moved by the sight of the President singing "Amazing Grace" at the memorial to honor the pastor and the others slain in his Charleston church? Yesterday, there were no such elevated images as a bitter and angry Mr. Obama was called upon yet again to mourn the senseless loss of life.
Gun control, or more precisely the lack of gun control, is one of the great failings of this nation.

Seemingly held hostage by the NRA and the donor class who control both the dialogue and the votes of those in Congress, the possibility of reasonable gun legislation seem ever more remote. And for a President whose term in office has been pock marked with these tragedies, Roseburg was merely the latest, but in all likelihood not the last.