Thursday, June 30, 2016

A Walk in the Woods

It was 1963 or maybe 1964. The barely formed outlines of a course were our guides as my dad and I walked the hilly terrain. I recall one image vividly, standing on the crest of a hill staring down and trying to envision the arc of a shot into that impossibly small area, next to the pond, intended as resting place for one's dream of glory.

I had not seen this spot, or the rest of this course, for nearly a decade. My dad is gone nearly 40 years but I can envision him in the familiar locales, mostly in the thicket of trees off the 16th that gobbled up errant tee shots faster than Clark Kent could change in a phone booth. 

My dad invariably wandered into these woods armed with a ready, slightly off centered smile, and a request that I advise him as to the make and model number of the gift he was to bring me when he emerged. "Titleist 2" I might suggest, and there, in but a moment, would be that precise present, along with a handful of other balls that had wandered into this forbidding land. This was also home to blueberries by the bushel, or so my memory informs me, and I watch my dad emerge with his spoils and a hint of berry on the corners of his mouth.

The course has such a different look now, denuded of much of its forest, in a nod to what is apparently the response to older larger trees dominating the sky and earth around the beating heart in the center of these grounds. The vistas are often unrecognizable, as I stare directly at greens from several tees. Where once doglegs filled with limbs and barks served as barriers to my line of sight there is no longer any impediment. It is a somewhat disorienting journey into time as the spaces seem so much more open, inviting and expansive then my mind's recollections. 

I recall the trees off the left of the third tee, screaming at me to stay right, stay right. There is but open air there now. And I can no longer find the line where my drive on fourteen is intended, as it seems as if the earth has shifted.

Even sixteen has changed, its pond, once but an afterthought next to the grove where my dad spent his few moments in splendid isolation, now spruced up and highlighted. Still, the place where my father meandered in search of his delight and emerged ever a victor, remains remarkably untouched, maybe the last clear testament to a bygone time. I chunk a chip shot from the fairway's center into the no longer murky waters. I suffer through an inglorious first nine, maybe distracted by my recollections but most likely merely a recital of failing skills.

No one knows me here now. They have no idea that I grew up on this terrain, that I spent one summer as a near daily resident, searching for the hidden secrets of the game. No one knows that I beat the Goodwin boys that one time to win the junior championship, even as they were far my superior. No one knows of the lifeguard at the pool who was in my dreams, and of our one inglorious date. No one knows of those days I strolled these grounds with my father, as happy as a young boy could be. No one knows what place this acreage holds in my heart.

There is a plaque placed in the front entrance to the clubhouse thanking the first group of leaders here, those who paved the way for more than a half century of errant shots and dashed hopes. I stare at my dad's name, and am flooded with recollections that only I will ever know. As I walk out the door, I wipe the last remnants of blueberry off my lips.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

A Reply to the NY Times Request for Suggestions on a Suitable Running Mate for Mr. Trump


("Donald Trump's Running Mate")

Donald Duck. 

We would then have two Donalds to lead us, one a cartoon character, a product of the imagination, orange his dominant face color, known best for his semi intelligible speech and often questionable logic.The other, a duck.

Monday, June 27, 2016

Nero, George Bush and Donald Trump

Nero fiddled while Rome burned. George Bush read children's books as the towers fell. Donald Trump hawked his wares as the Brits did their reverse Paul Revere.

To the perpetual rhythms of his great, magnificent theme song, speaking to a crowd in Scotland that had voted not to leave the Union, Trump brushed aside history and focused on renting out his hotel suites, sounding more like a spokesman for the Hilton chain than a candidate for President.

Mr. Trump's self absorption knows no boundaries. Standing in the midst of history, his myopia saw only personal capital at hand. Instead of devoting this moment to reflection of the monumental impact of the decision made, Mr. Trump considered Brexit irrelevant except as it related to Making His Golf Course Great Again.

This is the man who, after the worst mass shooting in the history of this nation, congratulated himself for predicting such a tragedy, his anti-immigrant rhetoric marching inexorably forward despite the unalterable fact that the shooter was a man born less than 10 miles from where Mr. Trump was hatched in Queens, NY. While the bodies of the dead waited to be buried, Mr. Trump preened.

What perversion of logic runs through the head of Donald Trump? And ours?

Friday, June 24, 2016

Don't Come Back

Sung to the tune of "You'll Be Back"  from Hamilton


(The heads of 27 remaining states of the European Union to the British people)

You say
The cost of our union's too much and you choose not to stay
You scream
You're free from all bonds, and your door is now closed all the way
Why so mad?
Recalling our love, our engagement has tumbled away
Now you're treating me bad
Remember, despite what you think, there's a price that you'll pay
You screwed up, soon you'll find
You'll be hoping I have your behind
You screwed up, listen well
You'll be going through a living hell
Trade will end, pound will fall
And you'll wish you made a different call
And when that time should come
I will send along a bouquet of thorns to give the Royal Mum

Da da etc

You think that you'll be happy now we are through
We may have separated but you have no clue
Cause you will be soon be lonely
No man's an island lonely
On your own and oh so lonely
Missing us, very lonely, tomorrow and morrow and oh in your sorrow, so lonely

Don't come back, not to us
We don't want you and all your fuss
We don't care for your kind
And we'll laugh that you are left behind
Now you're gone, we're not sad
And forget about the love we had
So be gone, you are toast
Auf weidersehn, au revoir, arrivederci, adios

Da da etc

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Blame It on Rio


("Rory McIlroy Says He Won't Attend Olympics, Over Zika Concerns")

Blame it on Rio. Or so we should if we accelerate the worldwide Zika outbreak by putting not only the globe's finest athletes but a half million of its citizens in harm's way. 

With there being some evidence that the health risks go beyond damage to new born to multiplying the possibility of contracting Guillaume Barre syndrome, who would suggest Rio, which appears to be at the epicenter of the outbreak, a good place to visit in the coming months?

For athletes who have dedicated a lifetime to this moment (echoes of Hamilton's "I am not throwing away my shot") the thought of a mosquito denying them their glory is ludicrous. But for Rory McIlroy, Vijay Singh and other pro golfers who have their fame and fortune already assured, the decision to withdraw from the games seems a sane and rational course. 

"Let the games begin." Or should they?

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Walk, Don't Run

He threatened last August, predicted in December and even contemplated in April. If the party didn't want him, Donald Trump said, he didn't want them. 

And boy Donald, they really don't want you. As toxic and extreme as the Republican brand has become, as xenophobic, homophobic, misogynistic, anti-intellectual, anti-black, anti-latino, anti-poor as this party has clearly demonstrated itself to be, as much as you are the product of years of wrong headed, pig headed philosophy within the ranks of the establishment, you make even their blood curdle.

So take your toys, your golf courses, your shiny buildings, your crumbling casinos and your outrageous ideas and head home where, even if you are not respected, you are feared. Where no one wants to sit across from you on faux reality television to be humiliated and fired. Where you are king of your domain. 

No Donald, don't let them disrespect you, don't let them Ryan you into submission or McConnell you into speaking in tongues. Be the man you say you are and walk away. Or, in parlance of the moment, run. I mean, don't.

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Buddha and Three Putts

("How Golf Makes You Confront Your Mortality")

Golf is literally a four letter word. Trust me, almost six decades into this form of torture, I believe someone dyslexic first named this undertaking. 

I am my worst self in my stroll around these bucolic settings. Often cursing out the Lord, or invoking the name of his son, cranky, moody and as many other uncomplimentary adjectives as you can conjure.

And when the moments of glory surface, when the ball obeys my mental commands, when the putts do not veer off target at the last millisecond, when the sun is shining and the warm breeze gently brushes my face, even then I sense the dark clouds gathering on the horizon. 

And if I could insert one thought about Buddha in  your contemplations of a life filled with slices and three putts, it would merely be this; Buddha was not a golfer.

Running To Daylight

("Why "Transcending Race" is a Lie")

Race, as it is said, is a social construct, not made of immutable facts, but of our own determinations. If, for example, one parent is black, while the other is Caucasian, how is one to be defined? Is it by skin tone? Is Barack Obama black but Derek Jeter white? Can one be considered black in this country but not another?

OJ Simpson saw a world of white privilege, of better educational opportunities, employment possibilities, where one was more free to walk down the streets or run through an airport as a man without color than one saddled with the burdens and condemnations that attached to every waking moment of being black in America. 

While we spoke of being a post racial nation in the aftermath of the election of 2008, we have learned that too was but a fiction. With every glaring statistic on our incarceration rate, with every new revelation of police brutality, with every attempt to suppress votes, with every action taken to remind us that color matters, we understand that the need to transcend rests not in the black community but in our white one. 

Until we face the reality of our prejudices and our preconceptions, until we understand the fault lies not in others but in ourselves,  until that day dawns we have doomed this nation to live a perpetual lie, where "transcending race" is something to be applauded. Where running away from his race was the best open field move that OJ Simpson  thought he could make.

Friday, June 17, 2016

Persona Non Grata

Dear Mr. Trump: 

Please add me to your persona non grata list. My blog and my Facebook page are largely devoted to diatribes excoriating everything that leaps out of your head and into the public domain.

What must I do to gain your everlasting enmity? Insult your manhood, your hair, your wife? I would suggest attacking your policies but you have none, unless an adjective a verb and any noun you can locate counts as a definitive stance. 

I would consider it an honor if you would add me to your Hall of Shame. I promise I would not disappoint, as I would take every opportunity to speak and write badly of everything Trump.

I ask that you vote me off your island, build your wall to keep me out, call me an illegal legal. 

Your devoted enemy,

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

A Clear and Present Danger

The President is complicit in mass murder. The Muslim community protects those within their midst they suspect are planning an attack. The government exerts no oversight over who becomes members of our society and has permitted a tidal wave of potential terrorists to invade our shores. 

Donald Trump is as close to lunatic, as unfettered from rational contemplation, as unhinged an individual as any person who has ever disgraced us with his presence on our national stage. If the predicate for involuntary psychiatric detention is a finding that one is capable of doing harm to himself or to others, then why is Mr. Trump not in the care of professionals who can try to address his myriad deficiencies?

Why does he get to turn this tragic moment into yet another Trump headline? He appears, in his paranoia and fear mongering a clear and present danger to our nation. Is there no way to shut this man up, to shut this circus down?

Monday, June 13, 2016

Death in Orlando

It has become an indelible stain on the canvas of this nation. Blood red, flowing into every household,  an epidemic both incomprehensible and undeniable.

A President, wearied from far too many pleas for sanity in our response, seemed resigned to our determination to ignore the consequences of our inaction. While weapons intended for warfare turn each of our streets into the next war zone, we do nothing. 

Another community mourns the loss of lives not intended for this, never for this. In days to come we will talk of ISIS, of Islam, and except for those who would deny it's existence, of those in the Orlando nightclub just emerging to claim their rightful seat at the table.

But  we cannot lose sight of the guns. When we wake up tomorrow bathed in tears and wondering why the next tragedy has taken so many from us before their time, we must understand that our own fingerprints are among those on the assault rifle. While we did not pull the trigger, we cannot escape our own culpability.

When will it ever be time to stop the insanity and formulate laws to try to stem the senseless carnage?

50 dead in Orlando - how many more?

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Behind the Curtain - Donald Trump's Raping of Atlantic City

It is this year's version of Mitt Romney's Achilles heel. But instead of Bain Capital it should be denominated as Vain Capital. 

Mr. Trump's systematic rape and pillaging of Atlantic City left everything and everyone he touched in ruins. Jobs lost, businesses collapsed, bondholders and shareholders without revenue or recourse, while Mr. Trump walked away with millions, proclaiming his business acumen fully intact.

The crumbling casinos are but physical evidence of his failures. The Times pointed chronicling of Mr. Trump's exploitations, misrepresentations, miscalculations reeks of the worst abuse of those who put their faith, their money, their careers in the hands of a charlatan. 

Mitt Romney was a man of faith, who sought to convey an image of moral integrity but Bain Capital proved a jarring and damaging blow to him. Donald Trump has none of the qualities that one could admire in the last Republican nominee, and Vain Capital merely reinforces what we know to be true.

Behind the curtain, the Donald is no Wizard, but merely a greedy, selfish, self absorbed manipulator of facts and truth dedicated to no one other than himself.

Saturday, June 11, 2016

The Champ and the Chump

On a day our nation mourned the loss of the Greatest, we must stop and question the unholy alliance of many in our midst with another, much lesser being, who considers himself worthy of that title.

Could there be more stunning contrast in the poetry of their words and of their lives? 

One who fought 15 rounds for the elevation of humanity while the other, with every misspoken sentiment, every intended indictment, every attack and each denunciation brings shame to himself and to those who hold him in high esteem.

One looked unblinkingly into the face of ugliness and extracted beauty, the other creating a cesspool of hatred and division. 

One whose very being emanated principles, whose foundation was as strong and powerful as any punch he ever threw, the other lacking a core, whose weakness was evident in each tortured phrase, each roundhouse thrown in the diminished parlance he had mastered.

One who viewed himself as a vessel for others, the other perceiving humanity as a vessel for him.

One who cared about us, the other who couldn't have cared less about anyone but himself. 

One who sought to embrace each of us, but especially those who had been knocked down, the other who wished to repel and expel, to exclude and reject, to push away and put down.

One who made us bigger while the other made everything and everyone he touched smaller. 

One who walked equally with kings and with the least among us, the other who should have walked alone so as not to taint us with his disease.

One who truly deserved his title and was the people's champ. The other nothing but a chump.

Thursday, June 9, 2016

On My Possible New Job, Thanks to Muhammad Ali

I thought I would share with you the handwritten letter I received in the mail today. It was from a lawyer I have known (professionally but not personally) for many years. He commented as follows on my letter recently published by the New York Times:


Your beautiful letter on the death of Muhammad Ali was a work of art.
When my inevitable day of passing arrives will you commit to me now you will prepare my obit."

Wednesday, June 8, 2016


The Republican party has lost its soul in a million ways as policy, if that is what the absence of the same is still to be named, is determined by voter count, by money, by appeasement of this ugly part of its constituency or appealing to that debased part of our being.

It is now much less than the sum of its parts, and the heart of the GOP has vanished, being replaced by a barrel of guns, of oil, of torturous thoughts and demonic sentiments. By Donald Trump. 

And it is in the complicity of McCain, of Christie, of Rubio and Ryan, of the collapse of opposition to the man they all know is wrong not just for them, but for all of us, that the debasement is made complete. They are not merely turning the other cheek to his wall of insults, to his tidal wave of ludicrous assertions on how this country should comport itself, to his tsunami of horrid suggestions. They are turning their backs on this nation, willing to give the devil his place at the head of the table, as long as there is a morsel of food still left for each of them.

It is a party in tatters, wilfully leading us into the abyss and throwing their lot with the embodiment of everything they know in the very core of their being we should not be. Their Frankenstein, and soon, maybe ours.

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

And Then There Were None

Played out to its logical conclusion based on the scope of the insults of Mr. Trump, he could exclude judges who (apart from being of Mexican heritage or a Muslim) are: 

1. Women
2. Chinese
3. Low energy
4. Former prisoners of war
5. Not well endowed
6. Too flat chested
7. Responsible for making America something less than great
8. Members of the press
9. Democrats
10. Able to think (or, more precisely, judge)

Strike One, You're Out

More thoughts on neutering offense 
1. Move the bases 120 feet apart
2. Move the mound to Little League distance
3. Allow pitchers to use steroids
4. Ban starting pitching and only permit relievers who throw more than 100 MPH on every toss
5. Remove all lighting and make batters rely on moonlight
6. One strike and you're out
7. Six balls for a walk
8. Four minute maximum half inning
9. Scuff up every ball with sandpaper.
10. Make one league not use a designated hitter (oh, sorry that is actually still happening).

Saturday, June 4, 2016

Muhammad Ali


He came to us as a curiosity and stayed as an icon who altered our landscape forever.

Far beyond the confines of a ring, Muhammad Ali, was defined as a fighter with quick fists, quick wit and an indomitable spirit. He willingly forfeited riches, his crown and even his freedom, if it had come to that, following the dictates of his religion and his heart. He might have arrived as part showman but he remained as a dedicated, serious ambassador for his beliefs. 

Parkinson's may have sapped him of his most obvious strengths, making him a physical shadow of his earlier self and taking away much of the sound of his voice. But Ali's poetry was not limited to his outward beauty or rhymes. His was the heart of a lion, the will of David against Goliath, a life equal parts passion and compassion.

He was, for half a century, an American treasure. And he will forever remain one of the most influential voices of our time. 

Born Cassius Clay, lived long as Muhammad Ali, died a legend and a hero to countless millions around the globe. Forever may he be recalled as one who was both butterfly and bee, a man filled with enduring beauty, grace and power.

Friday, June 3, 2016

3:21 AM - Time on My Hand and My Mind


Being a very early riser, I awaken hours before the sound emanates of the New York Times being dropped outside the front door to my apartment. The on-line version becomes my first companion of each new day. 

And like clockwork, actually exactly like clockwork, that day's op eds are posted at 3:21 AM. I wonder whether there is something significant in the choice of that precise moment and can only surmise that it is intended to suggest a countdown to blast off. It is the time, the literal time, when we rise and turn our eyes towards the heavens, hoping to touch the skies. Blast off, when anything and everything seems possible.

Or maybe it is not that at all, but merely serendipity that brought this hour and minute to such elevated heights. 

These are the wanderings of a mind that awakens far too early and is left to focus on matters such as these.  I think I should go back to sleep.