Friday, November 25, 2016

The Difference Between a Joke and a Joke

 It is the difference between light and dark (only not in that way) between high (only not in that way) and low between "he's fired up" and "he's fired".

One tells a joke, one is a joke, one makes us laugh, one makes us cry, one is a moral person, one is amoral.

I will miss much about Barack Obama but maybe nothing as much as his capacity to laugh at himself. I fear much about Donald Trump but maybe nothing as much as his capacity to laugh at others.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

The Price of the Times (The New York Times) - to the tune of "You'll Be Back"

You say, your freedom to speak does not suddenly seem free at all
You cry, every time that I speak what I speak is but merely a lie
What's so bad
Remember I helped sell your paper and I'll keep you king
But don't get me mad
Remember I can pull out my guns if you don't kiss my ring
You'll be back, wait and see
You'll be lining up on bended knee
You'll be back, headlines sell
And we'll serve each other very well
Obama's gone, Hillary's small
And you'll wait to hear my Trumpian call
So don't speak 'til I say
The First Amendment's the price of loyalty you'll pay

da da da di da (etc)

You say the cost I'm asking's too much to pay
You say free speech is free no matter what I say
But you don't know my power
Know this, no's make me sour
This is my finest hour
Don't dare to make me dour
Not ever, not ever or ever or ever

I have your back that's for sure
Just don't swear at me or start a war
For I'm good, for I'm kind
Just the kind who'll kick your behind
So be gone, but don't be mad
And for Trump's sake just don't be sad
Cuz if you push and you shove
I will kill your stupid newspaper
To remind you of my love

Da da da di da etc

Sunday, November 20, 2016

We The People

We the people are flawed, imperfect, never certain of where this journey will lead and never quite sure of where we are.
We the people, almost like clockwork, change our minds and our loyalties every eight years, like changing out of an old pair of socks, now worn and full of holes.
We the people are about the hope of tomorrow whether with the audacity of Obama or the anger of Trump.
We the people will never be an easy fit because we are not one thing, not one belief, not a homogeneous whole, but an accumulation of differences.
We the people is an ever evolving process. The one certainty is that we the people will be different tomorrow than we are today.

There's a Million Things He Hasn't Done, But Just You Wait, Just You Wait


"Donald J Trump, his name is Donald J Trump, there's a million things he hasn't done, but just you wait, just you wait."

And thus, one "acting" vice-president, spoke to the next real one, breaking down the imaginary fourth wall to voice the concern of the cast and much of the country that Mr. Trump not build his actual wall, not build on the hatred of his campaign, not build on the division of this nation.

And in reply, the thin skinned tweeter in king,  the petulant child who huffs and puffs, the master baiter who can't tolerate dissent, the bully who sits in regal command high in his golden tower, demands an apology for "insulting" Mr. Pence and by extension the office of the Presidency.

For those of us who value freedom of expression, who condemned Mr. Trump for his relentless unfounded attacks on President Obama, on his heritage, on his very right to lead, but understand the protections of the first amendment, for those of us who comprehend that we have something more to fear than fear itself, the tirade of Mr. Trump sends stark warning.

There's a million things he hasn't done, but just you wait, just you wait. The mind recoils.

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Sleepless in New Jersey

It is 4 AM as I write this and while it may be my normal waking hour, it is not yours. But over the past 10 nights you have not slept well.
We are slowly absorbing our new reality. Like me, you cope by reading less of the news, poring over less of the expert ruminations. You don't have the mental stamina to listen to the pundits analyze what our world looks like today and suggest what it is likely to look like tomorrow.  It has all felt a little like responding to some terrible personal tragedy, maybe even like the death of a member of the family. And you don't want someone else directing your grief.
I received a number of worried calls in the days immediately following the darkest night in our collective memory. The "are you OK" with its implicit warning not to give up. You did too.
But our brains work in mysterious ways, fighting hard to make the worst appear less so with each passing hour. It is our essential coping mechanism permitting us to function, informing us not to dwell too long or too hard on our deepest hurt or our worst fears. It instructs us that the sun will rise tomorrow, that the stars will shine in the night sky, that our hearts still beat, even if they occasionally appear to stop for just a moment.
A friend called me yesterday and said she noticed that we all appear to be recovering, as if we had a virus that was now slowly dissipating.
Soon you and I will turn again to that writer who seems to have an understanding we trust, to that learned person who is consistently observant and astute. We will allow our pain to diminish even as it will not disappear.
We have stopped our crying and soon we will start to laugh again, will become reacquainted with our petty annoyances and find some of our old joys. We will  recapture our lives.
And while we will never trust what we read or hear in quite the same way, will never be as we were before November 8 when, for a moment or two it felt as if the earth had stopped moving, as if time had lost its meaning, as if reason and logic had been rendered without purpose, while we will never be quite as sure nor quite as sure footed, we will survive.
And even as I enjoy the companionship at 4 AM, I hope in the tomorrows to come you don't awaken until the first rays of daylight appear on the horizon.  Get your rest. God knows you (and I) will need it.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

One of the Best Days of My Life

This is a tale of one of the best days of my life.
Last Tuesday morning began with not a cloud in sight. Crisp, maybe heavy sweater weather,  a day to be outside enjoying mid-fall.

I woke early, as is my habit, went to a local bagel place for breakfast and headed to my niece's home where I had stayed overnight. This part of Philly was teeming with the young and white. While I am considerably older than young,  I fit in without notice here.

By mid-morning I had traveled about five miles into a different universe. This area of North Philly had been through hard times, it's inhabitants having been witness to a world far removed from the one I had just left.

My assignment for Election Protection on this day was to cover three polling districts to assure no voting irregularities had occurred. I had studied the video, read through the one page cheat sheet on how to deal with various problems that arose, worried about the dirty tricks that I feared Republican operatives might use to keep the people in this area of town from casting ballots.

I was paired with a young woman, a lawyer who had grown up in China, arriving in the US at age 14.  Over the course of the day, I would learn her story, as well as that of a remarkable group of the most friendly, open people I have ever met.

First, my partner. She came to this country, and settled with her family in Brooklyn, hardly a word of English at her command. She began high school unable to comprehend any lesson her teachers were imparting. "How", I asked, "had she survived academically"?

She told me she copied down everything written on the blackboard. Then each night she would sit and translate, word by word, until she could find meaning in the phrases.
One class proved particularly frustrating, as nothing on her piece of paper could be found in the dictionary. It would be some time before she would realize she was taking a Spanish course.
Four years later she would graduate as salutatorian, attend an Ivy league university, then a well respected law school. Now she was employed at one of Philly's top firms.

Our first stop was at Sixth and Indiana. It was a little after 10 AM and a steady flow of people arrived at this polling place. Two men, in their late 20's or early 30's, were giving out handouts reminding those about to enter the school auditorium of who the best candidates were on the ballot.
What I noticed here, and elsewhere, was how warm and friendly everyone was, not only to each other, but also to these two strangers, this young Asian woman and this old Jewish guy, who were assuredly not from around there.
We took pictures of the two young men who would spend from first light of day to last in this locale. As one of them posed and instead of saying "cheese" mouthed "gangsta", there was a sense of camaraderie between us. The plastic chairs they brought to allow them some rest for weary legs were offered to myself and my partner during our watch.
From our first locale we moved a few blocks, on foot, to our next stop. As we walked the streets of row houses, most neatly maintained but some showing the ravages of time and scarce finances, my partner said some had questioned why she had chosen this neighborhood for her volunteer work. This day would provide her the answer.
Standing guard outside our next destination was a man, seemingly about my age, who told his life's tale without prompting. He was two years my senior, had lived in this part of town one year shy of half a century. He was a father of four, grandfather of twenty two, and great grandfather of two. He spoke of next year being his 50th wedding anniversary, of renewing his vows before an expected crowd of 170. I learned of his large family gathering on Thanksgiving and of his wife baking pies for three days straight. Within minutes I was referring to my new friend as Gramps and had invited myself to this year's Thanksgiving gathering.
After several minutes of  this monologue, my new friend turned away from me to greet a woman who appeared to be slightly younger than us. She was with three girls who I guessed were her children.

He gave her a deep hug and told her that he was sorry. I thought he was apologizing for not noticing her. Within seconds it was clear his words had a far different meaning.
The night before, but a few blocks from where we now stood, this woman's son had been shot and killed, outside her doorstep, in a confrontation with the police. Yet, here she was, in the midst of that tragedy, arriving to vote.
I interceded, with but one question. "Why have you taken the time to come here."
"It is just too important to make sure that Hillary wins."
I thought about how I would have responded to a similar event in my life, and where an election, even a Presidential election, would have fit into the day after such a horrendous tragedy. But I also considered what I could never know: how hard life must be for so many who live here, how violence and loss is more part of the fabric of this neighborhood than I could ever perceive, and that maybe this woman had learned a perspective that was remarkable and far beyond my capacity to grasp.

From here, my partner and I walked to our last stop. My son had gone on line to help me map out the route of the places I would be monitoring and he remarked as to the beauty of the fa├žade of the community center, home to this polling site.
Here, the exterior had been painted in glorious designs and colors, with an overlay that was sculpted and fit perfectly into the motif.
A long folding table sat just outside the entrance. There I struck up conversation with a gentleman, also approximately my age, another local face standing guard.. He was Muslim, his skull cap giving expression to his beliefs. He informed me that he had lost seven of his siblings in the last two years. I did not ask the circumstances and he did not offer explanations.

But I did ask how he had coped with so much loss. "When we arrive here and when we leave, is written and ordained. I am just happy and grateful for the time I had with all of them."
He would soon be called upon to deal with an issue posed. As my partner and I stood there, another man approached.
"I am Legend, and my name is written into this building." With that, he walked me around to the other corner of this community center. There, inscribed, was a thank you to those who had been instrumental in what was most likely the revitalization of this site. And yes, there was Legend's name.

He had been a local sports hero growing up, a multi talented athlete. He had gone to college for one year, a basketball walk-on who did not make the grade. But here he was a half century later, in this same neighborhood, volunteering to coach the game he still loved and telling kids that the only way out was with their brains.
I was just the vessel for these people to express the stories of their lives and their neighborhood. They were more open and forthcoming as a group than any I had ever encountered. Theirs were stories of love, of perseverance, of finding balance and grace in difficult and often tragic circumstances.

There was a calm and joy here, people greeting one another with hugs, smiles and an undeniable sense of community and belonging.
My studying of the information given to me had been unnecessary. There was but one question posed to me during my entire watch. As an issue of proper registration to vote was being discussed, a poll worker ran outside and told the young man to return to the booth. It had all been resolved.

People watching out for each other. People making me and my partner feel welcome and appreciated. People who were in many ways, some of the finest people I have ever had the privilege to meet. It was one of the best days of my life.
Followed shortly thereafter by one of my worst nights. Ever.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Trump and his Sicko-phants

It should be called Mr. Trump and his sicko-phants. As the President-elect begins to assemble a team of cohorts, the picture that emerges is one that should cause retraction of every statement made that Trump will govern in different tone than the ugly rhetoric of his campaign.
It appears that Trump is putting together his own Murderer's Row. Bannon but the first, Giuliani soon to follow and can the likes of Christie, Gingrich and maybe even Palin be far behind? A group that will counsel destruction of civil liberties, decimation of environmental regulation, death to the department of education.
It is an evil cabal, a covey of corrupt ideas and ideals that will do almost incalculable damage to this nation. A softer, kinder Donald Trump as President? The answer is an emphatic nyet.

Monday, November 14, 2016

The Death of the Boomer

We came in with protest, angered at the wrongs committed by those in power and determined to make our nation and the world a better place to live in. We tuned in, turned on and raised our voices and the conscience of our nation. But now the boomers have busted.

If the polling figures are to be believed, and who really can trust our Dewey beats Truman pollsters today, Donald Trump can thank his almost contemporaries for his most improbable ascension. How did we go from a generation trying to make America great again to embracing this charlatan?

When did our better selves die and why? When did the world turn into such a dark place? In our youth it was us against them, the small minded, the heartless. Now we are them, and we are responsible for what we as a nation have become.

The boomers have lost their way. They have found redeeming value in a man who has not spent one day, one hour, one second in seven decades in pursuit of a common good. Today I am saddened to be part of the boomer generation.

Today there is a funeral being held and a period of mourning to follow. Today we bury the best of what being a boomer was all about. And the eulogy is being given by the President-elect.

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Aunt Shirley

My Aunt Shirley died Tuesday night, election night. The family was convinced that she did not want to awaken to a universe with Donald Trump as her President-elect.

Maybe that was so, and if that was her predicate for moving on, then I applaud her wisdom and judgment. But this is not a story about the state of our political demise, but rather the near end of a family dynamic that has been a constant presence my entire life.

Shirley was one of five siblings in what to me, has been an almost mythic family. The Smiths of Lodi, four girls and then, at last, a boy. A group whose bonds tethered not only them but those who followed thereafter.

My aunt would have been 94 later this month and the gathering at her funeral reflected this. There were no contemporaries, no friends of hers and the only sibling still alive, my mom was nearing 99 and far, far too removed from this universe to attend or to even be made aware that her younger sister and life long best friend was no more. But my aunt was far from alone.

Three of the sisters settled in Teaneck after marriage. Memories of bonded households abound, but there was always a special place in my heart for Aunt Shirley's home. Not only was her son Larry only weeks my junior and always a good and loyal friend, but Aunt Shirley was forever a second mom. Her house was the one I would run to when my parents were away, her kitchen the place where I would listen to tales of her "bad list".

I was a lousy French student from my introduction to the language in grammar school to the mangling of it in high school. Aunt Shirley and I had our own way of making light of this bad situation  and the following was the exact way we began every conversation for nearly a half century.

" Robert, (imagine this in my Aunt's Lodi laced French) comment allez-vous aujourd'hui?"

"Tres bien, merci et vous?"

"Boney, bon, bon."

At the funeral home, cousins from all five branches of our clan gathered to pay our respects, to give tribute to Aunt Shirley and to share our love for her with her children.

Thanksgiving has always been my favorite day of the year, a time when all the family gathered, when there was a feeling of closeness between generations that could not be elsewhere duplicated. I often wondered what it must have felt like to grow up in that house in Lodi, with all its tumult and activity, all its life and love, and it was on this one day of the year, on Thanksgiving, that I could get at least the tiniest sense of that feeling.

I worry that this feeling will soon die out. That my children will never be able to impart to their children just what I have had the privilege to know. That the Smith family gatherings will not last another generation as time, distance and remoteness of lineage make the story of these wondrous siblings just a tale to be resurrected on ever rarer occasions, just an emotion to be recalled and not enjoyed.

As my aunt was lowered into the ground at the gravesite she now shares with her husband of over 66 years, my Uncle Harold, with my dad, and one day in the not too distant future with my mom, and we silently said our final goodbyes, I couldn't help but recall my life long running conversation with her.

"Adieu, Aunt Shirley, until we meet again at Thanksgiving."

You Are Invited to a Party

As the election neared and the prospect of a Hillary Clinton victory seemed inevitable, my son suggested we show our thanks to the outgoing President. "Why don't we ring the White House the day before the swearing in of our new leader and merely applaud to demonstrate our appreciation for President Obama?"
While the sting of Tuesday night is still fresh and the thought of any celebration seems so contrary to our present state of mind, I say now is the right time to plan a party.
Let there be a show of force in Washington on January 19 coming from all corners of this country, from all walks of life, to state emphatically that we are still here, we still have the core beliefs that Mr. Obama so eloquently articulated on our behalf, and that he is still and forevermore deserving of our praise and our thanks.
I ask everyone who reads these words to spread the message. Let us all meet as one on January 19 to inform the world, with the clapping of our hands, of our gratitude to Barack Obama for what he has attempted to do to make this country and this world a better place.

Friday, November 11, 2016

The Eight Year Itch

1952 to 1960 - Dwight Eisenhower - 8 years - Republican
1960 to 1968 - Kennedy/Johnson - 8 years - Democrat
1968 to 1976 - Nixon/Ford - 8 years- Republican
1976 to 1980 - Carter - 4 years - Democrat
1980 to 1992 - Reagan/ Bush - 12 years - Republican
1992 to 2000 - Clinton - 8 years- Democrat
2000 to 2008 - Bush - 8 years - Republican
2008 to 2016 - Obama - 8 years - Democrat
2016 to ? - Trump - Republican
Of the eight changes of party rule over the past 64 years, the last 16 presidential elections, 75% occurred at the end of two terms of control. Through war and of peace, through assassination and resignation, through civil rights and uncivil wrongs, through fathers and sons, through impeachment hearings and missile crisis, through incompetence and corruption, through the best of times and the worst of times, the one almost universal certainty is that after eight years of being led by Democrat or Republican the voters will demand a change.
Despite his obvious and oft times overwhelming flaws, despite his seeming repeated attempts to undermine his own candidacy, despite his pronounced lack of preparation and understanding of the task that lay before him, Donald Trump was still in the right place at the right time.
Notwithstanding that Barack Obama had turned a monthly loss of 800,000 jobs into a prolonged period of reduced unemployment, despite 15 million who found work over this time of recovery, despite a revitalized stock market, despite a return from the brink of epic disaster to at least a stabilized economy, despite the fact that President Obama had stopped our nation's bleeding, it was not enough to assuage the anger of the masses. If life was better, for many it was still not good enough. 
A different party, after eight years of not being in power, always can promise better. Even if it can't deliver, and the Republican plan, if there even is one, is very unlikely to do so, all it has to do is to say it can. The Democrats and Hillary Clinton could only say they would try harder. That was not, and never is, the right answer.
This nation is nothing if not perpetually dissatisfied with its station. No matter what the basis for this election's insurrection, whether it be immigration, the inevitable march of time and the understanding that minorities will soon to be in the majority, the ascension of a black man to the highest office and the contemplation of a woman to take his place, the feeling that others around the globe no longer stop and listen when we speak, no matter if it is these matters or others that weigh on the voters, it always boils down to the same inevitable conclusion that two terms is more than enough for the party then in power.
When history is written about this election, and those with the benefit of hindsight attempt to dissect the reasons we handed the keys to the car to someone who has never driven and is blind to the dangers on the road, we should first and foremost ask how we did not see that this was the most likely outcome of all.


Why? Why with a call to hate and fear, with images of a dystopian universe, with such a poor messenger and such a poor message, why do we find ourselves staring directly into the abyss of a Donald Trump presidency?
1. Because the balance of power most often shifts parties after a two term President, as our country forever searches for the next best answer to the problems of our day.
2. Because a woman following a black man into office was just a bridge too far.
3. Because the last scandal in a campaign marked only with scandals wins (or more precisely loses). Goodbye to Billy Bush and hello to Anthony Weiner. In a landscape of sexual impropriety focusing on private parts, you couldn't have created characters for a television show with two more jarringly bad names. Thanks for nothing James Comey.
4. Because a family political dynasty for the Democrats following shortly after a family political dynasty for the Republicans was another bridge too far.
5. Because Hillary Clinton could never generate any excitement on her own and relying on surrogates like the Obama's, as striking as they were, was no match for the fervor created by a master entertainer playing on the basest instincts of his supporters.
6. Because we have an electoral college that effectively negates the concept that every vote is of equal weight.
7. Because we didn't believe in our hearts that a buffoon could actually ascend to the presidency and that his lies, his lack of knowledge or understanding, his hatred and lack of compassion would outweigh the reasons why so many seemed drawn to him.
8. Because the Republican party was so effective in painting Hillary Clinton as a crook and an inveterate liar, thus deflecting attention from the fact that Donald Trump was the true crook and inveterate liar.
9. Because we "liberals" are perceived by so much of America as smug and pompous, considering this our land not theirs, and we were going to be informed in the most direct terms that we were wrong.
10. Because shit happens.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Occupy Trump Tower

Dear President-elect Trump:

This is a message from the majority of American voters who cast their ballots in favor of your opponent.
We have a list of issues we would like to address now, so that there is no uncertainty when you take office on January 20, 2017 as to where we stand:
1. Do not take away health care protection for the 20 million newly insured
2. Do not consider the environment as a disposable commodity.
3. Do not renege on your promise to resurrect our crumbling infrastructure.
4. Do not give tax handouts to the wealthy
5. Do not abandon our NATO allies
6. Do not be fooled by Vladimir Putin
7. Do you put your hand anywhere near the nuclear button
8. Do not build that wall.
9. Do not appoint a justice to the Supreme Court without real advise and consent
10. Do not denigrate those that live peaceably and with honor in our country.
11. Do not think that mass deportation is the right answer
12. Do not bring back torture as an acceptable method of interrogation
13. Do not support tariffs that will only damage our nation
14. Do not treat your job and your responsibilities lightly.
15. Do not forget that we are here.
16. Do not forget that we are watching.
17. Do not forget that the mid-term elections are only 2 years away.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016


Tell me the world is flat, and I will no longer deny it. Tell me that birds can't fly and I will nod in agreement. Tell me that up is down, the sun revolves around the earth, day is night and two plus two is three. I can no longer distinguish truth from fiction.
Tell me that this country has fallen under the spell of a dunce, that we have gone from the oratorical brilliance of Lincoln to the insipid ramblings of Moe, Larry and Curley, that we have jumped off a cliff without a parachute, that everything that can't be is.
It is nearing 3AM and I am fearful of what the dawn will bring. I am afraid to close my eyes for I am certain to awaken to a nightmare without end. I feel helpless and hopeless, disgusted and discouraged.
My son has advised me of certain trite phrases I am banned from using to communicate my thoughts and feelings.With due apologies to him, I am breaking his rule. I can hardly breathe in contemplation of a universe ruled by an evil imbecile, a Congress under Republican dictate, a Supreme Court filled with Antonin Scalia wannabes, an environment toxic in word and deed, a walled off land in which right is wrong, good is bad and decency has no seat at the table.
This is not how it was supposed to be, not what every fibre of my being told me it could possibly be. This cannot be my land, not my country, not my home. I can't imagine existing in a place in which this is the best we have to offer. That in a nation of over 300 million there was not one, not even one, that was better prepared to lead us on this journey. That we were drawn into this man's lair and are trapped here for eternity.
"Tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow creeps in this petty pace from day to day 'til the last syllable of recorded time. And all our yesterday's have lighted fools the way to dusty death."
Tomorrow is today and time has lost its meaning. We awaken in purgatory.

Monday, November 7, 2016

James Comey and "Rigged" Elections


("Emails Warrant No New Action Against Hillary Clinton, FBI Director Says")
The follow up announcement of Mr. Comey "clearing" Ms. Clinton cannot undo the damage done a week before.

How many million ballots were cast with the initial proclamation of the director ringing in their ears? How many went into the poll booth, or mailed in their vote assuming the smoking gun was hidden in the trove of emails on Mr. Werner's computer? How many races, not only for President but down ballot were seriously impacted by the reckless statement and the imagined implications of the words uttered by the director of the FBI in the very heart of the early voting process?
These questions hang over this election with as much weight as a Florida chad. While their answers are unknowable, the consequences of one horribly wrong speculation, only now shown to be wholly unfounded and without merit, are undeniable.
And Mr. Trump's wild accusations of a "rigged" outcome could in fact prove prescient. Only not in the direction he would suggest.

Sunday, November 6, 2016

The End is Nigh

Why, even to the very bitter end, do we dose out criticism in equal measure? Can't we, in this our moment of grave discontent and even greater danger, finally place the threat that Donald Trump represents in its own unique category?

This is not the end but the beginning of a national nightmare if this small handed, small minded caricature of a candidate wakes up Wednesday with a mandate to tear down this country by building walls, to ignore the reality of climate change, to indiscriminately dismantle old alliances and forge bonds with those who would seek our destruction, to threaten, to prevaricate, to stumble into disaster, to tax our country to the limit by trickling down long discredited economic theory, to stoke the fears and hatreds of those who believe control of the country and their destiny is slipping away, to remove safety nets and health care coverage for those most in need, to pack the Supreme Court with Scalia-lites, to condone torture and run roughshod over the foundational precepts of our democracy, to turn 401Ks into 201Ks, to close our minds and shut our hearts, to find darkness and danger everywhere we look, to do lasting and maybe irreparable damage to our stature in the eyes of the world.

In stark contrast, Hillary Clinton is as ready, willing and able to take on the rigors of the hardest job in the world as any person who has ever sought this office. Her email problem, her reflexive secrecy after she has been poked and prodded for 25 years are not her most laudable traits. But Donald Trump is not worthy of comparison to Ms. Clinton in any measure, as his faults are staggering, omnipresent and belong solely in their own dismal universe.

"The end is nigh" should  not be a review  by Ms. Dowd of the relative faults of the Democratic and Republican nominees but rather the title of a book contemplating an America under siege, under Trump. For a Donald Trump presidency promises nothing so much as the end of the world as we know it.

Friday, November 4, 2016

The Heart of the Game

("Cubs, Nerds and 'True Baseball' ")
It is a sport saturated in statistics, analyzed, dissected and categorized. Sounding at times more like a science experiment than an endeavor of the body and soul.
But that was not the definition of game seven, wrapped in drama that resonated in the very core of both fans and the artists who drew a masterpiece worthy of Picasso.
Was there nothing more beautiful than the conversation in the Cubs dugout where the grizzled veteran, in the final chapter of his career, counselled calm to the young star (the cub) struggling to control his emotion?
This was a moment where all the norms and dictates of facts and figures were cast asunder, where starters appeared in relief, where pitch counts disappeared, where adrenaline carried exhausted arms and legs forward, where decades and decades of disappointment and frustration were about to end for one of these franchises, where the travails of the outside universe were, for a brief moment, forgotten.
This night may have been the result of intense study by "nerds" of numbers and deviations from the norm, but tell that to the pitcher who cried in the dugout after one of his triple digit offerings was turned around into a game tying blast, or the pure joy on the face of the first baseman as he tucked the ball he had secured for the last out, deep into his back pocket.
One can argue that baseball, without its clock, with its sometimes endless maneuverings, can seem anachronistic, an endeavor for last century and for those who have too much time on their hands to wade endlessly into troves of numbers. But not on this night, which represented none of that, but was rather filled with absolute joy, unremitting heartache and the ebb and flow of a contest that will stand forever more as a testament to the heart.

Thursday, November 3, 2016

108 and Done

Like a punch-drunk boxer, the Cubs were staggering, their four run lead evaporated, their invincible closer suddenly vincible. And then the rains came, and an excruciatingly wondrous game and a 108 year odyssey lingered ever longer into the Ohio night.
Given the history of the franchise, this team's return from the edge of the grave down three games to one, and the magnificent, torturous flow of this ultimate battle, virtually everything special and meaningful in a sport deeply entrenched in tradition and lore was on full display.
Echoes of epic battles past resounded. My own thoughts turned to 1960 and the intense pain of an eight year old Yankee die hard, dying hard when Mazeroski's drive sailed over Berra's head and the left field wall.
And with tonight's last out, and victory secure, somewhere in a corner of the baseball universe, Steve Bartman just exhaled.