Wednesday, January 31, 2018

The State of the Union Address

Here he was, revealed as a man of great compassion, filled with nothing but the deepest of concern for those whose lives have been overwhelmed with pain and despair. 

Recounting the tale of one who traveled great distances, at unfathomable peril, to escape the atrocities of his homeland  so he could breathe the air of freedom and enter a universe a endless possibilities.

And yet this depth of emotion from our leader did not extend to those who happened to have fled the wrong leaders from the wrong borders.

Addressing parents whose teenage children were taken from them with depraved indifference by people with ready access to guns and a cruelty that knew no bounds.

But this message was not intended for the parents of those slaughtered by gunmen whose background did not neatly fit into his narrative.

Yes, Mr. President, we heard you suggest that your heart is bursting with love for your fellow man, that you have no greater calling then to end suffering and strife.

But then we know this to be but facade, that the words you read came not from your head or your heart but from a teleprompter. That your actions yesterday and tomorrow belie the script you recited tonight. That yours is a world that rejects and repudiates, vilifies and castigates, demeans and denounces. That is soaked in cruelty and callousness.

Mr. President, we were not fooled.

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

The State of Illusion

There will be no mention of myriad school shootings, environmental disasters, failure to eviscerate health care, loss of standing in the eyes of the world, puerile battles with other leaders, no ugly tweets, no escalating tensions, no separating of families, no thought of Mexico paying for the wall, no mention of the state of the Union he inherited with its rising stock market and lowering unemployment, no Vladimir Putin, nothing of China eagerly stepping into the vacuum he created, nothing of Donald Jr or Steve Bannon, no personal  plundering, no sexual abuses, no 94 rounds of golf, no weekends at Mar-a-Lago or Bedminster, no talk of good Nazis,no investigations or obstruction, no Donald Trump unfocused, uncaring, unwilling and unable.

Rather we will hear of the State of illusion with all its superlatives, with  manufactured triumphs, with an America that is, in this telling, stronger and better because of what he has done.

There will be many who refuse to watch, unwilling after enduring a year of his petulance, his hatreds, his total and complete lack of diplomacy or direction, to be subjected to a speech replete with alternative facts and glaring omissions. 

As for me, I fear I will be as one who turns his eyes towards a train wreck. Sickened and fascinated, unable to break away.

And also because, for better and certainly for much worse, he is our President.

Sunday, January 28, 2018

On the death of Warren Miller


Winter, spring, summer and fall. And a fifth season, Warren Miller.

It was in his voice that our dormant passion for skiing was reawakened each autumn. In its laughter, in its awe for the greatness, wonder and beauty of travelling down a hill on a pair of sticks. Sometimes in his films we won, making impossible leaps off cliffs, taking lines down the steep face of a mountain that dared any man or woman foolish enough to defy the laws of gravity. And sometimes we lost, unable to get off the simplest of chairlifts, our bodies seeming ill equipped to perform the most basic tasks. But win or lose, on the highest of peaks or the bottom of the beginner slope, Warren Miller captured the unadulterated joy the best and the worst among us shared for this sport.

There was something magical, almost mythical in what he did, living the life we all could only imagine. A kind of idyllic existence, always chasing the next adventure. Never really growing up or growing old. Always that voice, filled with the happiness of doing exactly what he was meant to do, taking us along for the ride. His reality and our dream hand in hand across the screen.

He was the godfather of this industry, its spokesperson even before there were the Vails and the Aspens, even before it became something more, or maybe something less than it was when Warren Miller lived in that trailer at the base of the mountains in those first wondrous years.

And with his passing, we are left with but four seasons. I will miss that fifth one maybe more than I would any other.

Friday, January 26, 2018

Letter from a Deportation Cell

It is with a heavy heart that I write to you to say my farewell. You, my children, who have memories of this home and no other.

But I beg you, do not despair, do not weep. For only in your strength can I find the will to persevere.

I entered this land but a young man. Filled with the promise of a better tomorrow, where hope was my companion and happiness was within reach. And know that I have been happy here, even more than that.

I found your mother and that is an eternal blessing. And I have been given the gift of you boys, something no prison cell, no time nor distance can ever destroy or diminish. You are now and forever in my heart and in my head. I carry you with me no matter where my body may find itself.

 I pray that you don't give up on this country. It may have dealt us the cruelest of blows, it may have lost its way in these darkest of times, but it has not forever lost its morality, only misplaced it.

It is your duty and obligation to show those who would treat you with the most ugliness and disdain that you are more, much more than they believe. Do not let them turn your heart cold for only then would we truly be vanquished.

Be strong, be resolute, full of grace and dignity. In this our moment of deepest sorrow and anger, do not allow their cruelty to become yours.

It may be some time before we meet again, before we hug again, before we laugh as one again. But know that I will never leave you, that I will be by your side each and every step you take, that you will be in my dreams each night and my prayers every day.

Remember me when you pass our favorite stream, in the quiet of an early Sunday morning, in the most beautiful of sunsets. Remember me on the good days and the ones that are less so. For I will remember you in every single breath and it will serve as my blanket and shield against the harshest wind.

Stay well, stay committed, make me and your mom proud.

With all my love,


Thursday, January 25, 2018

Reading, Writing and Guns - Another School Shooting

We knew it could come to this. That another horrific shooting in a school would be relegated to mere footnote. We have become numb, outrage morphing into exhaustion, determination now mere resignation.

There are no words to adequately describe our disappointment and disgust for those who turn a blind eye to our national tragedy, our national travesty. 

From the solemn thoughts of President Obama, from his fervent pleas and plaintive cries for sanity to the profound and utter silence of this White House, we now stand accused as co-conspirators, complicit in each and every death that comes before its time.

We no longer demand change, no longer even require conversation. 

The words gun and control now seeming irretrievably mutually exclusive. And that is the greatest tragedy of all.

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Open For Business As Usual


If there was one critical message in the January 20th Women's March it was that those who oppose the policies of this President and this Republican controlled Congress should not falter or waver in their beliefs. They should demonstrate by word and deed they will not be deterred or defeated. They should forcefully announce they have the political courage of their convictions. Oops.

For those who doubt Mitch McConnell keeps his promises, you are wrong. Remember this was the man who made his top priority, his most sacred vow, to assure Mr. Obama was but a one term President. And yes, he did all he could to be true to that pledge, as he oversaw a party denominated, with good cause, the party of "no".  So, yes, Mr. McConnell is firmly and intractably dedicated to a single proposition:  that the Democrats should appear weak and feckless. 

It is time for Mr. Schumer and his party to stop governing in polling numbers. Whether or not the government shutdown "plays well" in the moment, having inviolate principles is an intangible asset that is critical to the long term well being of his party. 

In 2013 the Republicans orchestrated a 16 day "halt" in the governing of this nation. Many pundits predicted that this gesture would spell doom in the mid-terms in 2014. History teaches us that this belief was wildly inaccurate. 

America has a very short memory, its attention span being what is served for dinner that day, yesterday's news just that. So the agreement to re-open business as usual and kick the DACA can down the road, based on a vague and meaningless pledge by Mr. McConnell, will not be long recalled as a wise decision by the Dems or inure to their subsequent benefit. Rather, in the haze, it will appear as just another reason to find fault with a party that shows little political backbone.

It is far past time the Democrats stopped taking the temperature of every position, their actions guided by polling numbers rather than passionate beliefs. If those who Dream are worth fighting for, fight for them. 

If you want us to march, and you do, then we expect, no, we demand that you march alongside us. We must fight together, step by step and inch by inch. In vernacular that might well emanate from the White House, the Dems should grow a pair.

Saturday, January 20, 2018

January 20,2018 - The Women's March

One year ago tomorrow I took this same journey. Bundled up against the cold, fueled by my anger, my pain and resentment, putting him on notice we were out there watching, steadfast and undeterred in our opposition, determined to demonstrate that our collective voice could mute his.

This morning as I ready for the march I re-read my thoughts from 364 days past. I feel the depth of my passion spilling out onto the page. Now it is harder for me, for many of us, to gather that same well of emotion. 

Some who are not joining me today believe attempting to silence him is but a futile chore. There are other places to be, other matters of more pressing attention. As if this day is but charade, a fool's errand, a task without ultimate purpose or meaning. That he has succeeded, with his one voice, in drowning out a million others.

But we dare not grow forlorn or desperate. We dare not despair or lose hope. We dare not say that we are not in this with every ounce of our being. We dare not walk away instead of marching forward.

Today serves as notice to him and as vivid demonstration to us. Today we state, unequivocally, that we are not deterred, that we are not defeated, that we are every bit as powerful now as we were then. That we will not shut our eyes, we will not close our mouths, we will not grow weak of heart or weary of purpose.

Today we remind him, remind ourselves, remind our nation, remind the world that we are better than this, better than him, better than the ugliness that has marked and marred this past year.

This morning the sun is shining despite the darkness that has enveloped us. This morning we arise and march together again, old friends locking arms and raising voices as proud and boisterous declaration that there is indeed strength in numbers and unwavering solidarity in cause. 

This day may still be his but tomorrow, we are certain, will be ours. That is why we march.

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

The Year of Living Dangerously

An Updated Version of The Idiot and His Odyssey

His has been a journey unlike any other. Filled with low points and then lower ones. Stepping on toes, hell stepping on entire feet.

Giving new meaning to that 3 AM call. Putting this country on perpetual high alert, not in fear of enemy but our own President. Forcing the country to learn the particulars of the 25th Amendment.  Piling up mistakes, miscues, misstatements at a rate that staggered the imagination, boggled the mind and challenged our capacity to recall. The calamities myriad and the potential for catastrophe omnipresent.

From Pence to Putin, Perry to Papadopolous, Price to Priebus, Pruitt to Perdue, Mnuchin to Manafort, scary Bannon to Scaramucci, Megyn Kelly to John McCain, Ben Carson to Betsy Devos, from the "hiring" of Kushner to the firing of Comey, from the con jobs of Conway to the crimes of Flynn, from the injustice to Merrick Garland to the installation of Justice Gorsuch, from Ivanka with a little lust to immigrants with much hatefrom Russia with love to North Korea with nukes, from big arsenals to a little rocket man, from continual shitstorms to one bloviating shithole, from can he possibly know less to absolutely no Moore, from Huckabee Sanders to Spicer, from Israel's one state two state to our red state blue state, from the vanishing net neutrality to vanquishing the social safety net, from shutting borders to closed minds, from Hillary bashing to master baiting, from grabbing pussy to grabbing attention, from the First Amendment to the Second, from Haiti to Hawaii, from the birther morass to the Mexican mess, from the alt-right to the always wrong, from NATO to NAFTA, from threatening DACA to thrashing CHIP, from both sides to blame in Charlottesville to warmest condolences in Vegas, from provoking Palestinians to pissing on (off) Puerto Rico, from alternative facts to alternative energy, from destroying Obamacare to destroying the ozone, from attacks on the media to imagined attacks from most everywhere, from manufactured voter fraud to intended voter suppression, from fomenting fears to pandering to prejudices, from won't he just shut up to will we now shut down, from criticizing judges to castigating the FBI, from weekdays with Fox and Friends to weekends at Mar-A-Lago, from groveling sycophants to kneeling football players, from intimidation to insinuation, from obstinancy to obstruction of justice, from twisted tweets to constant taunts, from broken pacts to broken promises, from small hands to large hysterics, from taxes to just plain taxing, from morning to night and siege to endless siege.

Always but a moment away from creating a self inflicted wound upon our nation. Lacking in attention, in diligence, in understanding, in empathy, in perspective, in the very words necessary to express himself. Self centered, obsessed, unbound by tradition, by regulation, by protocol or propriety. Full of bluster, easy to fluster. Willing to destroy our standing in the world and doing a wonderful job of it. Humbling our nation and haunting our dreams. Bitter, petty, divisive, petulant. Often  unmoored. Treating his office like a chew toy and peeing on the rug, from the first day he descended upon us like a plague to the last tweet he left, like poo, on our front step. 

Fire and fury signifying a man, and a nation, on the brink.

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Notes From Inside a Bomb Shelter

I write this from inside a bomb shelter, knowing not whether I shall survive to see the setting of the sun. And if I do, wondering the landscape that will greet me.

I am filled with sadness, with a deep and penetrating cold that makes each fibre of my being ache.

This room is a stark shrill cry that the human experiment has been a failure, that the darkness in our collective soul has extinguished any glimmer of light.

I stare into the eyes of those gathered here, the looks of bewilderment, of panic everywhere. The smell of death oozes from the world above, now beyond our view. Some here are quiet. A few I fear will not go so quietly into the night.

I think of my son who lives far away. What must it be like for him? I am sorry I am putting him through such agony. I would die a death ten times over to spare him his anguish.

And for each of those here, there must enough pain and sorrow to fill an ocean. I wish for many things but now I find myself without the ability to wish, to dream, to hope for these are all sentiments I left behind when I entered this shelter.  I am left to witness the world from this Hades.

I notice my hands are trembling but they seem strangely disconnected from me. It is as if I have left my physical being, that the only thing remaining of me is this tablet and these words. And maybe the undeniable truth is that I am already dead and what you now read is not what I am but what I was.

 I sense I am rambling, a series of disconnected thoughts only lining up  because they too are trapped here with no escape. Has any time passed since I began this monologue? Does time even exist anymore?

I guess this is my last will and testament. And if so, I give, devise and bequeath to all those who read this my sincerest apology. I apologize for all that I was not and much of what I was. 

But most of all, I apologize for the world that all of you inherit. A world that would find it necessary and appropriate to do unto others what has been done unto me.

I do find have one last wish, a kind of codicil to my Will. May you inherit a better tomorrow, a day where the sunrise is breathtaking and the sunset radiant.

And please tell my son how much I loved him.

Fair Warning

What if the "human error" that sent this State into temporary thoughts of cataclysm was not mistake but  warning? What if the person who sounded the alarm had done so by deliberate action? 

In this alternate tale, there in that room sat a figure dismayed by the level of insanity that was pervasive. An Edward Snowden of sorts, a person consumed with the contemplation that we were allowing matters to escalate without comprehension, without purpose, with dark and dire consequence not mere conjecture but near certainty were not cooler and saner heads to prevail.

What if that person thought this scenario but abstraction to those who treated the concept of nuclear annihilation no more real than a game of chess, pieces to be moved around a board, a clash of egos not of melting flesh and blood?

In that moment of sheer terror when cell phones spoke of final goodbyes, when minds turned to what would never be, when what could never occur, for an instant, appeared as what was, in that tiny sliver of time, stood the breadth and depth of our insanity.

Surely we will learn that this was nothing more than a finger pushing the wrong button, followed by confusion and panic. Does this sound like an impossibility?

If not, then let this serve as fair warning to all who wait, in daily fear of what  fatal mistake may emanate from the Oval Office.

It only takes a proverbial finger.

Friday, January 12, 2018

The Eighth Dirty Word

Step aside George Carlin with your seven dirty words. There is a new kid in town, the fastest foul mouth of them all.

There should be a restraining order keeping Donald Trump's mouth a thousand feet away from any school zone.

There is no bottom here. Tomorrow and for as many to come as we are saddled with this shithole, there will be this and worse. There is no off switch. There is no time out in the corner to think about what you said. There is nothing else, nada, rien.

I don't want excuses, I won't countenance explanations, don't you dare give me rationales. A shithole is and will always be a shithole.

There must be an eighth dirty word that slipped past Mr. Carlin. One that is so grotesque and horrid it peels 
paint by its mere repetition, an obscenity that makes all other obscenities blush. I think I have it.


Tuesday, January 9, 2018


Oprah. Just one name. Celebrity personified. 

This nation is led, or more accurately, misled by a celebrity who is uniquely unqualified for his post.

 Is the lesson of Mr. Trump that experience is paramount?

Or, alternatively is it that his myriad pronounced personal deficiencies render his lack of political background mere footnote?

Mr. Trump does not read, does not contemplate, does not have a filter and lacks any attention span. He is selfish and self indulgent. He surrounded himself with people with little or no political history, men and women chosen not for their astuteness or savvy but for their bloodlines, their willingness to flatter, their money. Stupidity meets incompetency. A perfect storm..

Oprah, it would appear, would suffer none of those shortcomings. She is bright, well read and deeply committed to the welfare of humanity. And she would most certainly not make the same error as Mr. Trump in choosing those who could act as her mentors and her surrogates.

But it diminishes the office of the presidency and brings the conversation down to Mr. Trump's level, puts the game on his terms, to treat a lifetime of training as irrelevant. To seriously consider Ms. Winfrey, as tempting as it sounds, would be an error. 

And, hypothetically speaking, if I were to court a strong, fiercely intelligent, moral and dedicated black woman, even one who has held no political office, to be the standardbearer in 2020 for the dems, Oprah would not be my first choice.

There is another, a force of nature, her speeches maybe even more powerful than that of her husband, a brilliant and compassionate woman who has seen firsthand the demands of the job and intimately knows what is required. Her name is Michelle.

Sunday, January 7, 2018

When Hell Freezes Over

The cemetery is my least favorite place. Far too many dead people. My mom is one of them. And my dad has taken up residence here for near 40 years now.

I don't visit my dad. And I won't be stopping by to say hello to my mom either. Not after tomorrow anyway.

She died early last year and we gave her a stirring sendoff. Tomorrow we come to talk again.

But I see my mom and dad every day. Not a single sunrise to sunset has passed in almost four decades in which my dad hasn't been in my thoughts. And he is certainly not an inhabitant of the place I will be arriving at on a day that promises to be cold enough for hell to freeze over.

And maybe that is an apt title for this piece. Entering this locale only makes me focus on a negative, on the end of  the being of my parents. And I refuse to accept that. Ever. As in a cold day in hell.

We will gather to pay tribute to what my mom was. But to speak in the past tense does her (yes, I am going to say it) a grave disservice 

My mom once told me to bundle up when I was meeting a friend who lived about 15 minutes away. After all, she said, you are going to the country. I wonder what she would have said about venturing outside tomorrow.

Yeah, I know it's crazy mom. Yes, I will dress warm enough. Yes, we will get back inside as soon as we can. Yes, we will be careful. Yes, I understand you don't need this to know how much you were loved, you are loved.

You see, tomorrow hell is scheduled to freeze over. And my mom is worried about me.

Saturday, January 6, 2018

Cadillacs with Wings

When I was in summer camp, back in the days when Cadillacs had wings, there was rest hour after lunch. On my bed in my bunk, I had to write a letter home telling of my day and of the days to come. It was an unwelcome chore but I know my mom and dad loved each and every note. More than half a century later, going through the contents of my mom's apartment after her death, I came upon boxes of those meaningless letters that had so much more meaning than I could ever imagine.

Fast forward from camp to college. I used to wait my turn in the hall of my dorm to make my Sunday call home, telling of my day and the days to come. It was an unwelcome chore but I know my mom and dad loved each and every call. My meaningless prattle had so much more meaning than I could ever imagine.

As we enter 2018 it seems to me that the handwritten letter and the telephone call are soon to be as extinct as the dinosaur. I can't remember the last occasion where I took pen and paper out to express my thoughts to another (invitations and condolences excepted). Today even email seems sure to become an anachronism and soon a tweet will be recalled principally as something that served as predicate for one very  strange President's self destruction. And the phone. If phone booths can only be found in museums, I can well imagine a day when calling as a means of expressing oneself may be as relevant as the horse and buggy.

That is why this week was so different.

I have been chasing my own tail for near a decade now, writing letters, no, sending emails to the New York Times expressing my opinion on anything and just about everything. And from time to time my words have found their way into print. This past week it happened again.

Normally, this achievement has been met with the sound of one hand clapping. The public at large has found it wholly uncalled for to take the time and effort to slap me on the back, or even in the face, for my efforts. But this time, well let me tell you about this time.

On the morning my thoughts appeared for general consumption a message was left on my office phone. If I was the Robert Nussbaum who said the things that Robert Nussbaum said congratulations for a job well done. In the days that followed two more calls came in. And then two letters. All expressing gratitude for my giving expression to their thoughts and beliefs.

All of these people had gone our of their way to track me down (my letters list my address in a different town, the one in which I reside, not where I work). And for those who wrote, in long hand (is that even a thing anymore?) I imagined them licking the envelope (does anyone even do that any more) and delivering their writing to the mailbox (or does every one just leave it for the mailman?).

To me, it was like receiving that post card from camp or the call from the college dorm. The ones in which the thrill on the receiving end was more than the sender could ever contemplate.

I made sure to call each person who had contacted me, to thank them for the most welcome surprise and to congratulate them for doing something that took such effort. I think each one was happy to hear from me, if a little bit unsure whether this was a kind of reverse stalking.

I reached out to one of the letters editors at the Times to inform her as to what had transpired. And to note one other fact. Each person who had called or written was as old or older than me, at least two well over eighty years of age. 

It suggested two things to me. First, that many people stay engaged and active participants in this universe for as long as they are able. And the other was that the younger generations, and those that come hereafter, would never think to undertake the task that these senior citizens had just completed. 

Thus there was joy, tinged with sadness in my analysis of the accolades that had come my way.

There is a certain connection that I believe is lost through use of computers (whether on a desk or in one's hand) Emails, tweets, texts seem almost disembodied, less person to person, less an act of joint participation. Maybe it is just me being out of touch, a relic, but I would suggest I am not alone in my sentiment.

I do not have grandchildren yet, but if some day I am fortunate enough for that to occur and if one day, in a summer future, there is a postcard in my mailbox (if mailboxes still exist) just understand that the tears in my eyes will be in knowing that Cadillacs still have wings.

Thursday, January 4, 2018

Dystopia at 1600


Dystopia. A dark brooding nation being torn apart at the seams. It was the vision of Donald Trump, the one that propelled him into the Oval Office. And it is in that very house in which he resides that Mr. Trump now reaps what he sowed.

There is nothing here but calamity, ugliness. There is no sense that there is common purpose, greater good. There is only guttural noises, a shrieking, a shrill cry. The voice of Steve Bannon, his own life a sign of nothing so much as a moral depravity, shouting out that this is a place of destruction.

Mr. Trump has orchestrated all of this. Surrounding himself with the incompetent and far worse. All willing participants in the most pathetic excuse for leadership this country has witnessed in its nearly 250 years of existence. All for none and none for all.

An assembly of those whose greed, hubris, lust and hatreds rule their steps. Like a collective of the seven deadly sins. A gathering that has no love for nation and no love for its leader.

A dystopia. At 1600.

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Mr. Trump Plays His Greatest Hits

It was a "greatest hits" day, a welcome to 2018 and an assurance that turning the page on the calendar had not turned this frog into a prince.

From incompetent Barack to crooked Hillary with a touch of Huma added for extra flavor, from his (in)Justice Department to building that damn wall, from the Hispanic community falling in love with him to attacking the failing New York Times, we were informed that Mr. Trump's respite in Florida only helped raise the speed of his tweet finger.

But the President's worst (best) pejorative seems to be always aimed, like a speeding missile, or even a little rocket, at his North Korean counterpart. Two "leaders" in a pseudo sexual battle of mine is bigger than yours, Mr. Trump comparing the size and power of their respective weapons.

Out with the old and, well, in with the old. Second verse, same as the first. 

Monday, January 1, 2018


Well, now that it's been frigid for a couple weeks here in the northeast, we're pretty sure global warming was just a hoax manufactured by the liberal elite. 

And thank you, Mr. President for so eloquently stating what is as clear as the frostbite on the tip of our collective nose. I was waffling on this question until you succinctly provided your stirring diatribe.

Once, just on a single occasion, I hope 2018 brings us words of actual wisdom,  the product of true contemplation and real knowledge from a head that has enough empty space in it to plaster a "for rent" sign.

For merely a moment, let this year bring a tweet that smacks not of sarcasm, not of anger, not of hatred, not of ignorance but of sincerity, of joy, of love and intelligence.

Let there be one time where I do not shudder at our President's destruction of our principles, our morality, our very notion of democracy.

Is it too much to ask that on an issue like climate change our leader have even the most minimal grasp on the depth and breadth of the crisis, that his response be something more than what we could expect of a toddler, that he put his petulance aside for a nanosecond and treat a matter of this magnitude with the seriousness it deserves, we deserve?

For all our sakes, and for the very welfare of our planet, I hope in 2018 that Donald Trump finally begins to comprehend that he has the obligation to try to run this country with compassion and understanding and whatever limited intellect he is capable of mustering.

It is only January 1 and I have an omnipresent fear that there is a long cold winter (thanks for the clarification Donald) ahead. 

Baby it's cold outside.