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Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Depraved Indifference

("When Did Caging Kids Become the Art of the Deal?")

Can we possibly pretend to be surprised by the depths of depraved indifference now exhibited by this President? Can we possibly suggest this is the straw that broke the camel's back? 

From his ludicrous birther attack on Mr. Obama, to his opening salvo against Mexicans, from his denunciation of John McCain and his half decade as a POW to his verbal assault on the parents of a fallen soldier, from his shutting the door on Muslims fleeing their worst nightmares to his tepid rebuke of white supremacists at Charlottesville, if we are not long since past the point of no return then it is only because we have not been paying attention.

Mr. Trump is capable of the worst cruelties, of the most outrageous wrongs, of the most unfeeling, uncaring, unrelenting abuses. To him, the life of most others has little value, each as disposable as the next. These children, the parents, to whom he can express such lack of feeling, are but the latest iteration of his ugliness.

And if you think for even one second he can go no lower, think again. And wait but one more second.

Sunday, June 17, 2018

Pro Life Pre Life

("You Can't Be Pro-Life and Against Immigrant Children")

It should be the sanctity of life, not merely of birth. It should be that compassion does not end with the first breath but the last. It should be that morality has no borders, no nationality, no race. It should be that those who oppose the cruelty they see in abortion oppose the cruelty they see in their President towards the many who suffer unspeakable daily wrongs. It should be our better angels that guide our hand and our policy. It is not.

There is a terrible hypocrisy in those who turn a blind eye to the atrocities committed by Mr. Trump against Muslims, minorities, women, against people whose only crime is seeking shelter from the storm. To profess loyalty to such a man based on his opposition to abortion, if that is even a position truly in his heart, is to make a lie of those who would tell us of the inherent worth of every being from the moment of conception.

And for the ones reaching out to us, only to have their children literally ripped from their arms, like babies from their womb, they know only of broken hearts and of man's inhumanity to man.




Saturday, June 16, 2018

Remembering my Dad

I am now a senior citizen and this will be the 39th father's day spent without a dad with whom to celebrate. I still miss him terribly. Time does not fully heal all wounds, certainly not the loss of a parent. Not one like him anyway.

He and I shared a passion for sport. We played catch on endless loop through the baseball season, we golfed together through countless rounds often sprinkled with my unseemly bouts of melancholy at my incompetence. He coached my teams, leaving work early, taking a bus from New York City to suburban New Jersey, often stripping off his tie and jacket just as the game was about to commence. 


But the winter was mostly a fallow period, a time for hibernation. There was no activity pulling at our sleeve. No reason to brave the cold. My most lasting memory of a repeated outdoor activity with him was of shovelling snow, and that hardly qualifies as sport.

Skiing was not on our collective radar. He had never been drawn to this undertaking, and as a child growing up in the 1920's, it was not even something one did. Aspen and Vail were not Aspen and Vail then.


Winter vacations focused to two locations, one in Miami , the other Pocono Manor in Pennsylvania. ln Florida we indulged our passion for golf,  soaking up the sun without lotion or hats, chasing a ball hither and yon. But Pocono Manor had no such defining undertaking. Ice skating? Hardly. Relaxing? Not with a frenetic kid. So what then to fill the hours.

There was a single rope tow at this resort. It took a skier up what I can only imagine was a tiny hill, maybe even something less than that. But, on this particular day, maybe as a result of running out of other options, my dad and I found ourselves standing on top of the one lonely run, looking uncertainly downward.  Neither of us with any notion of what was required to get from here to there. Only my dad had no equipment to help propel him. No boots, no poles, no skis.


I don't recall anything about my skiing. Not how often I fell, not how much or how little I enjoyed it, not of the fear or of the excitement. Not of others on the hill, or where my mom and sister were. Not of the cold or even of the hotel where we stayed. Just an indelible image in my mind, possibly as much  imagination as recollection, of my dad running along side me, up and down, up and down. A father and son performing a dance together on a tiny slope, fueled by the sheer joy of being together.


I did not become enamored with skiing until many years later, long after my dad had died. I have had the wonderful good fortune to share this passion with my wife and two children all with consuming love for this endeavor. And one day soon I hope to take a run with a granddaughter to be. But as much as all of this means to me, nothing can ever surpass that day at Pocono Manor.



        
       The one and only time I skied with my dad. Almost

Friday, June 15, 2018

Anthony's Nose

We hiked Anthony's Nose yesterday. Sort of.

It started as many of our climbs do. Up a short steep mountain. About forty five minutes and a mile and a half after the first step, the summit was reached, elevation and satisfaction gained. The Bear Mountain bridge, the Hudson River, the train trestle, the mountains across the way, all competed for our attention. Standing next to an American flag buffeted by the winds, staring out at the vast magnificence that lay maybe 800 feet below, beauty stretched across the horizon as far as the eye could see and the heart could absorb.

And then, after a few minutes of allowing this scene to wash over our senses, my son suggested that he, my wife and I complete a loop down from whence we came. It was, he informed us, the much straighter option and would bring us back to our car faster. 

So what if this was considered an "in and out" hike, where it was intended that one retrace the path up on the way down. So what if this alternate avenue of descent did not appear on most maps, nor was readily evident from our vantage point. So what if it was a neon sign flashing "do not go there." So what. 

We located a blue blaze, a marking on a rock, which suggested this path did indeed exist. And thus our great and terrible adventure began.

This was to be an hour and a half down what seemed, at least to me, not Anthony's Nose but his face. Not a half mile of well trod paths, but one continuing rock formation into the abyss. Not one giant step back into mankind, but only one small step after another by a man intent on remaining intact.

Actually it was less walking than sitting, trying to figure out the best angle to slide from here to there. Walking poles now near useless, more javelin than anything else, hurled from the top of a rock outcropping to its base, then picked up like large matchsticks, only to repeat the cycle again in mere seconds. Again and again. And again.

At each twist and every turn, surveying the landscape below, determining which crevice would serve as foot or arm rest to stop an unintended slide into oblivion. And upon completion of each mini disaster in waiting, yelling instructions to the one above on what to avoid in order to maintain maximum health.

Through it all, our son was as alive and happy as a descent into a hell of one's own choosing could possibly permit. Loving far too meek a word to describe his attachment to this moment. 

As for me, I couldn't understand why, despite all the rigor involved, the bottom seemed to be coming no closer, merely mocking me as I reached to soothe the next twinge in my back, my recurring thought of the Aleve that awaited at journey's end. Pain and exhilaration equal partners.

My son is an avid photographer. As we headed down, various viewing spots came to greet us, offering ever changing perspectives on the bridge and its companions. A train moved slowly along its tracks, allowing a chance to capture a magnificence that one could never truly know unless you understood what it took to reach this vantage point. Then coming eye to eye with the top of the bridge. Finally, finally reaching its belly and staring at the moving cars that earlier had seemed so insignificant in relation to their surroundings.

And so our trek concluded. All good things, and bad, must come to an end. As we headed to the car and I thanked God that I was still able to count all my limbs and teeth, my son uttered four words that sent a shiver down my back.

"Let's do it again."

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Expletive Not Deleted

("How to Lose the Midterms and Re-elect Trump")

I would not get too hyperventilated about the excesses of  Mr. DeNiro. It will not be the deciding factor in November, but merely momentary blip on the radar screen.

Those squarely aligned with Mr. Trump did not require this outburst to draw their impenetrable conclusions about the failings of the left. For the ones still unsure if the President is demon or deity, rants have not defined their determination.

Yes, I know, we go high when they go low. But letting off a little steam can be cathartic, even if it sounds caustic and beneath the dignity we profess. So, forgive us our trespasses, our screams of outrage, our shouts to the gods to get this moron, this idiot, off the stage. Give us this small window of political incorrectness.

What Donald Trump is doing to this nation is obscene and profanity in reply can, and should, on occasion, be applauded.

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Mr. Obama and Mr. Trump Look the Same If You Shut Your Eyes

("The Obama -Trump Grand Strategy")

Of course foreign policy involves sleeping with the enemy at times, whether it be Mr. Obama cutting a deal with Iran or Mr. Trump trying to thread the needle with North Korea. 

But Mr. Obama did not disrespect friends for sport as Mr. Trump has done with seemingly all who have shared our values and aspirations from Germany to France to Canada. Mr. Obama did not trash, like yesterday's newspaper, hard fought international bargains as Mr. Trump has done with TPP, the Iran nuclear deal, the Paris agreement. Mr. Obama did not treat our word with such disdain nor our world with such contempt.

Yes, every President who deals with the difficult choices abroad must, in some larger sense, demonstrate similarities. But to try to put these two leaders under one umbrella is like equating day with night or black and white. They look the same only with your eyes closed.

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

The Handshake

("Trump Claims Progress After Historic Talks With Kim Jong-Un")

This was the moment Donald Trump had waited for. Forget the myriad failures, forget the multiple attempts to destroy Obamacare, forget the Wall, forget the environmental disasters, forget the NFL, forget #Me too, forget the tax plan handout to the rich. Forget the trade war with allies. Forget all the animosities, forget all the tweets. Forget everything you found distressing, distasteful, disconcerting. Remember the handshake.

This was the photo op he desperately wanted and needed. Donald Trump, game changer. The one that demonstrated "I alone can fix it." With the sheer force of his will, making steel bend with his small hands.

He wouldn't brook the thought of an entourage in the room with him. This was no time for a team effort, for shared glory. There was to be no hint this was anything other than Mr. Trump's singular effort.

Is this but the theory that even a stopped clock is right twice a day? That Donald Trump, for all his bluster and ego, just happened to be in the right place at the right time? That the North Korean President played his cards perfectly until he caught the world's attention and could bring his country back into the community of nations, with peace and the possibility of prosperity before him? That it was he pulling Mr. Trump's strings all along? 

Or is Mr. Trump something greater than the sum of his miserable parts? We all welcome the handshake as a sign of hope for better days ahead. But it ibbles me to think that this President will go to sleep this evening with the thought that he is indeed Superman, that his approval ratings will undoubtedly jump, that we will be compelled to now admit into our minds the remotest chance that we underestimated the charlatan at 1600. That this may even change the course of the mid term elections.

Nothing stops the shouting like a good photo op. And this was a doozy.

Monday, June 11, 2018

The Reign of Terrible

("Trump Tries to Destroy the West")

He smells subterfuge, sensing weakness in coalitions with allies, suspicious of intent, wary of motives, dismissive of  allegiances. Others a mere reflection of his own inadequacies and insecurities.

And in the wake of Mr. Trump's distortions, our landscape here and abroad is littered with broken promises, with ugly accusations, with recriminations and angst. Discordant remarks, like those of Mr. Trudeau, come with metronomic regularity, differing as to the specifics but similar in the disappointment that our leader is choosing to abandon those who have stood shoulder to shoulder with this country in peace and war, good times and bad.

We are long since surprised by the battles Mr. Trump creates, the fictions he turns into reality, the dramas he materializes out of thin air. And we wonder and fear what will remain when his reign of terrible is over. 

Sunday, June 10, 2018

The Seven Iron

Nearly forty years ago, one of our closest friends was pregnant with her first child. Of all the things I should recall from that time, but one memory lingers. Her ability to hit a seven iron. She would play a full round of golf with virtually merely two clubs. The putter and that iron.

My daughter is beginning the third trimester of her pregnancy. The basketball in her belly is inflating quickly these days. And her golf game, almost non-existent before, has been in total hibernation.

Yesterday, my son in law and I were busy chasing glory and proV-1s around the course situated but a few drivers and a wedge or two from my residence. As tomorrow (now today) marks the first anniversary of my daughter's marriage, she agreed to meet her golf obsessed husband and me to play a few holes.

We planned to rendezvous at the eighth tee, located but a long putt from the clubhouse. Finishing up on seven, I hustled into the pro shop, announced my very pregnant daughter was joining us for a few swings, and paid the green fee and the cart rental. As I stepped outside, my son in law approached. "No cart", he said. "She's carrying her own bag." Now that impressed me.

So what if there were but two woods, four irons and a putter. My daughter, I thought to myself, was already lugging enough around with her. Her belly appeared similar to how I remembered my Uncle Alan's and I imagine he wouldn't even have trudged with his clubs from the car to the first tee.

Her swing looked much as I recalled. Very solid in parts, not so much at contact. The ball squirted off her club on the drive, and the first few shots were, to put it gently, unremarkable.

But then she took a swipe at the ball with a seven iron and suddenly the sun shined bright, the birds sang love songs, the air we breathed as crisp and clean as a perfect poem. My daughter let out a little whoop of delight, half yelled to her husband "did you see that" and bounded down the fairway, her step lightened even while carrying a load on her back and in her stomach.

And for the rest of the round, she channelled my friend from four decades earlier. Seven iron from the fairway, from the rough, from two hundred yards from the green or half that distance. Just her and her new best friend. Success not a constant companion but certainly a consistent one. Her smile as attached to my daughter as her child in waiting.


I can think of few images more likely to be forever seared in my brain than that of a well struck seven, a shout of joy, and my daughter trudging up the big hill at 18, lugging those extra packages with every step. It was the perfect anniversary gift not only for her spouse but her dad as well.

Friday, June 8, 2018

1984 Golf Photo from Bergen Record

This is the photo of me playing golf in 1984 that was included in the recent article I had published on Warren Miller Entertainment's website.

Thursday, June 7, 2018

Trying to Avoid Stepping in the Poo

("Speaker Ryan Dismisses Trump's Charges of a Spy in His Campaign")

What do Paul Ryan, Trey Gowdy, Bob Corker and Jeff Flake  have in common? A visceral dislike of Donald Trump?  Their searing denunciations of the President?  A Republican not afraid to speak his mind against the leader of his own party? Yes, yes and yes. But, oh there is one more small, not so coincidental similarity among these men. Like Elvis, they are all leaving the building.

All of them have only demonstrated political  "courage" on the way out the door. For years, Mr. Gowdy, Mr. Corker and Mr. Flake have been prime examples of the worst that the Republican party has to offer. And Mr. Ryan, even through gritted teeth, has smiled as he helped the President push through the tax reform legislation that met the Speaker's long time reverse Robin Hood goal. These men have not fought the good fight against Mr. Trump at their own peril. Rather they have tolerated him and even applauded him, all for their own purposes.

So, I have a hard time congratulating their recent cries of dissent. Where were they when it was not politically easy to speak, when their future was in the halls of Congress, when they knew, they knew, they knew, that this President was daily committing the worst of sins against this nation?

You are not allowed to ride off into the sunset with a wave of your arm and a hearty "Hi Ho Silver". You don't get to erase all the moments you remained silent, turning your eyes from a disaster that  you saw clearly. Don't tell us as you make your exit that this man is a threat to our welfare, a disgrace to our nation.

It is too little too late Mr. Ryan, Mr. Flake, Mr. Corker and Mr. Gowdy. The horse has already left the barn. There is poo all along the way. And you can't avoid stepping in it now.

Monday, June 4, 2018

Transitions

AN EDITED VERSION OF THIS PIECE IS SCHEDULED TO BE PUBLISHED  IN WARREN MILLER ENTERTAINMENT, AN ONLINE MAGAZINE

Like Elvis, the last vestige of winter has finally left the building. After an April and early May that was constant reminder there is a reason people move to Florida, the chill that would not disappear, has disappeared. It will read close to 80 degrees today, the grass is as green as an 18 year old making his first appearance in the 'bigs', the trees are spreading their arms in celebration after an endless hibernation.

Spring has definitely sprung. 

And my skis have taken up their unhappy residence in my closet. Wondering why they are being treated so rudely, living alongside an old chest of drawers, the sun nowhere to be found, their only companions dull, old, lifeless.  I apologize for my ill manners but assure them we will become best friends again one day soon.

But life is all about transitions, the shifting of emotions, as certain as the changing of the seasons. And for now, my new, old love, has returned.

Today my golf clubs live in the trunk of my car. My back aches are now attributed not to a bad turn on my skis, but a bad turn on my back swing. The only white that I now look at is in the sand traps. And my challenge is not getting down without breaking my bones, but getting into the clubhouse without breaking my clubs.

I have spent nearly four decades trying to master the dynamics of skiing, moving from short skis to long and then back again, concentrating on keeping my legs close together and then not, always hoping that by some minor miracle, tomorrow I will become the skier I picture in my mind. 

My journey with golf has taken an even longer arc, dating back six decades to a time when color tv was only an idea in someone's mind. Since then, the clubs have changed size and shape, metals have replaced woods and golf balls now travel distances not even imagined decades ago. And yet, much as with my winter love, the secret to success manages to elude me. I chase the ball into places unintended, I curse the gods many times each round, and yet, still I plod on, always hoping that by some minor miracle, tomorrow I will become the golfer I picture in my mind. 

I am fortunate in that I am able to follow two passions, nearly without interruption. My year is filled with  the love of sport, whether it be racing down a mountain or driving up a hill. Whether it be remarkably cold or uncomfortably warm. Whether I am a young father on the slope with my two children, or a medicare aged gentleman in easy banter with friends comparing the inadequacies in our short games. And I remain grateful, if sometimes frustrated, for the continuing opportunities to explore my mediocrity.

And when the greens turn to white and the thermometer announces it is time, I will take my golf clubs from my car and place them in their corner of the closet. And greet my old companions, and tell them of the great things we will soon accomplish on the snow.

It is all about the transitions.

Sunday, June 3, 2018

The Real Memo from Trump's Lawyers to Mueller


Not in a court, not in a house. Not if you scream, not if you grouse.

Not in the day, not in the night. Not if you beg, not if you fight.

Not on one foot, not standing tall. Not if you bend, not if you crawl.

Not if you coax or if you command. Not by surprise or if it is planned.

Not if it's now and, no not ever. Not if you're dumb, not if you're clever.

Not on your life and no, not on mine. Not on the street, not in a line.

Not on a boat or in a plane. Not in a car or on a train.

Not in Moscow, no not over there. Not on the moon, not anywhere.

Not today and no, not tomorrow.  Not from guilt and not from sorrow.

Not in the cold, not in the heat. Not if you scold, not even by tweet.

Not from this man will you get a word. Not what he knew, not what he heard.

Not Donald Trump, no he'll never speak. Not one tiny sound, not even a peep.

Not going to happen don't even try. Not going to answer, he'd only lie.

So throw away your subpoena, lay down your sword. Throw out your questions, they'll just be ignored.

Friday, June 1, 2018

Pardon me. Excuse me.


The permission slip:

Dear America:

I hereby excuse Mr. Arpaio, Mr. D'Souza and Mr. Libby from your condemnations. Their only crime was trying to Make America Great again. And they, like me, have suffered terribly your intolerance. Now their pain has come to an end. They are victims no longer.

I will use my power to fight the deepest injustices in this country, to right the worst wrongs endured by the oppressed, to try to heal the wounds inflicted upon this nation's most aggrieved.

Do not speak to me of DNA tests refuting guilt, of drug sentences defying logic, of  historical deprivations sustained by minorities. I will hear none of that for my task is far too important to address such trivialities. 

I have the sworn duty to pardon all those who believe as I do, who speak as I do, who act as I do. In fact, I hereby grant myself a pardon from your accusations, from your suspicions, from your ugly assertions. 

Mr. Arapaio, Mr. D'Souza, Mr. Libby and President Trump. You are all hereby declared free, free to unlock your deepest hatreds, free to unchain your worst instincts, free from the bondage of civility, the rule of law, the strait jacket of decency and morality. You are truly free of all constraints. You are imprisoned no longer.

And isn't this truly the freedom that makes America great?