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Friday, August 7, 2020

43 Years and Counting (Every Second)

I remember little of that day, mainly of my soon to be mother in law fixing my tie right before I walked down the aisle. Even then I was not a capable person.

The years since just happened. No grand plan, merely two people doing what needed to be done. Strike that, one person doing and the other, well, something far less.

I sent my wife an email yesterday, setting out the number of years, months, days, hours, minutes and seconds since we exchanged I do's. I promised her that, if there was a God, her perseverance would be rewarded. But with her luck, who knows.

For those of you who continue to insist my inability is but performance art, that no one seemingly uncompromised person could possibly suffer such grave incapacity, I have one word in response: really?

I am what I am, or more accurately what I am not. 

And that means that most everything you can think of, I can't. Name a task. No, I can't perform that one. Try something simpler. No, even simpler. Still beyond my ken.

And through it all, stands my wife.  In some ways imperfect, for no one is without blemish. But in her willingness to shoulder the burden known as me for well over four decades, to perform the high wire act of life with no net, to get up each morning ready, willing and able to take on virtually every conceivable role of two people, she has been breathtaking.

I owe my wife much more than I have given her, much more than I will ever give her. But I am thankful every day that she has found the strength to persist in this endeavor, that she is willing to find adequate cause to carry on with a partner such as me.

I love her and my wish for her is that there is in fact a benevolent God.

43 years and counting.

Monday, August 3, 2020

Shakespeare On Baseball's Declining Health (Going, Going, Gone?)

Oh enemy most foul
For it be not fair that this sickness runs with abandon between these lines
How did this strike not one, not two but strike three
Out, out the cry piercing the air
And yet this disease steals our very breath
As we lay caught in its web
No safety found at home
Our protest in vain, our cry's bootless, a deaf ear turned to our fervent appeals
For if this be not a blow most mortal, it is nigh upon us
We are but walking shadow
Death waiting with grave intent at the top step
Our nation's heartbeat near extinguished
Fear rampant that the games we play today 
Will in all the tomorrow's to come be going, going gone

Thursday, July 30, 2020

Anarchy in Portland

("Help Me Find Trump's 'Anarchists' in Portland")

Why are we not surprised by Donald Trump's characterization of the Portland protesters?

"When Mexico sends its people, they're not sending their best...They're sending people that have lots of problems... They're bringing drugs. They're bringing crime. They're rapists" Donald Trump, presidential announcement speech, June 16, 2015

"There were people that were cheering on the other side of New Jersey, where you have large Arab populations. They were cheering as the World Trade Center came down." Donald Trump, speaking about Muslims at a campaign rally, November, 2015

"But not all of those people were neo-Nazis believe me. Not all of those people were white supremacists by any stretch. Those people were also there because they wanted to protest the taking down of a statue, Robert E. Lee." Donald Trump on the Charlottesville, Virgina protesters who included Ku Klux Klan members, skinheads, many heavily armed and carrying Nazi flags- August, 2017

"Many Gang members and some very bad people are mixed into the Caravan...This is an invasion of our country and our military is waiting for you." Donald Trump tweet on the approaching "migrant caravan", October 29, 2018

Tuesday, July 28, 2020

All For One. Period.

("The Cult of Selfishness Is Killing America")

The mindset was evident from the first day of the campaign and has been a cornerstone ever since: "do unto others anything you can."

It was there in the call to build a Wall to keep those fleeing the worst of circumstances from "infecting us"; from the executive order making sure Muslims understood their suffering was not ours; from the refusal to even consider taking the smallest of steps in gun control in the wake of continuing mass tragedies; from the lack of remorse as little children lay terrified in cages.

It is not black lives matter or even white lives matter, but that your life alone matters. 

It is a selfishness and egocentricity that emanates from Mr. Trump and has literally poisoned a nation. The mask is off and what we have seen underneath makes me sick, and has left nearly 150,000 dead.

The age of inhumanity.

All for one. Period.

Friday, July 24, 2020

The Washington Football Team

("NFL- D.C. Adopts New Name 'The Washington Football Team'- For Now")

"The Washington Football Team."

What is their payroll? Wait, don't tell me. And they couldn't find anyone who could do better than this? Did they contact anyone at Mensa? Why not employ Watson, the computer, to sort through like a million possibilities? Or ask a group of first graders to make something up?

Here are a few options I would ask the team to consider:

1. The AC/DC's.
2. The Washington Debacle
3. The Team That Couldn't Name Themselves
4. The DC Dream (Of The Playoffs)
5. The Washington Wonder (If We Are Really This Bad)
6. The Washington Black and White (Skins)
7. The DC Lewisers (To honor John Lewis, of course)
8. The Washington (Weak) Constitution
9. The Washington 11
10. The Washington Impasse 
11. The Washington Post Route
12. The Washington Too Early To Call (.com)

They truly need more time to settle on a name? Why not just temporarily call themselves the "No Namers" or just plain "Washington"? Were they concerned we would think they were a baseball team if they stepped out on the field without this explanation in their title?

And we thought Donald Trump was the stupidest leader in the nation's capital? Move over and make room for Dan Snyder. 

PS-  I think the AC/DC's might actually work.

Wednesday, July 22, 2020

The West Wing

This is so depressing. I am not sure how much more of this I can take.


Watching the President, day after day. Hearing him speak. Following the stated logic of his decisions. It is enough to make me cry.

Of course, I am talking about binge watching " The West Wing." Jed Bartlet, and those in his inner circle, all filled with insight, compassion, wit and searing intelligence. 

This is one of the casualties of the pandemic. Having run through a number of current or recent series in a desperate attempt to avoid anything resembling a show discussing either Donald Trump or Covid 19, I bumped into The West Wing while scrolling through the options which lay before me. It was something I occasionally brushed up against during its long run. I recalled it as a brilliant piece of writing. So why not now dip my toe into the water. What a mistake.


I am now 17 episodes into season one. Only another 139 before the swan song in season seven. I don't know how I will survive seeing a fictional government run so well.

Actually, we now have a fictional government in this country. No functioning Congress, members of the administration whose sole task seems to be to shine the President's shoes, a leader whose moral compass was lost at birth, whose lack of intelligence gushes forth every time his mouth operates, whose prejudices would have made Jane Austen put down her pen, whose errant conclusions outweigh the good ones by infinity to some figure less than zero, whose large fanny is the only way in which he fills the seat in the Oval Office. This is the antithesis of what The West Wing would suggest we are or at least what we can be.

The Bartlet family, at least in season one, ranks even above the Obama's I think. Well, maybe it is a tie. And then I focus on the Trump boys, on his favorite daughter and I get very sad.

There is no Fox News in this universe, at least not yet. There is hardly an internet. No cell phones acting as full on computers. No tweets. A President careful with his words. 

Maybe in the episodes to come everyone will get a little stupider, a little uglier in ways that will make me less uncomfortable with what I have to face each morning when I awake.

Maybe President Bartlet will consort with bad women, bad leaders, bad people. Maybe he will allow a virulent disease to run wild because he doesn't like how he looks in a mask. Maybe he will build a Wall, or tell immigrants from around the globe not to bother coming here. Maybe he will forget how to speak in coherent sentences or form a thought not fed to him by someone on his TV screen. Maybe he will become addicted to golf.


I can only hope so because this Jed Bartlet makes me want to hide under the covers for the next 104 days (and, God forbid, for another four years after that).



Sunday, July 19, 2020

Fauci v Trump

("The Doctor versus the Denier")

Why is anyone surprised that Trump would turn on his own?  Do the names Steve Bannon, Reince Preibus, Jeff Sessions, Michael Cohen, John Kelly, Nikki Haley, Rex Tillerson, H.R. McMaster, James Mattis, Rod Rosenstein and John Bolton, ring a bell?

Anthony Fauci is not the fawning sycophant who Mr. Trump requires much as the air he breathes. The President sees treachery and betrayal at every turn. And when his demands to bend the facts to meet his version of reality are not met, then we have the inevitable string of allegations and accusations.

Covid 19 has not obeyed Mr. Trump's order to disappear. And Dr. Fauci stands in direct line between this illness and the President. What separates Dr. Fauci from many of the others was his reluctance to be Mr. Trump's willing co-conspirator. But, good or bad, he is but one more victim who Donald Trump has thrown under the bus in his never ending attempt at self preservation.

Ten Presidential Quotes As Modified By Mr. Trump (Original Attributed Speaker Noted)

1. Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what your country can do to you
(JFK)

2. I cannot tell the truth (Washington- before taking office)

3. Speak loudly and care not a lick (Teddy Roosevelt)

4. The only thing you have to fear is me. (FDR)

5. Yes I can... But I have chosen not to  (Obama)

6. Most folks are as happy as I make up their minds to be (Lincoln)

7. My fellow Americans, our long national nightmare is still sitting in the Oval Office (Ford)

8. If not us, them. If not now, when can I play golf? (Reagan)

9. Mexico, build up that wall (Reagan)

10. A man is not finished when he is defeated. He is finished when he stops cheating. (Nixon)

Thursday, July 16, 2020

Oh The Thinks You Can Think (Updated)

You can think of a word
Or even a few
You can think what you did
Or what you can do

Oh the thinks you can think
If only you try
Think of those who now live
Mourn those who have died

And think of the power
That rests in your hands
Think not what you can't
But all that you can

You can do the right thing
You can do what you must
You can do what is good
You can do what is just

You can say its enough
You can say it is done
You can say shut it down
You can say enough fun

You can say this is hard
You can say this is rough
You can say we are strong
You can say we are tough

Oh the things you can think
Why not give it a try
We could all use some truth
We are tired of lies

So Fauci makes you grouchy
So grow a thicker skin
Just don't be so prickly
Just shut up and grin

And think of the numbers
Three million and counting
Think I must slow it down
Can't let it keep mounting

So think dammit think
Its not as hard as you make it
And if you can't think
At least try to fake it

So come on now Donald
We're dying for answers
Stop saying its a flu
When we know its a cancer

Oh the thinks you can think
If only you try
You can help us to live
Or you can just watch us die

Sunday, July 12, 2020

You're to Blame ( Yes, This Song Is About You)

He talked about Corona and everything its not
No mask in evidence upon his face
His skin it was apricot
He gave no sense of the magnitude
As we watch so many die
Oh all the dreams that were dashed in the mayhem, dashed in the mayhem

And you're to blame
Oh yes this is a song that's about you
You're to blame, and yes this is a song all about you, about you

All this started several months ago
When we were all quite naive
You said, like the flu it would quickly pass
That one day soon it'd leave
But you lied about how bad it was
And the destruction we would see
Filling our morgues, there are so many coffins, so many coffins

And you're to blame
Oh yes this is a song that's about you
You're to blame, and yes this is a song all about you, about you, about you

Well I heard you played some golf today
You said its your exercise
 I know you'd fly to Mar a Lago
Just because you like the fries
Well you're never where you're meant to be
But if you are I wish you would just stop your lying
While thousands lay dying, just stop your denying

And you're to blame 
Oh yes this is a song that's about you
You're to blame, and yes this is a song that's about you, about you, about you




Thursday, July 9, 2020

Does a Bear Poop in the Woods?

Does a bear poop in the woods? I am no longer unequivocal in my answer.

I spent a lifetime on this planet never having seen a bear up close and personal. Now I half expect one to pull up a chair next to me for breakfast.


Something strange is happening here. Not just the same "strange" that is impacting our entire planet, but the mystery of why bears seem to be showing up more frequently than deer on the streets in my neighborhood.
Yesterday, on a hike with family, my son noticed something moving in a field. It was not more than an ear sticking up at first, but soon it rose to full height. Maybe a month ago, this would have registered as an earthquake for me. Now it barely moved the needle.

I don't want to sound cavalier or dismissive of the danger, for these are not household pets. No matter how docile they seem, how much they appear to be more afraid of me than I am of them, I can't let my guard down the next sighting.

This was the sixth time I crossed paths with a bear in recent days. Twice within yards of us on our property, once crossing in front of me as I drove on local streets, once as I took an afternoon stroll, another time as I travelled on the highway and then yesterday's encounter, really the first where I could say that a bear does still likely poop in the woods.

I am sure there are explanations for this phenomenon. A late spring, an early summer. Too much rain in April. Too little rain in May. More garbage in each of our trash cans as we eat at home much more than before. Less garbage in the woods as we stayed put during all this weeks.

But whatever the reason, the result is astounding. A number of years ago I was hiking in a location where bears and moose were known to proliferate. I had been taught to react differently depending on which animal I encountered. I wondered what I would do if I ran into both at the same time. 

I saw neither during that time when I half expected I might. But until recent days, I never imagined bears might become a regular visitor to my world. Now I think they need to put "bear crossing" signs on every street corner.

Death, taxes and the answer to "does a bear poop in the woods" were the only certainties in this existence. But from here on, I will have to check the bottom of my shoes as I walk through town before I know whether or not the list is reduced to two.

Sunday, July 5, 2020

Red, White and Angry

("At Mt.  Rushmore and the White House, Trump Updates 'American Carnage' Message for 2020")

This is Mr. Trump's America: red, white and angry.

It is the dystopian vision that Mr. Trump, initially with Steve Bannon's guiding hand, and then through Stephen Miller's (tele) prompting, has utilized to sow hatred and division. 

It is what propelled his candidacy. It is what he relies upon as his ballast to maintain a facade of stability while the waves of criticism for his myriad failings crash all about him.

It is the very air his supporters need to breathe, unmasked and free from what they perceive, and Mr.Trump rails about, are the shackles placed on THEIR freedoms.

Why is America  blue on this July 4th? It is because of our red state white rage and their Donald Trump led uncivil war.

Saturday, July 4, 2020

Get Off My Back (thank you "Hamilton" and the king)

You whine
To cover my face and that other's will just do the same
Go dine
Go eat any place but Chinese, for it's them you should blame 
Wear a mask?  
Not ever, not cool, no Covid is all in your mind
You are making me laugh
I'm clever you fool, and you are the one who is blind

Get off my back, let me be
By September we'll be Covid free
Get off my back, bend your knee
And remember you belong to me
Fever's rise, you may fall
By December the numbers will be small
And if that's not the case
I will stop the tests and all the deaths I'll just erase

Da, da, dada, da (etc)

Don't say just shut it down, oh that Fauci lies
And I will be the judge of who lives and dies
And math's my favorite subject
No you're my favorite subjects
And science is not a subject
I think I flunked that subject
But I'm clever, so clever, real clever, forever

Stop that cough, get out of bed
Oh this Covid is just in your head
Stop that wheeze, what I said
Don't pretend you are the walking dead
If you die I'll be sad
Cause it will make the figures all look bad
Wear a mask if you must
Just remember that its Donald you should trust

Da, dada, da (etc)




Thursday, July 2, 2020

Our Declaration of Independence

I have just read, once again, the Declaration of Independence, the document announcing an intention to break from the tyranny of an unjust ruler, in order to form a more perfect union.

And as July 4th is upon us, what better moment to reflect upon the words of our founding document, on the principles we hold dear and on the depravities and deprivations which this nation, if it is to continue its existence, can no longer countenance or abide.

We are in the throes of the most destructive presidency the United States has endured in its near 250 years. We have been in the grip of a man who believes not in the inalienable rights which should forever be our very heartbeat. And, as those who wrote the Declaration enumerated the ills of the King which could no longer stand, so we bear witness to the failures of Donald Trump both as a man and as a leader.

The Declaration directs us that when a Government is not guided by our fundamental values, then it is our sworn duty and obligation to end the power wrongly vested. 

It demands of us that when we are subjected to a "long train of abuses and usurpations" we must find "new Guards" for our future security.

And as the grievous wrongs committed by the King were set forth in this declaration, it seems in so many instances as if these words were rather directed at someone who would ascend to what he perceived to be his throne, 240 years after this document was crafted. There are echoes of Mr. Trump in the complaints of the King's refusal to "Assent to Laws", his obstructing the Laws of Naturalization of Foreigners which would encourage migration, his sending swarms of Officers to harass the people, his cutting off trade with all parts of the world, his making Judges dependent on his will alone, his ravaging of our coasts, his destruction of the lives of the people, his exciting domestic insurrection, his declaring us out of his Protection and waging war against us.


And now, as then, we appealed to our leader's "native justice", to the ties of our common kindred to disavow his usurpations. But now, as then, the response has been deafness to the raised voices.
It is a moment of somber reflection for all of us, for contemplation of what the formation of this nation intended. And how we have entrusted our present to a person who has never read our founding document or followed any of its dictates.

And as we did with the King of England, this country must declare its independence from Mr. Trump. For if we do not, then we do not deserve to continue to celebrate this holiday, for it will have lost all its meaning.



Wednesday, July 1, 2020

Where Are the Urinals?

Among my myriad defiencies, a complete lack of observational skills easily fits in the top echelon. "You walk around with blinders on" is an oft repeated, undeniably accurate statement/exhausted plea from my beleaguered spouse.

Walks I have taken for years lack any detail. The location of virtually any item in the apartment in which I have resided for well over a decade is a complete mystery. Ask me for specifics of almost anything in my universe and all I can produce is a blank stare and a few mumbled guesses. Nothing gets by some people. Everything gets by me.

A number of years back my son and I  visited Tufts, my alma mater. He swears I pointed to a building I lived in for two years. Only it turned out it was, and had always been, an administrative office.

In this most perilous of times, it is most critical to be fully aware of one's surroundings. The six foot rule, masks up, is only as good as your ability to recognize the comings and goings of others.

Yesterday, my son and I found ourselves in Poughkeepsie on an errand. More than an hour from where we reside, nothing was familiar to me. After completing our task we decided to hike across an iconic walking bridge over the Hudson River. First, however I had to pee.

As luck would have it, at the beginning of this route, there was a small building with bathrooms. I started towards one. My son redirected me, as my choice involved first opening a door to get in. He pointed to my right and I headed to a space that led directly into a room.

I was a bit anxious as this was the first public restroom I had been in since Covid 19 entered the lexicon. I wanted to get in and out as quickly as possible. Mask on, as little touching of surfaces as I could manage.

But as I surveyed the scene, I noticed there were only stalls, no urinals. I thought this strange, but managed to pry open a door using any body part but my hands. No one else was around, I was out in less than a minute, including the 20 seconds of soaping my arms ups to my elbows. I emerged content, after an unqualified success.

"You know you just came out of the ladie's room" my son said in a tone mixing exasperation with incredulity in equal measure. I turned around and, for the first time noticed that there were two different entrances off the main opening, one directing visitors to the men's room, the other to where I had wandered.

I had failed to see the signs or even notice there were two options here. I was most grateful that no one had been there to witness my failures in full blown operation. Except of course for my son. Who couldn't even take the time to text this one to his sister, to add to the Everest sized mountain of my similar faux pas. This one required an immediate call.

Because some things I do almost defy the gravitational pull of the earth.



Tuesday, June 30, 2020

As We Approach a Covid Death for Every Minute of the Year


 (FOR THOSE WHO REMEMBER "SEASONS OF LOVE" FROM "RENT')

525,600 victims
525,600 endings to life
525,600 victims
How do we measure such unending strife?

In sirens?
In heartbreak?
In teardrops?
In isolation?
In graveyards, in darkness, in husbands and wives?

525,600 victims
How do you honor the end of a life?


Daughters and sons
Daughters and sons
Now they're all gone 
Now that they're done 
Daughters and sons

525,600 victims 
525,600 endings to life 
525,600 victims
How do we say goodbye to each one?

In words they never heard or in dreams that have died?
In rainbows, in flowers, in times that we cried?

Remember each day
Recall each setting sun
The love they once knew
Now that they're gone

525,600 victims
525,600 journies through life

Monday, June 29, 2020

Obama's Voice

("How the Trump Campaign Is Drawing Obama Out of Retirement")

There is a calculus that must be occurring for the former President: is it better to remain silent and let Mr. Trump self-destruct or should Mr. Obama shine a bright light on the enormous damage done by his successor to our standing in the world, to our rule of law, to our constitution and to the very health and well being of our nation.

Does the political math favor Mr. Obama becoming a fervent voice to energize the Democratic base, recognizing that he will also be exposed as a target for Mr. Trump to attack and argue a Biden presidency is but subterfuge for four more years of Obama? 

Do the numbers permit Mr. Obama to convey a message of the enormity of the moment, or will his oratorical skills merely reinforce Mr. Trump's efforts to portray Joe Biden as a diminished old man?

 Mr. Obama may hesitate, for many  reasons, both personal and political, to take center stage, as pros and cons are weighed. But would it not be a shame if we, having suffered the indignities of Donald Trump, were deprived of the eloquence and passion of our most powerful messenger. 

Mr. Obama, no matter your internal conflict, please step up and tell Donald Trump to take his anger, his hatred, his pettiness, his incompetence, his hubris and his divisiveness and get the Hell out of the office he has sullied every single hour of his presidency. 

Saturday, June 27, 2020

The Nine Lives of Donald Trump

("Trump Retreats to His Hannity Bunker")

Ms. Glasser suggests that the President is in free fall and that June could well mark the beginning of the end of the reign of terrible.

But bad as Covid-19 is today, and bad as it will be tomorrow, November's reality has yet to be written.

How many times from 2015 to now have we been convinced of Donald Trump's political obituary? From his opening salvo about  rapists coming across the border, to his attack on John McCain as a loser for being captured during the war, we have spoken of the cruelty and absurdity of his rhetoric. From the revelations about the Michael Cohen hush payments, to the Mueller investigation and the impeachment proceedings we have assured ourselves that his masquerade had been finally fully revealed. From his trumped up trade wars with China, his bromance with Putin, his alternating threats of annihilation and unadulterated love with North Korea, his dismal response to the Black Lives Matter protests punctuated by his almost unfathomable Bible holding fiasco, each bridge was, in our estimation, one too far.

But his death knell never sounded. And while Ms. Glasser would wish this to be the final chapter in the book of Mr.Trump's presidency, let us not forget our premature celebrations for the first woman President, derailed less than two weeks before the election by the revelations of Mr. Comey of possible fire where there was smoke. And a last minute retraction that could not undo the irreparable damage done.

So, while I thank Ms.Glasser for her analysis, there are months to go before I sleep. I remain with my glass half empty until the last vote is counted on election day. That is, if Mr.Trump and his henchmen do not stop us from counting the votes.

Friday, June 26, 2020

Cannibalized



("America Didn't Give Up on Covid -19. Republicans Did")

When you have a President who suggests that everything he doesn't like is but smoke and mirrors, from interference by Russia in the 2016 election to his hush payments to dalliances, from his trying to use the power of his office to persuade a foreign leader to dig up dirt on a political opponent to the realities of a globe heating up at a frightening pace, when every day he tells you not to be fooled into believing what are his inconvenient truths, then if you count yourself among the President's followers, when he walks around without a mask, so do you. When he tells you it is safe to resume your life, you gladly agree. When he states that he has done a terrific job of beating back Covid 19 and that all the noise on the left is but politics at its worst, you nod your head, thank him for his leadership and walk right in to the eye of the storm.

When you turn to Fox News and Donald Trump for answers you get an America that looks like we do today, with a pandemic spinning wildly out of control at a point in time when it need not have been this way. A Republican nation being cannibalized at the direction of its leader.

Wednesday, June 24, 2020

The 100 Foot Orange Extension Cord and the Chair

I brought the 100 foot orange extension cord into the garage. Then I carried a kitchen chair to a spot in the parking lot where there was shade. It was not even 9 AM on the second full day of summer and it was already 80 degrees. And my mother in law is soon to be 93.

She had come to the Berkshires almost a week ago. It had been over three months since she had seen any of us. And I think she missed us as much as we did her. But she also waited most anxiously for this moment. The moment she could sit in that chair.

First, however, her granddaughter, my daughter got to sit there. And as she sat, my granddaughter, my mother in law's only great granddaughter, watched her mommy sitting in that chair and started to cry. We were there also, my wife, my son and I, all there looking at our daughter, our son's sister, as she sat in that chair. I held my granddaughter in my arms and assured her that her mommy was well and happy. But, as her mommy had a mask on and she could not see if her mommy was indeed happy, my granddaughter was clearly uncertain of her mommy's true frame of mind.

For nearly 30 minutes, her mommy sat in that chair, the 100 foot orange extension cord reaching from its starting point at the outlet in the garage to mere inches from where our daughter sat. And when it was over, when our daughter finished and got up from that chair, I asked my granddaughter if she wanted to sit in that chair next. That it was fun to sit there. She responded with a very emphatic "Nooooo".

The sun had moved, as it always does, over those 30 minutes. And so one of the other chairs I had brought out for my family to sit and look at the chair where my daughter had just been sitting and where my mother in law was now about to sit, had gone from being in the shade to the sun.  The offending chair was the one in which I was sitting and my wife warned me to move, since I didn't have a hat on and the doctor had removed a bunch of things from the top of my head years before. She was right, so I moved my chair into the shade.

My mother in law is a woman of elegance and beauty, and age had done nothing to diminish either of these qualities. But, as she waited for her turn in that chair, she imagined herself a little less of each, for it had been far too long since she last sat in a chair like this. And, even behind her mask, one could tell she was happy to be sitting there now.

I forgot to tell you about the garage. It was actually one of 20 connected garages, each one the property of a different unit owner in this apartment complex. The driveway for these garages was oval shaped. The chair and the extension cord were near one end of the oval. And anyone driving around that oval to get in or out of their garage would necessarily have to pass by the spot where the 100 foot orange extension cord, the chair that was next to it, and the other chairs, along with me, my wife, both my children, my granddaughter and my mother-in-law were now assembled. Not that anyone did come by that early on this morning. But I am telling you just in case someone had.

Where was I? Oh yeah, my mother in law now sat down in that chair. And for another 30 minutes myself, my wife, my son, my granddaughter and now my daughter, who had been the last to sit in that chair, sat in other chairs, or stood if we tired of sitting, and watched my mother in law sit in that chair, within inches of the 100 foot orange extension cord.

And when she was finally done sitting in that chair, my mother in law got up. Looking as elegant and beautiful as always. But maybe even a little more so now.

Oh, I guess I forgot to tell you about one more person who was present during all the times I have spoken about. My son has a very close friend who cuts hair. And in these most turbulent times, when danger is omnipresent, getting a haircut outside, thanks to a chair and a 100 foot orange extension cord that made functional all those hair cutting implements requiring electricity, is a wonderful luxury. 

As my wife took a broom and swept up any evidence of what had transpired, and I returned the chairs to their rightful places in our kitchen, and the 100 foot orange extension cord was placed in the storage shed, life, at least in this one regard, returned to normal.

But we all know this is a time when absolutely nothing is normal. Not even haircuts.



Monday, June 22, 2020

Leather-Bottomed Shoes and a Red Silk Tie

Covid 19 did nothing to lessen the brilliant oratorical skills of our President as he spoke with an elegance and depth rarely exhibited in the long and storied history of the United States.

For close to two hours he explained to a nation aching to be healed the struggles we face and the herculean efforts he and his administration have taken to assure that the pain we have endured is lessened.

And, in a close to 15 minute gut wrenching tale of personal travail that must rank favorably with Lincoln's Gettysburg address, Donald Trump provided intimate detail of a harrowing physical journey, risking his own well being merely to elevate our collective psyche.

Standing at the top of a steel ramp that would have proved too great a challenge to navigate for mere mortals, our President, refused to exhibit any fear while staring directly into the face of grave danger. With leather-bottomed shoes, undoubtedly purchased second hand, acting as accelerator the prospect of Mr. Trump sustaining a mortal blow while descending were virtually assured. But, with grace and beauty, this man defied all expectations and moved with precision and unparalleled skill down to Mother Earth eagerly awaiting his arrival. And in a show of ultimate courage and bravado, he sprinted the final strides in true Olympian fashion.

As if this recitation was not sufficient to lift the spirit of a downtrodden country, Mr. Trump next informed a mesmerized overflow crowd of the tale of the great red silk tie. With flourish and panache he held a glass of water in one hand, in itself an amazing feat of strength. And, to demonstrate his manual dexterity and willingness to lay down his best silk tie in service to a grateful nation, he put the glass to his mouth and took a long sip. Unbelievably, not a drop spilled and the tie was saved from imminent extinction.

It was a moment that must rank favorably with the first footsteps on the moon for its capacity to raise our eyes and our spirits to the heavens.

We have suffered far too many losses in these past months, our lives upended, our expectations crushed, our footing uncertain, our dreams seeming to vanish in the blink of an eye. And we cried out for leadership that could sooth our battered souls.

Donald Trump, on that stage in Tulsa, speaking to 19,000 in attendance, with two million more clogging every street for 10 miles in all direction and every single household in America in rapt attention, brought the United States to its leather-bottomed feet and red silk tied us together, the traumas we have felt now but a distant, fading memory. Our nightmare officially over

The power of words, as expressed by a President unlike any other. And Donald Trump is assuredly that.



Saturday, June 20, 2020

The Clan Rally

The look is different, the hoods of the past discarded, now replaced by defiant full face exposure, the spelling changed, but the ideologies in virtual lock step.

The Klan is a white supremacist group whose virulence is directed at African Americans, Jews, immigrants and the LGBT community. 

And while the worst of those in attendance on this Saturday in Tulsa, Oklahoma would suggest that they bear no resemblance to that ugliness, that they are but loyal, God fearing Americans, their hatreds are in clear view for all the world to see.

Their masks are off this evening. This is, for the least among them, a White Lives Matter protest orchestrated by their Supreme leader, the one who foments their anger, their resentment, their immorality. This is their answer to life  interrupted by everything they despise.

This is the moment they can taste freedom, can feel the air come back into their lungs, the moment they say "I can breathe."

This is their version of the greatness of America.

 Nothing but a Clan rally.


Thursday, June 18, 2020

A Visit With My Clothes



It was in a word, depressing.

I had come down unannounced, hoping my visit would bring a shower of unbridled joy. Instead, I was greeted like an intruder.

It is clear my clothes liked that I was away. Nobody to make them do anything. No appointments to keep, no obligations to meet, nothing but the time to do absolutely nothing if they so chose.

They clearly had been partying in my absence. How else to explain some underwear in the sock drawer, a long sleeve shirt hanging out with the short sleevers.

One of the shorts, those khakis that were my favorite, appeared happy, if not excited by my appearance. I got a smile and a nod, which is more than I can say for any of its neighbors.

I wonder if their allegiance may have wandered elsewhere during my extended disappearance. My key was in the hand of one or two others who were about my size. But I don't even want to think about that.

No one would talk about it with me. Clearly there was a code of silence  throughout their ranks.

The only one who did speak was a red polo shirt, the resident comedian. He reported the following:

"A pair of shoes was missing because they got their walking papers.

My best dress shirt wasn't there because it was still tied up.

My old pants were not coming because now they were on the loose.

The new golf hat was uncertain about me because it was trying to size me up.

My gray belt was not appearing because it was throwing a fit.

My hiking shoes were upset because they were sure they had given me the boot."

 I now realized that I had never been the master of this universe. My clothes had a mind of their own and I was only allowed in as long as my presence was tolerated. The shoe, I learned, was on the other foot.

It is a moment of great upheaval for all. This relentless disease has thrown our assumptions about the order of our days into disarray. What we once understood with absolute certainty no longer comes with any guarantee. And so it was with my clothing. I was now but an unwanted guest in their domain.

My visit was brief, for I have removed myself back to the place where I have been residing these past months as I try to wait out the storm. My heart is more than a little heavy, even if the rest of me is a bit thinner now.

For I understand that my mark is negligible, my importance to be discarded like an old sock full of holes. I am in control of absolutely nothing . Not even my clothes. 

Tuesday, June 16, 2020

White People and the Trayvon Generation



("The Trayvon Generation")

We pack the streets in protest, we white people. We know nothing.

We raise our voices in anger, we white people. We feel nothing.

We lower our eyes in shame, we white people. We understand nothing.

We assuage our collective guilt, for we now inform that we have awakened, we white people. We have looked away. We have done nothing.

We do not know, we do not feel, we do not see, we do not act, we cannot remotely comprehend black existence in America.

The names scroll across our screens as abstractions, disembodied from the pain and grief. Untouched by the fear of a mother unable to protect her children.

And we read "The Trayvon Generation" and applaud ourselves. We are 400 years too late.

Thursday, June 11, 2020

Move Over Alanis Morissette



("Trump Rally Attendees Cannot Sue if They Contract Covid-19 Campaign Says").

 Move over Alanis Morissette.

So Donald Trump, the man who treated Coronavirus like it was a nothingburger, who considered his own experts on this topic as personal chew toys, who practically deported any wimp wearing a mask around him, who gave the six foot rule the same amount of respect as the Colin Kaepernick kneel, who would have us believe that this disease is disappearing even as the needle is jumping up in over 20 states, that same Donald Trump is making everyone who attends his June 19 rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma take a blood oath that if they catch this non-existent virus while intertwined with thousands of other spit in your face screaming always Trumpers, if they should die as a direct consequence of being in close proximity to idiocy, well then Donald Trump was never in Tulsa and even if he was you never saw him and even if you saw him it was only for a moment and who could possibly get sick in a moment.

So Alanis Morissette, while "Isn't It Ironic" actually may not have contained any ironies, to comprehend the very essence of that word just show up in Tulsa next week at a rally intended to show America that it is safe to come out again, with the caveat that you must acknowledge as a prerequisite for attending that it is not safe to be there. 

Tulsa, Oklahoma - June 20, 2020

Tulsa, Oklahoma - June 20, 2020

President Trump reignited his campaign for re-election tonight before a crowd of almost 19000 (or in Mr. Trump's words, more people then will turn out between now and election day to listen to Sleepy Joe).

It was a sea of foaming white, shoulder to shoulder, filled with pent up emotion, finally freed from forced isolation, ready to announce to the world that this not so silent minority was back and badder than ever.

Mr. Trump spoke in his Trumpian dialect of free association, rarely making use of the teleprompter that gives him the awkward cadence of a prisoner of war being paraded before a microphone to thank his captors for their hospitality. Tonight the president riffed and the assembled roared in collective delight.

No matter that the great pandemic of 2020 was still gathering steam. No matter that the images of the Black Lives Matter protests were fresh in our minds. Here in Tulsa there was a very different truth on stage. One in which the terrible consequences of the President's mistakes in the handling of both these crises was nowhere evident. Here, America was Great Again. Here this nation had turned back the ravages of Covid 19 because we were tired of it, tired of being inside, tired of being separated, tired of the fear of losing a job or a business, tired of the nonsense of the six foot rule. And definitely tired of those damn masks. Here, the protest rallies of recent weeks were but expression of the sentiments of those who had no understanding or appreciation for the incredible gifts this country had bestowed upon all those residing in its midst. 

There were no masks to be seen in this venue, probably not within several miles of here. It was a sign of weakness and it would not be tolerated, not by those gathered and certainly not by the President. In his fashion, he mocked Sleepy Joe for his mask wearing, mocked those who were afraid to believe in the strength of America.

This was God's country, and Mr. Trump spoke of those who challenged him for holding up the Bible that day in the nation's capital. Those people, he said, did not represent this country, did not understand this country. And then he pulled out a Bible once more and held it aloft to the frenzied screams of approval from the crowd.

After over 100 days of forced isolation, Donald Trump was once more in his element, soaking up the adoration. This was the air he needed to breathe. To feel alive. To feel his greatness appreciated.

More than an hour and a half after he started, the President concluded his remarks and left the stage, grinning his Joker's grin after an ovation that lasted nearly six minutes.

Tonight, once more, all was right in the world according to Trump.




Wednesday, June 10, 2020

Animal Kingdom

Penguins.

No.

Elephants.

No. 

Monkeys.

This is what happens when a 20 month old knows the name of seemingly every animal on the planet and the full lineup on Disney Plus. Trust me, there is a lot to choose from.

I know we are not supposed to be sitting here. We should be outside on this beautiful afternoon. I am internally yelling at myself for my shortcomings but really, cut me some slack. My fingers are getting fatigued from searching for the perfect show. I am old and weak.

What must it be like to be so interested in anything and everything? 

We finally settle in on Steve, the seemingly befuddled penguin who is always a half step from disaster, who literally loses his way, but ends up happily ever after. I have grown very fond of him and look forward to our time together. 

There will be plenty of opportunity for us to investigate the wonders that await outside. To actually stop and smell the roses. But for now, surrounded by her six loveys, her Elmo, and even Eileen the bear, this little person beside me is most content just sitting and learning all about Steve's world.

Wait, she has grown tired of Steve.

No.

Elephants.

No. 

Monkeys.

No.

Dogs.

No.

Cats.

No. 

Whales.

I am exhausted.



Monday, June 8, 2020

All the News That's Fit to Print

("James Bennet Resigns As New York Times Opinion Editor")

"All The News That's Fit to Print."

That slogan has appeared on the masthead of the New York Times for almost 125 years. It is a declaration of intention, a statement that personal revulsion of those in its employ towards controversial views would not necessarily mandate these opinions fail to appear on their pages. And thus the Times has often allowed an uncomfortable voice to be heard.

But the paper has strayed from its mission on occasion, allowing op-eds that speak not to ambiguous truths but merely to outright hatreds, outrageous prejudices and incontrovertible lies. The worst among these writings do not produce meaningful discussion, but merely give a platform for the exhibition of a moral turpitude which does not deserve the light of day. And certainly not a place of prominence in perhaps the most respected newspaper in this nation.

The Tom Cotton op-ed was an embarrassment, and in this the overheated heart of a national crisis, something far worse. It gave a leading Republican, one who has the ear of the President, the imprimatur of legitimacy in his call for the use of overwhelming force by our own troops against an enemy not threatening the safety of this country but protesting the perpetual brutality against a portion of our own citizenry. 

That egregious error in judgment by the paper was met with swift and universal condemnation. And now, with the resignation of Mr. Bennet as opinion editor.

Because all the news that's fit to print means exactly that, and Mr. Bennet, and the New York Times, lost sight of what "fit" entails at a crucial moment.  A dark day indeed for the masthead.

Saturday, June 6, 2020

Mr. President, Take a Knee

("As Trump Rekindles N.F.L. Fight, Gooden Sides With Players")

This country has taken a direct hit Mr. President. A double barrel explosion has wobbled all of us, none harder than the black community.

Covid has ripped at its heart with a grip penetrating and relentless, taking livelihoods and lives in staggering numbers.

And we have also once more been unequivocally informed that whether jogging through the streets or sitting in your car, the essence of being black in America is that disaster may find you in the blink of an eye. 

And this is the best you can do in response Mr. President? Resurrect your American carnage theme against those who kneel in silent scream about the outrages suffered for the unforgivable crime of the color of their skin.

Roger Goodell's change of heart is undeniably too little, too late and too suspect as the NFL treated Colin Kaepernick as pariah for far, far too long. 

As for you Mr. President, you can play only one note, that of outrage, as you with full intent mischaracterize the player's trope. In this our national hour of need, crying out for understanding and compassion, you reveal nothing but outrageous prejudices and unending vitriol. You are an empty vessel without capacity to unite and heal.

Mr. President, take a knee. Please take a knee.

Friday, June 5, 2020

History Lessons



We have been here in so many different contexts so many times before. And to what result?

In the unending struggle to mandate change, no matter the emancipation proclamation, no matter the civil rights act, no matter the protests, no matter if the other cheek is no longer turned and a gloved fist is raised.

No matter if the burning inside is mirrored in the streets, no matter if the injustices long camouflaged appear on endless loop before our eyes. No matter if the blind are forced to see, the deaf compelled to hear, no matter if we shove reality in their mouths and they are made to taste the bitterness of centuries of disregard and disrespect.

Why, oh why, do we believe that today is different, that tomorrow will be different? Why is this the moment when enough is actually enough? Why, given all that has come before, can we possibly think that hatreds will disappear, that ugliness will be sublimated, that the cycle will be broken and minds will be forever altered?   

History informs us of lessons never learned, of distressing perpetual truths. 

I worry about the futility of the moment.

Tuesday, June 2, 2020

Mr. Trump and His Bible

("The Last Temptation of Trump")

Was he getting ready to testify? With his right arm in the air and his hand grasping the Bible was he there to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, so help you who have no God other than yourself?

As publicity stunts go, this was a doozy. Dispersing a peaceful protest with force worthy of putting down an armed insurrection, this got off on two wrong feet. And then standing there in a pose so unnatural, so unfeeling, so demonstrably without hint or trace of empathy but almost exploding with utter disdain, this scene provided a remarkable visual statement of his contempt for those who dared expose the raw nerve of two and a half centuries of a nation's continuing disgrace.

Donald Trump is the antithesis of everything the Bible would preach. He is a man consumed by his vices, by his greed, by his hatreds, by his narcissism, by his pettiness, unable to produce a scintilla of desperately needed morality or the slightest evidence of compassion.

It disgusts me that in this time of compounding tragedies this charade was Mr. Trump's best response. We are alone in our grief and our pain as our President is but a fiction, a fraud hiding behind a Bible I am certain he has never opened, and its teachings that he has clearly and unequivocally never once in his life practiced. 

Sunday, May 31, 2020

In Desperate Search of God's Grace


There is a great smoldering anger that the unending battle for civil rights remains a war against unrelenting uncivil wrongs. That the presidency of Barack Obama was but a mirage. That the death of Mr. Floyd was a statement of our most fundamental principle that all people are not created equal. That the less things change the more things remain immutably an integral part of the American landscape. That we as a nation are steeped in a prejudice which endures nearly 250 years after our birth just as virulent and omnipresent as it was from the first. That this disease is wholly resistant to the antidote of mercy and compassion.

 And sometimes there is a moment that serves as catalyst for a conflagration. An incident that appears to demand a huge fire in response to this country's enduring legacy of hatred. That words prove insufficient ammunition. That physical destruction is the only adequate means of expression, the only true retort to such pervasive evil. Contemplation in the moment of whether such action is, in the final analysis, appropriate seemingly fully subsumed by the belief that it is necessary.

So from sea to not so shining sea, we burn. America the not so beautiful. In desperate search of God's grace.

Friday, May 29, 2020

My Clothes

I wonder if my clothes are lonely. Or scared.

I left my apartment the third week of March and have resided over 100 miles away ever since. I did not leave a note for my clothes saying I was uncertain when I would be returning. I did not give them reassurance that they would not be forgotten in my absence. I did not remind them how important they are to me.

Actually I am mostly talking about the clothes I wear in warmer weather. I did not consider in my hasty exit that I would remain away from my clothes for such a long time. Thus, my shorts and tee shirts were not even in my contemplation as I bid what I thought would be a relatively brief adieu.

But now that the temperatures have finally climbed, those clothes must be wondering what happened. Did I get sick? Did I have another closet filled with other clothes that they knew nothing about? Had I been in a fight with my wife and just moved away? I wonder if they are worried about me.

Or maybe they are happy for the break. I tend to wear clothes far past what should be their expiration. Much of what now sits idle in my closet has been called to duty for many more years than it could ever have imagined. Maybe these clothes welcome my absence, finding me more of a burden than a benefit in their lives.

My mother in law lives in the same building that I left. I am considering asking her to go visit my clothes. That she gently explain to them what is happening. That she assure them they have not been cast aside. That she let them know that I will be back as soon as I can.

I may even ask her to put together a care package from my closet and ship the same, while I wait in breathless anticipation. But maybe that is not such a good idea. Maybe it is best to let my clothes rest a little longer. Maybe they will be nervous if a stranger gathers them up and boxes them. Maybe this will cause them fear and uncertainty.

Better to let them be. Hopefully I will be able to return in time to wear some of my lighter clothes before the chill of fall is in the air. And that it will be a reunion filled with hugs and joy, with stories of unexpected absences, with grateful smiles, with unbridled enthusiasm for old friends once more together.

Until then I will just say a little prayer for my clothes, wishing them continued good health, peace and contentment. You have not been abandoned. You are forever in my thoughts.

To my black tee shirt: you have always been my favorite.

To my khaki shorts: I miss you a lot.

To all my pants: I have been trying to get in shape since I last saw you and I think next time we are together I may not have to suck in my stomach to put you on. I hope you will be proud of me.

I am coming back to you. I promise.

Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Agua



"Agua" she says."Agua please." She is 20 months old and agua is the one word in Spanish she uses regularly. She learned it from the little girl downstairs, the one whose door she knocks on every day, the one she hugs so tightly every time they are together. She doesn't know it yet but that little girl is moving away tomorrow. And when she next goes "knock, knock" on that door, the face of her first best friend, the one she adores, will not be there in response. I only hope she always recalls who taught her to say "agua."

Monday, May 25, 2020

Joe Biden Is Irrelevant

("Joe Biden Places Wreath at Veteran's Memorial in Delaware")

Joe Biden is irrelevant.

This election will pit Trump vs Trump. Donald Trump, depending on your point of view is either:
a) The answer to "What's Wrong with America?"
or
b)  The answer to what's wrong with America!!

For anyone who has resided in this country from January, 2017 until today and been able to take sustenance during that period, it is virtually impossible not to have drawn a firm conclusion about the pros and cons of this man who clearly appears to be a pro at being a con.

And so, yes we worry that Joe Biden may have a bit of foot in mouth disease, that sometimes it appears that his best days may be in the rearview mirror. But really, really does anything that Mr. Biden may speak or misspeak between now and November of this year make a hill of beans difference in whether or not you believe Donald Trump deserves his seat on the throne for another four years?

Will anyone be going into that voting booth (if Mr. Trump had his way that would be the only way) agonizing over Mr. Biden's record, or his Vice Presidential selection? Raise your hand if that will be your overriding concern. I only see two raised hands in all of America and honestly Mr. Trump, neither you nor Mitch McConnell should be able to participate in this poll.

Joe Biden, rest until November and save your strength. For if you are elected as our next President there will be an enormous task laid at your feet. After four years of Donald Trump the existential question you will have to answer is how to make America great again.

Sunday, May 24, 2020

Imagine

Imagine 100,000
Faces of the dead
No help from Donald 
Dow dancing in his head
Imagine all the people not alive today

Imagine no Corona
Spread across our land
No pain or suffering
If we had better planned
Imagine all the people still alive today

You may say stop dreaming 
What's been done is done
But I think of all the heartache
Of grieving daughters and anguished sons

Imagine there's no heaven
For those who are no more
100,000 lost souls
No matter rich or poor
Imagine its your momma not alive today

You may not have felt the 
sorrow
You may be a lucky one
But just know that tomorrow
There will be 100,001

Imagine 100,000
Faces of the dead
No help from Donald 
Dow dancing in his head
Imagine all the people not alive today