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Sunday, April 5, 2020

The Whole Truth

The overwhelming problem with the President's response to this pandemic has been his unrelenting affliction for speaking in hyperbolic certainty.

He has created a campaign and then a presidency predicated on hyperventilated, manufactured truths that have provided pablum and sustenance for those who drink the Kool Aid, but have only led to escalated difficulties at each turn.

From the near collision course with North Korea, to his impenetrable Wall, to the tariff wars with China and others, from his intended withdrawal from the climate change accord, to the perfect conversation with the Ukrainian President and his dalliance with Russia, Mr.Trump's one constant is his complete assurance of his superior knowledge of the situation and the supposed ease with which whatever dilemma posed will be resolved.

It is the essence of his DNA and his presidency. And when now his bluff has been called by a virus that knows no way but forward, when the emperor stands before this nation clothed in nothing but his lack of comprehension, when this illness is not distracted or deterred by grotesque mischaracterizations then we as a nation are left with everything to fear and no one in charge.

So today we can only hope that Mr. Trump and Mr. Kushner fully cede the spotlight and the response to those who come armed with actual knowledge and understanding. For the President's misstatements, misunderstandings and miscalculations have left us in a state of triage. 

The truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. That is all we ever wanted, and nothing this President has even remotely provided. And the result is racing through every town, every hospital and every heart in this nation.

Thursday, April 2, 2020

We acknowledge receipt of your order

We acknowledge receipt of your order. Thank you for shopping online with us. You should receive the requested items within:
a) one day
b) four days
c) two weeks
d) are you kidding

We acknowledge receipt of your order. Your request cannot be filled at this time because:
a) toilet paper now costs $300 a roll, you are unemployed and your bank account has $298
b) toilet paper with the picture of the face of President Trump is out of stock and by his executive order all production has stopped
c) toilet paper has been declared non-essential 
d) you should just eat less because you're looking a little chubby

We acknowledge receipt of your order. However we refuse to fill it because:
a) you live in New York City
b) you know someone who lives in New York City
c) you once wasted money on seeing "Cats"
d) your SAT score in English was under 650.

We acknowledge receipt of your order. But we have a few questions before we decide if we will fill it:
a) have you ever complained, even to yourself, about our service
b) do you believe in love at first sight
c) have you ever been accused of jaywalking
d) can you name the Presidents in height order

We acknowledge receipt of your order. We are out of stock of 19 of the 20 requested items. However the good news is:
a) we can ship you 12 Halloween masks of Vice President Pence
b) we will be getting in some out of date organic turkey any day
c) we found a box of 80% dark chocolate in the corner of the warehouse
d) we recently changed the striping in the parking lot and got three more spaces

We acknowledge receipt of your order. We think you must have confused us with your mother because:
a) we don't come to your house to make chocolate chip pancakes
b) we don't have time to play Scrabble with you
c) we can't read you a bedtime story
d) we can't figure out where that smell is coming from

We acknowledge receipt of your order. Please stop annoying us because:
a) we went out of business two weeks ago
b) we don't deliver to any zip code starting with a number
c) you voted Republican in the mid-terms
d) your eyes are not deep blue

Thanks again for thinking of us.

Wednesday, April 1, 2020

Donald Trump Sings the Beatles



The President has now appeared on You Tube singing a series of Beatles songs in response to the current pandemic. The cost to view is your sanity:

1. Helter - Skelter - his handling of the crisis

2. In the End - his message to Governors who challenge him

3. Yesterday - his understanding of how quickly Melania will be gone if he ever tests positive for the virus

4. Yellow Submarine - his new residence until this plague disappears

5. The Long and Winding Road - his retort to those who say he has been slow to deliver desperately needed supplies

6. A Hard Day's Night - his lament when he can't escape to Mar-a-Lago to play golf

7. Carry That Weight- his direction to Dr. Fauci

8. Cry Baby Cry- his conversation with Governor Cuomo

9. Do You Want to Know a Secret - his decision not to inform us of the extent of the problem we face

10. Everybody's Got Something to Hide Cept for Me and My Monkey- his suggestion that we pay attention to his monkey

11. Because - his response to every question "Why"

12. Getting Better (All the Time) - his answer when the numbers keep getting worse

13. Hello, Goodbye - his discussions with the press when they question his actions

14. I Just Don't Understand - his anthem

15. I Want to Hold Your Hand - his belief that this is all a hoax manufactured by China 

16. I'm Looking Through You - his rebuke of  Nancy Pelosi

17. It Won't Be Long - his instruction to those who are told not to leave NYC

18. Let It Be - his true feeling on how best to handle this situation

19. Magical Mystery Tour-  his tutorial on governing

20. Nowhere Man - his leadership crystallized

21. Oh-bla-di, Oh-bla-da - his suggestion that this is all overblown 

22. Run For Your Life- his thoughts on your chance of survival

23. She's Leaving Home - his revelation about Melania after she got a hold of the latest report on the outbreak

24. Ticket to Ride - his reporting of Ivanka's plans to get out of town

25. We Can Work It Out - his stock position when everything goes wrong

Message to Mr. Trump: stop fiddling around while Our Guitar Gently Weeps. It is far past time to just Let It Be. We are all in desperate need of more than A Little Help from Our Friends. Please, please us, oh yeah and  don't be APRIL'S FOOL on the Hill.



Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Home and Bored (music by Paul Simon, lyrics definitely not)


I'm sitting staring at my toes
In an hour I may watch my nose
On my floor I see some dirt
And there's some lint upon my shirt
And every thought fits in my hand
For the outside world to me is banned

Home and bored I know I am
Home and bored
Home, where everything's annoying
Home, where the tv show is cloying
Home, where I realize I'm boring
I've got no place to be

Everyday's the same to me
I've got nothing else to see
And every night laying in my bed
I'm counting sheep inside my head
You're really baa-d I think they said
It's Groundhog Day my brain has fled

Home and bored I know I am
Home and bored
Home, where everything's annoying
Home, where the tv show is cloying
Home, where I realize I'm boring
I've got no place to be

Tonight, I will pretend to read 
But all the words I barely see
And each room's closing in on me
But there is nowhere I can flee
And so I get down on my knees
And pray that one day soon I'll be

Not home and bored for now I am
Home and bored
Home, where everything's annoying
Home, where the tv show is cloying
Home, where I realize I'm boring
But there's nowhere else to flee
I've got no place to be
To be......





  


Monday, March 30, 2020

THREE WORDS THAT STRIKE GRAVE FEAR IN THE HEART: "NEW YORK CITY"

Three words that strike grave fear in the heart: "New York City".

As the President of the United States threatens, and then retreats, from the most absolute form of self isolation (NIOBY- NOT IN OUR BACKYARDS) for anyone who has the great and terrible misfortune to reside in the eye of the storm, so this discussion is repeating itself a thousand times over throughout this nation. 

A thousand NYCs proliferating, if not today then surely tomorrow, throughout the country as the disease settles in and attacks with particular ferocity wherever it chooses.

The "Welcome" sign has been removed and in its place is an image of a skull and crossbones, with a warning, "Do not enter, at the risk of death, OURS".

Is this an act of reasoned self preservation, the belief that should you appear you will not adhere to the rules of self quarantine, you will infect our hamlet, our hospitals will be overrun and we will have lost any hope of survival? 

Or merely an act demonstrating the worst in us, not allowing a fellow human to seek shelter from the storm, informing others that their lives have less value, their actions will undoubtedly be impure, their mere presence in our zip code a pox?

It is a war raging in our local papers and over the Internet. I am residing slightly more than 100 miles from NYC and in this town the battle is being waged with great ferocity. One of our local officials has suggested, in no uncertain terms, that second homeowners whose principal residence is in NYC should definitely, absolutely and in every single instance stay away. Their own homes off limits to them. And for anyone contemplating allowing their house or apartment to serve as an air B&B refuge, think again.

As the numbers mount with frightening speed in NYC, as we learn of refrigerated trucks lining up as make shift morgues, as we are informed that medical supplies may be gone within a week without an influx of help, I can not imagine the level of concern of those who remain in the city. I have friends and relatives there. How would I react if I were one of them, not so politely being informed to stay the F in place?

We are all living in a war zone these days. And if we are not on the front lines today, we may be in the days to follow, whether or not anyone from the NYC's throughout this land appear. And should that happen, and we find ourselves in a hot pocket how would we respond if we were the ones for whom the skull and crossbones was intended?

This is the poster child of an existential crisis. And it poses some very difficult questions about the very essence of our being.

I welcome your response. Your answers will not be graded. Not by me anyway.

Sunday, March 29, 2020

A MAN OF (RE)ACTION

He does not act but react. In a crisis it is the underlying predicate for the worst of all outcomes.

This is what happens when you are unprepared for the urgency of the moment. Donald Trump has wasted his presidency, refusing to do his homework and deconstructing those agencies that could serve him best in moments of ultimate stress.

And so, with this virus spreading across this nation, he heard only the voice in his own head when confronted with the possibility that we would one day look like Wuhan. He did not see it for what it was, did not understand it for what it could be and did not have the remotest idea of what he should and must do.

The actions he took did nothing to form a firewall. And the result is that we have city after city now in a mad dash to slow this virus before it inundates them, their hospitals nearly overwhelmed, their doctors and nurses on the precipice between their own life and death, ventilators in as short supply as toilet paper, testing only now ramping up, while the sickest pray merely that someone is there to attend to them. 

We are saddled with a President armed with nothing but his hubris, responding with woeful inadequacy to a disease that is not at all interested in his nonsense, not deterred by his useless banter.

He cannot intimidate Coronavirus. It will not be scared away by tariffs, by a Wall, by an executive order not to enter. It will not be restricted by state boundaries. It will not agree to vacate by Easter. It does not care about "The Art of the Deal". It did not watch "The Apprenctice". It will not be stopped by presidential fiat.

And if we survive this plague upon us, it will be despite the worst efforts of Donald Trump. 

A mind is a terrible thing to waste. Particularly his. Especially now.

GAME THREE, MARCH 29,2020 CAMDEN YARDS, BALTIMORE, MD.


The 1982 Braves and the '87 Brewers each started the season with 13 straight victories. The Yankees will not threaten the record this year.

After the boys from the Bronx began the campaign with two easy wins against a squad that reminds one of the Kansas City A's, who served as a punching bag for the Bombers of a half century ago, the O's of Baltimore dominated 11 to 3 in today's contest. 

JA Happ was hapless, unable to complete three innings of work, seven Orioles successfully rounding the bases during his truncated tenure on the mound.

Actually, there was a team that went undefeated through an entire season. The Cincinnati Red Stockings in 1869 had 57 wins and the same number of losses as Rocky Marciano suffered in his professional boxing career. But, even as old as I am, that team played before my time, and I can not name one member of that squad. 150 years distance can do that to even the most dominating performances.

It seemed a little more like the players, and the fans, had settled back into their routines after the surge of emotion that accompanied the first two contests. The longest and harshest winter this nation has ever endured receding ever so slightly into the background

While games one and two were played to a packed stadium, today the crowd was nearly 12,000 short of capacity. And the comments of the players afterwards focused much more on the "X's and O's" than on the emotion of being on the field.

"My fastball was nothing and the rest of my pitches were worse", Happ reported. When advised of the stats of his performance, he merely responded "Garbage in, garbage out."

It is refreshing actually to be talking about frailities and imperfections in baseball, to be looking at the weather report to see how many layers of clothes will be required at the next stop, to check the standings to see who has come best prepared for the battles at hand. To feel the rhythm and the heartbeat of the sport as it goes about its business.

And so, at two wins and one loss the Yankees are looking up at only one team in their division, the Sox of Boston. It is good to feel that sense of hatred for the Beantowners surging through my veins. 


Baseball is back.

Saturday, March 28, 2020

GAME TWO, MARCH 28, 2020 (MY DAD'S BIRTHDAY)

My father would have been 102 years old today.

As a young boy growing up in the 1950's and 60's, my dad was my hero. Actually, that is not the truth. I had two heroes, my dad and The Mick. 

Mickey Mantle was a product of the gods. His strength was herculean. He wore the wings of Hermes on his feet. He could beat you with a bunt or a 500 foot blast. He could track down every ball the batter mistakenly believed was destined for glory and would gun you down if you dared to challenge the lightning in his arm. He was the handsomest of men, with a smile to steal your heart.


Only later in my life would I learn he was also a person of many failings and that I had long been worshipping a false God.

But my dad never faltered. Until his dying day, at 61 years of age, he remained ever the same person I idolized from my first memories. A brilliant man, a success in his chosen field of work, a devoted husband, he was a father who gave all of himself, all of the time to two children who never, ever lacked certainty they were deeply and completely loved every moment of every day.

Sports was a particular bond for me and my dad, both of us natural athletes, both of us drawn to competition and both with a particular passion for baseball.

My most constant companion growing up was my mitt. It followed me everywhere and anywhere I went. And as my dad rushed home from work on countless days just to have a catch with me or to throw me a few pitches to hit, our lives coalesced around this game. Our backyard serving as home plate and pitcher's mound for an unbreakable alliance.


Our travels together to Yankee Stadium were like taking day trips to heaven. And when my dad caught a ball that Berra hit, well almost 50 years later it is still my favorite possession. As long as it remains with me, so does my dad.

Game two of this most welcome season took place in Baltimore today. And my team again prevailed, this time by a count of 9 to 2. Masahiro Tanaka threw an impeccable five innings, striking out 8 O's and not allowing a single runner to arrive safely even one quarter of the way around the 360 foot diamond. Gleybar Torres homered for the second consecutive game. And, at least for one more day, 162 wins seems a distinct possibility.


But today belonged to the memory of my dad and to the game that meant so much to that little boy with two heroes.


Thursday, March 26, 2020

GAME ONE

It lasted for seven minutes..


Before the first note of the National Anthem had pierced the air, the roar of the crowd commenced. And when they reached "and the home of the brave" the ovation only intensified. It was a statement of our resolve, our relief, our recognition that it was now safe to come out, safe to become a fan again, safe to look forward without looking back over your shoulder.



The drama of the moment clearly affected the players on both teams, then situated along the first and third base lines in the tradition of Opening Day. And in the next instant, one of the most startling events I have ever witnessed in over six decades of watching this game occurred. The players broke ranks and the two teams congregated as one near home plate. They shook hands and many embraced, some even openly weeping. And the cheering of the fans exploded, as, from their seats, they joined hands and hearts with those they had come to see.


It was the most striking declaration that what was about to unfold was only a game, and that those standing on the field had together survived a most terrible war of attrition. These were not enemies, but united warriors who had beaten back a common foe. And no matter what would happen in the coming hours, weeks and months as the balls and strikes, hits and runs, wins and losses separated one group of men from another, a common bond had been forged both permanent and unbreakable.

Afterwards, once the contest had concluded (which, by the way, the boys from the Bronx won, 6 runs to 3, Gerritt Cole pitching five innings of one run ball, the Bombers belting four solo home runs, one each for LeMahieu, Torres, Voit and Andujar, he in a pinch hitting role in his first toe dipping in the water in almost a year) all the discussion focused not on the statistics but on the feelings of those who had participated.

Aaron Boone said it felt surreal to be back in the dugout. "It was as though I was not a manager but someone watching as a most extraordinary event unfolded. Not moving chess pieces around for I was far too distracted, my mind focused on how grateful I was to be alive and to have the privilege to be back among this group. I didn't want this game to end, no matter the score."

Aaron Judge said his aching ribs felt much better, any pain masked by the adrenaline that surged through his body the moment he stepped onto the field for pre-game introductions. "The only ache I felt was in not being able to participate" as he bided his time on the 10 day disabled list. "I so wanted to be out there, good, bad or indifferent. I just wanted to be out there."


And the rest who were interviewed all echoed one another, the victory or defeat being mere footnote. All giving thanks just for the opportunity to be back where they belonged when, for so long, that goal seemed so far out of reach.

Many spoke of friends or family members who had suffered through the plague that had ravaged the nation. Almost all with a tale to tell of how someone they knew had either had a close brush with death or had succumbed to a relentless, brutal enemy. None were left untouched.

Conversation about strike zones, about pitch counts and pitch outs, about the trials and tribulations of trying to read and react to a 92 MPH slider in less than half a second would have to wait until tomorrow.

Today, it was enough that Game One was now in the books.

It was ok, once more, to be alive. 

We are all going to be just fine.


Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Opening Day - March 26, 2020 - 3:05 PM - Baltimore, Maryland - New York Yankees vs Baltimore Orioles

First pitch is less than 48 hours away.

The terrible tragedies inflicted upon us by the Coronavirus from the first reported case in this country on November 14, 2019, drove this country to its knees, put our lives on indefinite hold, and gave us a future of frightening uncertainty. But now, over four months later, the decimation has abated, the horror has receded and we are advised that we have the authority and the capacity to resume our regularly scheduled life.

And thus we welcome baseball into our homes with outstetched arms and a passion that reaches into our soul, as deep as a bottomless ocean, as strong as the first sight of a newborn baby. It is a birth, or at least a rebirth. We have come out of the shadows, emerging from the endless desperately dark winter and headed directly into the bright sunlight of America's game.


Spring training was but one of the innumerable casualties of this horrific virus. Only in the past five days have the teams been given permission to assemble, At that time, the Commissioner of baseball announced that, for the urgent need of repairing our national psyche as rapidly as possible, the start of the regular reason would not be delayed.

In his statement, Rob Manfred  informed an anxiously awaiting public that "the soreness in the bodies of the players pales in comparison with the heaviness that is lifting from all our hearts. Let there be the sound of bat against ball.  Let there be the  sight of stolen bases and massive home runs. Let there be arguments with umpires. Let there be the certainty that this game is here for you, as this nation's constant companion, day after day and month after month. Let there be rivalries. Let there be slumps and streaks. Let there be packed stadiums and loud noise from one end of this great country to the other. Let the games begin."

And so, at 3:05 PM on this Thursday, at Camden Yards, in Baltimore, Maryland, my beloved Yankees will begin their quest for that ever elusive 28th World Championship. And while their path has been blocked in recent times by the Houston Astericks, they have pried from their enemy's fingers their most prized possession, one Gerritt Cole. It took a mere $324 million dollars for Mr. Cole to shear his locks, shave his beard and move east. And on the 26th of March, 2020, it is fervently hoped that he begins to pay dividends on the team's most consequential investment.

Due to the disappearance of spring training, Commissioner Manfred has permitted each team to house thirty players on their roster, instead of the normal  twenty five, for the first thirty days of the season. Pitch counts will be shorter and an army of pitchers will be shuttled in and out of games until the cobwebs are removed. With the expanded numbers, the Yankees will now count an impressive seventeen pitchers on their opening day roster. 

And here, for those of you who have been longing for what seems an eternity to focus on anything other than the one thing we were all fixated upon, is my team, the one that will travel through 2020 without a blemish, destined, if there is a God, to breathe life back into New York City after it has lived, and far too often died, in the center of the storm.

Catchers - Gary Sanchez and Kyle Higashika

First Base - Luke Voit and Mike Ford

Second Base - DJ Lemahieu

Shortstop - Gleybar Torres

Third Base - Gio Urshela and Miguel Andujar

Outfield - Clint Frazier, Brett Gardner, Mike Tauchman 
(the actual outfield of Mike Stanton, Aaron Judge and Aaron Hicks will be watching all of this unfold from a distance, marooned on the disabled list until I decide they are ready to play)

Utility - Tyler Wade and Thaise Estrada

Starting Pitchers - Gerritt Cole, Masahira Tanaka, JA Happ, Jordan Montgomery, Jonathan Loaisaga 
(Luis Severino collecting his money while on the sideline all year, James Paxton appearing when I tire of watching Jordan Montgomery struggle and Domingo German in domestic violence purgatory for the foreseeable future)

Relievers -Aroldis Chapman, Zack Britton, Luis Cessa, Chad Greene, Jonathan Holder, Tommy Kahnle, Adam Ottavino, David Hale, Delvi Garcia, Ben Heller, Michael King, Nick Nelson and Carl Schmidt

I have the smell of a new leather mitt and the feel of an untouched baseball set firmly in my mind. 

And as a country, severely wounded but now on the mend, as nearly 330 million who have seen Hell close up, as each one of us is for the first time in what feels like forever able to recall what it is like to smile and not fear tomorrow, it is finally, finally, finally our time to get up, get out of our seats, walk over to the window and shout at the top of our lungs:

PLAY BALL

Social Distancing From the Thought of Coronavirus

So long MSNBC. Adieu CNN and the rest of cable news. Goodbye to you, network coverage of the most important event of my lifetime. 

And as for you, my New York Times, all you other newspapers, magazines, as well as you various and sundry Internet outposts providing chapter and verse, molecule and atom, minute by minute and second by second detail of this Beast that is swallowing the universe faster than Pac Man devoured everything in its path, I must also bid you farewell. Maybe not entirely, but save for a quick moment or two daily, you too are now off limits.

As for family and friends, those among you who still have the capacity to devote most of their mental bandwith to absorbing and discussing the particulars of what has become of life as we know it, I send this notice to all of you. I will not be engaging you in anything but the most superficial of conversations, unencumbered by the facts and figures that weigh so heavily upon my brain, my soul.

For those who long ago decided the world was too much with you, who turned their attention away from the negatives and sought solace in less cumbersome outlets, I apologize to you. I have judged you harshly, me with my newspaper clippings of my words of importance, me with my undivided attention to the ugliness that has dominated our conversations and our universe for these past years. 

I no longer have the strength to absorb and analyze, to monitor and contemplate, to cogitate and consider what is happening to this planet from stem to stern. For the sake of my own mental health I must retreat. For the ability to function through the course of the coming days, there is, for me, no alternative. For today, and for the tomorrow's to come, I will operate on the periphery of knowledge, only dipping a toe on occasion into the frigid waters.


So think what you may of me, shake your head if you will. I will take no offense. I will not think the less of you if you think the less of me. But I am resolute, unwilling to listen to your thoughts as to why my choice is absurd.

For I am social distancing from you Coronavirus. I am staying six feet away from you, from your ability to capture my every waking thought, to kill off my capacity to remember what the smell of spring is like, what the anticipation of Opening Day means, what warm sunshine does as it touches my skin, what laughter and joy are, what New York City brimming with humanity sounds like, what happiness is. I will not, I cannot allow you to steal all that from me.

So, you Coronavirus are now officially off limits, verboten, you cannot pass go and collect $200, you are not entitled to a get out of jail free card. There is now a stay in place order for you. Do not venture anywhere near my mind. You are definitely not welcome.

Monday, March 23, 2020

If He Only Had a Brain

He has wasted all those hours
Pretendin' super powers
Repeatin' his refrain
Oh my God, he's been screechin'
While I wish he had been teachin'
If he only had a brain

He's been Nero with a fiddle
Who's flunked at solving riddles
All the answers he just feigned
And the questions we've been askin'
Are the problems he's been maskin'
If he only had a brain

Oh, he's so full of lies
And he always got one more
He's a veritable endless lying store
A rotten apple, to the core

I'm so tired of his bluffin'
His brain all full of nothin'
His words cause me such pain
I would be oh so happy
If he wasn't oh so crappy
If he only had a brain

And though it may sound treason
I can't find any reason
Why he should still remain
I would boot him in the behind
From his office, though its unkind
Need a president with brains




Saturday, March 21, 2020

A Grandfather's Wishes for His First Grandchild (Four pieces)

 I THOUGHT THAT WITH ALL THE ANGST WE ARE EXPERIENCING I WOULD NOW POST A FEW OF THE PIECES I HAVE WRITTEN OVER THE PAST 18 MONTHS CONCERNING MY GRANDDAUGHTER

I HOPE YOU ENJOY THEM AND THEY PROVIDE A FEW MOMENTS OF RESPITE FROM THE STORM

WELCOME TO THE WORLD


To my granddaughter:

I wish for you a heart full of compassion, a mind full of questions, eyes that see not what we are but what we can be, legs that take you where your dreams insist,  arms filled with love, a voice that demands the best in others and in yourself.

 I wish for you that every pain passes quickly, that each tear dries instantly, that the darkest night leads swiftly to the brightest day, that heartaches are few and vanish in the blink of an eye, that you are fierce and resilient, able to weather each storm with certainty and determination.

I wish for you that you are filled with wonder and expectation, joy and happiness, smiles and laughter, wit and humor.

I wish for you that your life is one of which you are proud, that each year brings you satisfaction, each day brings you hope, each moment brings you knowledge.

I wish for you that you feel in the core of your being the depth of a parent's love, the breadth of a family's trust in your greatness and potential to change the universe.

I wish for you that you believe in your own capacity, you rely on your strengths, you strive to meet all your promises, you act not on your fears but on your visions.

I wish for you romance and passion, excitement and anticipation, the touch of one that brings meaning beyond all others.

I wish for you a long and important life, deep and abiding respect for others, the desire to make this planet a better place than the one delivered to you, causes that stir you to act, ideas that matter and demand your attention.

I wish for myself that I am a part of your existence, that I bring you pleasure, that you await my arrival and are saddened by my departure. I wish that I am privileged to witness you in all your glory.

My wishes for you are without end. But beyond all I wish you are a good and decent person.

Welcome to the world. I love you.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------

A BIRTHDAY WISH

My granddaughter is rushing up to her first birthday. She appears on the cusp of so many breakthroughs, walking only a step away, talking in Shakespearean verse surely the next sounds to emanate.

Graduating from baby to child as I stare in unadulterated awe. As if she is the only being on the planet. A smile permanently etched on my heart. Her grandfather wrapped around every finger of her tiny hands.

A year ago I wrote to a child yet to be born, welcoming her and telling her of my hopes and dreams for her future. But that was mere abstraction. This is as real as it gets.

I look out on a world of young grandchildren, with grandparents embracing the same feelings as I, aching for the same joys for the most precious being in their lives that I wish for my granddaughter. We are all but variations on a theme, none of us more worthy, none of us more entitled.

And I ask why do some get treated so poorly, with a cruelty that none among us deserve. I see a nation that destroys lives for no reason other than that it can. Who declares happiness and possibility the province of some but not others. Who treats with disdain and contempt the lives of people whose sin is not who they are, but where they were born.

And I know my granddaughter is no better or worse than them. That it is serendipity that she is not among those whose lives are damaged by a darkness superimposed on their being. And I can but imagine the ache that would rip my soul if I were one of those grandparents.
So for my granddaughter's first birthday I wish for her all that my words to her a year ago envisioned. That as she grows, she grows into the best person she can be. That her life continues to bring me an almost indescribable happiness.


And that for all the grandparents around this nation who have suffered the most, that in the tomorrows to come their pain subsides and one day soon they are able to dream the same dreams as I. That their grandchild's first step is unfettered, their first words filled with poetry.

That is my birthday wish for my granddaughter. And their's.

-------------------------------------------------------------

    My Heart Is Yours To Keep

    I stare at you
    And watch you breathe
    So still and peaceful like a river calm
    Your eyes wide open captured all the light
    That filled your day from early morn
    And my heart is yours to keep
    As you wander off to sleep
    No troubles can reach you
    I'll keep you safe from harm

    I stare at you
    And watch you dream
    Of the wonders that will come your way
    Your eyes wide open to the promises
    Tomorrow beckoning within your reach
    And my heart is yours to keep
    As you wander off to sleep
    No troubles can reach you
    I'll give you shelter from the storm

    I stare at you
    And you are all the world
    There is no other place upon this earth
    My eyes can see no other face but yours
    And all I know is here within my gaze
    And my heart is yours to keep
    As you wander off to sleep
    No troubles can reach you 
    I'll keep you close and warm

    My heart is yours to keep

    So wander off to sleep

    No troubles will reach you 

    Forever in my arms


--------------------------------------------------------------------

PAPA

"Papa" she says.

I am pretty sure she has a good vocabulary for her age, but it is hard to know for certain, since I do not have others similarly situated to stand next to her and chat for comparison. And also because most words are incomplete and it takes the wisdom of a parent to interpret these sounds.

But "papa" has a clarity to it that is like no other word I have ever heard. And with those two small syllables everything else disappears.

"Papa" she says and it is impossible for me to do everything I would wish for her.

"Papa" she says and she knows she is fiercely protected.

"Papa" she says and she knows she is deeply loved.

"Papa" she says and she knows that not a day will go by when I will not be there by her side.

"Papa" she says and she knows that I will pick her up as long as there is strength in my body and capacity in my mind.

"Papa" she says and I imagine all the greatness that resides within her.

"Papa" she says and I can't imagine a life without her.

"Papa" she says and I promise all the promises I have.

"Papa" she says and I think, I know, that no other four letters have ever been so important.

"Papa" she says and suddenly there are no other words in the world.

And to all the other "papas", you know exactly what I mean. For you have experienced that jolt of electricity, that surge of passion, that love emanating from the deepest part of your soul that you didn't fully recognize still resided within you. You have been forever altered by one word from one little human being still trying to figure out what it is all about.

For me, whatever other vocabulary follows in the days and years to come from this grandchild of mine, it can never match the sound that has now emerged.

"Papa" she says.

"Papa."

Friday, March 20, 2020

Six Feet

It was the open door that caught my eye.

Main Street now home to a row of signs plastered on darkened storefronts, all announcing in one form or another the current state of dysfunction. "Closed" and "Coronavirus" the common denominator, informing all who passed that life was officially on hold. 

What the center of this town, in the middle of the day in the middle of the week should have been proudly displaying, now replaced by profound silence and a deep sense of foreboding.

As I walked along, I was acutely aware of my heightened senses. Every noise that previously would not have even registered suddenly pregnant with meaning. Every human within my periphery now disproportionately critical. Each step someone moved closer to me a harbinger of potential disaster.

There were only a few of us here, and in my mind's eye I can now recall each of them. The young woman who came around the corner and ducked into a building before she reached into my space. The older man with the beard and the ponytail. But he ventured on to a side street just before our paths would have passed. The middle aged woman staring out the front window of a coffee shop, still serving take out I guessed. No others were there, I am certain. This must be what war is like, I thought. The enemy lurking anywhere and everywhere.

A few cars dotted the landscape, almost as if they were props for a movie, rather than actual vehicles intended to move someone from here to there. For it seemed there was no longer anyplace anyone had to be. 

Walking by myself on this street was never before an act of isolation. In a time when we were not under attack, before each of us became a suspect, I absorbed the humanity streaming in all directions like rays of sunlight, eavesdropping on the clues that others left in their words floating through the air, in their gestures, in the smile on their faces, in their laughter or maybe even their anger. Being on this street was an act of community, even when I did not reach out to others, even if their lives did not intentionally intersect with mine. But today none of that remains. It is as if it has all been vaporized. Today I am alone on Main Street.

But back to the open door. It was as though this one store had not gotten the message, that no one told them we were in the middle of the apocalypse. As if the rest of the world had now turned black and white, while this one slice of earth remained in color. Was this place really open for business, really inviting the public, whatever and whoever that might still be, into a space unencumbered by reality?

And what, you might ask, was this outlier? A children's toy store. Did they believe children were immune from the ravages of this tsunami and thus welcome to partake in the last remaining vestige of sanity? Or that little people, unaware of what was swirling all around, should not be deprived of their essential nourishment?

Sadly, I will never know. For I was not on this journey with the intention of interacting with other homo sapiens. My thoughts not on communication, not on investigation. My overriding and all consuming focus on maintaining my distance. Six feet. Six feet. Six feet. Six feet. Nothing else was important enough to breach this immutable mandate, penetrate the wall to investigate what might well have been the last untrammeled outpost on the entire planet earth. 

Maybe the door was only open in that instant for the proprietor to take one last look at his evaporated business. Or maybe he didn't want any customers handling door knobs. There are endless maybes in a world turned on its head but only one definite.

Six feet.






Thursday, March 19, 2020

10 Bored Games to Play While Practicing Physical Distancing (Formerly Known as Social Isolation)

1. List all the things you didn't do yesterday so you would have something to do today and don't do them today so you will have something to look forward to tomorrow.

2. Read all the Facebook posts of people doing whatever they can to assist others and realize you are not nearly as good a person as you pretend to be.

3. Remember to lift the toilet seat when you pee, actually it would be better if you did it before you peed.

4.  Decide that snacking constantly means you are only eating one meal a day.

5. Learn a foreign language, but definitely not French because you stunk at it 50 years ago.

6. Count the new hairs growing out of everything but your bald head.

7. Think about calling someone you haven't spoken to in years but then decide not to because you remember you stopped speaking to each other because they actually never liked you.

8. Stop picking up your cell phone incessantly because you have no new business messages no matter how hard you try to will it to happen.

9. Actually pay attention to what your spouse is saying.

10. Call a Republican just to annoy them.


Wednesday, March 18, 2020

The Not So Great Escape





There is the iconic scene in The Great Escape of Steve McQueen, a captured soldier in World War II, with baseball and mitt in hand as his defiant reminder of life before the madness, strolling into solitary confinement, emerging weeks later fully intact physically and emotionally. We now realize that scene was pure movie fantasy.

For today each of us, in our version of social distancing, is experiencing just the slightest sense of what it means to be isolated. We still have the Internet, still speak with loved ones regularly, still shop for essentials when we must, most still reside in the company of one or more others and we still occasionally venture outside merely to breathe the air and to witness signs of life. And yet while we are far from alone, we all feel, some more than others, the terrible weight of loneliness. 

Did any of us fully comprehend our need to be in the company of others, whenever and wherever we choose? Did any of us truly understand the damage done to our soul when we cannot feel the touch of all around us, cannot hear the full concert of humanity happening in all directions, cannot see, omnipresent, its rainbow of emotions occurring for our viewing pleasure?

As our houses of worship shutter, our concert halls stand empty, all our places of congregation now and for unknown days hereinafter declared off limits, there is an ache inside us that is shocking in its intensity, hard to fully grasp. 

We are not in social isolation so much as social hell. It is a place dark and foreboding, no matter how many movies or series we have lined up, no matter the books we now read or the music we now hope will somehow fill a massive void.

This is an empty time, frightening in the thought that, at every instant, we await a knock on the door from an unseen enemy, wholly uncertain when we will be able to emerge and resume a semblance of the life we long took for granted.

And while I may decide in the next moment that I will sit down with The Great Escape, I comprehend that, at least for today, there is no great escape from the damage that the Coronavirus is doing to our emotional well being. 

I miss my baseball mitt and ball.

Monday, March 16, 2020

A Tree Fell in the Forest On CNN Last Night

This posed the existential question: what if they had a debate and nobody came?

From a distance of six feet they disagreed for two hours.

They had changed venue, changed cable network, even changed one of the moderators. The two candidates argued to an audience of three. And I don't necessarily mean only in the studio.

To say we were distracted would not begin to describe our collective state of being. It was almost as if they threw these two old guys on the stage just to give us some sense of normalcy, some inkling of a feeling that there would be life on the other side of the Coronavirus.

It felt more in the nature of a public service announcement: "Please be advised that we will get through this and, when we do, remember that Donald Trump will still be sitting in the Oval Office. If you don't stop him, he will likely eradicate not only our democracy, but our very being."

It was, in many ways, almost ludicrous that with this nation seemingly moments from total lockdown, when business as we know it is coming to a complete halt, when schools are shuttered and we are shut in, that the "show" went on. And, maybe tomorrow they too will throw in the towel.

But I appreciated the momentary distraction, the small reminder of what life was like before the apocalypse. And, hopefully, after.

Sunday, March 15, 2020

The Boss

She goes through her roll call virtually every time we speak on the phone: Raga, JoJo, Papa. It is not a request, so much as it is a command. You see, now having turned one and a half, she is definitely in charge.

"He-he" she says. And though (at least to my ear) her direction to "sit here" does sound remarkably like she is speaking French, she is not. And "he-he" I scurry, sometimes obediently sitting in a tiny chair that was built for a backside decidedly smaller than mine.

She has learned so much about her universe in such a short time. She knows exactly what the Wheels on the Bus and everyone inside it do. She can Row, Row, Row Her Boat while seated in what looks for all the world like a cardboard box. She can translate various body parts into Spanish as well as English. And one must be certain not to curse in her presence, for she can and will repeat most of what comes out of your mouth, both educational and less so.

And when my wife, son and I "babysit", on occasion she will herd us, giving clear instruction for no one to leave the room just in case she wants to focus her attention in any of our directions.

She has become the boss, smart, engaging, energetic, persistent and totally in control of her environment. It is quite an amazing transition, from helpless infant to master of the universe in a blink of an eye.

Happy one and a half to the best thing since sliced bread. And in a slight variation of the old standard, your command is my wish.

Friday, March 13, 2020

Trump's Follies


Was he really shaking hands with every speaker? And refusing to take a test for Covid 19 because he was not showing symptoms even as the Brazilian President was being tested for contact with the same infected person who was in the company of both leaders? Or not even contemplating self isolation?

His total inability to comport himself as a leader is staggering. Did he really blame the horrific delay on rolling out testing on the virus on an old system that the administration apparently only decided to update this week? Was everyone taking a nap over the past 60 days when the world was imploding? Or was the President's "what's the big deal" attitude the underlying force for everyone sitting on their hands while illness spread across our land?

He is incapable of taking responsibility for his egregious mistakes or handling responsibility when it is thrust upon him. 

Yes,  we know "national emergency" is two very big words, but thank you for reminding us. His opening remarks today were embarrassing, but so are all his efforts at self congratulation combined with riffing (what a nightmare that is).

We are desperately trying to flatten a curve that likely would have been much flatter but for the misdeeds and mistakes of the President. And by flattening a curve we are talking about how many lives will be lost by delay occasioned by the President's hubris, negligence, incompetence or sheer stupidity (you are free to pick one or more from this list).

If you and I survive it will not be because of, but in spite of Donald Trump.

And what worse indictment of our leader could there be?

Wednesday, March 11, 2020

Mr. Trump's Oval Office Address on the Coronavirus




He is still trying to build his Wall.

Note to the president: the Coronavirus is here, it is exponentially expanding and it requires our immediate and complete attention.

Don't tell us you are suspending traffic from Europe, with some seemingly hard to explain exceptions including an on its face bizarre exclusion for the United Kingdom.

Rather tell us what we are doing here and how to protect those among us. Tell us of medical readiness, of our own travel concerns, of the extent of aggressive tactics we must take in our business lives, in our schools, in our places of entertainment.  For how long and in what ways MUST we change the essential manner in how we comport ourselves? 

Why are we not yet testing vast portions of our population? When we will be ready to do so?

Mr. Trump, you are our leader. LEAD. You have the facts at your disposal. TELL US THE HARD TRUTHS. 

This is not a foreign invasion. Not your Mexican fantasy, not your ban on travel by Islamic people into this country. This is not, as so much in your presidency has been, merely a manufactured crisis of your imagination. It is as real as it gets.

Every person with Coronavirus is likely to pass it on to two or three others. 

Look around Mr. Trump. Italy is speaking to us. Their country is now shut down. Where do they differ from us? Their numbers were much as ours but a few days ago.

It is time for you to stop treating your office with utter disdain. Time to stop treating this nation with such disdain. Time to do your job Mr. Trump.

This is a matter of our very survival.

DO YOUR JOB.

Joe Biden and Fireside Chats

("The Democrats Are Moderately Excited")

I believe we have established three essential criteria for the Democratic nominee:

1. Is he (excuse me Tulsi Gabbard) likeable?

2. Do his policies worry me?

3. Can he defeat Donald Trump?

Yes, I understand #3 is the only issue that matters, but we have learned the others are necessary predicates.

The Democratic party has settled on a choice between two old shoes. After considering various colors, shapes and sizes, all were discarded save for two men who have been in the public eye for a very long time. Given our grave sense of unease from the madness emanating from the White House, familiarity with the Democratic candidates did not, at least in this instance, breed contempt.

Joe Biden makes us comfortable in ways Bernie Sanders never could. Having an attachment to "no drama Obama" certainly provides Mr. Biden a solid underpinning, whether or not his policies actually match those of #44.

As it turns out, Democrats don't favor confrontation in this moment, not with Republicans and not with our established manner of being.

And with the Coronavirus now wreaking havoc with our collective psyche, our energy for all out war has been further dissipated.

While we hope that our math is correct and that one plus two equals three, our party has now decided to throw their hat in with a man whose heart seems most often in the right place and whose words (at least a vast portion) give us thoughts of peace, of calm.

Who better than Joe to bring us our milk and cookies? Fireside chats anyone?

Tuesday, March 10, 2020

In the Land of What If



I know it is nothing more than what has afflicted me a thousand times before, nothing but a small head cold, only an occasional sneeze, merely a bit of a stuffy nose.

But I wait and wonder if there is a cough to come, if my temperature will spike, if, if, if, if. It is the world in which we now reside, populated by concerns whether hands are sufficiently washed, your own face now an enemy to be avoided. An unpardonable sin to bring your own fingers in contact with your own mouth, nose or eyes.

Did I actually hear someone cough across the room? Is that person sweating, does he look unwell?

These are the thoughts I try to suppress all day as I hope to live my life without  fear overtaking my eyesight, my hearing, my sense of touch, without overreaction becoming the new normal, without cataclysm hiding around each corner, without the virus waiting impatiently for my arrival on every bus, train or plane, every door knob, every elevator button. Even though this most damn sickness is not everywhere, it is. Even though you are still well, you may not be. Even though still I am well, well am I still?

Today we live in certainty the worst is yet to come, sure that there are harder times ahead. My goal is to not to surrender to that impulse, to find a center of calm within myself, to find something other than the neon lit danger sign omnipresent in the universe.

With one foot in front of the other I greet today. Maybe with eyes behind my head, but trying my best to look at what is in front of me, circumspect but not consumed with worry of what is coming to grab me from behind.

Saturday, March 7, 2020

Coronavirus



I have been reluctant to post this week, feeling the magnitude of events dwarfed the significance of anything I might attempt to add to the conversation

The Coronavirus has much of the world in its grip. From democracy to autocracy to brutal dictatorship, none are safe from its forces. And wherever one may be in the globe, every cough elicits concern, every word that there is illness in the area brings a shiver to the heart.

And in our common sentiments there should be a common purpose. For we are no longer separate bodies at war with each other in spirit if not in fact. We are no longer foreigners, immigrants. No longer with borders or walls. No longer rich or poor. No longer black or white. No longer Democrat or Republican. No longer American, Russian, Chinese or North Korean.

In this moment we all share a single enemy. In this moment we all require a single purpose. In this moment we all are but as one. For if you are ill, I stand a greater risk of falling. And if I am ill those I love are closer to harm than they should ever be.

So I hope, in all that results from a virus that causes such unrest, we discover a shared humanity. And if and when the Coronavirus is but a line in the history books, that we are changed for the better for having survived its terrible grip and learned its frightening lesson.

Sunday, March 1, 2020

A Day in the Life

It was one of those days for me.

It began innocuously enough. I had recently gotten a pair of sweat pants to wear around the house. The kind where it is hard to tell the front from the back. At least for me.

"Are your pants on backwards" my wife asked in that incredulous, yet resigned to spending the rest of her life with this idiot, tone that connotes both wonder and despair.

"Well, there is no way to know the difference" I informed her in an almost pleading voice that spoke of my desperate incompetency.

"You have drawstrings" my son announced. No I don't I thought, although I knew I was clearly overmatched by the complexity of this attire.

"I have to text my sister", but then he took pity on me and let it go. And so this would merely be recorded in my book of life as episode 10,321, or something like that, in the chronicles of why I am a danger to myself and others.

And then it got worse. By a lot.

My wife and I planned a short hike with our son in law, our 17 month old granddaughter, along with a couple who was visiting them with their 7 month old son.

Anyway, it was a morning marked by an unexpected, beautiful snowstorm. And thus our hike along a somewhat turbulent stream leading to a churning waterfall was picture perfect (actually a few pictures perfect). I had begged off the task of photographer, leaving it to my wife, knowing if the job had fallen to me there would be many images of my finger and little else. 

As the walk concluded, I choreographed our journey back home: a stop at Crossroads, a great lunch place a few miles away, then dropping my wife and me off at our apartment before the rest wandered back to the house my daughter and son-in-law had rented. As I was the one most familiar with this area, I would direct from the passenger seat in the lead car, my wife, son-in-law and granddaughter trailing in the second vehicle.

"Did you miss the turn for Crossroads?" It was my wife calling, that how did that happen question ringing in my ear. The truth is I had forgotten. In the minutes that it took from my mapping out our future to it actually transpiring, the thoughts had left my brain and were lying somewhere by the side of the road, shivering from the cold, bewildered and totally exposed to the elements.

"Don't worry." It was now my son in law's voice. "We will just head home, put the kids down for a nap and figure out lunch then." You see, my family is actually quite protective of me and their words most often treat me with tender care, my inadequacies hidden behind their affection.

My sole remaining task was to direct my driver, the weekend guest of my daughter and son in law, to my residence.

"Did you forget to tell him to turn on our street?" It was my wife calling again. And yes, I most definitely had. We were now a block or two past the left we were intended to make, but there was an easy alternate route available.

"It is not a big deal. It is just as fast this way." Even my driver, who was not otherwise aware of just how utterly damaged a being I was, had caught on. He too was excusing my glaring deficiencies in an obvious act of charity.

Shortly thereafter, I arrived home, safe though clearly not very sound. Despite my worst intentions, no one got hurt in the making of this movie, and the small caravan exited for their destination.

As I entered the apartment and took off my coat, I reached into my pocket and felt two little objects that were not where they should have been at that moment. I pulled out my phone and, in a deflated, quick burst spoke with my son in law one more time. 

"I have your daughter's gloves."