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Sunday, October 17, 2021

January 6th - Collateral Damage?

 ("90 Seconds of Rage")

This op-ed made many of these seven seem as though they were merely part of a wave that carried them along to the Capitol without their full assent, bit players, more victim than assailant, more angel than demon, more swept up in someone else's rage than their own. It was as a closing statement for the defense in mitigation at sentencing.

Yes, I comprehend these are human beings with complexities, not stick figures of one dimension. But in filling out their images, "90 Seconds of Rage" gives the clear impression that for some, especially Clayton Ray Mullins, we are the wrongdoers if we don't find compassion in our heart and forgive his trespasses. 

Yes, there are some more complicit than others, but to treat this ultimately like it was little more than a jaywalking offense for anyone who participated, even Mr. Mullins, is wrong. 

And the picture of a distraught Mr. Mullins, still suffering the effects of 90 Seconds of Rage, does not mean he deserves only a self imposed finding of guilt. 

We should not be made to feel as if justice demands our turning the other cheek. Not when we were witness, in real time, to those hell bent on destroying everyone and everything in their path. Including our democracy.

Saturday, October 16, 2021

Au Revoir

 For 19 months you have stood guard over me and my family.

You have kept us out of harm's way.

You have helped shepherd a new life into being.

You have given us long walks through your streets, into your woods and up into the sky.

You have allowed us to listen to the quiet.

You have eased our fears.

You have made the unbearable bearable.

You have created space for our family to share in the joy of each other's presence, in the beauty of new and unexpected friendships.

You have shown us that our world disrupted did not require we live lives interrupted.

You have been as a glorious gift. 

But now we are being pulled in another direction.

And though we soon take our leave we do not leave you, only ask that you take on a lesser role.

In the days to come, we will find ourselves elsewhere, sometimes for long stretches.

But we will not forget your kindness through these hardest of times.

We will always feel the warmth of your embrace.

We are forever grateful.

And we will return.

With love and admiration for the Berkshires, we thank you.

Au revoir.



Friday, October 15, 2021

An Ode to Lauren Boebert

 "A Man in Norway just killed a bunch of people with a bow and arrow.

Norway has some of the strictest gun laws around yet mass killings still occur.

Liberals need to understand it is not the gun it is the criminal who commits the act."
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Thank you for continuing to demonstrate there is no such thing as reaching the nadir.

Thank you for showing us that nothing has an obvious meaning, that there is always some way to twist a straight line into a pretzel.

Thank you for always being there in moments of distress to churn the waters.

Thank you for teaching us that with youth comes boundless inscrutable wisdom.

Thank you for sharing the first thought that pops into your head, for letting your lips move before your brain has a chance to catch up.

Thank you for not taking bow and arrow lessons. 

Thank you for auditioning for the role of the scarecrow in the Wizard of Oz.

Thank you for allowing all of us to believe we have the requisite skills to be a member of Congress. 

Thank you for being you. We don't know what this world would be like without you. 

But we can imagine.

Wednesday, October 13, 2021

Why They Don't Wear Masks

 ("An Ocean Away, I Found Some Common Sense on Mask Wearing")

Oh, so that is the root of our problem? Overkill? Really? Is that the best you've got?

It is not that those who don't wear masks, and also refuse the vaccine, have received Pavlovian training from the former President and his acolytes to discard any semblance of logic and any face covering?

For millions who wear seat belts without question, who don't find it a constitutional infringement to have speed limits when they drive, to not smoke in a bar, to get a flu shot every year, or have their children vaccinated against multiple health threats before they enter a school, who historically have taken myriad actions that protect their safety and sometimes even the safety of others, these same people have now been as sheep led to slaughter in their adamant rejection, inside, outside, upside down, to take the simplest of actions to limit the possibilities of this pandemic continuing to be the monster it is.

And the what if we had just made it a little easier, been a little more flexible in our requests, a little kinder to the uncomfortable, is an argument that sounds good in a vacuum but in reality bumps into a brick wall of mindless opposition.

The why are we not Germany in this undertaking is not a two sided coin, but a one way ticket to slavish adherence, to a  mandate that emanated from the head of the snake, from a man who never found insufficient reason to discard his mask. 

He was too macho, tougher than Covid. Too smart to require any restrictions. It is his hubris that still shows on those unmasked faces. His hubris, not the where of wearing, that is the true culprit here.

Friday, October 8, 2021

Taking A Stroll(er) Down Main Street

 Papa, will you pick me up from school in the stroller? Who could ever say no?

And so there we are, my wife and I, walking down Main street, pushing an empty stroller as we make our way on the two mile trek to our destination. It is a scene that has been oft repeated these recent warmer months. Done with love and without care or thought for how this must appear to those whom we pass along the way.

What would be your response if you noticed an old couple regularly wandering past as we do, always without a passenger in their passenger seat? That was, in different phrasing, the not so hypothetical recently posed to our daughter by one of her friends who has witnessed my wife and I perform our ritual on more than one occasion. Her reply, a loud chuckle as she imagined the scene and the questioning stares.

Actually, I think we have become small celebrities at our ultimate place of arrival. The wacky grandparents who have chosen foot power over vehicle transport, who turn a ten minute round trip into a ninety minute journey.

But for our granddaughter and us it has become a great adventure. Playing "I spy with my own little eyes", counting cars and pick up trucks, stopping at her favorite green swing, crossing her favorite green bridge, maybe even adding a small detour for a favorite snack, making this something far greater than the act of merely retrieving a small child at the end of a long school day.

The cost of this undertaking, namely those wondering eyes on Main Street, is one we happily pay.

And the lesson of this tiny tale is the next time you witness something seemingly most peculiar, don't be too quick to take a giant leap to your conclusions.


Thursday, October 7, 2021

I'm Not Going to Be a Complete Asshole About It

 ("Mitch's Mini-Moment")

"I'm not going to be a complete asshole about it."

Sorry, Lindsey, that ship has already sailed.

You and your band of merry men  (and a stray woman or two)  preaching to the unmasked have already proven yourselves to be 100 per cent A-holes in your opposition to raising the debt ceiling. It's not that your short term memory failed you on how you and double M led the call to lower taxes on the big boys and still incur the expenses you now find objectionable. It's that A-holes like you and your buddy Mitch don't give a damn about what you did yesterday as long as you can now make the Dems squirm. This is not governing. It is a game of Russian Roulette where you put five bullets in the chamber and tell the Dems to have fun while you order popcorn.

It should be known as the "We broke it, you buy it" theory.

On second thought, you're right Lindsey, you're not a complete asshole. You're something far worse.

Wednesday, October 6, 2021

The Fat Lady Has Sung

 It is an awfully long time to wait til next year. The bitter taste of getting baked in Beantown making me nauseated. Another episode of the Bronx Bummers having reached a distressing, depressing denouement. This is definitely getting old.


It was Game 7 of 2004 deja vued. Gerrit (lump of) Cole doing his best imitation of Kevin Brown spitting the bit. Derek Lowe being reincarnated as Nathan Eovaldi. And the ghost of Big Papi, played in the updated version by Xander Bogaerts  (doesn't anyone have simple names to spell), swatting a first frame dagger to the heart.

The reality is I am grateful for the distraction of the Yankees, no matter that it led to this far too obvious inevitability. The 10 plagues seemingly having descended upon the world, it is a luxury to be able to devote so much of my psychic energy to the trials and tribulations of a bunch of very rich men playing a game that has a significance to me wholly disproportionate to its importance.

I am also thankful for getting old, not for wisdom that has unfortunately escaped me, but for my inability to remain awake, sparing me the agony of seeing the final out in real time.

I grew up under the mantle of Mickey, victory my birthright, the World Series my second home. My destiny to lord over those lesser beings who suffered the grave and unnecessary misfortune of not being a fan of the only team that mattered.

Now I am them. Now I am undistinguishable from the others who root for the ordinary. My swagger long since having disappeared under the weight of disappointment.

Today, I guess, is another day. And one foot will have to go in front of the other as I begin the impossibly long, hard trek to spring training. When the first pitch of 2022 is thrown in earnest, I will be hovering near my 70th birthday. I can think of one present I will be practically begging for next year.

Play ball. Only better next time.
  

Friday, October 1, 2021

An Empty Manchin and a Closed Sinema

 I thought a manchin was a very big house, a place large enough to hold all our possibilities.

I thought the sinema was the land of hope and dreams, where, if you just believed, it could appear. Where magic became reality.

But I was wrong. This manchin is dark and foreboding, vacant save for the shrill cries of a single occupant.

And today this sinema is shuttered, not inviting us in to show imagination brought to life. This one small of purpose and unwelcoming to what could be.

And so we are held hostage, buffeted by the angry winds, with nowhere to enter, no safe passage. A better tomorrow placed on hold until further notice.

A Manchin with room for only one. A Sinema where dreams go to die.

And so we wait.

Thursday, September 30, 2021

Houdini, A Cat With Nine Lives and Teflon Don

 ("Trump Still Faces A Reckoning")

What Ms. Bernstein provides is but a laundry list of Mr. Trump's greatest hits. In this Teflon Don's wake is left a lifetime of those disassembled by his greed, his hubris, his immorality.

And yet, even through his presidency, through his perfect phone call, his cheerleading the January 6th insurrection, his direction to his underlings to treat the Mueller investigation and subpoenas like a fly to be swatted away, through the Michael Cohen fiasco and now the Weisselberg indictment, through the decades of trumped up facts and figures, somehow Donald's fingerprints never turn up at the scene of the crime.

So, where exactly, and when specifically, can we expect this day of reckoning Ms. Bernstein? 

The unvarnished truth is that 45 has a much better chance of being 47 than being perp walked into a Manhattan courtroom to face a reality we know exists but somehow cannot prove.

Houdini, a cat with nine lives and Teflon Don. Who among them is the greatest of all escape artists?

Thursday, September 23, 2021

Trump Redux?

AN EDITED VERSION OF THIS POST APPEARED IN LETTERS TO THE EDITOR IN THE NEW YORK TIMES  ON SEPTEMBER 28, 2021 AND IS SCHEDULED TO APPEAR IN THE SEPTEMBER 30, 2021 EDITION OF THE INTERNATIONAL NEW YORK TIMES

 ("The UnTrump Presidency Slams Into Trumpness")

While it may not exactly be campaigning in poetry and governing in prose, as Mr. Biden reminds no one of Mr. Obama or Mr. Clinton for his capacity to elevate and captivate, the real lesson learned is that the act of leading this country is hard.

Mr Biden faces a wholly uncooperative Republican opposition who combine obstinacy with fiction in thwarting his intentions; an Afghanistan government that crumbled instantaneously when challenged and greatly amplified the President's miscalculation; an American public that refuses to believe in the power of the vaccine; a border that serves as daily reminder that much of the world is in chaos that we can do little to alter.

That is not to say all has been handled with dexterity, the French fiasco a certain black eye in diplomacy. And yes, the optics certainly superficially invite comparison of 45 and 46. But Mr. Biden and Mr. Trump in the same sentence? I think not. 

Mr. Trump's animosities coupled with his incompetence to invite disaster at every turn. Mr. Biden's morality and life long belief in the foundation of government at least gives us reason to hope for a better tomorrow.

And there is poetry in not having Mr. Trump there to remind us how easy it is to squander the riches of a democracy.

Wednesday, September 22, 2021

GRANDiose

 Is mine bigger than yours? 

I am talking about the accomplishments of our granddaughters of course.

Getting ready for a bragathon as I face off against one of the friends I have been Covid missing since we took shelter from the storm in different ports.

I have 18 months of stored can you top this, each of us welcoming a new grandchild in the fold  in the interim while also collecting unmatched glories of our now 3 year old granddaughters.

There will 3 judges at this talk off, scores ranging from 1 (I would rather listen to Donald Trump discuss his 2024 presidential plans) to 10 (Mensa just added another category for a group of one). There will be 2 minutes for each tale, with a 1 minute rebuttal. The competition will conclude with 5 minute soliloquies, a reference to Shakespeare mandatory. Social distance and masking will be required throughout the debate, except when one of us has a really important point to make.

Our respective seconds will be requested to remain silent throughout the evening, no facial expressions, pinching of the arm or kicking under the table permitted. 

I have been practicing extensively for this opportunity, informing anyone within earshot, and some outside that corridor, of the latest incomparable act I have witnessed. Rumor is my opponent has been training with equal vigor.

There are local and regional tournaments commencing around the country. Each grandparent aiming for victory and an opportunity to move on in this national competition. The ultimate prize, a special on HBO,  "Everything You Didn't Want To Know About My Grandchildren."

It all starts tonight. I am ready.



Monday, September 20, 2021

Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hide the Children and the Silverware

 ("The Yankees' Roller Coaster of a Season Hits Another Big Dip")

They are Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hide the Children and the Silverware. Often unwatchable, unbearable, unbelievably unsatisfying.

They have blown leads in unimaginable fashion, have made the Baltimore Orioles look like a major league team, have turned struggling pitchers into Picasso, have caused us to call the police to report a case of no hit and run, of no stolen base, of no one safe at home.

And yet, 150 games into our season of discontent, there is still not a dagger through their heart. Even as the dictionary definition of ugly has a video of the last 2 losses to Cleveland attached, even as Gerrit Cole went from swan back to ugly duckling for one depressing day, even as bad moved one step closer to taking up permanent residence in the House that Ruth did not build, there is still time for Dr. Jekyll to reappear.

Boston and Toronto await. And, in one of the many thousand of baseball truisms that are stuck inside fortune cookies, this group of ill fitting parts still controls its own destiny.

At the conclusion of the Robert Louis Stevenson tale all is lost, as the good must be sacrificed to keep the bad from emerging victorious. Kill the beast. I only hope fiction does not turn to fact here and the only sacrifice required is moving a runner into scoring position.

Long live Dr. Jekyll. At least into the post-season.

Saturday, September 18, 2021

Covid Counterfactuals

 ("What If Covid Were 10 Times Deadlier?") 


I do not care to go down that rabbit hole with you Mr. Douthat. As if Republican opposition to the vaccine is a mere  math problem.


Do you want the real counterfactual? If Donald Trump had not attempted an act of prestidigitation, convincing those who hung on his every word that this pandemic would one day magically disappear, if he had not proclaimed the wearing of a mask an infringement on personal space but rather an urgent necessity, a point of pride and not a sign of weakness, a badge of honor and not a scarlet letter, if Donald Trump had won the election and Operation Warp Speed had been declared the miracle of his presidency, if January 6th had never occurred and the government had not been attacked for prosecuting the great steal but instead been feted for looking the devil in the eye and beating it back with the power of the great Wizard, then Mr. Trump's fervent followers who pledge allegiance to a man, who hold in Trump we trust, then Republican governors, senators and congresspeople, who follow the scent of votes wherever it may lead, all would have hailed Caesar as a conquering hero, would have laid down their swords and rolled up their sleeves and taken a shot in the arm for the shot in the arm their savior had bestowed upon them, a gift from their God. And we would not be calculating the dead in ever increasing numbers 18 months in and counting, counting, counting.

But those are counterfactuals Mr. Douthat would rather we not examine. Why? 

Friday, September 17, 2021

Washington 30 - New York 29

 WASHINGTON 30 - NEW YORK 29


Given the choice between a root canal without any anesthetic or watching the Giants lose to the team formerly known as Prince, my answer would be "How wide do you want me to open my mouth?"

18 months of living under the all encompassing horror of Covid, 18 months of desperately longing for life to be as it was BC (before Covid). And then the Giants reminded me that maybe I don't long for EVERYTHING to be as it had been.

I sat in the stands as a season ticket holder for 2 decades late in the century that preceded this. I was there for the fumble, thank you Mr. Pisarcik. I know what ugly looks like. But couldn't they have waited until next year for me to have to wait til next year? 

Yogi once said its getting late early (if it wasn't Yogi it should have been). Or as Don Meredith used to croon " Turn out the lights the party's over." Someone did not pay the electric bill, the lights are off and this team, and their season, sits in total blind darkness.

Speak about snatching defeat from the jaws of victory. The last two minutes of that game could be run on endless loop and be more effective at Guantanamo than waterboarding.

I guess I should be grateful for the distraction from the mind numbing stupidity exhibited in the face of the pandemic.  But did it have to be replaced with other mind numbing stupidity? 

I envy those who go to museums to be captured by the finest art, or read books that are transcendent. The near certainty of response is a condition I wish I could replicate. But being a lifelong fan of an almost always staggering sports franchise provides me with a different emotion, one that leaves me most often in the condition I now inhabit: wondering if my doctor has any laughing gas to stop the flow of tears.

Thursday, September 16, 2021

The State of Our Welfare

 ("Can America Afford to Become a Major Social Welfare State?")

Even this former economic adviser to George W. says "yes". But then he asks "should we", predicating his response on a theoretical disincentive of the well to do to work to maximum capacity if they are subject to  higher taxes. Especially if those monies are earmarked for ones whose fortunes, economic and otherwise, are dire.

I would then wonder why this approach didn't result in our economy's total collapse when the highest marginal tax rate was 91 per cent in the early 1960's.  

Mr. Mankiw writes of compassion being a noble virtue BUT... 

What is the moral responsibility of this nation? If we are capable of improving the lives of those within our midst at little true cost to the well being of the well off, can we afford not to do this?

The word "welfare" is overflowing with negative implications, a demeaning code for those whose worth is measured only in dollars and cents. Rather, we should define our value by how we protect those with the least, not the most, among us.   

Yes we can. Then yes we must.

Sunday, September 12, 2021

20 Years Later

20 years ago we joined arms, our grievances against one another at least temporarily camouflaged in shouts of USA, USA. Our eyes filled with the sight of the disintegration of the twin towers. The certainty of tomorrow lying in smoldering rubble on the streets of NYC.

Today, two decades later, we are still waged in a struggle to the death. Only today the enemy hides in plain sight. Today the enemy is us. 

Today our streets are flooded, our forests are on fire, our hospitals are overwhelmed and our morgues are overflowing. Today our freedom to vote is in jeopardy and a woman's freedom to choose is unraveling. Today prejudices and hatreds are worn with pride, not hidden in the shadows. Today we have taken up our cause in an uncivil war, our enmity for each other the very air we breathe.

Today millions challenge the assertion that a mask is not a symbol of oppression, but a shield, that a vaccine is not a punishment, but a savior. Today, as we stagger under the reality not of nearly 3000 lost on a horrific day, but over 600,000 gone in an ongoing torture that has haunted us for 18 months, today we stand not locked in arms but in battle.

20 years has taught us more about our own failings than we could ever have imagined when we watched in horror on the morning the blue sky disappeared in a cloud of death.

20 years later we have been unmasked. And what has been revealed is the ugly truth about ourselves.

Friday, September 10, 2021

(DEAD)Line In the Sand

 They should be denominated DEADlines, or maybe even deadLINES.

Yesterday, in President Biden's speech, and in the vote of the Los Angelos Board of Education, far reaching vaccine mandates were finally announced. Sort of. With an asterisk.

As this nation hovers around 150,000 new Coronavirus cases  and 1500 deaths each day, as the Delta variant wreaks havoc 18 months into our nightmare, President Biden announced a red line for a major swath of the working population, to be enforced AFTER A 75 DAY GRACE PERIOD.  And in L.A., children 12 and over have UNTIL NOVEMBER 21 TO GET THEIR FIRST SHOT.

Where is the urgency? We are swimming in vaccines, booster shots now readily available for those ALREADY VACCINATED, the President pledging to donate up to a half billion shots to needy nations. Is it logistics demanding these delays? Then shame on us for not being prepared. If this is not the case, then why allow MORE THAN 2 MONTHS TO PASS BEFORE THE (DEAD)LINE IN THE SAND IS CROSSED?

When is an emergency not an emergency? When we treat it that way.

Thursday, September 9, 2021

The True Measure of Who We Are

 (The Texas Abortion Law Is Not 'Extreme')


Dr. Prior is correct. Each life has value. Whether you be poor, sick, old, black, Muslim, undocumented immigrant, every human being should be treated with care. And, as Dr. Prior alludes to almost as an aside, it is easy to demonstrate love for one before their birth, much more challenging thereafter. 

That is, in part, what I find so distressing in those who argue to sustain the unborn but do so little to aid, and so much to harm so many from the time they arrive until they depart.

Where is their compassion for those who rely on government assistance for their economic survival, for those whose educational surroundings place them at severe disadvantage, for those who seek shelter from unbearable circumstances in other lands, for those whose sin is merely being born a different shade or expressing a different sexual orientation, for those whose daily suffering is unending and unrelenting but who are not permitted a dignified exit from this existence?

Let the ones who profess such commitment to the unborn, demonstrate an equal amount of human kindness to the many they now treat with such open disregard.

Protecting and respecting life doesn't end at birth but stretches from cradle to grave. Show me you believe in the preservation of all beings who inhabit this planet.  It is only in that realm that we determine the true measure of who we are.

Tuesday, September 7, 2021

Name These Two Countries (Quotes are taken from Today's Paper)

 One leader speaks of putting tycoons on notice to share the wealth, pressing businesses and entrepreneurs. An economist states that "public spending is overly concentrated in cities (and) elite schools." Officials are "pledging to make schooling, housing and health care less costly... and to lift incomes for workers, helping more people secure a place in the middle class."  "A powerful (country) should also be a fair and just (one)"


Meanwhile, in another land  perceived as distant in virtually every way, leaders propose a "cradle to grave" reworking of policy to counter "decades of expanding income equality and "stagnating wealth", proposing expansions, in Medicare coverage, free or affordable child care, two years of free post secondary education, financed with proposed tax increases on corporations. "This" we are told "is how you build a strong nation."

Monday, September 6, 2021

Gone With The Wind

 I ran into an excellent round of golf yesterday, out of nowhere. I can, but won't, tell you of each swing, the break on each putt, the score, hole by hole. Inch by agonizing inch.

But, ask me who I played with, spent four hours swapping stories with, had lunch with, and I barely recall. Not that they were forgettable. Merely that my power of retrieval is, to be kind to myself, akin to a three putt on every hole. For you non-golfers, that means pathetic.

My mom suffered from dementia, robbing her of the last decade of her life, resembling the person I knew in body alone.  I understand that none of us, or at least most of us, aren't firing on all cylinders as we move towards the finish line.  But I wonder if the road I am traversing is leading to the dark place where my mom resided those last terrible years.

A few of my friends are wobbling, some around the edges, others taking occupancy wholly in the eye of the storm. I have no clue as to what precipitated their fall, as but a blink of the eye last, we were all vibrant, all free from mental blemish, at least from where I stood and peered in. There was no warning sign, no flashing lights.

For years now, I have been hard pressed to remember names, sometimes even of those with whom I have shared air on more than just the occasional occasion. When being in position to introduce A to B, I merely stand there awkwardly, waiting for A to recognize that the dead space meant I was unable or unwilling to perform the task I was implicitly assigned.

The title, or even the plot of movies I just watched. Forget about it. Literally.  Names of actors. You know, the one who starred with that other famous one in the film about...  Everything becoming a description, each person and even many things losing specific designation. It is what you utilize to turn a light on or off. Oh, you mean a switch.

My wife will ask me to do something, anything, for her. And yes, I am that cliche kind of husband, with what is generously referred to as selective hearing. But it is much more than this failing. I will walk upstairs, intent on accomplishing my task and, seconds later, return from where I started, having completed nothing more concrete than the exercise comprising the climb and descent.

Is there fear in all of this? Resignation? Inevitability? Denial? Some of all of the above. Most often all of this is but a faint noise in the background, something to be ignored. Something happening to other people on their planet. Not mine. Like the way some consider climate change.

And if it is happening to me, what can I do about it? Given my propensities, my response will be, at best, muted. At worst, merely writing these few words and leaving the next chapter as a blank page, to be filled in by forces acting upon me. As though I was disassociated with the event.

If you were wondering, yesterday morning was spent with Paul, Larry, Hank and Rusty. On my best days, I can tell you not only each of my swings, but most taken by the others who wander aimlessly for hours in my company. Not that you would ask.

Just don't make me repeat their names again a few minutes from now. Like that old classic starring the guy with the big ears, that information will likely be Gone With The Wind.




Monday, August 30, 2021

Welcome to the World - Part Two

 I know at your age you don't see  everything too clearly, but at my age neither do I.

I know at your age at times you can find things a little overwhelming, but at my age so can I.

I know at your age you are trying to determine friend from foe, searching for the kindest of touches, wondering who you are happiest to have in your presence. Funny thing is I am too.

So while you think we are very different, we are not. So while you think that I have all the answers and you only have questions, I do not. 

So you think, heck I don't really know what you think, I am just guessing. But then I often am not sure what my next thought will be. The little secret is there is a lot of guessing in life.

But just know that soon your vision will become clearer. And soon those images that appear only in black and white will explode in a rainbow of colors.

Soon you will find days when there is a gentle peace in your surroundings, when the swirl quiets.

Soon you will cherish the touch of your mother and father, the laughter of your sister, the relentless love heaped upon you by those who ache to be in your presence. 

Soon you will hear the birds sing, hear the waters of the stream run, feel the warm breezes in the air caress your face. 

Soon you will understand the same truths as I. Soon you will realize how much alike we are, how much we want the same things, how much we need the same things. Soon you will have wisdom, or at least the capacity for wisdom.

And the one overriding truth is that the capacity for wisdom is all we ever have, young or old, beginning or ending our days. 

We are so very alike, you and I. And I hope along the way, you will be my teacher, will lead me if sometimes I struggle to find the path. That you can be my guide if it appears night is descending. That I can lean on you if sometimes I wobble.

I know it is much to ask of you, but you can ask anything of me and I will move mountains to bring it to you.

You and I. I very much like the sound of that. 
Welcome to the world my little friend. I am so glad you are here. 




Death In Denial

 ("Ron DeSantis, How Many Covid Deaths Are Enough?")


Death in Denial. 

It may sound like the title of an Agatha Christie murder mystery but it is not. It is a killing happening in plain sight, over and over day after day. More like 50 First Dates or  Groundhog Day.

But unlike those movies, life never improves here. Our central character doesn't learn from the error of his ways. There is no happy conclusion to this tale. Not as long as Governor DeSantis is directing this picture.

Death in Denial is playing all over the state of Florida. It is a land of sirens and wails, of overflowing morgues and overwhelmed hospitals, of endless anguish and neverending tortured twisting of  truths. It is a horror film that even Wes Craven could not have imagined.

A Nightmare on Elm Street had nothing on this picture. And the Oscar for worst performance by a Governor in a leading role goes to Ron DeSantis.  

Well deserved Governor. Well deserved.

Friday, August 27, 2021

The Last Plane Out

 Leaving with a whimper and a bang.

This was the screaming exclamation mark on our failure. Our two decade fiasco coming to a terrifying, humiliating, virtually unimaginable denouement. Over the past days, the sights at the Kabul airport serving as storyteller, the images staining the screen blood red.

In the Gettysburg address, President Lincoln said "history will little note nor long remember what we say here, but can never forget what they did here." 

And so it shall be that these days will live in infamy in the retelling, as we depart on the last plane out.

Tuesday, August 24, 2021

Kill the Umpire

 Below is my response to an article in the New Yorker about some minor league games using robot umpires (like the tennis "seeing eye"machine)


---------- 
("Kill the Umpire")

Before your time, in 1950, there was a movie (of the same name as your article) starring William Bendix. It was, as one might expect, a movie that lives on in the memory of few. But it captured quite perfectly our hate-hate relationship with the man behind the plate.

Baseball is a game without a clock, meant to be analyzed in slow motion, perfect for dissection of every pitch, every imperfection.

The molecules of this sport have been rearranged recently, the designated hitter now a staple (of one league), a designated runner now appearing, like a magic trick, at second base at the stroke of extra innings. We adapt, like it or not.

And so too, if push comes to shoving the ump out of the way, we will accept this as an inevitable  21st century reality.

But, when that day comes, I will think fondly of William Bendix. And of every ump I have "lovingly" cursed at throughout the decades. And wonder, if striking out the umpire, was indeed a very bad call.

Friday, August 20, 2021

Not a Snowball's Chance in Hell

 ("The Quiet Rage of the Responsible")

There are no words left unsaid. Not a witty phrase, nor one of pure angst. Not a thought that has been Rip Van Winkling, nor one that still lays tantalizing close, situated on the tip of the tongue, or even the nape of the neck.

Neither Paul Krugman nor any other human being on this planet can offer a uniquely convincing unused contemplation critiquing, criticizing, crystallizing the determination of millions of Americans to put themselves, and us, in the direct path of an oncoming train. They are not blind nor deaf. They see it, they hear it. They do not need to be further informed, advised, chastised as to the impending destruction if they don't merely take a step to the side.

We need not continue to waste our breath nor tax our brain trying to locate pithy prose that would prevail, trusty truths that would move an immovable object. 

Please, no more Op-Eds, no more explanations, no more suggestions that there resides the power of persuasion. If death is not a sufficient deterrent, then no lesser concept of yours, or mine, stands a snowball's chance in Hell of changing a mind.

Enough.

Tuesday, August 17, 2021

At Least I Was Walking

 ("Spoiling for a Good Walk, Golfers Cut Out the Carts")

My game was in tatters. I had four putted the third, missed a one footer on four and hit out of bounds on thirteen. My score was moving in the wrong direction with relentless precision and my mind was racing with myriad unfounded excuses. But at least I was walking.

It was not a panacea, at least not for this round, but it helped. I was able to join a local club in the early part of 2020, just as the reality of Covid was descending upon us. It proved a tremendous outlet, a way to escape the brutal awfulness for a few hours. We were all given certain restrictions, no rakes in the sand, no ball washers, don't touch the flagstick. And the use of carts was (if memory serves me) initially prohibited and then, for the longest period, limited to a single person occupancy.

For the past year and a half I have walked up and down the hills and valleys here, in search of a swing and the ever elusive birdies and pars. But despite the travails that seem to be the 15th club in my bag, I can unequivocally state that the miles I have logged while yelling at my ball, myself and even God on occasion, have been some of the happiest I have spent in over six decades on the course. 

There is a small centering of self that occurs in the time it takes to travel by foot from one errant blow to the next. A calming of the nervous system. And a feeling that, even on the worst of days, in those times where the club resembles nothing so much as a slithering snake in your hands, that you are doing something good for yourself. Exercising your legs, at the same time you are attempting to exorcise the demons that force every putt wide and every swing to be uniquely aberrant, is a small victory of its own.

So, yes, abandoning the golf cart is something I would recommend for everyone who chases after a little white ball and momentary glory. At the least, it can help make your path to the 19th hole a more pleasant journey.

Chaos

It is an image that will be repeated on endless loop: a scene of utter chaos, people fearing for their lives, masses trying to flee what might be. The absence of control placed squarely on the shoulders of the one blamed for precipitating the moment through his words and deeds.

And as we raised our voices after the storming of our castle on January 6th, and held Donald Trump guilty as the accelerant, so too the man who replaced Mr. Trump will face the slings and arrows for the scene on the tarmac in Kabul yesterday.

I wonder if any of those who compared the siege at the Capitol to a tourist visit will find it in their heart to be so forgiving of this debacle, deeming it merely a question of overcrowding and poor administration of the ticketing process.  

January 6th, 2021 and August 16th 2021, two dates that will live in infamy as the very definition of our democracy and the reach of our ideals, came under brutal attack.

Linking two very different men, two very different Presidents, together in ways that would have been almost impossible to imagine.

Saturday, August 14, 2021

Ted Lassoed

 ("Comfort Zone")

It is so glorious to find characters to love without guilt or remorse. Could anyone not find space in their heart for Roy Kent or Rebecca Welton? And who could imagine that in the cynical 21st century, in a universe filled with betrayals, that Mr. Smith Comes to Washington could still exist in the one and only Ted Lasso. 

The coach who makes everyone he touches a better human being. Who believes that people are worth reclaiming (I'm talking about you Jamie Tartt). Who allows us all to luxuriate for a moment or two in feeling good.

I sat with friends last evening as we savored each moment of the latest episode. As "It's A Wonderful Life" greeted us in both the original (thank you Clarence) and its present day iteration. Jimmy Stewart (no coincidence he graced the screen in both the old movies referred to in this piece) now transformed into our beloved coach.

While Frank Capra is long gone, I am thankful there still resonates the sound of that clanging bell on top of the Christmas tree. That a boy Clarence. That a boy. 

Thursday, August 12, 2021

A Place Where Only Dreams Should Reside

 ("Shoeless Joe Won't Be There. Aaron Judge Will")

Having an actual game here, does, I believe, a fundamental disservice to a  "Field of Dreams." For the passion of this fable lies in memories, in connections to those who are no longer in the stands, and those who no more stand between the lines.

Like Ray Kinsella, I meet up with my dad in this land where the corn is as high as an elephant's eye. This is not a place where back up ballplayers take their positions, Covid and injuries infecting our vision. Not a spot where strikeouts proliferate and paychecks could  sustain poor nations.

Baseball is a sport unlike any other, regulated not by clock, or the demands of a world forever on the move. Here time slows, and we are free to revel in the company of those who bring the most meaning to our life. Here, is where we have a moment to breathe, to feel the beat of our heart. And let our minds roam, unrestricted by the constrictions of time and place. 

So, while today I will root for my Yankees as I do every other day, I will be saddened a bit that they have invaded a place where only dreams should reside.

Wednesday, August 11, 2021

An Unforgettable Journey

She took our food orders with care and precision, writing down each request, repeating them out loud to assure nothing would be amiss. This was a person fully prepared for her task.

When she had completed this assignment, she announced that while our repast was being prepared, she would be reading a story to the assembled. "A bold experiment" I thought.

The entire journey seemed to transpire in but a blink of an eye. First, our host  lined up kitchen chairs, one behind the next. We were invited to take our seats, she being the occupant at the very front. Then she counted backwards from ten, stopping at three and announcing "Up, up and away." Our flight mere seconds, before touching down at our destination.

Having deplaned, we were escorted into the adjoining room, where a hastily constructed pool looked suspiciously like a small blanket, and the ocean appeared to be in the guise of a towel. Our leader's mother waded into the water and then beckoned.  A shout of "are you ready" (apparently standard protocol in this circumstance) preceded a jump into waiting arms. The form flawless, the union between the two an unqualified triumph. Next, she demonstrated her unique swimming technique for our collective review and approval.

Dinner was served in what had formerly been considered the mud room. This was to be the last event of our journey, it being temporarily interrupted by the announcement from one of the guests that there were "five minutes before bath time."

With our trip concluded far, far too soon, the clock informing us that takeoff to bath had all occurred in but 45 minutes, we gave grateful thanks to the master of ceremonies for an unforgettable experience.

I made certain to book my next adventure at once.


Friday, August 6, 2021

Holding on for Dear Life

44 years ago today, she and I exchanged I do's. To her everlasting credit she has. My story has a very different trajectory.

My first recollection of what has become the central theme of our marriage occurred on our honeymoon. I am certain there were earlier episodes, during our courtship, but these incidents were obscured in the fog of romance.

We sat on the freeway somewhere in California, our rental car disabled by a flat tire. As difficult as it may be for some of you to perceive, the concept of cell phones was not even incubating in 1977. Therefore, the wait for triple A was of uncertain breadth. Until then, one's own capacity had to suffice.

 "I have no idea how to change a tire", I announced to my already not so blushing bride. There was no shame in my comment, just a declaration of limitation. Trying to put this end of that foreign piece of equipment into the other, raise the car into the air, compel the nuts, or whatever they were called, off their perch, well I had a better chance of inventing the cell phone.

It should have been a warning, a shot across the bow. Retreat before it is too late.

Her curse is that she is as capable as I am not. She can perform any task put to her. Her mind works in logical sequence. Where I find gibberish in instructions, she can improve the manual, refine it so that even a simpleton could put A into B. Almost any simpleton.

When we first were wed, we resided in a small apartment. There, I could paper over some of my most glaring deficiencies. But not all of them.

I cannot cook. I cannot clean. I cannot change a lightbulb. These are not hyperboles. I mean I dare not turn on a stove without first alerting the fire department and confirming that no small children will be harmed in the making of this movie. Even in college, when my roommate and I were off the meal plan, he decided that, for his own welfare, he would do both the cooking and the cleaning of the dishes. And many a potato went to an early grave as my wife extracted the light bulb shards, lefty loosey, righty tidy proving too intricate a concept for my mind to grasp.

The sheer weight of my incompetence has proven very hard for some friends to bear. This, they have notified me, is an act borne not out of inability but inattention or worse, intent. But I am not that clever, not by half or even a quarter. What you see is, unfortunately, what you don't get. Or maybe what you do. That is not clear as to grammatical connotation.

Through it all, my beleaguered wife has persevered. Like Horton Hatches an Egg, she has been faithful 100 percent. Through the storm of my ineptitude, through the head shaking incapacity, through the seconds, the minutes, the endless monotony of being mother and father to virtually every issue that has erupted over 16,071 days and nights, through the bad, the worse and the ugly, she has been as solid as I have been full of holes.

This morning we were charged with the care of our not quite 3 year granddaughter, as she and we await the arrival of her 3 day old brother, as he escorts his mom and dad home from the hospital. Our granddaughter was working diligently on one of those square peg, round hole puzzles that looked to me as hard to decipher as a Rubik's cube. My wife gently walked our ward through the process until she had turned straw into gold. Meanwhile, I wondered how I had ever managed to graduate from pre-school.

My wife could have taken a different path all those years ago. Could have partnered with someone other than a person whose picture stands astride the word inept in Webster's. Could have not had her picture next to the tale of Sisyphus. Could have had two children instead of an unintended third.

To anyone who asks, I merely inform them that she gave up many years past. That she accepted her lot in life with a grace and dignity of which I am not deserving. That she has carried me around on her shoulders, up and down every mountain that we have climbed together. Correction, that she climbed, while I held on for dear life.

Dear life.

 

Friday, July 30, 2021

This Is America

"This is America..."

Never has reference to being physically situated in the land of the free and home of the brave been so fraught with negative connotation. 

And I know, as certain as night follows day, that whatever thoughts follow that opening volley, they will be filled to overflowing with sentiments I wish had never been spoken.

As the older gentleman stood at the reception desk, in animated disagreement with the requirement to complete an extensive questionnaire before being permitted to see the doctor, he added "they ask less questions at the border."

I did not witness this incident. It was merely reported to me, but my mind's eye saw it perfectly. Reference to this country being a window into a universe of prejudices and hatreds.

Like a house with far too many American flags dotting its landscape.

I am quite certain Francis Scott Key would be appalled at this distortion of who we were intended to be, at the desecration of the values he found so dear, at the hiding one's worst impulses inside a protective covering of "patriotic" fervor.

Maybe I overreact, take a leap too far to reach my conclusions. Maybe this gentleman was just having a bad morning, was just flustered in the moment, was not really the stereotype his three little words suggested. Maybe I should not judge a book by its first sentence.

And maybe Donald Trump is a moral, compassionate man.

This is America.

Indeed.

Wednesday, July 28, 2021

G.O.A.T. or goat

AN EDITED VERSION OF THIS POST IS SCHEDULED TO APPEAR IN LETTERS TO THE EDITOR IN THE BOSTON GLOBE

The sport was arguably the centerpiece of the Olympics, as least this year. And she was the centerpiece of the centerpiece. The bullseye.

She was omnipresent. She was omnipotent. She was the G.O.A.T. Maybe the G.O.A.T. of G.O.A.Ts. The one.

And as Simone Biles wobbled in the prelims, we understood she would dominate in the team finals. Until she didn't, the weight of expectations bringing her crashing back to earth, no longer soaring through the air, twisting and turning, but suddenly, incredibly human, a person exposed, filled with flaws and insecurities like you and me. Now merely twisting in the wind.
On the biggest stage, at the absolute apex of a uniquely remarkable career, there she stood and announced "no more". We did not believe. We did not understand. This did not compute.

The emotional strain greater than the physical capacity. The mind, not the body, failing.

This has been a year unlike any other, testing our collective mental fortitude in the face of relentless adversity. And these Olympics, the stands virtually empty, the support of a cheering crowd, of friends and family, nowhere to be found, athletes isolated and alone in ways none of us could ever have imagined, the toll unimaginable on many of those who toiled. None more so than Simone Biles.

Did she embellish her stature in defeat more than she could have in victory? To some, this seems an absurdity. For them, she merely cracked under the pressure. To others, Simone Biles exhibited a courage and grace unmatched on a field of sport.

Once and forever G.O.A.T or, at least in this moment, mere goat? 

The answer lies in the eye of the beholder.

Monday, July 26, 2021

Of Cats and Dogs

It may not have been coming down cats and dogs but it was way harder than kittens and puppies. When I raised my arm and the water dripped from stem to stern, I was officially soaked.

But, when in Rome, you know.

The golf course was, to my eyes, otherwise emptied of human activity. There was one group who had taken shelter nearby, their cart now housed in a space that was  intended merely for human protection. Otherwise, sanity had prevailed and the rain had washed away the thought of continued participation in this endeavor.

But my group included a Scot who found this weather as mother's milk. And our leader believed if you came to play this game, you stayed until your work was completed. At least that's what I imagine he would have said if I had asked him.

There was one member of our entourage who would not take yes for an answer. As the precipitation seemed ever crueler by the hole, our 90 year old companion finally waved the white flag of surrender on number 9. As he sped away to the waiting embrace of the clubhouse, the water poured off the bill of my fully waterlogged cap.

I thought I heard word of heading to the bar after 11 if the gods continued to mock our efforts with such intensity. I looked down at my fingertips and they appeared to be a I recalled them when I lingered too long in a bathtub as a child.. Trying to swing a golf club in this circumstance was like attempting to grasp a slithering snake. But somehow my efforts were rewarded, my scores reflective of far more welcoming environs. 

And then, by some minor miracle, as we headed to 10 green, the spigot was turned off and the strange sensation of relative calm prevailed. While my shorts now clung to me tighter than Mr. Trump's arms around the thought of being President and my shoes felt heavier than the weight of expectation for Simone Biles at the Olympics, I smiled internally for having persevered and at least registered a draw with Mother Nature.

Yet, she was not done with her tricks, the mosquitoes on the incoming holes appearing to me like a swarm of locusts, or at a minimum as Alfred Hitchcock presented those birds to Tippi Hedren..

When finally I staggered off 18, but one thought entered my mind. What time is tee off tomorrow?


Tuesday, July 13, 2021

SELF Storage

 ("You Can't Take It With You, But You Can Put It in Storage")

It is not self storage but SELF storage, retaining those items that are far more essential than necessary, far more a reminder of what has value than a statement of what is valuable, far more important for emotional comfort than physical well being.

These are pieces we retain or fear they are lost to us forever. The first drawing that looks like a drunken effort at making a circle, the first report card that forecast inevitable greatness, the first letter from summer camp and the next dozen for good measure.

If it were my decision, all of these items times a thousand would be carried with us in ever expanding volume until we traveled as Sisyphus from one venue to the next. But my wife is able to see that an item discarded is not a life thrown away, that the accumulation of stuff is not the same as the retention of memories, that creating clutter for clutter's sake leaves us no space for what lies ahead.

When we sold our house after spending nearly a quarter of a century acquiring and keeping, it was my wife who was able to separate wheat from chaff, to limit my attachment, to distinguish inconsequential from irreplaceable. You would be surprised to learn that your heart only breaks for the tiniest of moments when the third grade report on yesterday's trash becomes exactly that. 

Ultimately, bigger fit into smaller and, though many things were gone, nothing was really lost. 

In the final analysis, SELF storage comes from within, not from with out. For what we carry with us from place to place is located not in a basement, an attic, or a storage shed, but only in our heart.



Monday, July 12, 2021

Hide and Seek

My baby brother is playing hide and seek with me. 

He is hiding inside my mommy's belly.

He is good at hiding.

Sometimes I can see him moving inside Mommy's belly. He must be trying to find a new hiding place.

I think my brother is going to stop hiding soon.

I think one day soon he will be coming out to meet me.

And when that day comes I will give my baby brother a big hug.

And I will show him lots of other good places to hide.

Like in a closet. Or under a blanket. Or even behind the couch.

I think one day my baby brother and I will be able to play all kinds of games together. And take walks together. And eat ice cream together.

And maybe even hide together. 


Thursday, July 8, 2021

Peripatetic

 Peripatetic.


One year in school we were introduced to a lot of new words. Many of these have traveled with me through the years, popping into my head at odd moments. Some making it appear I am more learned than the reality of who and what I turned out to be.

Peripatetic arrived in the front of my cranium late last evening. As I lay on a mattress on the floor of the home of my daughter and son in law. In the last four nights I found myself in overnight residence at an old friend's home, at my sister's and now here.

No, nothing is wrong. I have not been given the boot by my bride of nearly 44 years (at least as of this writing. Though given my 'idiot'syncracies, that does remain a distinct daily possibility).

Rather, circumstance has temporarily found us dislocated from our bedroom. No need to shed a tear, for soon enough this issue shall be fully remedied and we shall rest our heads easy in old familiar environs.

But for today, as I awake from nocturnal slumber (although slumber is hardly an appropriate term for my Jack in the box up and down nights) I must first recall in what room I reside and where the nearest bathroom can be found.

I graduated from high school more than half a century past. Mr. Glidden, the teacher in charge of making certain I crammed as much new language into my brain as my feeble mind had capacity, has surely long ago shucked off his mortal coil. And with each passing day I realize that more pieces of what was tenuously planted in my head  escapes, never to be heard from again.

But many of the words I carry with me from that year are still on our collective journey. And they have served me well in those rare moments when I call upon a term to fully describe my thoughts on topics as diverse as my once and forever Yankees, or the 45th President (I still can't wrap my head around that one) of the United States.

So while my ruminations are truly more "peripathetic" than profound, a well used word inserted here and there can turn the ordinary into something a cut above.

And, voila, I can create an entire piece centered around a single term that entered my lexicon as a young boy.

Words that hop with me from place to place.

Peripatetic.


Saturday, July 3, 2021

Crime and Punishment

 ("Why We Hold Olympic Athletes to Such Ridiculous and Cruel Standards")

There is such evident pain in these competitions. Years of obsessive attention, of endless deprivations, of relentless pressure, all exploding in the slightest hiccup on a balance beam, in a twinge as a hamstring revolts down a final straightaway, in a million different ways that, in a blink of an eye, turn dreams into disaster.

And then there are the drug failures.

A career suddenly swallowed up by a burrito, an antidepressant, a missed test after an abortion, a hit of weed after a parent's death. If there is honesty to any of these defenses, the emotional agony these athletes endure must be overwhelming. If indeed they have not sought competitive advantage, and worse, if in fact their transgression has not produced an unintended edge, then their hearts must be broken, their anguish almost undescribable.

And when this happens to the best we have to offer, on the biggest stage, when the light will finally shine the brightest, when all the hard work will be on glorious display, then we mourn for their loss.

We do not know where the truth ends and the excuse begins for Sha'Carri Richardson and other athletes who endure these most public humiliations. But if their tales have even the possibility of reality, then we are left saddened and angered by the insanity of a system where the severity of the punishment bears no relation to the significance of the crime.

Thursday, July 1, 2021

You're Damn Right I Ordered the Code Red

 ("Trump organization CFO expected in court after indictment")

"Tell me this is not all you've got."

While I might be butchering the Nicholson to Cruise line in "A Few Good Men", the sneering Nicholson's cynical quizzing of the young prosecutor trying to take him down seems sadly appropriate at this moment.

My God, can we do no better than beating up a Trump accountant for his personal tax indiscretions? 

Let us hope there is method to this madness. That this is but tightening the screws on a Mafia underling as they move ever closer to taking down the Don. Let us hope this is not but the beginning of a decades long odyssey that ends with a nonagenerian Trump still standing, still defiant, still avoiding his day of reckoning for a lifetime of unbridled wrongdoing.

Why is it so hard to find criminal activity by this man? 

Please tell me one day soon he will crack open like a pinata. That he will scream, wild eyed and ever belligerent, "You're damn right I ordered the Code Red."

If only life imitated art.

Tuesday, June 29, 2021

Stop Handing Out Lottery Tickets and Start Handing Down Laws

 AN EDITED VERSION OF THIS POST IS THE LEAD LETTER TO THE EDITOR IN THE NEW YORK TIMES ON JULY 1, 2021


("Vaccine Mandates Are Coming. Good")

As of this writing, I have been fully vaccinated for 4 months and 8 days. I reside in an area where vaccination rates have surpassed what is perceived to be herd immunity standards. The daily death toll in this entire State from Covid 19 hovers near 0. So, I feel as protected as possible under the circumstances. 

Yet I am angered by the failure at the Federal, State and local levels to mandate that the reluctant, the recalcitrant, the reckless roll up their sleeves and become inoculated.

Over 600,000 have died in this country alone. When is enough too much? I understand, although I disagree, that safety concerns must sometimes give way to religious accommodations, and I fully comprehend there are those who may have legitimate health issues that preclude their participation, but beyond that, get in line.

Only an EUA, not full FDA approval? Give me a break. We have just lived through over a year in collective Hell. I can't be silent while others die a needless, senseless death.

It is well past the moment of no return. Stop handing out lottery tickets and start handing down laws. Get the damn shot. Now!