Friday, December 31, 2021

The Asterisk



("I Investigated Bonds and Clemens. Yes, They Belong in Cooperstown")

Is there such a thing as an asterisk in the Hall of Fame?

Was our anger at the failings of Mr. Bonds and Mr. Clemens, in part, a misplaced disappointment with the system that enabled the abuse to occur and with ourselves for turning a knowing blind eye? Have we done these two a grave injustice?

Or is it the hubris of possibly the two greatest players of their day, maybe of any day, the ultimate basis for denying them entry into the pantheon of the gods? Like Pete Rose, the man who accumulated the most hits in MLB history but remains banished from the game for, at least in my mind, having the nerve to continually lie about his transgressions, is the lack of capacity to repent the worst sin of all? 
I have struggled to reach my own conclusion here, as I long felt the Hall of Fame exclusion was the only retribution, the only punishment that fit the crime committed by two men who received adulation and riches for bending the rules of the game. But maybe I now can see the fault was somewhat equally with ourselves as with the stars.

So let me now cast aside my doubts and grievances and cast my vote, with an asterisk, for Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens.

Time may not heal all wounds completely, but it can make them sting a lot less.

Tuesday, December 28, 2021


 It was a year to forget. From the attack on the Capitol to the one in Kabul, from Delta to Omicron, from the threat on Roe to the one on our planet, from emotional and physical tornado to hurricane, from death to death.

It was a year to remember. From the lives lost to Covid, to the life we once took for granted, from friends and relatives we no longer held in our arms to the emptiness we now held in our hearts, from the freedoms we once assumed were forever to the weight of realities  under which we now staggered.

It was a year in which democracy seemed to buckle around the world. A year in which our Congress seemed unable to even pretend to govern. A year in which for every step forward we seemed to take three backwards.

This was the year we were ready to fight back. We had the vaccine. We had rid ourselves of Trump. This was the year we were to heal our bodies and our souls. This was the year our 2020 vision would fade and we would clearly see the path ahead. 

But 2021 disappointed us in so many ways. And so we hope with every ounce of our strength that 2022 is the year we actually build back better. That this is the year we are able to defeat the worst our enemies can throw at us. That our democracy proves resilient, That we prove resilient.
We remain in the middle of the worst storm we have ever known. It is hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel. But we persevere because we can. Persevere because we must. If we have learned one thing through these never ending hard times, it is that we do not give in. We do not give up. We have survived. We will survive. 

We will survive.

Sunday, December 26, 2021

Battle Hymn of the Unvaccinated

 ("As Omicron Spreads and Cases Soar, the Unvaccinated Remain Defiant")

You say you want me vaccinated
Well you know I would rather that I not
For I've been anti-facts-inated
And I know I don't need your fake news shot

And if you talk of my destruction
Well you know that you're damn wrong no doubt

Cause you know I'm gonna be alright
I'll still be alright, alright

You say I've been hallucinated
Well you know I'd say I see things right
I'm done with all your hate hate hated
And you know I am itching for a fight

And if you think I need instruction
Well I know what I talk about

Cause you know I'm gonna be alright
I've still got real insight, insight

You tell me get inoculated
Well you know that's just not in the plan
I'd rather that you concentrated
On showing love to your fellow man

I will leave with this deduction
You're walking blind into the night

Can't you see I'm alright 
Just let it be alright
Just let me be alright
I'm just me alright
Alright, all right

Saturday, December 25, 2021

The Christmas That Wasn't

 Santa's flight cancelled. 

This is tough to report. Three of Santa's reindeer tested positive for the Omicron variant of Covid on Christmas Eve. And with the rest of the reindeer having been in recent close contact with those infected, all having taken a few practice runs around the North Pole in the preceding days, and with no backup reindeer available, Christmas was officially cancelled at 11:59 PM on December 24th.

The word is that Santa is taking the news pretty hard. After all, this broke a streak that was thought to be even greater than that of Cal Ripken.  "Twas the Night Before Christmas" first reported the work of St. Nick in 1823. This would have made 199 consecutive appearances by the Jolly Man, and planning was already underway for a 200th extravaganza.

At the Pole, presents for good little boys and girls were stacked even higher than an elephant's eye,  thoughts of long term storage never contemplated or considered.

None of the infected reindeer have reported serious symptoms. Rudolph is suffering from a red nose, but no one is quite certain if this is a sign of a cold or merely his natural state of being. Cupid was forced to put down his bow and arrow and Dancer is not, but none have needed any veterinary hospitalization. A statement from Santa's spokesman gave thanks that it seemed all would fully recover in short order.

The question hanging in the air today is whether Christmas can receive a one year special exemption and be permitted to occur sometime in January. I mean Hanukah is always either early or late so why not allow the immutable to be, well, mutable this one time.

Thousands of other flights were cancelled this year due to short staffing from Covid. So many people around the globe have been disappointed, their holiday plans scuttled, laid low by the virus. What better Christmas present could they receive then to be advised there would be a makeup date that would permit the celebration to happen after all. A true Christmas miracle.

So, I ask if you would sign the annexed petition, declaring January 8, 2022 as the official Christmas Day 2021. By John Hancocking, you will be making one old man in a red outfit, along with millions of boys and girls very happy.

A speedy recovery to those laid low, emotionally or physically, by Covid on this most special of days.
And Merry Christmas, with an asterisk, to all.

Friday, December 24, 2021

A History Lesson on Why Donald Trump Will Not Be Charged with Inciting an Insurrection

 ("Will Donald Trump Get Away with Inciting an Insurrection?")

Michael Cohen in 2018, while acting in "coordination with and at the direction of individual 1... a person who ultimately ran a successful campaign for President of the United States", committed campaign contribution violations in buying the silence, for $130,000, of Stormy Daniels. While Mr  Cohen pled guilty and went to jail, Individual 1 has still not been charged.

Robert Mueller's investigation of Mr. Trump's possible involvement with Russia's attempt to undermine the 2016 election revealed a laundry list of the President's efforts to obstruct justice, from trying to have Mr. Mueller fired, to directing Paul Manafort not to cooperate with the investigation. Mr. Mueller's report, despite the proclamation to the contrary of Attorney General William Barr, did not exonerate the President. Donald Trump has still not been charged.

President Zelensky of the Ukraine was asked for a "favor" by Donald Trump,  to dig up dirt on Joe Biden, as a possible quid pro quo for Mr. Trump authorizing the release of military aid to Ukraine. This would constitute bribery, if proven. Donald Trump has still not been charged.

Mr. Trump requested that Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger just 'find' 11,780 votes so that the President, who had lost this state by one vote less than the number referenced, would now be declared winner of their electoral votes. This constituted, if proven, a number of felonies including solicitation of a public official to commit election fraud.  Donald Trump has still not been charged.

The President's "charitable foundation" clearly believed in the immutable concept that charity begins at home. Further, New York State has filed charges against a Trump accountant for the practice of overvaluing Trump assets for Mr. Trump to be better able to obtain loans against these assets. Yet, Donald Trump has still not been charged with tax fraud.

The President repeatedly directed others to ignore or defy subpoenas issued by Congress. He has still not been charged with obstruction.

So forgive me if I am more than a little skeptical that Mr. Trump's role in the actions that took place at the Capitol on January 6, 2021 will lead to the filing of charges against him.

Mr. Trump once stated he could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue, shoot someone, and not lose any voters. And he could have added, and not been charged with a crime.

Thursday, December 23, 2021

My Competition

 So, at least in my own mind, my inadequacies are beyond comparison. What I can't do could fill a book the length of War and Peace. Each day an opportunity to present another, more radical head shakingly dismal performance.

But, it now appears, I may have to share the podium with an interloper who seems destined for greatness in the land of the absolutely not so great.

My niece married a wonderful young man several years ago. He shared much of my resume: same high school, same college, same profession. On paper, much like me, he appeared as if he had the makings of a competent human being.

Over time I have heard rumor of his lack of attention to details of the universe. But really, nothing that would make me fear I had competition.

This week, their family rented  a house near us for the holiday week. Given the realities of having two young children in tow, it was not surprising to learn one of them had left significant evidence of a spit up on one of their sheets. The problem was that after my niece washed the damaged item in the sink, she was informed by her husband that the rental premises lacked a washer and dryer. Could she come over to our place to do the laundry?

My wife and my son were naturally suspicious of the declarative statement by my heir apparent doppelganger. A quick perusal of the rental listing corroborated their  belief that something, apart from the smell of the sheet, was foul.

Several minutes later, we were at their house, entered the basement and stared directly at a fine looking washer and dryer. Sitting, as the clear centerpiece of this room.

Even I would have been hard pressed to miss these appliances. The protestations came rapidly. "There was an unplugged washer in the room." And it was true. If one merely poked a head in, for an instant, and then decided not to spend an extra nano-second perusing the balance of this space, an argument could be made that this was a mere mistake of omission, not commission.

But, as one who has spent most of a lifetime making excuse for my incompetence, this was, on a scale of 1 to 10, feeble fodder.

So I go to bed this evening knowing there is another unfortunate wife in my family saddled for what will surely seem an eternity with a partner who finds myriad ways to make each day "interesting."

I think I may have to up my game, if I am to keep my well earned crown.

Where Have You Gone Joe Biden?

 ("Where's Joe Biden?")

First there was Barack Obama, extraordinarily eloquent, able to touch our hearts (Amazing Grace), to move mountains (Obamacare, a big f-ing deal) and give us hope this nation could one day, someday, see past race.

Then there was Donald Trump who was seemingly everything we did not want a leader to be. Every day sucking the air out of the room and making certain all eyes were turned towards him.

Each man in his way redefining the office, each gathering our undivided attention.

Joe Biden seems not so much to have slipped into old slippers but into the shadows. The urgency of the moment, of every moment, of each utterance from the President, that carried us for twelve years suddenly vanished. It does not help that the wrong Joe (a wolf in donkey's clothing) has taken center stage, apparently eviscerated Build Back Better and taken control of the political life of his party.

Where have you gone Joe Biden? Our nation (well, half of it) turns its lonely eyes to you. 
For now at least, what you don't see is what you get. 

Monday, December 20, 2021

What's More Ferocious Than A Tiger?

 ("Charlie Woods Dazzles, While Tiger in Return, Grimaces and Grinds")

Who is the most popular player on the PGA tour right now? Of course, the answer is Woods. Charlie Woods that is.

At 12 years old all eyes are upon him as he and his dad captured the tournament yesterday. Ok, technically they didn't win, but really, does anybody actually care that two other guys took a couple of shots less than Charlie and what's his name.

And that five iron on 17 from 169 to about three feet, I expected the announcers to bolt from the booth, run down to the green and hoist the new king on their shoulders. Has there ever been a better swing in the history of this sport?

I know it was hard for Charlie to carry that limping, cart riding father of his for 36 holes. But he did so with such grace, never once making it appear he would have preferred another partner.

I am certain there will be thousands of words written in the coming days whether Charlie will be the family member to demolish Jack's record of 18 majors, maybe before his twenty first birthday. Or if he will wait until he finishes junior high before turning pro.

Is he truly Tiger 2.0? Without the bumps and bruises? 

What's more ferocious than a Tiger? Charlie Axel Woods.

Saturday, December 18, 2021

Deja Vu All Over Again

 Yes, Yogi, it is like deja vu all over again.

No, Donald, it didn't just disappear one day like a miracle.

This week a tsunami hit New York City. The lines that formed. The shows that closed. The disease that spread. The Greek alphabet everywhere. All at once.

The fear swallowed us whole almost two years ago. It has returned, reduced, for now, by being three shots in. And believing those with breakthrough cases, at least those we know personally, and they are suddenly many, are doing ok.

This has been a bad week. Yesterday was a horrible, no good, very bad day. As in VERY. Today we open our eyes and peak out from under the covers. And wonder and worry what we will see.

Yes, Yogi, it ain't over 'til it's over. 'Til the fat lady sings. And today she woke up with a cough. And laryngitis.

Monday, December 6, 2021

Twas the Night Before Christmas

 Twas the night before Christmas 

And Santa was pissed

His sleigh was half empty 
Half the houses he'd miss

No it wasn't the supply chain
That would keep St. Nick out
Not a scarcity of elves
Willing to scurry about

It wasn't the North Pole
Where the snow turned to rain
It wasn't the reindeer
That stopped his refrain

But this man was old
Overweight and aware
Of the power of Covid
And he knew not to dare

To go down the chimneys
Of the homes anti-vax
Of the places where protection
For Santa was lax

Though he had the vaccines
And the booster too
His doctor had told him
And well Santa knew

He could not take the risk
He could not take the chance
Not if he wanted
To continue this dance

So he took to the sky
With light sleigh, heavy heart
Passing over so many
Kids only doing their part

Their stockings would be empty
When they woke in the morn
And instead of good cheer
They'd be sad and forlorn

If only, if only
Was what Santa said
If only, if only
Then I and my sled

Would bring them their presents
Those good girls and boys
My bag would be filled
With millions of toys

But now I am empty
And so I am mad
So little to ask 
So many are sad

All I want is good cheer 
My wish every year
To lessen the heartache 
And wipe away tears

But this time is different
It did not have to be
It would have been easy
For them to see me

No Dancer, no Prancer
And no Rudolph too
For those who refused
To do, just to do

So on Christmas eve
As Santa took flight
He knew for too many
This was not a good night

Not a jolly St. Nick
No ho ho ho man
Not what he had pictured
This was not his plan

And all he could hope 
As he wandered the sky
Was that maybe tomorrow
They could bury the lie

And just have the will
And just have the might
To take a shot in the arm
And make Santa's night

Merry Christmas to all
May your dreams all come true
May your stockings be full 
May Santa find you

Sunday, December 5, 2021

Reigning (Not So) Supreme

 ("As Roe Teeters, Belief in Court Could Tilt, Too")

The court as political weapon?

Hobby Lobby.  Masterpiece Cakeshop v Colorado.

An appointment to the Supreme Court has forever been a tool by which a President attempts to impose his executive will over another branch of government. Its independence more a work of fiction than reality. Only now, thanks to the pronouncements of Mr. Trump and the blatant refusal of his party to consider the nomination of Judge Garland, this charade has been more fully exposed.

And when the neutering or worse of Roe occurs will there be any to confront the inescapable truth and declare that, even as with the office of the President, term limits should be imposed on the power of nine to reshape this country?

Maybe this time will be the tipping point. But if history be our guide, we will once more turn a blind eye to the injustice of Justices reigning not so supreme from here to eternity.

Tuesday, November 30, 2021

Oil and Water

("Just When We Thought it Was Safe")

Ms. Collins and Mr. Stephens easy weekly bantering and evident camaraderie in "The Conversation" is very disquieting.

It makes it far more difficult for me to be unequivocal in my disregard for Mr. Stephens if I am continually reminded that he may be a somewhat humorous, amiable fellow when he is not forcibly attempting to make arguments that boil my blood.

I guess I should thank the New York Times for cooling down the temperature and gently suggesting that friendships like Tip O'Neill and Ronald Reagan or Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Antonin Scalia are possible even in this era of hyperventilation.

I get it. But please don't go overboard with the milk and cookies. I am watching my intake of food for thought that is hard to digest.

Saturday, November 27, 2021

A Fly on the Wall (the "Get Back" Tapes)

Harrison's silent sulk 

Oh no's primal scream

Lennon's me and my shadow
McCartney's fractured dream

Just a fly on the wall
Watching history rewrite
I'm just a fly on the wall
Watching a very long good night

   Peering at the denouement
   As they search for answers
   Trying hard to reach detente
   And eradicate the cancer

    An invite to a funeral
A half a century late
The embers of a love affair
Die on one last date

Just a fly on the wall
Watching their story in plain sight
I'm just a fly on the wall
Watching the orbit of their last flight

We are so much older 
64 long since passed
What was once is no more
Forever never lasts

Just a fly on the wall
Watching a mystery in bright light
I'm just a fly on the wall
Watching yesterday in black and white
Just a fly on the wall
Like a moth drawn to a flame
Hovering over one last time
Investigating their fame

   Just a fly on the wall
   Watching their majestic might
   I'm just a fly on the wall
   Watching their last good night


Thursday, November 25, 2021

What I'm Not Thankful For

 ("The Republicans We're Thankful For")

Not to be a fly in the thank you ointment but:

1. Could Liz Cheney have been wagering (for now it seems incorrectly) there would be a post-Trump universe in which her impeachment vote could lead to her being a front-runner in 2024?  

2. Could Adam Kinzinger have already had one foot out the door when he concurred with Ms. Cheney? And, oh by the way, Mr. Kinzinger has now announced he also is dipping a toe or two of his own into the 2024 waters.

3. Could the infrastructure package have been one the Republican party once backed and thus this pre-no yes serve (in 2022 or 2024) as cover for those who gave their assent to its passage?

4. Could various officials in  Georgia, Pennsylvania, Florida and Oregon have principally been defending their own actions rather than letting others attack them without reply?

I know this is Thanksgiving but are we supposed to put our brains on hold on this day while we give praise where none, or at least very little, is rightly due?

Let these men and women all leave their party and denounce it for its every ill. Then, and only then, will you be able to count me among those heaping praise upon them for their courage.

Until then I say thanks, but no thanks.

Wednesday, November 24, 2021

Willie Horton, Broken Windows, The War On Drugs Redux

 ("Can Liberals Survive Progressivism?") 

Can anybody say Willie Horton, broken windows and the war on drugs? Mr. Stephens calls upon the ghosts of Christmas past in his piece.

We have seen the impact of incarcerating a generation of minorities, of families without hope. We have seen drugs proliferate, the war against their use, useless. These policies were, it is now abundantly clear, failures.

We do not eradicate the problems this nation faces by sticking them in a penitentiary, by having countless numbers languish in jail awaiting trial on petty offenses, their lives forever changed, forever stained.

These are tough days, the pandemic having been the catalyst for exacerbating many of our gravest concerns.

But there are better answers out there that take hard work, not hard time.

I would rather Mr. Stephens get on his soapbox about our obsession with guns, our second Amendment pretzel twisting that led to Kyle Rittenhouse and his AR-15.

But that would not fit neatly into the tidy box in which he would bury the Democrats. And so, it gets buried behind an oped that is a generation out of date and sadly out of touch.

Tuesday, November 23, 2021

One Step At A Time

 ("The Problem of Political Despair")

It is in the fights we pick but fear we are like Sisyphus: gun control, environmental regulations, voting rights, vaccine mandates, abortion protections.

It is in the cannibalism in the Democratic party where winning has often appeared to be an illusion, and victory seems more like simply avoiding defeat.

It is in Donald Trump refusing to disappear into a Florida swamp but remaining Svengali like even in his absence.

It is in our longing to feel the world is not off axis, to feel that tomorrow will definitely be better than today.

There is an unease that persists, that wears us down. It is difficult to find the resolve, to march, to protest the inequities.

We know we must continue to climb that mountain and find disappointment in ourselves when we stop pushing. When we see Paul Gosar lauded, when we know full well Kyle Rittenhouse will be treated as hero by millions, our step slows.

We are tired. But we will put one foot in front of the other and continue our journey. We are far better than what has emerged from the shadows. We will prevail. We must if democracy is to survive the onslaught. 

One step at a time.

Saturday, November 20, 2021

1:30AM- Someone to Watch Over Me

It is 1:30 AM. I have been standing here for nearly half an hour, almost frozen, afraid to move, or even breathe too loudly. Staring into the crib at the tiny figure who still grasps my finger in his hand. Is he asleep? Really? I mean really. 

This is a dance I began four decades ago with a different partner. Tonight, in the darkness, the embers of those days light up in my mind. I recall the rhythm of my son's breathing, my hand pressed against the small of the smallest back I had ever gently touched. Worried if I released him from contact, if he felt even the least sense that he was alone, we would have to begin again from where we started. A parent and child pas de deux requiring absolute precision. It was time for him to rest. Time for me to rest. But not just yet. Not until I was certain I was certain.

Tonight I look down upon my grandson with the same sense of joy, mixed with more than a hint of trepidation. He lies there unaware of any of this, knowing only that there is a friend close. That he is safe. As long as I remain near. Remain here.

The pacifier sits idle, watching slightly bemused. Or is it amused? Its work completed, at least for the moment. I bring my finger away, in the slowest of all motions, each inch another contemplation, wary of any reply, even imagined. None appears. I keep my gaze fixed on the crib for an instant or two more. And then I make my quiet as a mouse exit, almost melting each step into the carpet for fear that a creaky floorboard may sound the alarm. Finally  the door closes, a victory in retreat complete. My watch from above now but history.

He will not remember our dance when he awakes. Not even know that his grandpa was ever present. He will have slept the sleep of a baby.

But I will not forget, not ever. How could I?

Friday, November 12, 2021

Double Jeopardy

 ("Aaron Rodgers and Mehmet Oz Don't Know Absolutely Everything")

Oz and Rodgers. Giving a whole new meaning to "Jeopardy." Or, more accurately, "Double Jeopardy."

(Note: Oz and Rodgers both used their celebrity to loudly challenge the science on Covid and also tried out to be the new host of a famous game show - and, oh by the way, Oz, in 2022, may attempt to capture a  critical Senate seek in Pennsylvania)

Monday, November 8, 2021

Thanksgiving Interrupted

 "Trenton Makes, The World Takes."

I don't know if that statement still remains on the bridge we used to pass every Thanksgiving morning on our way to Morrisville. I can't even be certain that the bridge itself is still open for business. But the memory still resides. And the feelings this engenders remain intact.

My mom was one of five children. In 2017, at the age of 99*, she was the last of the siblings to pass away. The asterisk connotes my lack of clarity as to how many rings were on her tree as she apparently was less than forthcoming on that subject, not only with my sister and myself, but with the government as well. After her death I discovered official documents showing she was born in 1918, 1919 or 1922. But I digress.

Each Thanksgiving, from the time of my birth in 1952, until Thanksgiving 2020, an invitation went out to bring the five families together as one. Like a Jewish Mafia mandate. The honor of hosting moved among the families throughout the years, eventually being handed down from the generation of the siblings to that of their offspring. But it was passed seamlessly, there never being a shred of doubt that the tradition would endure. Because it was in fact much more than a tradition. It was part of our collective DNA.

Over the past several years, the torch has been in the possession of my youngest cousin. Coincidentally, he lives in Morristown (echoes of Morrisville resonate). And he and his family have handled the duties of hosting the assembled horde with grace and a seeming ease which belies the task at hand.

This has been and remains simply my favorite day of the year.

When Covid inserted itself as uninvited guest into each of our lives in early 2020, its possible impact on that year's Thanksgiving did not even register on the radar screen. Who ever lived through a pandemic? Growing up, I had heard stories of the scourge of polio, of children being shuffled off to camp in the summer to try to avoid the worst of all possibilities. But I could not remotely fathom something taking hold of all of us in such a suffocating embrace, keeping all of us from our appointed rounds. Especially the most important day of the year.

My family had relocated out of the metropolitan area, on a temporary basis, in March of 2020. Once the all clear siren sounded we would quickly return, life on pause now resuming. As spring sprung into summer and fell into fall, nothing was as it had been. The new normal was anything but.

In November, the arrival of a vaccine was still out of reach. And as we stared into the abyss, the one seeming certainty was that family gatherings at the end of that month were destined to bring not merely soothing to the soul, but the inevitable and rapid spread of disease. Many chose to head to airports, pack the car or board a train or bus, as the risk seemed, to them, worth what might lay ahead. But not our family. Word went out that the Grinch who stole Christmas was pilfering Thanksgiving 2020. As we each retreated to our own little corners of an unsettled universe, 2020 became the year that wasn't.  It was, on so many levels, a Thanksgiving interrupted.

This year brought a not so small miracle. On February 3, 2021 I received my first shot of the Pfizer vaccine, and shortly thereafter the second. Everyone eligible in our extended network of cousins held out their arm for an opportunity, if not to erase the recent past, at least to strongly suggest it take residency in the dark recesses where it belonged.

And as the days moved ever closer to Thanksgiving, I know that many of us have been fortunate enough to have received our boosters. Everything, it seemed, was allowing me to dream of our reunion.

The email came but a week or so ago. Apparently there had been some hesitation as to whether we were now sufficiently removed from danger.  My wife and I still find the idea of dining indoors at a restaurant unnecessary and unwarranted. Apart from the concern, however remote, that even with belt and suspenders we could still be touched by Covid, we were more worried that we could pass along this illness to our grandchildren, both under the age of inoculation. And there are others in our extended family who harbor similar fears. Are they justified? Well, let me just suggest they are not unjustified.

And so I got calls from my sister and various cousins within a day or two of us having all received our request to put 2020 in the rear view mirror. "Still undecided" was the phrase I heard repeatedly. Some, as we advance towards the back end of our visit on this planet, have experienced health issues that make them wary, cautious, to be in the wrong place at even the right time.

I responded to the email that my wife, son and I plan on being there. But I know there remains the possibility that we will wake on Thanksgiving day and decide we will wait one more year to gather. And without doubt, our numbers, even if we do appear, will be gravely reduced from earlier times. It will be, if anything, a Thanksgiving lite.

While "Trenton Makes, The World Takes" will forever be a phrase I hold dear to my heart, I think that "Covid Recedes, All Can Proceed" are words that would make me figuratively nearly explode with joy.

Thanksgiving 2021. Still interrupted. But this year with an asterisk.

Friday, November 5, 2021

The Sky Is Not Actually Falling

 ("Democrats Deny Political Reality At Their Own Peril")

We are political creatures of the moment. We read tea leaves, connect the dots and speak treatises on what it all means. We are far too myopic, casting this time, this day, this election as a permanent imprint. When the truth is that it is all shifting sands beneath our feet.

I remember the death knell sounding for the Republican party in 2008. Barack Obama signaled a new era. Demographics were inevitably, inextricably moving in one direction. If Republicans did not recognize what had just transpired, if they did not change with the times, if they did not open their eyes and their arms to the future, they were DOA.

Instead, they moved further right. They hardened their rhetoric, hardened their obstinacy and ended up with a fool on the hill occupying the Oval office.

And now the Dems, stymied by not only the immovable force on the other side, but being cannibalized by their own, seem powerless in power. Covid further sapping them of their strength. And, in Virginia, race baiting the playing card that pushed the Dems over a cliff.

So the pundits call for seismic shift in focus, before the Democratic party withers away. But reports of their demise are, as history repeatedly reminds us, premature. And what seems the darkest night will give way to a new dawn.

It was, is and will forever be so. Ebb and flow the natural course of a democracy.

Unless, of course, when we wake up one tomorrow, democracy has left the building. But for today at least, the sky is not actually falling.

Friday, October 29, 2021

The Competition

 "The lead letter! Congratulations!!"

The words spit from my fingertips, the message sprinting to its destination over my mind's silent objection. 

I continue this pretense on each occasion the New York Times finds it necessary to include his thoughts on their pages. My anguish masked by my praise, my jealousy hidden beneath a virtually see through veneer of camaraderie.

Today was particularly galling, as his was intended as the top dog, the premier location where the eye wandered when searching for pearls of wisdom from the public at large. The seat of honor, reserved for only the most accomplished turn of the phrase, the most astute observation, the best of the best. I would venture that three fingered Mordecai Brown could count how often I have received this distinction, likely with a digit or two to spare.

I suggest to this newspaper of great merit that they be more circumspect henceforth when considering the submissions of you know who, lest they run the risk of no longer being bombarded by my daily gems. For I could well take my ball and head to other pastures if  they refuse to decelerate their far too evident affair with this other person of dubious talent.

I know this is a failing on my part, my demand to satiate my ego by sublimating the accomplishments of another. I recognize that I am a deeply flawed person and that my thoughts should be far more elevated. But improvement comes in stages and, if this is my version of a 12 step process, recognition of my frailty is but the first stage.

So, I turn the page, literally and figuratively. And try to determine what words can make me top dog tomorrow. 

Competition. Ain't it the best.

Thursday, October 28, 2021

The Catch

This post is written in response to an obituary of Arnold Hano, who wrote a book about attending the game where Willie Mays made a play in center field forever after simply known as "The Catch"

("Arnold Hano, Author Who Took You Out With the Crowd, Dies at 99")

It was July 1, 2004. 

I was sitting with my daughter in lower level seats just past first base as Derek Jeter began his full tilt sprint towards the falling parabola inevitably destined to land just fair inside the third base line. While this season would end in devastating defeat to these same hated Sox, this game would not. 

It happened in a blur, almost too quickly for the mind to fully comprehend. Then, all at once, everything stopped, as we waited to see if our hero, having descended from the heavens and landed with grave disregard for his well being, remained intact. He seemed swallowed up by the fans that surrounded him, hovered over him, willing him to health.

And then, he raised himself up, emerging as a god, his cheek showing evidence of his battle with the seat, or maybe the railing. With the fruits of his labor nestled securely in his glove, he  reappeared as a burgeoning legend.

That moment, nearly 50 years into my love affair with this team, accompanied by my 18 year old child who had grown up enveloped by my passion for the Yankees, was about as perfect as I could have ever imagined, ever invented.

I well understand that the surrounding circumstance of the effort of Mr. Mays made the scene  at the Polo Grounds, as reported by Mr. Hano, of far greater significance than the one I witnessed a half century later.

But, for me, there is, and will forever be, only one Catch.

Wednesday, October 27, 2021


 ("Cheating Scandal Roils Genteel World of Bridge")


Sunday, October 24, 2021

Moving Day

My wife may have small shoulders but they can bear the weight of mountains.

And thus our daughter and her family have relocated, nearly seamlessly, to their new home. Over the course of the last two days, as two young children and their parents settled in, there was the constant of a woman on a mission. As it seems she is always on a mission.

The recipients of her beneficence were, as always, beyond grateful. A little bit awed, but by this point, well used to her making the slightly impossible appear as nearly routine.

My designated duties, as is my perpetual role, to try to avoid doing any damage and to stay out of the way as much as humanly possible. 

She is a one person moving crew. Able to transport, build, organize, separate and turn straw into gold.

We stand as point and counterpoint. Two extremes of the spectrum. Definitions of capacity and something so far less it almost defies description.

Our son in law stated he doesn't know where his family would be without my wife. And then added, he meant me, of course. Quick to remind me that I share a role of equal import as emotional ballast and designated child chaser from NJ to California (otherwise known as kitchen to living room). Maybe there is truth and wisdom in his words.


And so the cupboards are filled in precise arrangement, the beds are made and everything is in its place. All tucked in, as if it has forever been thus. 

I am a one person wrecking crew, leaving in my wake evidence of everything I am, or more accurately, what I am not. She is the magician making my mistakes disappear.

And turning a house into a home before our very eyes.

Each of us has a lot in life. Hers is just a lot more than mine.

Thursday, October 21, 2021

Seeing Red

 ("How Will Blue America Deal With Endless Covid?")

Mr Douthat's slap in the face to "blue states" for what he considers their wild continuing overreaction to a disease that has killed close to three quarters of a million people makes my blood boil.

How dare he make it appear that we are in the wrong, that we are fools in our continued insistence that mask wearing and vaccination are not an infringement on freedom but merely the exercise of the essential power we possess to make life as close to what it was before it became what it now is.

So he strongly suggests that we accept the reality that he would impose, that we should forego our rhetoric, lower our temperature from boil to simmer and be more like the red states which he so clearly favors. No thanks.

Don't make us, don't make me the bad guy in your morality play Mr. Douthat. It makes me sick, or at least it could. So I, not very politely, turn down your invitation to shut my mouth, open my eyes and take off my mask to the world as you see it. 

Your words make me see red. Not be red.

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?


 ("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


 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?