Monday, March 29, 2021

Who Knew Pasta Was a Fruit?

 I am in desperate need of a lifeline.

I find myself in anticipation of a similar quandry as befalls many a participant on "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire". Uncertain of the correct response to the question posed, able to reach out to someone more knowledgable to help navigate troubled waters. A phone call, an answer, defeat  deferred, maybe even fully beaten back 

To appreciate my woes, you must first recognize that tales of my ineptitude are, unfortunately, not borne of exaggeration but all too troubling reality. And it appears I have now voluntarily placed myself in a most exposed situation.

Consider that my heart is in the right place. Having been double vaccinated and more than two weeks removed from my last shot, I have volunteered to work at a food pantry. In the abstract, this sounds like a mundane task. What, you may wonder, would be causing me such angst?

As with most everything else in life, my knowledge on the subject of food could comfortably fit on the head of a pin with ample room to spare. The kitchen and I have never been close, and at times something far less. Asking me to boil water is an invitation to calamity  I have to cut a bagel with my fingers, as a knife would hold the distinct possibility of disaster 

So, the difference between a fruit and a vegetable eludes me. Asking me to pick out kale poses a  challenge similar to my being able to earn a degree in quantum physics. Carbohydrates, gluten free? Are you kidding?

The existential issue of my deficiency is unknown to those with whom I will soon be side by side. They undoubtedly anticipate that the person with them is quite able to walk and at least carry a stick of gum in their pocket simultaneously.

My son in law has provided ominous warning to me. He volunteered at the same venue last week. "Normally I don't worry about you, but this is different. I really don't see how you will be able to make it." And this from the person who most believes in my capacity.

I well understand the world is filled with important concerns. That my limitations are of exactly no meaning to the larger universe . But when that family gets home expecting to find nutritionally satisfying goods that meet not merely their needs but their requests and instead finds themselves knee deep in my world, you will understand my trepidation.

Who knew pasta was a fruit?

Sunday, March 28, 2021


 ("Stop It  with 'Gun Control'. Enough Already")

Framing is a way of directing  perspective, a cognitive three card monte. It has relevance in every aspect of politics from "China flu"(looking for a villain rather than addressing our own failings) and "mandating" the wearing of masks (an infringement on personal liberty rather than a simple measure to save countless lives) to "clean coal" (making an old problem seem to disappear) or the Ronald Reagan not so subtle denunciation of "welfare queens" (not seeking a hand up but merely a hand out). 

It is in the way products are sold, "double stuf"(not more calories but more pleasure) or donations are sought ("can you give just $10"). And yes, it is in the language we utilize to try to rein in our out of control gun problem in this nation.

But I fear the "Second Amendment" and "they are coming for your guns" manipulation of this particular issue has been so deeply ingrained in the psyche of so many in this country that it will take far more than what Mr. Bruni now suggests to materially alter thinking.

Unfortunately, instead of referring to this as a "gun safety" matter and anticipating it could be an effective way to alter positions maybe giving a double stuf Oreo for every change of heart would be a more productive way to move the needle.

Thursday, March 25, 2021

Now That I Have Both My Vaccines

1. I have the capacity to focus my attention on all the things that used to annoy me.

2. I need a different excuse for why I am cranky

3. I have to find another reason why I can't go to the supermarket to do the shopping.

4. I can stop trying to figure out how you managed to get your shot

5. I have to discover something else to obsess about

6. I will have to figure out a different cause for my hypochondria

7. I no longer have to look both ways crossing state lines 

8. I noticed all my clothes are fitting tighter

9. I need a better explanation for why I am too easily distracted to read books

10. I determined I can take 46 large steps or 52 small steps to throw out the garbage

11. I recognize that people are now avoiding me for reasons that have nothing to do with covid.

12. I came to the realization I am the same person as I was a year ago. 

13. I am afraid my wife has already come to the realization I am the same person as I was a year ago.

Wednesday, March 24, 2021

An Edited Version of This Post Appears in Letters to the Editor in the Boston Globe - HONEST!

 Before there was Dr J, before there was Air Jordan, before there was Lebron, there was Elgin. Seemingly able to float in mid-air, to wait for the defender to finish his routine before he would simply complete his mission unimpeded.

There was an easy elegance to his game and his manner. He teamed with the more frenetic Jerry West in their annual battle to the death with the leprechauns from Boston. Always a dollar short.

It is hard for me to fathom how long ago this all transpired, how many generations of greatness have since arrived. But Elgin's skills were timeless, as if he could still today hang in endless mastery high above the lane.

While Elgin Baylor may be no more, greatness is never gone. And I am sure he would relish one more crack at the Celtics.

Tuesday, March 23, 2021

Our American Pandemic

 ("What to Know About the Colorado Grocery Store Shooting")

Over this past year death has come so rapidly that our brains can't possibly process, nor our hearts respond to every loss with equal compassion. We have been overwhelmed and understandably numbed. Then the guns come out, the bodies pile up in the blink of an eye and death reveals to us the faces of those suddenly taken.

Those lost in Georgia and now in Colorado are victims to a different insanity than the one that has stalked us for a year now. These tragedies not because we had no cure but because we had no political courage. Guns proliferating as a perpetual pandemic of our own doing.The shots this week not meant to stop our horror but to reenforce it. 

And yet we know from our history that tomorrow our response will become muted, this disease allowed to mutate, each new variant a momentary horror we recoil from and then merely catalogue. Death from these weapons of mass destruction but numbers on a page.

This sickness home grown and spread. Our American pandemic.

Monday, March 22, 2021

Troubled State of Mind

 These folks all went astray

On their holiday in this neighborhood
Party hard in Miami Beach cause they're in the mood
I'm making my exit 
From this third degree crime
I'm in a troubled state of mind

Seen all the police cars
Right outside the bars with a million teens
The signs of mayhem all about this scene
I've got to be leaving
No poetry here, no rhyme
I'm in a troubled state of mind

Its not been easy as you lived each day
With no touch, all alone in your room
Now you don't care the laws you break
You need this time, you're on the news
But there's a reality
That won't disappear even though you try
It's here on the streets there's just no way to hide
So I'm taking the first plane, waving you good bye
I'm in a troubled state of mind 

Saturday, March 20, 2021

Here Is A Sneak Preview of The New Yorker "CONTRIBUTORS" Page Featuring ME

Winston Brown ("My Life Behind Bars," p.29) was wrongly imprisoned for 32 years, during which he authored 14 best selling books including "Time Is A Social Construct", "The Myth of Winston Churchill" and "Cooking for Dummies."

Jennifer Sanborn ("Born Yesterday," p. 21) has been the New York Times managing editor for International for 16 years and a four star general in her spare time.

Thomas Highsmith  (Poem, p. 44) was home schooled and produced his first of more than 30 books of poetry ("Thomas and the Runaway Prostitute") at age 9, the year he became the youngest U.S. Poet Laureate.

Zephyr (Fiction, p. 51) graduated from Harvard with seven majors in 2020. His third novel ("The Sound of Your Heart in My Chest") is due out later this year.

Tennison Harvey (Books, p.71) has been a staff writer since 2004. His most recent book is "Why Oprah Is Rich and You Are Not."

Cassidy Jones (Puzzles and Games Dept.) founded the University of Crossword in 2019, which now has sixteen million subscribers.

Caroline Kennedy ("Room at the Top", p. 33) is a former ambassador to Japan, a lawyer, an author of two books on civil liberties, the soul surviving child of John F. Kennedy and Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis and an extremely good dancer.

Nathaniel Woodside (Cover) is in the middle of his most ambitious undertaking, spray painting every building ever associated with Donald Trump.

The Artist Never Known As (Music, p.69) won a record 19 Grammys in 2019 before quitting the business to start his own education company, "What's it to you!?."

Robert S. Nussbaum (Shouts and Murmurs, p.25) has lived a pretty long time without accomplishing anything of note.






The Year of Living Dangerously

 It began quickly and then it never ended

This feeling of the loss of equilibrium

This belief that every door handle was bathed in danger

That the communal garbage room was not to be trusted

That the grocery store was housing not only fruits and vegetables but the possibility of death

Every sentence beginning with a question mark

Every person on the street greeted with suspicion

Every day an invitation to disaster

Each package marked "open with concern"

Our hands, our mouth, our eyes now enemies

Each sneeze a statement, each cough an exclamation mark, each fever a scream

The calendar marking our survival

We sanitized ourselves, removing everything, stripped naked of our intimacies, hibernating in our worry

Along the way we lost so much that at times we wondered if anything was left

Life interrupted almost beyond recognition

But now we stand on the precipice 

Vaccinated against our worst fears

Able to imagine once again

The playground swings no longer walled off in yellow tape like a crime scene

The shuttered doors now peaking open

The faces long covered in doubt now filled with hope 

Our path no longer strewn with explosives

Our dreams no longer off limits

Our endless year of living dangerously now ending

Not yet but soon, maybe tomorrow

For the longest time there was no tomorrow

For the longest time it was the longest time

For the longest time, time stopped

But now it is a new dawn

There Was a Birth This Week

 There was a birth this week

We do not celebrate 
There is no cause for joy
The child wrapped in violence
The father our hatreds
Our bigotries
Our loss of reason 
Our absence of understanding
Our abandonment of truth
Evil birthed
Compassion laid to rest
Along with eight poor souls

There was a birth this week

Wednesday, March 17, 2021

Let Those Doses Go

("Let Our Doses Go")

 We have spent the last four years in an "America First" downward spiral, our morality disappearing as we turned our backs on those in need seeking to escape desperate struggles from imploding Islamic nations as well as from our border to the South.

With the election of Mr. Biden, we were assured our moral compass would return. This is a true test of our resolve. Do we stand idle while China and Russia, nations we rightly criticize for their human rights abuses, deliver the vaccines, or do we swiftly act with compassion and empty our warehouses of stored product we neither need nor will use?

Let us demonstrate we are not the ugly American as portrayed by Mr. Trump, that he was mere aberration. Open our arms, our hearts and indeed, let those doses go. 

Saturday, March 13, 2021

I Have Lost My Voice

I seem to have lost my voice. No, not laryngitis. Just that I well knew how to talk angry, frustrated, bewildered, throwing political daggers, rat-a-tat-tat, like Ali in his prime. But I have forgotten how to converse in words not filled with rage against the machine.

Four years of Pavlovian responses to every utterance that raised the hair on the back of my neck, every tweet that threw me into a post that wrote itself almost faster then my fingers would allow.

Four years waking each morning knowing that there would soon lay before me a smorgasbord of possibilities for me to dig into, my thoughts dripping with sarcasm, disdain, or pure hate.

Damn you Joe Biden. Damn your quiet, your compassion, your capacity to meet challenges with truth, with reason, with relentless determination. Damn you for signing into law a bill that does so much good not only beating back the pandemic, but giving possibility to those struggling mightily every day. Damn your competence. Damn your concern.

You have robbed me of everything that gave me my strength. I am now Samson with a crew cut. I am Abbott without Costello. I am Mark Mcgwire without steroids.

Do something really wrong Joe. For me. Please. I need my voice back.

Friday, March 12, 2021

This County

I grew up in this county. I was born here, got my first hit here, played my first round of golf with my dad here, kissed my first girl here, said I do to my wife here, took my first job, took all my jobs here. My children were born here.They grew up here. My wife and I remained firmly planted here even after the nest emptied.

For me, this began here the year Dwight Eisenhower became President, the first full year Mickey Mantle patrolled center field at the Stadium. 

And then came the pandemic. One year ago this weekend, we left this county, seeking a different shelter from a storm that had descended with frightening fury upon us, that threatened us in ways we were only beginning to comprehend. One year ago we determined it was not safe to be here. One year ago we could have imagined nothing other than we would be returning here soon.

One year later we are fully vaccinated. One year later the terrible, terrifying fear has begun to dissipate. One year later there seems no real reason to stay away.

Except we are not sure we will ever return.

One year later this county is no longer attached to me like an umbilical cord. One year later I have learned that here is just a word. 

There is sadness in that thought. There is sadness in the possibility of goodbye.

I love this county. It has given me far more than I have deserved. It has treated me with kindness and filled my plate to overflowing with memories that keep me warm even from this distant perspective.

In the past year, we have been taught terrible lessons of isolation, of loneliness, of a loss of identity, of place, of a space in which everything fit. But we have also learned lessons of resilience and of creating new places, new spaces out of necessity. And so it has been for me. And so my reality has shifted. And so my perceptions have altered.

But should we part, wherever I am, I will carry this county with me, held close to my heart. I will always live here. No matter where I reside.

Thursday, March 11, 2021

A Day In A Life a/k/a A Life in a Daze


              Part One

"Is everything ok?"

The question was posed with the knowledge that my granddaughter was spending the afternoon in the hands of someone wholly incapable of even tending to his own needs with any semblance of proficiency.

My wife had earlier given me a tutorial on how to properly seatbelt the precious cargo into the car. I did not challenge the necessity of this lecture.

In the course of our 2 hour playdate, three family members called to gently make inquiry, attempting to make the contact appear innocuous and spontaneous. I knew better.

And when I handed the controls over to her father, there was an audible sigh of relief that could be heard by all who had been paying close attention.

Later in the evening a friend from California, who had earlier learned that I had been placed in charge, made certain to confirm all was well. 

Oh ye of little faith.

Part Two

I had signed up this morning for an online continuing legal seminar, part of the State mandate that is far more burdensome than educational. But soldier on we all must, however reluctantly.

The only requirement to gain the requisite credits was to demonstrate you remained alive during the two hour tour of whatever subject was before us, by intermittently signing in, as directed. Failure to do so resulted in a failing grade.

Much as my wife had done with me the day before, the gentleman speaking to those gathered gave a brief explanation of how to confirm at the proper time that one was still breathing. He didn't have a clue of my absurdly broad limitations.

When the first mandate to respond was given, I rushed to perform my task. Several minutes later, after clicking anything and everything that appeared within several miles of the screen, I simply gave up in defeat.

Part Three

This is a typical day in my life, a/k/a my life in a daze

Part Four

I hear what you are thinking. I would much appreciate  if you would not repeat it.. 


Monday, March 8, 2021

When Harry Met Meghan

 We do love nothing more than palace intrigue. 

This morning's most popular stories in the Times are dominated by Oprah's interview with Harry and Meghan. The parallels to Diana unmistakable in Meghan's contemplations of suicide, driven nearly mad by a vicious press and the family straitjacket. The racism that has been an open wound in our country exposed with equal ferocity overseas in the contemplation of an unborn child's skin tone.

Four of the top eight pieces.

We can't get enough of peeking under the covers as we read of this couple's struggles from every angle.

Was their departure an act of bravery, of survival or of stupidity and petulance? Were the struggles we face each day lessened by hearing of a son at war with his father and brother? Was this a Shakespearean play in real time?

When Harry Met Meghan. 

Wednesday, March 3, 2021

Dr. Seuss Lays An Egg

 ("6 Dr. Seuss Books Will No Longer Be Published Over Offensive Images")

Dr. Seuss Lays An Egg.

Oh the thinks you can think, and  Theodor Seuss Geisl did. He thought about this, he thought about that, he even thought of a cat in a hat.

And some of his work focused on topics ranging from the environment, to materialism, to racial equality, to "America firstism". But he would admit he was not equally proud of all of his work, some containing shortcomings that are today the focus of our conversation.

Dr Seuss, 30 years after his death, continues to educate our children, continues to be an enormous guide in their development. Maybe one lesson now to be learned is of our ability to change for the better as we grow.

Oh the places you'll go. If only you try.

Live Free and Die

 ("Texas Drops Its Virus Restrictions as a Wave of Reopenings Takes Hold")

 Dr. Fauci, why do you even bother?

A year later, more than a half million are dead. On average, and now not declining, more than 65,000 infected each day. And where this illness attaches, death is certain to follow for thousands upon thousands.

And yet, as we now have three effective vaccines, as we are so tantalizingly close to the end of keeping our lives on hold, we invite Covid into bars, restaurants, offices and, without doubt, our homes.

Throughout this pandemic have we not learned the lessons of letting down our guard? How many died after the Sturgis motorcycle rally Governor Noem greeted with open arms and a maskless face? How many more will have to suffer unnecessary death?

The message so many of our leaders across this country are now sending out is but a terrifyingly sad alteration to the state motto of New Hampshire. "Live free and die." 

Dr. Fauci, if a tree falls in a forest and no one hears it does it make a sound?

Monday, March 1, 2021


 ("Trump's Republican Hit List at CPAC Is a Warning Shot to His Party")

I am overwhelmed with gratitude that the month long respite in Florida did nothing to dampen that wonderful fighting spirit. 

As TFG (the former guy) teleprompted his way through the names of those Republicans he will spay or neuter, regaled the Mensa meeting with tales of the election that never was and thrilled the crowd with the possibility that 2024 will bring more exciting work on the Rose Garden, we were left to wonder what could have caused us to find objection with this supreme being, this Michaelangelo of political vitriol, our own daVinci of immorality.

I know we will be forced to pay at least glancing attention to trivial pursuits like eradicating the virus that isn't or addressing the nettlesome issue of keeping all those whiny businesses afloat and cranky people from being tossed from their homes, but can anything dampen our enthusiasm for seeing TFG in all his orange glory?

Welcome back TOAFG (the once and future guy). Keep up the bad work.