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.