Friday, December 6, 2013


The critic William Spanos described Jean-Paul Sartre's seminal work as relating to "the uncertainty...of human existence so strong that the imagination cannot comprehend it."

The word evokes a human condition so unpleasant that it is not considered a good topic for dinner conversation or much else for that matter.

The current state of our political affairs evokes the word too.  But it is as a reaction to the level to which our so-called "leaders" have sunk over the past twenty or thirty years.

We used to have heroes in this country, men and women who would fight and/or die for an idea, for a principle.  Often they were elevated to public office, sometimes against their desires and better judgment, by an adoring public.

George Washington, U.S. Grant, Teddy Roosevelt, Dwight Eisenhower.

And men like the late Daniel Inouye, Bob Dole, Bob Kerrey and Max Cleland.

And even men like John Kerry, John McCain and John Kennedy.

Heroes who risked their lives for this country.

Never mind that some of them used their backgrounds in war to become elected.  Never mind that some of them have been disappointments in their elected capacities.

They stood up and were counted.

They didn't run away or hide behind the aprons of this or that favorable regulation or deferment.  They didn't use their fathers to land plum assignments far from the fields of battle.

They went, they fought, they came back and they served.

They stood for something larger than themselves.

Those men are a dying breed.  They have been replaced by cowards, liars, poseurs and cheats.

They have been replaced by men who use the flag and the past, great history of this nation to pervert, corrupt and manipulate "We the People" into voting them into office so they can marginalize our basic needs and steal our money and our future.

$15 an hour as the minimum wage when these people make millions in and after office.  Fair and affordable health insurance while these people get their five star coverage for free...paid for by us!
Wars begun and prosecuted by men who have never seen the horrors of battle and who send our children to die so they can have more money.

Nelson Mandela fought, was imprisoned and persevered for the idea that men and women could, and should, live in equality and peace regardless of race or social standing.

He will be eternally remembered as a hero and mentioned in the same breath as Jesus, Gandhi, Lincoln and King.

Hundreds of years from now people like Cheney, Hannity, Palin, Cruz, Ryan and Limbaugh will be mere footnotes, if that.  I doubt many people can name past vice presidents let alone pundits and congressmen.

But names like Lech Walesa and Desmond Tutu and Aung San Suu Kyi will live in eternity as human examples of what can be done from a place of love, optimism, grace, integrity and intention.

With that, let's return to CNN and Fox for another dose of reality.

Pass the Dramamine.  It's gonna be a bumpy ride...

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Once Bitten...

When Barack Obama overtook Hillary Clinton for the Democratic nomination in 2008 many in politics asked how this freshman senator from Illinois could possibly be an effective president with so little experience.

We might, now, have the answer.

Not very easily.

What Obama lacks is that one quality Hillary has.  She has been in the fray, both in Arkansas, and in Washington, for many years.  She knows how the game is played and is under no illusion that there could ever be anything other than partisan politics, let alone "post-partisan politics" as Obama assured us.

He came to Washington with a child's fantasy that, by just being nice, he could get things done.

He quickly found out that the Republicans are not living in a fantasy world and were going to be anything but nice.

Time and again he tried to reach out to the Republicans and time and again they rejected his overtures.  They co-opted Nancy Reagan and just said "no."  Their stated objective, even on the night of his first victory, was to deny him a second term.  They would do whatever it took to thwart him.

Despite that level of opposition Obama did manage to score some victories.  He saved the economy (barel...y) with his stimulus and he kept the automakers from going out of business.  He stopped "Don't Ask, Don't Tell", killed Osama Bin Laden and brought an end to our day to day involvement in Iraq.

And, much to the consternation of the Republicans, he was able to pass The Affordable Care Act and provide health care to millions of uninsured Americans.

But Obama is not a stupid man and he seems to have learned from his first term mistakes and acquired some of that experience that Hillary would have had on Day One.

This time around, in this latest crisis in Washington, it was Obama who said "no."  The Republicans sent him a bill to fund the government with an amendment to defund his signature legislation.

He told them to go to hell.  He said that he would not be blackmailed and would not allow the country to be taken hostage.

The Republicans thought he would cave and were surprised when he didn't.  The country was partially shutdown at a cost of some 24 billion dollars. 

Then came the tie-in to the debt ceiling.  Again the Republicans thought Obama would give in but he held tough and, again, refused to waiver.

And it was the Republicans who were forced to cave in to the stark reality that allowing the country to default on its' Constitutional obligations would not only harm The Republic in a time of a fragile economic recovery but would damage their "brand",  possibly irreparably.

It is because of all of the above that I find it laughably ludicrous for some Republicans to claim that it is because of President Obama that the government was closed and that veterans couldn't visit their monuments and that military families couldn't get their survivor's benefits among many other stories of hardship surfacing as a result of the closure.

It was not Obama that caused the problem.  It was the Republicans led by the despicable, opportunistic Ted Cruz of Texas.

He knew, after 40 plus attempts in the past to defund Obamacare, a lost election run, in large part, on that issue and a Supreme Court ruling upholding the law, that his attempt to hijack the funding bill was a non-starter and a no-win.

Obama may be arrogant and aloof and a progressive liberal.  He may be in favor of legislation that will expand entitlements and grow our insane national debt.

He may be a black man in a white political world and he may have an agenda beyond what we see.

He may have disappointed many, this writer included.

It is okay to dislike him, even to hate him. 

But it is disingenuous, at the very least, to suggest that it is his fault that we came so perilously close to default today and caused so many in this country so much pain and anxiety.

The Republicans, for five years, refused to play fair ball.  The Republicans tied a desire to destroy Obamacare to a spending bill in an unwinnable strategy. 

The Republicans say "no" and then whine when Obama says it back.

The Democrats, over the years,  have been responsible for some shenanigans and some disastrous policies in Washington. That's an unfortunate given. 

But when you think of what the Republicans have been responsible for over the past 40 years (Watergate, Iran-Contra, the 2000 election, The War in Iraq, The Wall Street Meltdown of '07...), the Democrats failures pale by comparison.

If Obama is responsible for anything it is for standing up to the cowards and bullies on the extreme Right.

To that I say, "It's about friggin' time...!"  (I actually said the other "F" word but this is a family blog after all...)

Oh...and by the way...thank you for saving the country.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

"I Have You (sic) Answer"

One of the many wonderful lines delivered by Michael Constantine as "Gus" in My Big Fat Greek Wedding when he realized that he had the solution to a problem.

So, in that spirit, I think I have a way out of the mess in Washington.

Often when there is a problem in another country, that its' leaders seem incapable of solving, we send in one of our elder statesmen to broker a deal. 

Jimmy Carter watches elections.  George Mitchell goes to the Middle East.  Bill Clinton and George H.W. Bush try to help in Africa.

It isn't that we don't have great men and women in this country.  Putting aside politics, we have some of the brightest minds and kindest hearts around.

But so do other countries.

Nelson Mandela.  Bishop Desmond Tutu. Aung San Suu Kyi.  Malala Yousafzai.

These are terrific people with one predominant motivation in their lives.


So, if the outsized egos in Washington would put aside their petty name calling and political posturing for one bloody minute maybe, just maybe, someone like those mentioned above could come in and help bridge the gap between the warring parties.

Part of the problem is that both sides have valid points in their arguments and both sides believe they are right.

The issue is finding common ground in an attempt to fix the broken mechanism of government.

No one trusts government anymore to do the business for which it was created.  Politicians are considered to be untrustworthy even by the constituents that send them to office.

We are in so much dire, systemic trouble that we, collectively, hide our heads in the sands of sports, pornography and food and elevate the likes of Kim Kardashian, Miley Cyrus and Justin Beiber to the level of hero, idol and role model.

Television is full of escapist examples of our unwillingness to grapple with our real societal problems.

Instead we gorge on Wife Swap, Maury and the "Real" Housewives of Beverly Hills hoping that the morning after will bring back the Happy Days of Mayberry and Bedford Falls.

In case you were wondering, the era of Leave it to Beaver and Father Knows Best ended with the colossal failure of the sixties and we are only now feeling the true impact of the lunacy of our excesses.

We let go of the values that had helped shape this country in favor of free sex, drugs and rock and roll.

We let go of heros like Dwight Eisenhower in favor of transient imitations like Dwight Yoakum.

Eleanor Roosevelt was replaced by Hillary Clinton and Mahatma Gandhi was replaced by Bono.

People go to Washington not so much to serve the voters who trusted them to fairly represent their districts as they do to make money, gain influence and secure a job and pension for life after politics.

So maybe someone like Malala, who took a bullet for her beliefs, is the kind of person who can shame the imbeciles nattering on about Obamacare and The Shutdown Blame Game and persuade these, so-called, great men and women to actually do something equally heroic.

Their jobs.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Quandary, Part I

Here's my dilemma...

The Tea Party makes me want to, in the words of my wonderful wife, "hurl."

Yet I understand their raison d'etre. 

They contend, and their argument is not without merit, that the government is broken and needs to be replaced with either nothing or, at a minimum, less of what we have.

Given that Congress' approval rating is at about 10% it would seem that the rest of the country agrees.

But it is their methods, spokespeople and style that makes us all want to smash the TV when they're on.

They all seem like raving idiots, devoid of common sense and any inkling of empathy.

But the harsh truth is that our government IS broken and doesn't seem like it will be fixed anytime soon.

We are "led" my the Festooned Ignorami.

John Boehner?  Harry Reid?  Nancy Pelosi?  Eric Cantor?


There isn't one single member of Congress worth a damn.  The possible exceptions of Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders aside, the men and women in Washington, from The President all the way through both houses, are so hell bent on re-election and scoring political points that they have completely forgotten for whom they work.

We...the friggin' PEOPLE!

They work for their corporate puppetmasters and/or their own egos and couldn't care less about the concerns and needs of average Americans.

The Public be damned...full speed ahead! much as I despise, and have no respect for, the likes of Ted Cruz, Sarah Palin, Rand Paul and Michele Bachmann I take their fundamental point.

We are in trouble and the status quo isn't getting the job done.

"...from all enemies foreign...and domestic."

Read's in there. 

"It ain't over 'til it's over" a wise man once said.

I'm just not sure we can Berra too much more...

Monday, July 1, 2013

The Buck Stops Here

I want to generously suggest a plausible reason why the student loan rate doubled today, going from 3.4% to 6.8%.

Pay attention and follow me closely here so the reason doesn't slip by in a moment of distraction.

The President's annual salary is...$400,000.00

The Vice President's annual salary is...$230,700.00

A Senator's annual salary is...$174,000.00

A Congressman's annual salary is...$174,000.00

It is no wonder that these people, all 537 of them, can engage in legislative activity that leaves most of the rest of the country reeling.  They have absolutely no idea what it means to be an average American citizen.

They claim to put such a premium on education and they claim that young people are the future of the Republic.

Yet they consistently make getting an education more and more difficult.

A jump of 100% in an interest rate may not mean much to the millionaires that occupy the offices in Washington but it means a hell of a lot to average citizens, some of whom are living paycheck to paycheck (if they have a job at all...) and some of whom, despite the odds, will be the first in their family to get a college degree.

But the political class couldn't care less.  They are on vacation...

Well, the Congress and the White House should be ashamed.

But if they understood the concept of shame then we wouldn't be in these fixes in the first place.

They are quick to wave the flag when people die in wildfires or school shootings or at war.  They say all of the right things, mugging for the endless cameras staking out their every move and broadcasting their every word.

But they are loathe to do anything meaningful for the hard working men and women of this country who get up every morning and trudge off to work doing the right thing for themselves and their families.

These politicians were sent to Washington to represent the interests of the people.

It's too bad that the people they really represent don't really need them, other than to pass bills that benefit their narrow personal and corporate interests.

They have theirs.  The rest of us can just whistle Dixie.

And we know what happened the last time Dixie got whistled.

The Civil War happened.  Thousands of people died, over 51,000 at Gettysburg alone which, incidentally, took place 150 years ago today, may they rest in peace.

Who knows what lies in store for the Republic in the future.  Unless we awaken from our coma and do something the future will be very bleak.

Very bleak indeed.

Happy Fourth of July...

Thursday, June 27, 2013

The Other "N" Word

I don't use the "N" word.  I know people who do though.

They range from faux-rappers to construction workers to business types.  You know the first kind, the white Jewish kids from the burbs who "wanna be" and refer to one another as "N", while "cruisin'" with their "homies" in Daddy's SUV.

The second sort are the ignorami who fix the clogged drain, the faulty outlet and the dead battery. 

The third type are the rich Republican country clubbers who only encounter people of color as busboys, gardeners and maybe caddies but only the latter because of Tiger Woods.

Not because of Vijay Singh or Lee Trevino, talented minorities who helped pave the way for Tiger.  No, only because of Tiger because he is black.  Not because of Obama because, as we all know, he was born, a Muslim, in Kenya.

So, yeah I know some folks who use the "N" word, and rather liberally at that, which is oxymoronic given the fact that racism is hardly liberal, even if it's perpetrated conservatively.

So when I read about Paula Deen I was dismayed but not shocked.  I had hardly heard of her before all of this fuss about her use of the "N" word but that is because I am not a foodie and hate to watch cooks on TV.

I like to cook, although I am not that good at it and I certainly like to eat, as one view of my profile will attest, but I am bored to within an inch of my life by people pontificating about white wine reduction and imported truffles.

My one exception is Anthony Bourdain and that is because I read his excellent "Kitchen Confidential" and because I have immense respect for his "screw you" attitude.

But I must say that I think it is the epitome of hypocrisy to hold Ms. Deen accountable for behavior that is shared, and in some cases, celebrated by millions of Americans.

We delude ourselves into thinking that we have overcome racism in this country because we have twice elected a black man as president and revere black entertainers and sportsmen.

I contend that we would have elected Mickey Mouse as president when Obama ran because of the complete failure of the Bush administration.  We re-elected Obama because Willard was too out of touch with main stream voters to give us a sense of confidence in his ability to lead all Americans back to the Promised Land.  That doesn't even take into account the absurdity of Paul Ryan and the abject failure of the Republicans in Congress to compromise on anything.

We are a racist society regardless of the laws that have been passed and the occasional high profile success story, and I don't include Justice Thomas in that list.

So, excoriating Ms. Deen for being a racist is like excoriating Martha Stewart for being an inside trader.

We rewarded Ms. Stewart for her behavior (and prison term...) so why not Ms. Deen?

Oh, I know why.

Because inside trading is PC and using the "N" word is not.

I guess we are rather niggardly with our forgiveness then.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013


It was never wrong.  It was always right.

Gay Rights.

It's about friggin' time!!

There's Hope


I'm rushing through the supermarket to get home with dog food, juice, milk and ice cream.

I'm afraid that the ice cream will melt in the 90 degree heat. 

I look for the check out line with the least amount of people.  I go to the express, 12 items or less line (I have less than 12...) and queue up.

Just then a little old lady approaches.  I really mean little and old.  Four feet tall, at least late eighties with three or four items and her cane in the carriage.

I look at her and then I look at my ice cream.  I look back at the old woman.

Hmmm...what's a Cub Scout to do.

I then offer her my place in line in the spirit of "what goes around comes around."  She protests but allows me to give her my spot.

Here's where the real magic happened.  The guy in front of me, around my age, with gray hair and dressed as I was in shorts and a tee shirt, sees what's going on and offers the woman his place. 

She protests again but he starts emptying her carriage.

She can't get over it and is complimenting us both on being such "fine gentlemen."

The cashier starts to tally her up.  She could use a special coin that the market gives out to save money on a selected item but doesn't have one.  I give the cashier one of mine and the transaction continues.

The bagger puts the groceries in plastic and the woman says she'd prefer paper so I take the stuff out of the plastic and put it into some paper bags.

When the total appears on the screen and the woman is short, literally and figuratively  She mumbles something about going to the car to get money from her husband but no one is paying attention. I look how much the shortfall is and if it is a buck or two I'll kick in.

It's over $15.00, a bit steep for my Samaritan impulses and, believe me, at that moment, I feel really bad and bemoan the fact that I hadn't done my homework in high school so I would have a better paying job and could afford to treat the old woman to her groceries.

But just then my compatriot jumps in!  He asks the cashier how much the difference is and forks over a twenty!

The woman is embarrassed and says so but is also taken by the guy's generosity.  She tries to get his address so she can send him money but he won't hear of it.  She then starts to push her carriage away all the while extolling our virtues.

The guy and I shake hands and talk about the fact that what we did, he really more than I, is a lost art, a forgotten social norm.

Caring for others.  Thinking of your fellow man.  Helping an old lady cross the street.

We are a society of special interests whether in Washington or on Main Street.  My parking space, my flowers, my kids, "my back yard."  Mine, mine, mine...

When I finally checked out the girl behind the counter thanked me and said "God Bless You."

I'm not formally religious and have my questions about God but in that moment her remark felt great.

I had done a selfless thing which, in turn, prompted another to do a selfless thing which, in turn, made an old woman, in the twilight of her existence, feel like there were still people out there willing to see the good and to help and to give love.

And it is true about the Kharma thing.

The ice cream, Rocky Road by the way, made it home still, more or less, frozen and all was right with the world on a hot summer evening in Connecticut.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

False Staff

Let me start by saying that I was, and continue to be, a devoted fan of "The Sopranos" and James Gandolfini.

We own the entire show and have watched it, in it's entirety, jumping around a bit, several times.

We use some of the dialogue in our everyday conversations and have had the thrill of meeting several of the cast members.

I was very sad to hear of the death, last week, of James Gandolfini.  I had enjoyed his work in other roles but especially as Tony Soprano.  Not as Kevin Finnerty though.  Hated Kevin Finnerty.

I feel very sorry for his family, especially his children and for the many friends that he seems to have had.  Death is a very harsh reality to confront, made even more so when it is as sudden as his was.

But he was on holiday with his family in Rome on his way to a film festival.  It probably was a joyous time, apparently celebrating his son's successes at school and in sports.  He had eaten a delicious meal and, hopefully, died a happy man.

I wanted to say all of the above as a preface to this post lest someone think that I am cold-hearted and have no empathy.

I don't think James Gandolfini's passing warrants the flags in New Jersey be flown at half staff.

When I was a kid flags flew that way when someone of national importance or heroic stature died.

Dwight Eisenhower, The Challenger Astronauts, Thurgood Marshall.

Not an actor.

James Gandolfini delighted us for many years with is on-the-money portrayals of hitmen and gangsters and Mafiosi.  He brought life to roles that would have been flat in another actor's hands.

And Tony Soprano will forever be an icon of modern television with his violent quirks, incredible humor and human frailties.

But remember that the character, Tony Soprano, was created by someone else and his words were written for him.

James Gandolfini memorized the lines and took direction better than most.  We awarded him for his acting, his hard work and loved his character.

But that's what it was.  A character.  Tony Soprano was a figment of the creative imagination of a team of individuals, Gandolfini, among them, that didn't exist in real life or in real time. 

Thanks to modern technology, we will be able to enjoy Gandolfini's work in perpetuity and revisit the experiences that his characters had over and over and over again.

Few of us knew James Gandolfini.  By all accounts he was a very private man.  A nice guy with a generous heart and a good sense of humor.

He did some good things like bringing the stories of Afghanistan War veterans to our attention.

Thank you.

But he did not stop war or discover the cure for cancer or save drowning babies from a flood.

He was a very good, if not great, actor who entertained millions during his professional career.

Governor Christie dishonors the many great Americans who gave their lives and/or brilliance to this country.

He issued the order to fly the flags in New Jersey at half staff as a political move in order to capitalize on Gandolfini's, or rather, if we are truthful here, Tony Soprano's death.

The death of a character known for murder, extortion, philandering, dishonesty and betrayal.

James Gandolfini was none of the above.

He may have been from New Jersey but so are hundreds and thousands of other people who die in the Garden State every year.

We should no more lower the flags for them then for Gandolfini.

Soldiers, Presidents...Heroes. 

Not the men who play them on television.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Trust Me

It's not that I don't trust President Obama.  I don't trust any of our political leaders.

Modern politics has it set up so that politicians are more concerned with their donors than they are with the concerns of the voters.

They have to be.  The donors fund the ever increasingly expensive campaigns that these people must run in order to be competitive.

Millions and millions of dollars are spent every cycle for television and transportation and staff.  The politicians are constantly hustling the next fat cat to extract some scratch.

The fat cat, in turn, expects his due once the politician is elected.  He expects his interests to be served by the politician he helped elect.

Gone seem to be the days when men (and women...) went into public office to serve the people and the greater interests of the country as a whole.

In the old days, it seems, politicians saw public service as a duty, one whose rewards were in the passage of meaningful legislation that benefited the citizens or casting a deciding vote to stay out of, or participate in, a just war.

Politicians of old were orators and statesmen and men (and women...) of honor and ethics.

I challenge you to find any Senator or Congressman today who possesses the qualities of the legislative heroes of our past.

Do we have a contemporary Washington or Jefferson or Lincoln or Roosevelt?  Do we have an Aaron Burr or Everett Dirksen or Claire Boothe Luce?

Are any of the stewards of our government called to service because they see it as the highest calling and an honor unto itself?

Hell no!  They see public office as a retirement plan designed to create a lifestyle unknown to most Americans. 

Free health insurance, individualized police protection, transportation, retirement packages.  The list goes on...

The revolving door of Washington politics not only ensures boatloads of money during but also decidedly after one's term(s) in office.

They all tell us what we what to hear just to get elected and then they either do whatever they want or the bidding of their patrons, or should I say "puppetmasters."

They have the same honor that thieves supposedly have.  To themselves and their "families."

Trust me...

Monday, June 17, 2013

Revisitation Rights

I'm sorry but I'm going to have to revisit a topic about which I previously posted a while back.

I was listening to the radio this morning  and I was informed that Prince Philip had been released from hospital in England (the British don't say "the" hospital, they just say "hospital".)  I was also informed that Nelson Mandela remains in hospital in South Africa.

Let's pause for a moment to ponder those two facts.

Two old men in and out of sick bay.

One is a world hero responsible for a cultural shift that liberated an entire country from the shackles of institutionalized racist discrimination and terror and will be remembered throughout history for his struggle and achievement.

The other has done nothing but follow his wife around wearing too many medals and will be forgotten soon after his death.

I understand the British need to celebrate their monarchs.  They are saluting their "noble" past and the wonderful things they have done.

Colonialism, occupation, death, destruction, terror, torture and oppression.  Oh and the Mini Cooper and Spotted Dick, whatever that is...

I know, they survived the Second World War and Churchill was their hero.  As is David Beckham, The Beatles, The Spice Girls and James Bond.

But the fact that these people do nothing while the rest of the "real" world and most of the English, I might add (I did add, actually...), work their asses off for a fraction of the Royal allowance, to me, is a sin.  A SIN I tell ya!

The very week that the inspiring Mother Theresa died, the vacuous Princess Diana died.

We read a line, or maybe two, about the probable saint and we are STILL talking about "Di..."

"Never say Di" is not in our lexicon, apparently.

But now we talk about her in the context of discussions about her sons and, soon to be, grandchild.

Granted, the younger son, what's-his-name, seems like a regular guy, a selfless soldier and a party animal...but all of the rest of them seem to be lazy freeloaders.

And Charles. 

Poor Charles.  With his requited love and the elusive throne.

His mother will probably never die.  She is probably taking pills, paid for by the Exchequer, that will give her eternal life.

Charles will wait until hell freezes over, or until the Colonies revert to the rule of the Crown, whichever comes first, before he assumes the "big seat..."

The Royal Family irritates the crap out of me.

But I am fully aware of the fact that I am merely jealous of their wealth and lifestyle.  I admit that.  Who isn't...really...if you tell the truth.

And I, personally, think I'd look great wearing a tiara.  My mother always said that I had a "hat face."

And the medals.  Bring 'em on...!  All of 'em.  Especially the OBE. 

I wan an OBE.  OBE wan Kev OBE!! (Star Wars reference...get it?  No?  Lame joke...?'re right...)

If I had one then I'd almost be a Beatle.  John, Paul, George, Ringo, Pete, Billy and Kevin. 

Yeah, Yeah, Yeah!

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Je Refuse...

Question:  What do you have if you give a small shore bird to a group of convicts?

Answer:  A tern for the worst.

Sorry folks...I couldn't help myself.

Which brings me to my point of the day.  What is it with growing old?

I am reminded everyday of my age and, therefore, my mortality.  You see, I have a teenaged daughter, sixteen years old to be exact.

She is finishing her sophomore year in high school, has a wonderful boyfriend, a job, a learner's permit and is on the High Honor roll.

She is still my little girl, as you would expect, but she is fast becoming a woman.

I am now the passenger in the car when we go to school in the morning or work in the evening.

I sit and wait while she visits the ATM to deposit her check or to withdraw money.

We're talking about college and we even talk about what it could look like when I'm much older and she is, possibly, forced to care for me.

I say possibly because it is not a fait accompli that I will need her help.  I may be healthy enough to care for myself.

I may be too egocentric to let her help me or I may be dead before the question comes up.

But however it turns out I am becoming more aware of what I have always known to be true.  Whatever it is, it is all in the mind.

When I think of myself, I see, in my mind's eye, a young guy full of energy and the sense of possibility.  One of my favorite expressions when I was coming up was, "I can make that happen for you."

I applied that idea to everything from getting gigs as a musician to getting girls for my friends.

I saw a challenge and instead of running away from it I embraced it.  I just couldn't, or wouldn't, hear the word "no" or entertain the notion that I couldn't achieve the outcome I was after.

And I proved it over and over again.

I have fixed up friends, some of whom have ended up married for a long time.  I have created business opportunities when there weren't any openings.  I have even found, sometimes literally on the side of the road, the things I was looking for, from a bandana for my girlfriend's hair when we were on a motorcycle trip in upper Marin to a working kiln...a working kiln...for my pot-throwing former wife.

Intention and a sense of can-do possibility were the guiding principles that motivated my life for as long as I can remember.

But, not too surprisingly, of late, my energy has dimmed and my ambition has slowed.

I no longer daydream of being the next Grammy winning singer songwriter to be played, endlessly, on the radio.

I don't envision myself as a wealthy man retiring to my summer home in The South of France (although I will live there some day...)

I probably will not ever finish "A Tale of Two Cities" much to the chagrin of my late mother who almost never missed an opportunity to wonder whether I had or would any time in the near future...

So lately, I have been content to putter in my garden and to watch my delightful daughter grow into a smart, funny, sensitive and capable young woman.  It seems as though, now on Social Security, that I am happy to just wait out my days in the growing tedium of The Golden Years.

But that very picture of my life today is what has me agitated.  Screw that I say...!

I'm not ready yet to throw in the towel and call it quits.  I still have dreams and energy and ideas and the sense of what is possible.

I talk about the latter almost everyday when my daughter will suggest that she can't do this or can't do that.  I tell her, repeatedly, that she can.  She can do anything she wants to do just as long as, in the words of my hugely successful winemaker friend Dario Sattui, she really wants to do it.

So if I still think that's true than I must not have lost the juice to get it done.  I must still have what it takes to realize my dreams and accomplish my personal goals.

It is okay if I have trimmed my sights a bit.  I may not win a Grammy but I may not be trying to either.  I may be content to sit on my porch, surrounded by the splendor of my pastoral bird and flower filled (thanks to my beautiful wife...the flowers that is) back yard and perfect the melody from "Ain't Misbehaven'" on my 1967 Martin 00-18 guitar.

Truth is, I ain't misbehaven' at all.

But I'm sure thinkin' 'bout it again...!


Question:  What are you doing when you're driving by a car full of criminals in Prague?

Answer:  You're passing Bad Czechs...

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

I'm Sorry

I must most sincerely apologize for my absolute lack of any enthusiasm for politics these days.

I mourn the past with a great deal of emotional pain.  Gone are the days of George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, Bill Clinton and even Willard Romney, although all of the above make occasional forays into the news from time to time.

But the fire is out.  They all brought excitement.  The current crowd is tedious, self-absorbed and boring!

I remember feeling that, as a result of reading "Advise and Consent", the fabulous faux-fiction opus by Allen Drury and The Watergate Scandal, I could never trust the Republicans let alone be one.

I confess that my first legal vote was cast for Richard Nixon in 1972 but that was as much a result of the fact that my father was a Republican as that I was.  I hardly knew how to shave let alone form a cogent political thought.

Then the Clinton Lewinsky mess tempted me a bit but that was all about sex and Ken Starr's obsession so I gave the notion no never mind.

I also will confess that I voted for Barack Obama both times.  First because I was afraid the formerly sane John McCain, with whom I spent New Year's Eve on the campaign in New Hampshire bin '07, and who was a genuinely likeable guy, would die in office and leave us in the hands of the seemingly incompetent and scary Sarah "The Moose" Palin.

The second time was because I couldn't stomach Willard and Mrs. Willard and the thought of them running the country reminded me of the jerks I knew at boarding school (yes, my friends, I am a Preppy...) who got away with everything simply because their fathers were rich and who had everything simply because their rich parents were in absentia and thought that presents and money equalled love.

As to that last point, I'm here to tell you that money does not equal love in the slightest.  My parents didn't have very much of it and I have never been as loved in the way that I was by them.

But now being of one party or another means little or nothing.

Both parties are corrupt and both are only concerned with getting and maintaining power and don't give a good God damn about the country, its' citizenry or its' future.

None of the men or women currently in Washington have ethics or courage or honor.

They vote according to the dictates of their patrons and the rest of us be damned.

They wave the flag, weep crocodile tears and bemoan the fact that the middle class has evaporated all the while voting themselves pay raises, avoiding sensitive votes and investigations and sending our babies off to war.

So I started out as a Republican, became a Democrat, morphed into an Independent and am now just bored to tears.

Which, by the way are just about all I, or most of us, have to give.  We have given our blood.  We have given our sweat.

All that's left are our tears.

Tears for fears...

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Timing is Everything

Chapter One

Timing is everything.  Brinnie knew that if she could wait until the end of the recital she'd be alright.
She also knew damned well that if she gave in and sneezed right then she would create a disturbance and ruin the evening.

Brinnie was not in the habit of playing by the rules.  She had spent her life, so far, doing pretty much what she wanted, whenever she wanted without much regard for the consequences.

She had been raised by her mother and her four older brothers.  Her father had left them shortly after Brinnie was born and they never heard from him again.  Her oldest brother, Mike, said once that he thought their father was in the Navy in San Diego working as a machinist but no one bothered to find out if that was true.

Brinnie could have found out easily if she had wanted to.  She knew where to look and who to call but wasn't that interested.

Mike had been like a father to her and she figured that finding the real thing would have only been confusing.  She didn't need the headache. 

Mike had always been there for her.  Her first period.  Her training bra.  Her Senior Prom when he chased Albert Conswiker all the way to his house after Albert had tried to kiss her.

Actually that pissed her off a lot as she had wanted Albert to kiss her but Albert was painfully shy, much more so than Brinnie.

When Albert put his arm around Brinnie and leaned in to kiss her he accidentally stepped on her toes.

She was, uncharacteristically, wearing open toed shoes as a part of her prom ensemble and when Albert landed she screamed.

Mike had been nearby talking with some friends and when he heard Brinnie cry out he, naturally, thought that Albert was getting cute and came running.

When Albert saw Mike approaching at the same speed he had exhibited as a star end on the football team, Albert took off toward his house which was not that far away on Hillside.

Brinnie lived on the other side of town in an area known as The Marshes.  It was an odd name given that the closest marsh was 100 miles to the south near the ocean.  The developer thought it was a clever name to give to the subdivision and even gave the streets nautical names like Dune Drive and Seagrass Circle.

Mike caught up to Albert and was just about to pop him one when Brinnie came limping up, yelling for Mike to stop.  She explained that Albert had done nothing wrong but the damage was already done.  Albert never did kiss Briniie.  In fact he never spoke to her again and she never forgot, even though she, as always, forgave Mike.  She certainly gave Mike a piece of her mind as he drove her home though.  If nothing else, Brinnie was definitely not shy.

She left home shortly after the end of school and has not been back to The Marshes since.  Mike still lives in the family house.  He married Natalie after college and their kids go to the same high school he did.  Mikey has tried to get on the football team but he's not very strong and no where near as fast as Mike was.  Coach made him a trainer for the season but Mike is still disappointed. 

He tries not to show it to Mikey but Mikey knows it anyway.  That may be one of the reasons why Mikey is gay but neither Mike nor Natalie know.

Brinnie knows but she would never tell Mike.  She is really more of a mother to Mikey than Natalie and Mikey confides in her, mostly because he knows he can trust her.

Brinnie grew up taking care of herself, pretty much.  Her mother, Margaret, was a good mother but somewhat aloof when it came to mother-daughter relations.

Margaret found it difficult to understand what Brinnie needed.  Margaret had been the only child, albeit adopted, of a very wealthy couple and her father was rarely home.

Margaret's relationship with her mother, Grollie as the kids called her, was strained at best.  Grollie spent all of her time at "The Club" right up until her death at 92.

As a matter of fact Grollie died at "The Club" right after lunch one day.  She just passed away in her chair at the table.  The waiter found her slumped over shortly after he had brought her coffee.

She had eaten the salmon and decided to have a small piece of Key Lime Pie before her coffee.

That was the last meal Grollie had.  Broiled salmon on rice with asparagus.  Key Lime Pie and coffee.

Brinnie hated Key Lime Pie.  She found it too sour.  She could tolerate it when Grollie served it for dessert but only because of the whipped cream.

It was real whipped cream with a lot of sugar added.  Alba, Grollie's cook, made the best whipped cream around and often gave Brinnie the spoon to lick if Brinnie happened to be in the kitchen when Alba was making dinner.

Brinnie loved Alba but didn't trust her.  Brinnie had seen Alba stealing from Grollie's pocketbook once but didn't say anything to Grollie.  She didn't want to get Alba into trouble.

Brinnie figured that Grollie could spare the $20 and if Alba needed it badly enough to steal it than what the hell.  No harm, no foul.

So Brinnie decided "what the hell" and let go a whopper.  It was a four-parter and went from a huge inhalation to a dramatic earth-shaking finish.  Four separate times.

Once would have been bad enough but four times? 

It actually saved the evening for Brinnie and almost everyone else in the room.  The music had been deadly boring and not well done at that. 

Mozart is often delightful and Brinnie loved almost all classical music but this performance had been tedious from the outset.

The recital had been made even more unbearable because Brinnie had been forced to go with Jackson DiLoretta.

Jackson thought of himself as a man of the world.  He was, after all, her boss but he was an incompetent when it came to personal relationships.

Brinnie had originally found Jackson very attractive but after she had worked for him for a few months she began to see him for what he really was...a poser.

Jackson had been a legacy at Columbia and that was the only reason he had gotten in.  He desperately wanted to be a WASP but his Italian last name made that impossible.

His father had pulled strings to get him an interview at The State Department and after he got his first assignment he quickly started going after what he really wanted which was a position at The CIA.

Brinnie had been recruited right after high school.  She was beautiful, tough as nails and unusually smart. 

When the recruiter approached her in the park across from her house that early July day she had no idea what the future would look like. 

She would find out very soon thereafter...

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

PC Be Damned!

I will take heat for this post but I don't care.  I'm feeling ornery, cantankerous and grumpy today so watch out...!

I think Republican female politicians and pundits are more physically attractive than their Democratic counterparts.

There...I said it.  Let the hostile, angry, foaming comments begin.

What?  Nothing?  Nobody?  The sounds of apathetical silence...

But really.  Sarah Palin, Michelles Bachmann and Malkin and Ann Coulter are, by traditional western standards of beauty, pretty darned good looking.  "Darned", for the uninitiated, means "damned" in the "non-cursing" crowd.  It is often replaced by "danged" or "goll-durned..."

Anyway.  Who do the Democrats have who can compete?  Hillary, Rachel, Barbara, Dianne?

I don't think so.

Palin is a babe.  Take those glasses off and she's every man's fantasy.

Bachmann is petite and coquettish and Coulter is smokin'...

George W. Bush had the reputation of being the sort of guy you'd want to have a beer with (or a near beer seeing as how he's a recovering alcoholic...) even though you may not like his politics.

The same can be said about Palin, Bachmann and the like.  They are attractive women even though their political positions are contrary to almost everything some folks stand for.

But then that raises an interesting issue.  Attraction is a combination of the physical and the mental.
I've been attracted to many women over the years who, once they opened their mouths became as ugly as the north end of a southbound dog.  As my beautiful wife is wont to say, "Don't speak..."

So maybe Sarah Palin is attractive just standing there but the unfortunate thing is that she and Bachmann and Coulter and Malkin and Matalin and all of the rest of the Republican women on today's political stage can't keep their mouths shut.

Maybe I should have given Bella Abzug a second look when I had the chance, may she rest in peace.

After all, you've got to have something to talk about after the fact aside from, "was that good for you...?

Monday, June 3, 2013

Yes, We Cannes...


This post starts out in a very pompous, name dropping, sort of way, but redeems itself later on.
I just couldn't help myself.  Sorry...

A few years ago my beautiful wife and I were driving through the South of France returning to Paris from the Cannes Film Festival which we had been credentialled to cover for The Associated Press.

While we were there we had made a side trip to Tuscany to stay with a friend at his converted 10th century monastery in Rigomano.

We had rented a small car for our trip because we were carting gear and needed the flexibility.

The morning we were leaving Tuscany I came out to find a flat tire.

It took me about and hour to find the spare and the jack.  It was all hidden in secret compartments in a very clever, space saving, way.

I finally located the stuff and, in no time, changed the tire and we were on our way.

A few days later, as we were passing just north of Avignon, we pulled into a rest stop, an "Aire" as the French call it, to take a short break from the road.

As we were leaving we passed an older woman next to a car similar to mine, with a flat tire.

I pulled over and got out to ask if I could help.  She, with some hesitation, said "Oui" and I proceeded to change her tire just as quickly as I had changed mine a few days earlier helped by the fact that I knew where to look in her car to find the requisite tools.

"Merci, Monsieur."

"Il n'y a pas de quoi, Madame.  Bonne Route."

Fast forward to yesterday.

I was driving on the highway when a full sized pick up truck flew past and then, abruptly, stepped on the brakes.

I saw the passenger window coming down and I thought it was a friend slowing to say hello to me.

I sped up a bit to pull along side.  I had a big smile and was ready for a big "Howdy Do."

It wasn't a friend, after all, but a cigar chomping somebody gesturing to my truck and telling me, unintelligibly, that I needed to know something.

I looked back with puzzlement and he just kept pointing.

I waved and mouthed "thank you" and he drove off.

I had to decide whether to pull over on a stretch of road in the middle of nowhere or continue on to the next exit where there would be services.

I was on a deadline and was afraid to pull over on the shoulder for fear that if I had a big problem it would be more complicated to fix and I would be late.

I drove on, slowly, to the next exit a few miles ahead.  I pulled into a gas station, parked and got out to look.  Sure enough my front, driver's side tire was almost flat!

I pulled up to then air compressor and filled the tire.

The payoff for which you have been patiently waiting and for which you suffered the opening pomposity...?

Kharma my friends...Kharma.

Sometimes generous actions don't return to you in kind but sometimes, as in this case, they do.

"What goes around comes around."

Remember that the next time to treat someone poorly.

Their Kharmic representative may just decide, Cuban in hand, to pass you by...

Happy Motoring!

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Hot Dog!!

I am breaking my self imposed "lack of things to say" with the following missive:

"You go for it Boy!!"

I am, of course, referring to Anthony Weiner's announcement that he is running for Mayor of New York City.

Why not I ask you?  Why the hell not?!

Look, if Martha Stewart and O.J. Simpson and Oliver North can have thriving, post scandal, careers than why can't a guy, who has never been convicted of anything (except in the hypocritical "Court of Public Opinion"), try his hand at a second chance...a comeback.

Richard Nixon did it.  So has Mark Sanford.

Is it because Weiner is Jewish?  That's a familiar card that some have already played.

Is it his last name?  Maybe...especially since it is pronounced like the "hot dog" not the "complainer", which would only be slightly better after all.

Let's give His Honor a break why don't we.  Let's judge him on his background and ability, both of which are strong.

He was a good congressman and would be a capable mayor.

I met him once on assignment for NBC News.  I interviewed him in his office in Queens.  I had taken my, then, 6 year old daughter and Congressman Weiner took the time to respectfully allow my little girl to conduct an interview, much like the one she had just seen.  He then gave her a signed document attesting to the fact that she had visited his office.  She was very proud and I was impressed.

I may have been naïve but he didn't have to do anything more than shake her hand with a phony smile and politician's pat on the back.

He wasn't like that.  He was sincere and I appreciated that.

Not as a proud father but as a voter (albeit not his...) and an American.

What we don't have enough of in modern politics is authenticity and a genuine concern for the needs of the matter how small.

So Anthony Weiner preened and sent questionable Tweets.

So what.  Who hasn't?  Entire show business careers have been built on far less...or more, dependent upon your perspective.  I have two words for you...

"Kim Kardashian"

Need I say more...?

Thursday, April 4, 2013


I recently finished a conversation that was begun in 1969.  It wasn't an actual conversation with words but it has been a thought that has gone in and out of my head many times since then.

A little background:

I was playing music with some friends...Bid, Meg and Michele...back in 1969.  I was the guitarist, principal songwriter and one of three vocalists, Meg and Michele being the others.  Bid played bongos and then mandolin.  We were called "Charing Cross."

I had a Goya G-13, nylon string acoustic guitar at the time and everyone agreed that it wasn't loud enough for gigs.  I had never played a steel string nor could I use a pick worth a damn.

But one day some guy, who was somewhat peripheral to our crowd, let it be known that he wanted to sell his guitar, allegedly to buy some pot.  He wanted $125.00 for it and it came with a hard shell case.

I borrowed the money from my father (yes, I eventually paid him back...very eventually) and bought a 1967 Martin 00-18.

The tuning machines had been replaced with Grovers and it was missing the pick guard but I didn't care.  I had a loud guitar and I was cookin'!

I intended to replace the pick guard but had to wait to accumulate enough money.  In the mean time I carefully put masking tape over the pick guard's outline so as to give the bare wood some protection.  I painstakingly cut around the outline to make it neat and pretty.

Years went by.  10,20,30...40!  The guitar had been everywhere with me.  All over this country and to Europe as well.  It had played on the stage at Lincoln Center and New York City's Town Hall.  It had performed in the Paris Metro and recorded in Fred Hellerman's studio.  Fred Hellerman produced Arlo Guthrie's "Alice's Restaurant.  It had jammed with Jimmie Spheeris and the late Gus Hardin. 

It wrote a song that appeared in the film"Deterence", starring Kevin Pollack, the jingle for the Schlotzsky Sandwich Shops and it appeared on the stage at Joseph Papp's Public Theatre in Cryer and Ford's "I'm Getting My Act Together and Taking it On The Road."

In short it helped me write hundreds of songs, including a lullaby for my daughter and a love song for my wife.  This axe has been around!

But one thing had always nagged at me.  Where had she come from?  What was her provenance?  There was no way of knowing.

Then one day I was playing my guitar on my front stoop during a Saturday tag sale and a guy approached me and said, "I know that guitar.  That used to be mine!"  It was the guy from 1969 who had sold it to me.

Hurray!  Mystery solved.  I had traced my guitar's origins.  I could sleep.

Which I did and soundly at that.

And then, the other day the most remarkable thing happened.  I had gone into a local music store to buy a capo for my daughter who is a burgeoning singer/songwriter/guitarist.  I recently bought her her first guitar at a tag sale...a Takamine "Lawsuit" for $50 with hard case.  It's referred to as a "Lawsuit" guitar because Martin sued because the Takamine was an exact copy of the...00-18...right down to the font style of the logo.  In fact, from the street, I thought I was looking at a Martin in that
tag sale!

Any way...after buying the capo I asked the clerk if his luthier worked on Martins because mine needs a neck and bridge reset.

We started to chat and he asked me what Martin I had.  I told him and added that it was somewhat distinctive and recounted the tag sale story about the guy who recognized my guitar after seeing the Grovers and the, still, lack of pick guard (the masking tape long ago melted into the wood protecting it forever...)

The clerk's face went ashen.  He looked like he was going to faint.  I grew concerned.  Was this guy going to keel over in front of me right right on the spot?!

Then I found out why he had turned so pale.

He had been the original owner of my guitar having sold it to the tag sale guy all those years ago!

I was floored.  This was one of those "small world" things that happens and makes you feel like your life isn't that bad after all.  Unbelievable!

I told him I'd bring it by sometime and he said that if I ever wanted to sell it to tell him first.

He shouldn't hold his breath.  I will leave it to my daughter after I'm gone but if I had to I'd put it in the fireplace before I would part with it.

My 1967 Martin 00-18 is my prized possession.  Nothing else is as important to me as that guitar.  It has been with me through almost every important event of my life and has earned me money, love and a sense of inspiration and satisfaction like no other thing I've ever had.

So...full circle...

Life goes on.  But my guitar is no longer an adopted orphan.  She has a past and I know all of it.

From Nazareth to Madison...through New York and Paris and San Francisco and beyond...and behind me for almost every song I've ever written or ever sung.

End of story.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

The Thrill(er) is Gone

Now comes the news we've eagerly anticipated for a few years now.

There's going to be another Michael Jackson trial. Whoop-de-doo..

I don't know about you but I can't not watch it on television.

Jeeeezuz, Mary and Joseph...Joseph Jackson that is.  By all accounts, Michael Jackson's childhood was dysfunctional at best.  There have been accusations that his father was abusive.  We know he didn't grow up in a particularly normal way because his childhood unfolded before our adoring and then prying eyes.

The kid couldn't catch a break.  First he was a black teenager and then, miraculously, he was somewhat white.

He had a stereotypical African-American nose and then he had a stereotypical White Anglo Saxon Protestant nose.  A few of them actually.

Then his best friend was a monkey, then Elizabeth Taylor, then the little boy next door.

Michael Jackson was one of the most talented performers the world has ever seen...and one of the weirdest.

Fine, we know all of that.  But he's dead now so why can't we just let him rest in peace?

Because, as we learned from the late great Elvis Presley, celebrity can live on forever and reap millions and millions of dollars for those interested in capitalizing on their relationship with the dearly departed.

Yoko Ono, Priscilla and Lisa-Marie Presley, countless Kennedys, they all trade on the name of their dead family member.

The Jackson family seems to be no different.  They are bringing a wrongful death suit against Michael's promoter  and hope to win in the millions, if not billions.  Quincy Jones may even testify as to what he thinks Michael Jackson would have earned had he lived and performed longer.

The naked greed of these people is astonishing.  They claim to have a love for, and to miss, whomsoever but what they really want is money.  They suggest that the money will go to the children but you have to ask yourself "how much money does a person need?"

Michael Jackson, the same guy who bought the Beatles catalogue...yeah, yeah, yeah, those Beatles and that catalogue...was worth a fortune when he died and he left that fortune to his kids and, presumably, the rest of his family.

So once again the airwaves will be full of quotes and analyses and conjecture and courtroom drama.

OJ, Casey Anthony and yes, even Michael Jackson, were the subject of these big trials.  There will be gavel to gavel 24/7 coverage and careers will be made.

For my part, I expect to tune it out, kick back with a brewsky and listen to one of my favorite songs, so aptly named, it's scary...

"Beat it...!"

Monday, April 1, 2013

A Pound of Flesh

There's a fat chance that I won't weigh in on such a heavy subject as obesity.

So here goes...

I am, like about a gazillion other people, struggling with my weight. I am older now and I'm not as active, nor do I eat properly.  I'm not fat.  I've got "a few extra pounds..."

My favorite foods include every single thing you're not supposed to eat with the exception of bananas, all fish, excluding calamari, brussel sprouts (Is it Brussels Prouts which begs the question... is it a misspelling of Proust, who I thought was French, but could have, ancestrally, been Belgian and loved miniature cabbage, so they named the vegetable after him?  But then it would have been cabbage instead of Madeleines and the history of literature would have been irrevocably changed forever. I have no idea. Comment if you do...I'd love to now the truth...)

I love all cheese, chocolate, bread, pasta, ice cream, M&Ms.  You get the idea.  I'm a junkie.

I try to eat responsibly, I really do.  Tea instead of coffee.  Honey instead of white sugar.  Greek yogurt instead of ice cream.  An apple instead of a cookie. Tuna instead of ham.

But I fall hard off the dietary wagon with regularity.

I'll go weeks, if not months, eating the stuff that's good for me and rejecting the stuff that isn't.

And then I'll be somewhere and there will be a doughnut or a dish of jelly beans or potato chips and onion dip...and I'm finished. Finished I tell ya..!

I justify the indulgence by telling myself that I've been religious over the recent past and I can have one whatever and the world won't come to an end.  What's one GD doughnut within the context of weeks and months of almond milk, Quinoa pasta and carob?

Nothing.  A mere speck of reckless abandon on an, otherwise, unblemished canvas of nutritional purity.

Yeah...right!  If you believe that one I'd like to talk to you about some credit default swaps that I recently heard about.

Can you say crash!

That's what really happened in 1929 and 2007.  We were doing the fiscally responsible thing and then we had one lapse.  Just one little foray into the Wall Street Pastry Emporium.

Poof! Years of weight loss and good behavior gone in the blink of a Boston Crème doughnut.

So...sit back, relax, open another jar of Pringles and weight (sic) for the losing (sic) bell.

And the vocal stylings of Lower Manhattan's singing sensation, Fannie Mae, known the world over as "The Fat Lady."

Oh...and that's the sound of the Treasury's ambulance you hear.  And they're packin' a defib...


Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Buy and Buy

As the recipient of the 2013 Bloggie, the international award for excellence in blog posting, I have been inundated with endorsement requests.  Inundated I tell ya, inundated!

My beautiful wife asked me to weigh in about an outfit she wanted to wear and my daughter wondered what I thought of a song she was writing.

The requests don't end.

So here are some endorsements that I wish to make in light of my new found, and possibly fleeting, celebrity.

I wish to endorse candy.  Candy of all shapes and sizes but more specifically chocolate.  And in particular the toffee candy that is covered with chocolate and then sprinkled with nuts.  I wholeheartedly endorse that candy.

I stand up for the beach!  I was at the beach the other day and was reminded of how healing a place it can be.  There is something about the effect of negative ions or something but I don't know anything about that.  I just love the beach, regardless of the season...obviously the warmer weather is better but any time is a great time at the beach.  And palm trees are not a pre-requisite.  The small scruffy trees that are windblown onto land are very cool too.

Let's hear it for a cozy fire.  Imagine a cold snow or a chilly rain and a crossword and a cup of Earl Grey and a fireplace full of burning logs with more at the ready. It's heaven. (is it "Earl", like the late, great Earl Scruggs or "Earl", like Duke or Prince...not John Wayne or the guy from Minneapolis...but like the Prince Charles type of "Earl"...?)

Finally I would like to endorse perspective.  Perspective is a critical part of everyday life.  Just when you think your life has reached its' nadir you read about some poor guy who has lost his job or his house or his child.

Life is wonderful if you see the wonderful stuff.  It may be snowing today in some parts of the country, and that's too bad for those affected, but they can look forward to the fact that, in very short order, a few weeks maybe, the flowers will be out, the skies will be blue and the weather will be warm again.

It's all about how you see it.  If your glass is half empty then you will always be thirsty.  If your day is partly cloudy you will never see the sun.

But if you have a partly sunny, half full point of view then everything is possible and nothing is as bad as it seems.

Now just add a plate of chocolate covered, nut sprinkled toffee and you've got it made.

Until next fall when winter's just around the corner and you begin shoveling again.

And bringing in kindling and logs for the fire and searching for 14 down...a five letter word, starting with an "H" and ending with a "Y", meaning "gay."

Keep thinking.  You'll get it.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Lyin' Sack O' Taters

Lying has become the national pastime.  Forget about baseball or football or even the March Madness marketing campaign.

Lying is what we love to do.  Almost all of us. 

Maury, Springer, Dr. Phil.  The pop culture is full of outlets for lying and its' reward of 15 minutes of fame or more.

"Do I look fat in this dress?" "Do you really love me?" "Want more pasta?"

The answers to these ,and a multitude of other daily questions often end up as lies.  We justify the lies by telling ourselves that we don't want to "hurt the other guy's feelings."

If we told the truth we'd say "yes, my dear, you look like a house sheathed cotton" or "No" or "No..."

But we love the person who asked the question or, at least, we like them...a little.

Another reason it seems we lie is because we don't want to get into trouble.  The answer to, "did you eat the last cookie?" has got to be "no" because "yes" would land you in "your room" and render you cookieless for the rest of your childhood and that would be untenable.

So what should we do with this third, emerging, category of prevarication?  This business, most recently exemplified by the (dis)Honorable Ms. Michele Bachmann of Minneeesohta, of asserting falsehood as fact?

President Obama didn't spend 100 billion dollars on toilet paper, as Ms. Bachmann alleges (that is, in and of itself, a bold-faced lie perpetrated by this post.  Let's see if it has legs...)

Yet the Congresswoman from The Gopher State persists in spreading these lies in a transparent attempt to denigrate and marginalize this president whom she seems to hate so much...because he's, a) smarter than she is, b) more popular than she is, c) black, d) all of the above.

Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan did the same thing during their, thankfully, failed bid to take over The White House and The Naval Observatory, respectively.  (Fitting how the Vice President's residence is an observatory...a place for stargazing, which is what he ends up doing for the better part of 4 to 8 years...)

It seems that these sort of lies are meant only to damage reputations and gain political advantage.

Gone are the days of the fair fight and campaigns waged on the issues with worthy opponents engaged in intellectual "parry and thrust."

Gone are the days of intelligent arguments defended and debated in honest terms by men and women of high moral acumen.

Gone are the days of thoughtful and passionate persuasion.

Those days have been replaced by endless partisan hectoring and shallow reasoning.

Remember William F. Buckley and Gore Vidal?  Remember John F. Kennedy and Richard M. Nixon?  Remember Lincoln-Douglas?  Well maybe not the last one unless you're at least 165 years old.  In that case you should stop reading and nap.  We want to see 166 now don't we...?

Differing opinions discussed with civility and mutual respect. 

"Sir, I wish to disagree in the humblest of ways. My good friend, I believe your logic to be flawed and I will, presently, demonstrate why...with your permission."

"By all means, my good man.  By all means, do continue..."

Can you imagine Bachmann, Hannity, Jones, Rove et al, engaged in that sort of repartee...?

Not these accusations and baseless charges upon which, incidentally, our lives depend.

Our lives...!

Thursday, March 21, 2013

The Small Print

First let me say the following before I launch off into my "Tirade du Jour."  Incidentally a tirade is an event in which someone pilfers neckwear from your closet in a black ops kind of way.

Ok...I recently saw a report on TV about energy drinks and how one company is changing the way in which it classifies its' product so as to avoid having to report dangerous side effects.

The report included an interview with a paid spokesman...a doctor...who was trying to make the case for the change.  He was prattling on about this and that justification when it just seemed like he was dodging the question.  Fair enough.  The company is paying him.  What else is he going to say?  "You might die from using our product so, drink up!"  Yeah, right.

So...tirade time.  Strap in and prepare yourself. This is going to be a doozie...a real humdinger!
But it's a two-parter so here's Part I.

Tirade Part I

Almost every pharmaceutical ad on television has a voiceover stating that if you use the drug you may open yourself up to a host of problems.

"If you use XYZ you may have intestinal bleeding, loss of hearing, palpitations, hives, loss of appetite, loss of sexual urge, dental pain and/or memory loss, kidney stones, boils and longer toenails. Consult your doctor and funeral home before using XYZ."

Hmmmm...think I'll run right out and git me some!  And the drug in question is for sleep loss...which will be rendered totally ineffective by virtue of the fact that the disclaimer will keep you awake with all of the worry about its' use!

Beauty shots of people swimming or reading or picking flowers or hugging and all of the above as voiceover?  That's a marriage made in heaven.

I understand it.  The government makes the companies put all of that stuff in, but Jeez...what a downer.  I just want to look at the pretty pictures.  I'm so depressed now that I am losing sleep...which I wasn't before...and I have no where to turn other than the bottle.  That's no good either because I don't want the hangover...for which I am sure there is a drug with side effects that will make me sicker than the after effects of the drinking.  No win here as far as I can tell...

Tirade Part II

I have decided to buy an electron microscope.  I looked on Craigslist and found one in Atlanta, offered by the CDC, for $1,000,000.00   It's being sold in order to raise some cash because of budget cuts due to the "Sequester."  The CDC uses it to examine strains of viruses that cause disease.  It is also used to look at pharmaceuticals that make us sick when properly used.  Like the ones for sleeplessness.  See a theme emerging here...?

The reason I'm getting it, and I will be getting a 50% loan from Mitt Romney, is so I can read the INCREDIBLY SMALL PRINT that accompanies many television ads.

You know...the paragraph that appears on the screen during the final few seconds of an ad that explains all of the legal details of using the product.

The print is, a) unreadable, b) on the screen for only a millisecond and, c) is unreadable.

Again, I know that it is there because the government mandates it so as to protect the consumer from fraud.

The fraud is that it is,  a) unreadable, b) on the screen for only a millisecond and, c) is unreadable.

(I plagiarized that last line from a file at the Department of Redundancy Department.)

If it's going to be there it should be readable and on the screen for the entirety of the ad.  Just like the
voiceover in the pharmaceutical ad.

But that would make too much sense.

Why would legislation enacted to protect the consumer actually do that?

Ask your Congressman.  He'll know.  Just call him on his cell. 

You'll find him poolside, in Bimini, enjoying an energy drink, on the junket paid for by the lobby that forced the "Truth in Advertising" bills into containing none whatsoever.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

I Ain't Goin'

I just learned that The Rascals, aka The Young Rascals are performing on Broadway.

I'm not going and I'll tell you why if you're interested. are?  Good.  Here goes...

I'm a musician and the first instrument I played was the drums (were the drums...?)

I loved Gene Krupa.  One of my teachers, in the 8th grade, saw Krupa play, live, and brought me an autographed picture.  It hung in my room for ever.

I got my first snare drum when I was about 12 and made a cymbal out of an old hub cap (they were metal then) with nails in it to give it that all important "sizzle."

I played in the school rock band and eventually had a full set...bass, mounted and floor toms, hi hat and ride.  I was cookin' in straight 2/4 time.

Then Dino Danelli showed up and my drumming life changed.  He could play syncopated!  Oh My God was he ever cool.

For the uneducated among you Dino Danelli was, and is, the drummer for The Young Rascals who later shortened their name to just The Rascals.  They were a powerhouse rock band in the mid to late sixties and early seventies.

One of their first hits, and my favorite rock song, even today, was  "Good Lovin'"

"One, Two, Three...Good Lovin'!!"

Felix Cavaliere, Eddie Brigati, Gene Cornish, Dino Danelli.  They were the greatest and had many wonderful hits.

"Ain't Gonna Eat Out My Heart Anymore"..."Groovin'"..."People Gotta Be Free"..."A Beautiful Morning."

They were terrific but what made them so for me was Dino Danelli.  He had a style that was explosive and precise.  He twirled his sticks and played complicated rhythms and used ALL of his drums not just the snare, hat and ride like so many other "drummers" of the sixties.  He was unbelievable.  I wanted to be just like him and except for the fact that he was older, Italian and REALLY good, I was.  In my head at least and, truth be told, I could play a few of his licks.

So my, over 40 year, love affair with The Rascals isn't over yet so I can't, in good conscience, go to their Broadway show.

They have reunited for this thing and it's produced by Steven Van Zandt.  I'm sure it will be great.

The theatre will be filled with all of their hits and with my contemporaries "Groovin'" to the songs that made up our young adulthoods.

A lot of memories and a lot of firsts go hand in hand with Rascals tunes.  I don't ever want those memories to fade or be tarnished by the hands of time.  I want the Rascals to always look the way they looked on The Ed Sullivan Show, not how they must look now.  Like me...older, fatter, shorter and slower.

No, for me, the Rascals will remain forever Young and I will always be moved by "Good Lovin'"

Thanks but, no thanks.  I'm good...

One More Thing...

Let me say one more thing about the recent round of philosophical "changes" taking place in our political class these days.

I am a very strong advocate of changing one's mind.  I think it is the sign of a healthy intellect to have a point of view and then, upon the introduction of new information, have a willingness to change that point of view.

In the late 15th century most learned men, and one persuadable Queen, were of the opinion that the world was flat.  Tom Friedman thinks so, even today, but for entirely different reasons.

Then, after a series of voyages by a variety of explorers, the conventional wisdom was altered to accept the fact that the Earth was not as flat as the learned had thought but somewhat roundish after all.

No one had fallen off the edge into the abyss but, instead, had come back with tales of new and wonderful lands to plunder and exciting and interesting people to subjugate and rape.

Yay!  "The Empire expands and we all get richer", thought the upper classes of the day.  "More gold, more silver, more slaves.  A win-lose for us all!"

But the point here is that people of absolute conviction were forced to change their minds by virtue of unassailable facts not in evidence when they originally formed their opinions.

That sort of change of mind is laudable.  It represents actual thought and a meaningful analysis of facts.  It is progress, plain and simple.

But, to paraphrase the late Sen. Barry Goldwater, "Change, for the sake of political expediency, is no change at all."

The late day conversions of our "leaders" don't signal a real change of opinion or of heart.  They simply herald a tardy sense of the prevailing wind.

These cowards are just investing in their political futures by adopting popular stands on the issues of the day.

They are far from leading but simply keeping their ears to the groundswell of grassroots emotion and transformation.

If marriage equality or gay rights or immigration or drug law reform miraculously go the other way tomorrow then you can count on our wonderful representatives to change their minds and yet again.

If the issue of Gay marriage went from one of increasing acceptance to absolute rejection then we would be treated to Hillary Clinton, in a beautifully produced TV ad, standing up for traditional marriage as defined by the union of one man and one woman.

Well, if anyone should know about the virtues of traditional marriage it should be Mrs. Clinton.

Hers is one and look at that example.

"Dearly Beloved..."

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Baloney and American Cheese

It is sickening to see the way that our lovely politicians pander.

The latest version comes in the form of the Ophelia of the operation (subtle allusion to Mario Cuomo's sobriquet, "Hamlet on the Hudson...")

Hillary Clinton now comes out for gay marriage.  She says that all Americans deserve to have the same rights.

Brava Mme. Secretary/Senator/First Lady/Failed Presidential Candidate...! 

(Can you tell that I am rethinking my avid support of her potential 2016 bid...?)

But the question has been posed by many as to whether it is now safe to "come out" for gay rights.
It wasn't that long ago when it was a political death sentence to espouse a liberal philosophy toward the homosexual issue. Many politicians lost their chance if there was even a hint that they, or a member of their family, was gay.

Now we have openly gay members of Congress and even leading Republicans are expressing approval of gay rights and marriage equality.

I think that all of these folks are full of baloney when it comes to these hot potato social issues.
One day they are adamantly against such and such and the next day (after the polls reveal a shift in public opinion...) they are for it.

Against the War in Iraq...for the War in Iraq.  Against Immigration Reform...for Immigration  Reform.  Against Legalizing Marijuana...for Legalizing Marijuana.  Dude!

Hillary Clinton, John McCain and Rob Portman are just interested in being on the right side of the issue, whatever it is.  They are chameleons that change their positions solely dependent upon the way a majority of American voters may feel at any given moment.

And I find it interesting that many of the "converts" modified their tune as a result of personal circumstances.

Nancy Reagan supports stem cell research only after President Reagan was diagnosed with Alzheimer's.

Vice President Cheney supports gay rights only after revealing that his daughter is a Lesbian.  Same with Senator Portman.

Where were these people when they had the chance to stand up, with the courage of conviction, and declare their enthusiastic support for all human rights, regardless of the right in question?  Hiding behind their pollsters, I imagine.

Reince Priebus (Can we just pause for minute and, once again, revel in the beauty of the man's name? What a gift...) announces that the GOP will spend millions over the next few years on outreach for the Republican Party.  They took such a pounding in November that they are casting about for some way to re-enfranchise the voters who took them at their action, not their word, in the first place.

Impressions are hard to change.  The Republicans have spent years marginalizing Latinos and Blacks and Gays and Women and now they want them back.

They say they are different and that they have changed or, at a minimum, their core message has been corrupted by the Left leaning "Lamestream" media conglomerate.

The media has just been reporting what they stand for.  For sure, MSNBC has a bias (as does FOX) but the fact that the Republican Party has been somewhat less inclusive, to put it generously, is a matter of record.  Michael Steele was appointed as the head of the Party in response to Obama's candidacy not because he, Steele, was the true representation of the GOP.

Quite the opposite.  The Party has come to the conclusion, however late, that the rest of the country sees them as the party of "Old, White men..."

Duh...ya think...?

So when politicians come out and pontificate about how they are in favor of thus and so, check their record.  Then check the latest poll on the topic.

If they have always been Pro-X then they should get your vote, if you agree.

If their record doesn't match their new "position" then beware.

They didn't have a mind changing epiphany.

They just read the morning paper.

Enjoy your coffee...

Monday, March 18, 2013

You Stink!

Perception is everything.  What we think is really all that matters.  No other opinion should have any weight in our daily lives.

That said, it is amazing how many things are subject to evaluation.  Virtually everything, from cars to food to people are vulnerable to the feelings of others.  But what do we think of how we look and what we do?  How do we come to personal conclusions?  What makes us acceptable to ourselves?

I was driving past McDonalds the other day and thinking about what they serve.  Their food may taste great but it has a reputation for not being particularly healthy.

Burgers and fries and sugary drinks are the staples and the world's leading fast food chain.  The celebrated Morgan Sprulock documentary "Super Size Me" exposed the weaknesses of dining at McDonalds.

McDonalds claims to serve nutritionally sound food including salad and chicken and juice.  But many suspect that the quality of their ingredients represent a minimum in every category.  I'm sure that if I ate what they suggest in the food groups that they now offer, I would be better off but I know very few people who go to McDonalds for salad.

We all go for the Quarter Pounders or the Big Macs or the new Angus burger.  We all love the fries. We all go for the Dollar Menu because we know that we can get our fix without taking out second mortgage.

But do the execs that run the company know how they are perceived in the marketplace?  Do they realize that they are seen as being at the low end in the categories of restaurants and employment.

Kids grow up hearing their parents say, "If you don't graduate you'll end up at McDonalds."

Walmart is approaching that same folk status but McDonalds holds the first prize for both burger sales and the job not to end up having.  "You want fries with that?" is a catch phrase when suggesting that someone's choices may be less than perfect.

But all of that begs the larger, sociological question.  Do any of us really know how we are perceived?  Do we look at ourselves in the mirror and say,  "Yeah, Man!  I have got it going on!"

Sure we do.  We don't see ourselves from the rear.  We don't see what others see.  We think our hair is perfect, the pants fit, the necktie is fashionable and the makeup makes us look 18.

Others see sagging bellies, drooping busts, bald spots, wrinkles and the old trying to look young.

We can only be truly happy if we accept ourselves for what we really are.  If we are fat so be it.  If we are old then that's what happened.  If we are not as attractive as the fashion magazines and Hollywood tell us we should be then that's the truth.

Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie may be attractive to many, and each other, but as the adage goes, "One man's treasure is another man's junk."

The folks that run McDonalds may know that the world makes fun of them but they are the ones who are laughing, proverbially, all the way to the bank.

As is Woody Allen, John Goodman, Bette Midler and Larry Bird.

Think about that the next time you get down on yourself for not living up to someone else's impossible standard.

And then go enjoy a Double Cheeseburger, large fries and a Coke.

MMMMMMMMM....they taste so good.

Don't they...

Friday, March 15, 2013

Blog of the Year!

"And the winner is...!"

We here at "Kevin Weyl" are humbled to announce that we are the recipient of the 2013 Bloggie, the international award for excellence in blog posting.

The award will be formally given at a white tie gala on April 1 at a resort in Connecticut.

We got wind of the announcement from one of our operatives very close to the balloting.  It came as a coded message during the weather report last night when the meteorologist said, and we quote,

"Tonight we expect lows of 20 degrees in some areas, especially along the Connecticut Shoreline."

20 votes are what is needed to win the award and since we are headquartered on the Connecticut Shoreline, we knew we had won!

It is an unbelievable honor to have been chosen from such impressive company, worldwide.

After all, we have a stunningly small amount of followers.  We have 31, when most successful blogs have readership in the hundreds of thousands.

"How can you win with such a paltry following", you might ask?

It is because, in post after post, we discuss the hot, and sometimes cold, topics of the day, with alacrity, aplomb, affectation and allure, not to mention alliteration and asymmentry.

Everything from politics to nostalgia is presented in a cogent and, occasionally apostrophized manner using metaphor and often, simple simile, to denote humour (sic) and poignansee (sic)

The Bloggie is awarded by a grand jury of, what are known as "Posting Peers", which is often confused with "Posting Piers", the unorthodox manner in which the CNN host rides.

The "Posting Peers" meet and talk about, at great length, the best posts of the year and vote, sometimes as many as one time, which was the case this year, for the most well written and grammatically correct post.

The 2013 Bloggie went to "Kevin Weyl" for the post "Spring Cleaning", written March 12, 2013.

We are honored and at a loss for descriptors.  We have enthusiasm but are loathe to exhibit the joy with which we greet this news for fear that we will be seen as arrogant and not noteworthily worthy.

So let us simply say "thank you" and let that be the end of it.

One ballot.  One winner.

One "Kevin Weyl."

Go forth and Prospero...

In nomini Patri, et fili et Bloggie sancti.


Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Leave it to Beaver

Remember Eddie Haskell?

If you're over 55 then of course you do.  For anyone who doesn't, he was one of Wally's sidekicks.  Wally was Theodore "Beaver" Cleaver's older brother on "Leave it to Beaver."

"Leave it to Beaver" was one of the great shows of the late fifties and early sixties.  Any self respecting little boy of that time wanted to be "The Beav."  He got into benign trouble but always got out of it with not too much effort.  His brother loved him but was aloof enough to leave him alone while being uber cool at the same time.  His father knew everything and his mother, while not being Jayne Mansfield (full disclosure...I have a crush on Mariska Hargitay of "Law and Order, SVU"), was pretty enough not to be embarrassing.

Beaver had nice friends like Larry and Whitey and his teacher, Miss (not Ms. thank you...) Landers was a fox.  At least to a ten year old...

And Wally's friends were ok too. Like Lumpy Rutherford, even though his father was a bit tedious.

But then there was Eddie Haskell.  He was the guy who came over, always unannounced at dinner time, to see Wally, shined Mrs. Cleaver on, shook Mr. Cleaver's hand, patted "Young Theodore" on then head and bounded up the stairs to visit Wally leaving the impression that he would win Eagle Scout, The Congressional Medal of Honor and the presidency all before dinner was over.

But cut to Wally's room and Mr. Hyde appeared.  A trash talking  (even though that wasn't a phrase back then...unless you were talking about the garbage in the can in the alley out back...) wiseacre with nothing nice to say about anybody, especially "Young Theodore..."

He always had some scam that he was running and inevitably conned Goodie Two Shoes Wally into coming along on the caper only to get caught and then to deny all culpability as Wally took the fall and, honorably, never implicated Eddie The Schmoozer.

Eddie was the guy you hated.  But you hated him for all the right reasons. 

He was a BS artist and a two faced phony.  He was a know-it-all who knew very little and he was the worst possible influence on the teenagers and pre-teens in his life.  He was the kid your folks warned you about and didn't want you to play with.

In short, he was an asshole of epic proportions. So much so that, today, among people of that generation, to be likened to Eddie Haskell is one step away from being likened to Ted Bundy except without the Volkswagen.

Interestingly, Ken Osmond, the actor who played Eddie, turned out, in real life, to be a decorated and well respected member of the much maligned L.A.P.D with a long career in law enforcement.  Go figure...

When I see and hear Congressman Paul Ryan pontificate about the budget and domestic budgetary policy I am reminded of Eddie Haskell.

Paulie just has that Eddie Haskell essence, smiling in your face while stabbing you in the back.

If he represents the future of the Republican Party then God help the G.O.P.

Funny (not really...) how the family name in "Leave it to Beaver" is Cleaver.


The same word that Ryan uses when talking about his solution to our budget problems.