Thursday, November 27, 2014

The Fanatics & The Faint-Hearted Need Not Apply

Thanksgiving 2014 has arrived in America.  And all is not happy on the home front.  Far from it in fact.  We were reminded again this week just how far we have yet to come in the critical area of race relations.  Although our criminal justice system is one that is dominated by ever-changing and interlocking shades of gray, Monday night demonstrated once again that far too many of us see only white or only black.  Having elevated color to a standing above "right" and "wrong", many on opposite sides of the debate reacted angrily, yet predictably, to the news out of middle America.   The more we change, the more it seems we stay the same. 

This past Saturday, the 22nd of November, was the fifty-first anniversary of the assassination of President John Fitzgerald Kennedy.  Had President Kennedy not been murdered on the streets of Dallas that afternoon, he would have given an address that evening at a dinner in Austin, Texas.  Presidential historian Michael Beschloss - a man whose brain would have to be considerably smaller than it is to fit inside of my head - posted to his Twitter account on Saturday the final couple of paragraphs from President Kennedy's never-delivered remarks.  

You may choose - as I did - to read them aloud (even if only to yourself) so that you experience them in the manner in which they were originally intended to be experienced.  And when you do, you may ask yourself, as I have on more than one occasion after reading them, whether what President Kennedy was prepared to say that night, fifty-one Novembers ago, does not in fact resonate across the canyons of time and have as much bearing on life now as it did upon life then...

Neither the fanatics nor the faint-hearted are needed.  And our duty as a Party is not to our Party alone but to the nation and, indeed, to all mankind.  Our duty is not merely the preservation of political power but the preservation of peace and freedom

So let us not be petty when our cause is so great.  Let us not quarrel among ourselves when our Nation's future is at stake.  

Let us stand together with renewed confidence in our cause - - united in our heritage of the past and in our hopes for the future - - and determined that this land we love shall lead all mankind into new frontiers of peace and abundance.

A worthwhile thought for any given Thursday.  Especially so on Thanksgiving.  

May you and yours enjoy a safe and happy Thanksgiving...

...and an equally safe and happy tomorrow.


Wednesday, November 26, 2014

They Shoot Horses Here, Don't They?

The powers that be who run Anheuser-Busch InBev, the brewing conglomerate that brings those of us who drink beer such middling to downright awful beer, including but not limited to Budweiser and Bud Light, have decided that the reason for their products' declining market share as well as its status as a sudsy pariah among beer drinkers 21 to 27 is its reliance upon its team of Clydesdales in its advertising.  

You did not misread the preceding paragraph.  According to an article that appeared on the Wall Street Journal's web site on Sunday, November 23, 2014, the brewer has decided that its non-existent market share among that age group of beer drinkers is due to its reliance on dated advertising.  Yep.  It turns out that it is all the fault of the Clydesdales.   

As someone decidedly older than your newly-targeted demographic who has not willingly consumed a Budweiser product since I was somewhere between age 21 and age 27, allow me to shed some light on what your problem actually is, Anheuser-Busch and in doing so, allow me to paraphrase the Ragin' Cajun James Carville, 


Once upon a time you might very well have been the "King of Beers".  No longer.  There are far too many excellent small and even craft-sized brewers of beer in these United States - hell in Fort Collins, Colorado alone (a city of approximately 150,000 people) there are more than one dozen - for people to waste their hard-earned money drinking bad-tasting, poor-quality beer.   I, for one, would much rather enjoy something brewed by the Boston Beer Company, the Brooklyn Brewery, Leinenkugel's, Dogfish or either of my two favorite Fort Collins breweries:  New Belgium or Odell than anything Budweiser brews. 

If it is any consolation to you, your brains are not getting beaten in by fancy imports.  Nope.  Brewing excellent, high-quality beer has become an American pastime from coast-to-coast.  Once upon a time, when you were the 800 pound gorilla on the block, you could sustain your market share irrespective of the caliber of swill you produced.  Those days are long gone.  The likelihood of them coming back is very, very slim.  

Blaming the Clydesdales for Anheuser-Busch's declining market share is a move straight out of the Don Lemon playbook.   The problem is most assuredly not those majestic animals or the use of them in some of the most memorable pieces of advertising that have been aired on American television in the 21st century, including but not limited to this one:

Until Anheuser-Busch confronts headlong the fact that what spelled disaster for them was not reliance upon, in their advertising, the horses pulling their beer wagons but - instead - the quality of the product being carried on those wagons, the battle they are losing is one that they shall continue to lose.  And they shall continue to lose it for the most American of all reasons...

...they deserve to.  


Tuesday, November 25, 2014

The Never-Ending Popularity Contest

As if the latter half of November did not offer so much to love in other ways, such as bare trees and mountains of leaves piled atop every conceivable surface, just for shits and giggles this year here in the State of Concrete Gardens we have added temperature fluctuations of thirty-plus degrees in spans of less than forty-eight hours.  Nothing says "Happy Thanksgiving Everyone!" quite so well as bringing the gift of bronchitis to Aunt Edna's table.  

The Missus and I took advantage of the oddly warm temperature on Sunday to put up our outdoor Christmas lights.  But for one brief test - once darkness fell - to see how they looked and what type of adjustments we needed to make - they were kept off and shall remain so until after Thanksgiving.  We cast an eyeball on the long-range forecast for Thanksgiving weekend and - at least from the vantage point of Sunday - it looked to be at best a mixed bag.  We decided that the better course of action was to hang them on a day when hypothermia was not an option than to wait until after Thanksgiving.  

We applied the same theory, in reverse, in January when we took them down to signal the end of the 2014 Christmas season.  As Margaret napped on New Year's Day and a large percentage of the planet attempted to recover from the first hangover of the new year, I worked outside on a fairly temperate day, took down the lights and put them away for the year.  More than a few of my neighbors looked at me as if I had punched Santa Claus in the mouth in the course of sleigh-jacking him.  When the "Polar Vortex" swept into New Jersey in mid-January and took up residency until late March, my actions seemed to make a lot more sense to more than just a handful of them - standing out there as they were dismantling Christmas displays in brutal weather conditions.  

As WPK, Sr. once told me when I was a boy, "Life is not a popularity contest.  And if it is, we are not winning."  Those words were true when he spoke them and remain so almost three and one half decades after his death.  Truth be told, much like my old man I gave up trying to win a long, long time ago.  

Life is a decidedly smoother ride when you have no soul.

Take my word for it.  After all, I am a lawyer...


Monday, November 24, 2014

Abbreviated and Appreciated

It is a Monday kind of, sort of masquerading as a Wednesday serving as it does as the first day of what shall be for a significant number of us a three-day work week.  If you are a person who has to work on Thursday because you are employed in a retail establishment, then I have great empathy for you.  If you are an individual whose decision to spend a portion of your Thanksgiving away from your family while requiring someone else to do likewise so they can ring up your purchase of "essentials", then I have great loathing for you.  

Kudos to my long-time friend Owen McCarthy and the other good folks who serve as the governing body in Manasquan, New Jersey for putting together a damn fine event on Saturday.  After three decades of Turkey Trots, the couple who organized the annual tradition opted out of doing it.  In a relatively short amount of time, a lot of people worked together to drop the "1st Annual Manasquan Turkey Run" into the Trot's "Saturday before Thanksgiving" place on the calendar.   On a beautiful late November Saturday morning on which to run, several hundred people participated in the 5-mile run.  By the time I made it into Leggett's post-race, it appeared as if at least as many people were there participating in the post-race celebration.  

A hell of a nice way to kick off the final week of November...

...and the three-day work week is not breaking my heart either. 


Sunday, November 23, 2014

The Worst Sign of the Zodiac

I am tired of cancer.  I am especially tired of cancer screwing with the lives of good people.  

Cancer has invaded the home of my oldest sister Evan and her husband Glenn.  

All of us who know and love them know that cancer has phucked with the wrong family.  Evan is a Kenny.  If a Kenny knew how to run from a fight, then maybe just maybe the six Kenny siblings would be able to all spend quality time in one location without running the risk of injuring one another.  All one needs to know about my brother-in-law is that he is Evan's soul mate.  The next backwards step either takes shall be their first one. 

One strong couple.  One tough fight.  Evan has Glenn's back...

...and all of the rest of us have Evan's.


Saturday, November 22, 2014

Just Us HobGobblers

For the past three decades, on the Saturday immediately preceding Thanksgiving, the Town of Manasquan has played host to its annual Five-Mile Turkey Trot.  Sadly, the Turkey Trot, much like all good things, has come to an end.  

Do not let the bedazzled chapeau fool you.
The Trot did not last forever. 

Thankfully, while the Trot may be dead, long live the Manasquan Turkey Run!  Sure the name is a bit off-putting but perhaps by this time next year its participants shall have grown accustomed to it or the race itself will have taken on a more appropriate sobriquet.  What is important is that with the demise of the Trot, a new event has sprung to life and, in taking the Trot's place on the calendar, has volunteered to run a mile or five in its history-laden shoes.  

Last time I checked, which admittedly was more than twenty-four hours ago, the weather in which to Trot/Run this morning in 'Squan seemed fairly pleasant for the second to last Saturday in November. The Trot had been one of my favorite rites of Autumn.  I shall do something that is admittedly more than slightly out of character for me and go on record as saying that I have a very good feeling about this new event.  

Irrespective of its name, its purpose remains the same:  A bit of exercise and a day spent in the company of some excellent friends.  Whenever that is on the menu, I shall order it every time.  


Friday, November 21, 2014

It Is Not All Sausages and Fingers

"Slow down you crazy child.
You're so ambitious for a juvenile.
But then if you're so smart,
tell me why are you still so afraid."
Billy Joel

I believe that sometimes the hardest thing for someone to do is to do nothing.  I do not mean "do nothing" in the sense of being lazy.  Rather, I speak of not giving in to the temptation to do "something, anything" when disorder begins to become the order of the day.  

It is hard for us humans, I reckon, to do nothing.  No less of a man than President John Fitzgerald Kennedy, for whom tomorrow marks the fifty-first anniversary of his murder on the streets of Dallas, Texas, implored his fellow Americans to "Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country." Americans are persons of action apparently.  Morbid obesity notwithstanding. 

One must be careful though to not confuse activity with action.  The two concepts, while similar in certain respects, are neither identical nor interchangeable.  More often than we tend to realize, I suspect, in response to an uptick in the level of stress around us we ramp up our own activity level. We do so because, presumably, doing something is better than doing nothing.  

Maybe, maybe not.  

I have spent the entirety of my life preaching to anyone who shall listen or who is not able to move quickly enough to get out of earshot with dispatch that panic is the one human emotion I shall never understand.  It is entirely and absolutely wasteful.  It blinds one from the task at hand, which is addressing and dealing with whatever it is that prompted depression of the panic button to begin with, and it causes one to waste energy.  Any and all energy devoted to the task of panicking is energy that is not available to attack the original and (guess what) still-existing problem.  Panic may constitute activity. It never, ever constitutes action.  

Thus, a fair percentage of the time the best course of action to take when it feels as if the world around your is beginning to spiral out of control is simply to step back, inhale deeply and take stock of what is going on.  Riding out the storm shall serve you well.  Far better in fact than trying to out-accelerate the then-accelerating chaos. 

Slow down, crazy children.  Slow the hell down...