Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Candles, Closing Times & City Lights

Today is the birthday of one of my favorite people.  For a number of years, Lisa Eves was my partner in crime at the Firm.  Technically speaking, she worked for me as my secretary/assistant.  Truth be told, she worked with me - not for me.  Although we have not worked together for quite some time, I am pleased that through the years we have remained good friends.  I say - only half-kiddingly - that had I not convinced my parents that a half-dozen children really was enough, Gracie would be the younger sister that I never had. 

I reckon that this shall be a bittersweet day for her.  Sweet in that she shall be surrounded by those she loves and who love her - including Joe and her mom, Helen.  Bitter in that today is the first birthday she shall celebrate without her dad.  Thomas Eves died in September.  One never outgrows completely being Daddy's little girl.  I am sorry for my friend that she has to experience his absence today.  She is resolute.  At day's end, smiles shall outnumber tears, which is always a good thing.  Happy Birthday Gracie.  Wish big....just not for the damn Orioles to win the AL East.  

Today also marks an era's end.  Maxwell's in Hoboken closes its doors tonight for the final time.  Throughout its tenure on the waterfront in Sinatra's hometown it has hosted a great amount and great variety of music.  Now, however, its song is over.  When the house lights come up tonight and the bartender bellows, "Last Call!" staying there, as opposed to going home, shall not be an option.

I have not been inside Maxwell's in a number of years.  I remember it, however, as if it was only yesterday.   The Missus and I went there on a Friday night in September a few years ago to see one of my favorites, James McMurtry.  We spent the entire show, which he played to a "packed house" of 75 or so people, less than ten feet from the stage.  He closed the night by playing one of Margaret's favorite songs, "Lights of Cheyenne".  At the end of the show as he was packing up his guitar and getting ready to head out for the next night's venue (somewhere in New England if memory serves) Margaret and I briefly spoke to him.  He thanked us for coming to the show.  We thanked him for playing "Lights of Cheyenne" and Margaret explained to him why that particular song held such a special place in the collective soul of our family.  He smiled, shook our hands again and wished us well. 

We did likewise....


Tuesday, July 30, 2013

The Magical Elixir of Soulshine and Moonlight

Mother Nature has practiced tough love all summer along the Jersey Shore.  It would have been a damn sight easier for those of here in the State of Concrete Gardens to prove that we are stronger than the storm (just as the Christies say we are) if the folks who are dependent upon good weather to attract those of us who do not reside in Monmouth County or Ocean County into their backyard to spend a bit of our hard-earned scratch had been given more than mere snippets of good weather.  From Memorial Day weekend forward through June and July, summer weekends have featured far more weather misses than hits. 

From one Mother to another though this past Saturday, Mom Nature extended more than a mere modicum of professional courtesy to Mom Kizis.  Margaret and I spent what was a thoroughly terrific, incredibly moving day in the presence of the Family Kizis.  The stated occasion was an en masse celebration of the several summer birthdays in their clan, which reach across generational lines.  The unspoken purpose of the get-together was to harness the collective's good vibes and to channel them all towards an exceptionally deserving, worthy recipient.  It really proved to be an extraordinary day.  Not for "one big thing" that happened.  But rather for all of the "little things" that did.  

Sunday evening the Missus and I - winding down our weekend - watched "Field of Dreams", which is one of my favorite films.   When Ray Kinsella finds Doc Graham - the one-time New York Giant formerly known as Archie "Moonlight" Graham, he asks him what it was like to have made the Major Leagues - only to bat but one time in one game.  In reply, Doc Graham tells him that while Kinsella might view Graham's admittedly abbreviated big league career as a tragedy, it was not.  It simply was what it was.  Then however Graham acknowledges that he did not immediately grasp the gravity of his situation as it was unfolding around him.  He says, "We just don't recognize life's most significant moments while they're happening. Back then I thought, "Well, there'll be other days." I didn't realize that that was the only day."

I am pleased - I suppose - to have lived long enough and to have experienced enough of what Life has to offer (both the good and the bad to be sure) and to have picked up enough common sense along the way to recognize a sigificant moment as it is unfolding around me.  I do not pretend to recognize each and every one of them with equal acuity.  I am pleased however that my ability to perceive is well-developed enough to recognize the significance of what I was privileged to be a part of on Saturday as it transpired.     

-The Allman Brothers

Monday, July 29, 2013

Requiem For A Heavyweight

The world loses good human beings every day.  Thursday was no exception.  On that particular day, Raymond P. DeMarco died.  He was seventy-four years old.
Over the first two decades I have spent practicing law in New Jersey, I have been in and out of a number of our municipal courts.  Here in the State of Concrete Gardens, it is in our municipal courts where a significant portion of our populace has its only interaction with our justice system as these are the courts where most traffic offenses (such as speeding, careless driving, etc.) are handled and where other minor non-motor vehicle violations are adjudicated.  
Among the courts in which I have represented clients (including far too often both of my kids and a number of their close friends - none of whom could drive worth a lick when they first got their driver's license) were those in which Raymond DeMarco was the judge.  Irrespective of the town, the offense or the number of people who also happened to be there on the afternoon or evening in question, Judge Ray never did anything but treat the client who I was appearing on behalf of and me as the attorney there on his or her behalf in a professional, courteous matter.  He was a credit to our profession - his and mine.  
More than anything he ever did for me professionally was a single act he performed for me on an entirely personal level.  Margaret and I were married in June, 1993.  Margaret - having been married once before and divorced - and me - being at the very least an agnostic - were not candidates for marriage in the local Catholic church.  Inasmuch as how important we thought that both Joanie K and Suzy B would think it was that we got married in  church, we invested a significant amount of time and a not insignificant amount of money at a Presbyterian church in Rocky Hill, a church at which the minister had told us we could get married.   Being a man of God, the right Reverend Rugby Auer waited until nine or ten days before our wedding date to tell us that he had changed his mind about our use of his church.   Truth be told, he did not even call us directly to tell us.  His secretary did.  She simply told Margaret that after reflecting upon the matter further, Rev. Auer had changed his mind.  Thus endeth the conversation.
Judge Ray's wife, Helen, was on the faculty at OLMV, which is where our kids attended grammar school.  I do not recall presently what grade Mrs. DeMarco taught but given that our pair was only in second and first grade at the time we wed I am fairly confident that neither of them had yet made her acquaintance as a teacher.  It mattered not.  She became aware of our predicament somehow and shared it with Judge Ray.  He sent word back to school through her that he would happily marry us.  All he needed to know was where and when. 
Margaret and I married as we had planned to - at 12:00 Noon on Saturday, June 19, 1993.  The Hon. Raymond P. DeMarco did the honors.  It was the first time either of us had ever met him.  Among his many attributes, he sure as hell knew how to make a first impression. 
Safe journey Judge Ray.  And thank you for all you ever did for me. Professionally and - more importantly - personally.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Everything Old is New Again

Seeing Alfonso Soriano in Pinstripes on Friday night brought a smile to my face.  Once upon a lifetime ago "Fonzie" was the young up-and-coming Yankees star.  He was Robinson Cano before the Yankees had Robinson Cano.  On the heels of a disastrous 2003 postseason, in which he struggled mightily (other than a sensational ALDS against the Twins in which he batted .368 and which he followed up with a .111 average in the 7-game ALCS victory over the Red Sox and a .227 average in the 6-game World Series loss to the Marlins), he was gone.  After the MLBPA objected to the Texas Rangers trading Alex Rodriguez to the Red Sox for Manny Ramirez (if memory serves correctly because A-Rod was willing to give up a significant amount of the $ then due and owing to him), the Yankees swooped in to play the role of the Rangers' trading partner.  Soriano headed to Texas.  A-Rod came to the Bronx.

In the decade since Soriano and A-Rod did their "two ships" impersonation, A-Rod and the Yankees have reached the World Series once and won.  The A-Rod-less Rangers have reached it twice and lost.  Soriano has made the postseason on only two occasions since leaving the Yankees.  Neither time resulted in a trip to the World Series.  As difficult as it may be to recall - especially if you are a fan of the Chicago Cubs - the Cubbies actually made the playoffs back-to-back in 2007 and 2008.  They lost in the NLDS both times.

When I saw Soriano step into the batter's box for the first time on Friday night, I was surprised to hear Michael Kay comment on the fact that he shall be 38 years old in January.  To my admittedly untrained eye, Soriano appears to have aged eleven minutes in ten years.  The Yankees did not win in his debut, which result had far more to the with the fact that C.C. Sabathia yet again pitched more like Kei Igawa in a fat suit than himself than it did with the fact that Soriano took an "0 for". 

My most vivid recollection of Soriano as a Yankee is one that for many people may be lost to the dual infirmities of time and circumstances.  Leading off in the top of the 8th inning of Game Seven of the 2001 World Series, Soriano gave the Yankees the lead - in what just might have been the best ever World Series game pitched by dual and dueling asshats (Curt Schilling for the D'Backs and Roger Clemens for the Yankees) - by hitting an 0-2 pitch off of Schilling for a home run.  A home run that could have, would have and (given all that New York City had endured less than sixty days earlier) should have won the Yankees the World Series.  It did not of course

Barring an utterly miraculous final sixty games or so, Soriano's Bronx Revival shall not culminate in a trip to the postseason.  Next year perhaps.  Regardless of the way in which this year plays out for him and for the Yankees it is nice to see him back in a place where I for one wish he had never left, waving that enormous, oversized bat and smiling that same crooked, almost-omnipresent smile. 


Saturday, July 27, 2013

The Summer of Bruce - Ten Years After

Searchin' through the dust, lookin' for a sign
If there's a light up ahead well brother I don't know
But I got this fever burnin' in my soul
So let's take the good times as they go
And I'll meet you further on up the road

-Bruce Springsteen

I use this space often - perhaps too often for your taste - to lament my relationship with time.  My inability to harness it.  My inability to control it.  My seemingly ceaseless struggle to make better use of it.  Perhaps I could get a better handle on that last one if I spent less time doing this and devoted more time to other, arguably more important pursuits.  Hmmm....

But I digress.

Ten years ago this summer was a summer that those of us in our little traveling cadre of Springsteen fans christened "The Summer of Bruce".  In 2003, on the U.S. Stadium leg of the tour in support of The Rising Mr. Springsteen and his Merry Men played a total of ten dates at Giants Stadium - including seven in July.  The seventh and final show was on this very date:  July 27.  Ten years ago, the 27th of July fell on a Sunday.  Our crew spent that day as we had spent the day before - tailgating for hours in the parking lots at Giants Stadium.  We simply enjoyed each other's company before passing through the gates to enjoy a couple or three hours of Springsteen.  It was a wonderful end to what was one hellaciously fine weekend. 

In a decade's worth of time, much has changed.  The E Street Band's composition has been significantly altered by the dual passings of The Phantom (Danny Federici) and The Big Man (Clarence Clemons).  Giants Stadium has been razed in favor of a horrible, entirely unnecessary behemoth of a facility across its former parking lots.  

Today however a sizable portion of those of us who spent the Summer of Bruce together shall again be in the same place.  The occasion?  A party in honor of and at the urging of the utterly irrepressible Mrs. Kizis - whose daughters affectionately call "Hazel" - who is fighting the good fight against a wholly undeserved piece of bad luck.  Given that the location of this get-together is Lynne's place and she is among the small number of people I know whose class list at the College of Springsteen Musical Knowledge is more advanced than my own I reasonably anticipate that some "Bruce Juice" shall be on the menu today as it was on this very day ten years ago. 

And I would wager that it shall go down just as smoothly now as it did then....


Friday, July 26, 2013

That Same Small Town In Each of Us....

Here in the State of Concrete Gardens we have been granted - the latter half of this week - a bit of a respite from July's oppressive presence.  I have not appreciated the change in the weather any more than I did on Wednesday night.  For the fourth consecutive year I participated in the Downtown Pizza 5K in Westfield.  For the first time in four years, the conditions in which I ran were good enough to entice me to gobble up a couple of slices of pizza post-race. 

This was the 12th edition of this event, which even with its sometimes really, really difficult weather conditions in which to run, has been an annual fixture on my summer race schedule since I first laced up my running shoes.  According to the local press pieces I read yesterday, this year's event had the largest number of participants in its history.  An estimated 2,700 runners toed the starting line.  I finished neither first nor last.  Rather, I finished on or about the lowest rung of the top half of my age group and my gender (and among the top 35% of the field overall) as per my usual.  Irrespective of the course, I always make par.   

Westfield, New Jersey is a terrific little town.  Having spent a considerable amount of time there when I was a much younger man, I look forward to my annual pilgrimage there for this event.  For an evening at least, one is no longer young feels again as if he is.  I cannot look at The Rialto without smiling and without thinking of high school nights spent there watching a movie, whether on a date or with friends.  And standing on the streets of Westfield I quickly conjure up in my mind's eye the faces of long-time friends who grew up there - including some of whom I have not seen in decades.  That, too, brings a smile to my face. 

A quick trip down memory lane costs nothing to take.  A genuine bargain....

....and free pizza too.


Thursday, July 25, 2013

A Vote For The Death Of New Math

"Be more concerned with your character than your reputation.
Your character is what you really are while your reputation
is merely what others think you are."

-John Wooden

Ryan Braun of the Milwaukee Brewers is a full-blown, self-confessed fraud.  He acknowledged as much on Monday when he cut a deal with the Lords of Discipline in MLB and accepted a suspension without pay for the remainder of the Brewers' 2013 season - 65 games - for his continued use and abuse of PEDs.  

Braun has been a cheat for at least the past three seasons.  MLB caught him red-handed in October 2011 (coincidentally as he was leading the Brewers past the Arizona Diamondbacks in the NLDS and putting the finishing touches on a MVP season) and suspended him for 50 games.  As he is entitled to do under the CBA, Braun appealed the suspension to an arbitrator.  His lawyers argued that the result was a "false positive" and laid the blame for the result on the man who collected his urine sample.  Apparently the sample collector Dino Laurenzi, Jr. stored the sample in a refrigerator from the time he collected it on a Saturday night until he sent it to the lab for testing on Monday morning.  To save his own ass, Braun (not directly of course but through his paid mouthpiece) accused Laurenzi of tampering with the sample. 

When Braun's suspension was overturned in early 2012, he could not resist the temptation to crow about his good fortune and to wear the suit that fits him so well:  the liar's attire.  His statement - following the arbitrator's reversal of his suspension - is a must-read in light of what happened on Monday (I highlighted the most ridiculous portions of it for your convenience):

I am very pleased and relieved by today's decision.  It is the first step in restoring my good name and reputation. We were able to get through this because I am innocent and the truth is on our side.

We provided complete cooperation throughout, despite the highly unusual circumstances.

I have been an open book, willing to share details from every aspect of my life as part of this investigation, because I have nothing to hide. I have passed over 25 drug tests in my career, including at least three in the past year.

I would like to thank my family and friends, my teammates, the Brewers organization led by Mark Attanasio, Doug Melvin, Gord Ash and Ron Roenicke, and other players around the league who have expressed their support and our great fans in Milwaukee and around the country who stuck by me and did not rush to judgment.

I'd also like to offer special thanks to Michael Weiner and the Players Association for believing in me since day one and to my attorneys.

I'd like to thank my agent Nez Balelo and Terry Prince of CAA Sports and Matthew Hiltzik of Hiltzik Strategies for all of their help and counsel through the process.

This is not just about one person, but about all current and future players, and thankfully, today the process worked.

Despite the challenges of this adversarial process, I do appreciate the professionalism demonstrated by the panel chair and the office of the commissioner.

As I said before, I've always loved and had so much respect for the game of baseball.  Everything I've done in my career has been with that respect and appreciation in mind.

I look forward to finally being able to speak to the fans and the media on Friday and then returning the focus to baseball and working with my Brewers teammates on defending our National League Central title.

On Monday, when that lying f*ck threw himself on the mercy of the baseball gods, he had the unmitigated gall to characterize all that he had done and said leading up to that moment as "a mistake".  A mistake?  A mistake to say publicly - and repeatedly - that you had not cheated when you knew at the moment the words left your mouth they were not true?  A mistake to shit upon an otherwise private person - Dino Laurenzi, Jr. - and to intimate that he was incompetent, corrupt or both in the way in which he "handled" the sample that led to your positive drug test  in late 2011?  A mistake to have referred to the restoration of your "good name" and "reputation" when you have earned neither?  A mistake to have referred to yourself as "innocent" when you are a despicable coward - and worse than that - a bully who used your influence and your fame to trample upon another human being in a pathetic attempt to save your own ass?

For those of you keeping score at home - none of the above are in fact mistakes.  All of the above - straight from the mouth of the fraud himself - are lies.  He lied when he proclaimed himself innocent and denied all wrongdoing.  He lied when he blamed his "false positive" test result on Dino Laurenzi, Jr., knowing full well that the result was positive not because of how the sample had been stored but because of its contents and knowing equally well that he, not Laurenzi, was wholly responsible for the latter. 

Braun did what we the people of these United States do here in the 21st Century when confronted with our own lies and/or misdeeds:  we offer a half-assed apology.  We do so because we are secure in the knowledge that somewhere along the road to Perdition we have adopted us some "new math" where "mistake" = "lie".  They have become interchangeable concepts.  It is of course complete and total bullshit.  Ryan Braun knows it.  You know it.  I know it.  But in our heart of hearts, far too many of us accept it.  Enough already. 

What Braun did last year in his scorched-earth attack on Dino Laurenzi, Jr. was not a mistake.  It was a conscious, deliberate and vicious assault on the character of the man.   Conspicuous by its absence from his "Woe is Me" statement Monday was any mention of Laurenzi or any apology to him for what Braun said about him and what his legal team did to him.  Perhaps Braun's agent is already at work on his second public "mea culpa" - this one discussing how the failure to apologize to Laurenzi was a "mistake".  Why not? 

If something works, why not stick with it.


Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Aloha Stella!

"Things turn out best for the people
Who make the best of the way things turn out."

- John Wooden

I have it on good authority that the Wizard of Westwood and my sister Kara never crossed paths at any time prior to the legendary coach's death slightly more than three-plus years ago.  Yet, in the seventeen words above, he described Kara so perfectly one might be forgiven for thinking that perhaps the two of them belonged to the same car pool or coffee klatch or some such thing. 

Today is Kara's birthday.  Happy Birthday Stel and Aloha!  Today is a milestone birthday.  This year's birthday is the big 5-0.  

I know not what her plan is for the day but I hope it is something fun and - entirely out of character for her - something at least a little bit selfish.  She has certainly earned it.  I reckon that as long as she spends at least a portion of it in the company of her "guys" - her husband Russ and their three sons R.J., Randy and Jordan - it will be a most happy day.  As it should be. 

Kara has always been a marvel to me.  She has the ability to search for the good in everyone and everything, which ability I have never possessed.  When the three of us were significantly younger than we are now - and were going to school together - Jill and I never ceased to be amazed at her willingness to fight her way through the darkness to reach the bright side of something or someone.  Her attitude was a revelation and was so far removed from either mine or Jill's that both of us used to tease her that she had to have been adopted or the milkman's kid or some such thing.  Not since the gang from Monty Python had anyone devoted so much time and effort to looking for the bright side of life.

And childhood ribbing aside, it is an attitude that has served her well.  A remarkable human being - my sister.  Has never done another a bad turn.  Has never borne a grudge against one who has done her one.  As good a soul as has ever inhabited our little 3rd rock from the Sun.  

Happy Birthday....

....wish big!


Tuesday, July 23, 2013


My apologies to both Alex Rodriguez and to any fellow Yankees fan.  It was not my intention - simply by mentioning the poor bastard's name in this space on Sunday - to jinx him or to subject the rest of us to two more months of watching David Adams, Jayson Nix and/or Eduardo Nunez play third base.  The pen is mightier than the quad.  Who knew? Rodriguez awakened this morning in Tampa - not in Texas - and his return to the Yankees, which was imminent as recently as Saturday morning, is now uncertain. 

Rodriguez's return may be a largely academic point.   If neither CC nor Andy pitches to the stat line on the back of their respective baseball cards during the final sixty days or so of the regular season, then Rodriguez will contrbute as much to the Yankees' success as adding more luxury seats in the Stadium's lower bowl would, which is to say not at all. 

This past Saturday marked the first anniversary of the Aurora, Colorado movie theatre mass shooting.  If only we the people of these United States could identify Aurora, Colorado as the last site of such carnage.  If only. 

On Friday morning, President Obama made his first public comments on the recently-concluded murder trial of George Zimmerman.  I care not what your politics are - whether you are a support of the President or not - if you are - as I am - a middle-aged, middle-class to upper middle-class white male then his point was well-taken:  there was a time in his own life when he was (or could have been) Trayvon Martin.  There never was - nor shall there ever be - a similar opportunity for me.  There is an old adage about the need to walk a mile in another man's shoes in order to fully appreciate and understand his experiences and his perspective.  In this particular instance, I cannot.  That being said I respect the President's right to say it - as well as the rights of others to express a similar view.  I must confess that I find the protests in various places - such as last week's in Newark, New Jersey - more directed towards grandstanding than effecting actual change.  Again, I respect one's right to express civil disobedience and in Newark - unlike in Los Angeles - the "disobedience" was certainly civil. 

Detroit, Michigan's bankruptcy filing last week might have struck you as curious - or even perhaps a bit humorous - as one contemplates how a major American city manages to go broke.  It is certainly not humorous, however, if you are a City of Detroit municipal employee whose pension and/or benefits are in jeopardy of not being paid.  On the CBS Evening News on Sunday night, a retired city chemist spoke with a reporter and told him that after having worked for the City for thirty-five years he had been collecting a monthly pension of $1750 since he retired in 2012.  The City's bankruptcy filing - if approved - would permit the City to stop paying that pension.  The retired employee told the reporter interviewing him that he/his wife are dependent upon his pension, which is $21,000 annually, to pay their household bills.  Judging by the neatly kept yet modest home in which the interview was conducted, I found his story very easy to believe. 

And very sad to hear. 


Monday, July 22, 2013

Up For Air

Yesterday was a nice change of pace day for the Missus and me.  As anyone who has moved can attest, it ends up being an all-consuming process.  Whether we realized as we were going through it I know not, but it ended up being just such a process for us.  It was as if everything from mid-May forward revolved around either moving or preparing to do so.
Friday afternoon was the closing.  Saturday morning we spent several efficient hours emptying the Pack-Rat storage unit in which we had packed up 57 Delaware and deposited its contents into their new locations at our new digs.  When the unit was empty - our move was officially completed. 
Saturday night we went to dinner to celebrate having made it through the process.  Actually, one does not need any particular reason to take a ride over to Raritan Boro to eat at Uncle Vinnie's Clam Bar.  The food alone is worth the trip. 
Sunday was a day of relative rest and relaxation.  I started the morning by going for a six-plus mile training run.  Thereafter the Missus and I just spent the remainder of the day doing "stuff".  It was nice - for the first time in a couple of months of Sundays - to have such a Sunday. 

Sunday, July 21, 2013

The Last Best Chance?

Unless something extraordinary happens to him today (and while I am not a fan of the man I am not rooting for any such occurrence I assure you) Alex "Lightning Rod" Rodriguez shall make his season debut with the boys from Steinbrenner Tech tomorrow night when the Yankees take their road show to the home of one of his former employers, the Texas Rangers.   A-Rod tends to get booed mercilessly by his former fans in the Lone Star State, which might make it a bit of a hostile environment in which to mark his return to the Bigs.  Then again, these days he gets booed mercilessly at Sunglass Hut so where he re-enters the Yankees' atmosphere is largely moot.
His arrival follows hot on the heels of Derek Jeter's return to the disabled list.  In case you missed it - and you are forgiven for blinking as it is something we all do - thus far this year Jeter's stat line includes exactly one game played.  Four at-bats.  One hit.  Admittedly it is a batting average Ike Davis of the Mets would sign up for right now but it is considerably less production than the Yankees hoped to receive from their shortstop.
At the beginning of the season, the Yankees were without Rodriguez, Jeter, Curtis Granderson and Mark Teixiera.  The hope was that they could hang around the edges of the playoff race until their "A" List players healed and returned to action.  The reality has been that while Jeter, Granderson and Teixeira did each return from the injury that had them shelved on Opening Day they played a total of 24 games between them prior to being lost again to injury - Teixeira for the rest of the season.  And the Yankees daily lineup has been populated by players unknown to most fans - not to mention the coaching staff. 
A-Rod may be well advised to spend his pre-game Monday night signing autographs for - and getting acquainted with - his new teammates.  Given the propensity of the team's aging stars to get re-injured almost immediately upon their return, it seems that is a safer, more prudent way for him to spend his time than taking batting practice or fielding ground balls. 
Here in the scorching heat of mid-July, October baseball seems far, far away.  Very far in fact.  Alex Rodriguez as the Yankees' last best chance? 
Who would've thunk it....

Saturday, July 20, 2013

The View Through The Rear-View Mirror

As of approximately 2:30 PM yesterday the Missus and I no longer owned our little corner slice of paradise at 57 Delaware Avenue.  Papers were signed.  Checks were furnished.  Keys, garage door openers and Margaret's magic book of contractor names and the work performed on our watch were all transferred from us to her new owner.  We shook hands.  We wished him well. 
I cannot foresee the circumstances under which I shall ever be in the same place as he is again, which is fine.  Ours was a commercial, professional relationship.  It was not a personal one.  We were parties to a transaction.  We were not friends at a dinner party.  That being said, I told him that I hope he has as much happiness and luck on his watch there as we did on ours.  And to paraphrase my favorite elephant Horton (Who did you think - Babar?  What a poser with the crown and all that attendant bullshit), I meant what I said and I said what I meant.
The deal was closed in spite of the fact that the attorney who ended up handling the closing on the buyer's behalf was not the man with whom my partner Louis Karp had dealt for the past forty-five days but was instead one of his partners.  I suppose there was a time in his career when this asshole might have been then all that.  Then again, he might simply have always been a man impressed with not only the manner in which his mirror reflected his image, but how much larger it made him appear.  Either way, he has reached the point in his career where he is cruising in the far right lane with his hazard lights illuminated. 
His comportment is not simply unpleasant, it is unprofessional.  One might have thought that in the company of not one  - but two - fellow members of the Bar he might have displayed a modicum of professional courtesy.  Nope.  In the ten minutes or so that all parties to the transaction and our respective counsel spent in the same room he managed to say not one - but two - insulting things to my wife.  The response to both affronts  - including from his own client - was swift.  And appropriate.  The apology?  We left the closing without bothering to wait for its arrival.  We had on good authority that it never would have made an appearance.
Happiness is a completed transaction.  And given that my career extends far beyond the geographical boundaries of the little 'burg that I involuntarily call home, I will likely never have to spend a minute in the company of this old douchebag again.  I kind of, sort of hope that I do.  I have a list of ass wipes whose names appear on my list of "People Whose Larynxes I Would Like to Collapse" and this old jagoff has earned a spot on it. 
I am even thinking of going through the list in reverse alphabetical order simply so that I can be certain to reach him before he dies.  An arrogant, unprofessional fuck.  I almost wish that I had any reason - as a lawyer - to dip my toe into the kiddie pool where he is swimming out the end of his career.  It would be a great pleasure - lawyer to lawyer - to kick his balls directly up through the roof of his mouth. 
For now, I shall derive satisfaction from the fact that he alone failed to comprehend what everyone else in that closing knew - some of us before he opened his mouth AND all of us once he did:  He cannot in this lifetime or the next one hold a candle to my wife.  Not today.  Not ever. 

Friday, July 19, 2013

As With All Good Things....

Another turning point, a fork stuck in the road
Time grabs you by the wrist, directs you where to go
So make the best of this test, and don't ask why
It's not a question, but a lesson learned in time....
A process slightly more than two months in the making reaches its conclusion today.  We moved Mother's Day weekend.  We put our home on the market a week or so later.  Today at or about 2:00 PM is the closing.  Papers shall be signed.  Keys shall be handed over (well - not by me for I have never had a key).  An era shall end.
Our home shall cease to be our home today.  Truth be told, I reckon it ceased to be our home the day we moved.  But a little piece of me has remained there.  Over the course of the past two months, I made regular trips there.  Hell, unbeknownst to the Missus I stopped by there on my way to the office this morning.  I just wanted to stand on MY back patio one final time.  And take one final look around MY backyard.  This afternoon, a new pronoun comes to town.
As Mick and Keith pointed out a lifetime ago, "Time waits for no one."  That is especially true when it is closing time.....
I am the last one out the door.  I will get the lights.....

So take the photographs, and still frames in your mind
Hang it on a shelf in good health and good time
Tattoos of memories and dead skin on trial
For what it's worth it was worth all the while....


Thursday, July 18, 2013

As The Moon Traces its Arc With No Regrets

Twenty-one years ago today - on what was (or at least felt as if it should have been) a historically hot day in Vermont I played a most exciting one-off gig.  I was the Best Man at the wedding of two of the best people I know:  Dave Joy and his bride Christine.  
Humility prevents me from recounting the historic heights to which my performance as Best Man soared.  A cynic might point out that I was so good at the job that no one has ever sought me out for an encore.  Not once.  Not ever.  Perhaps the sight of my name next to the words "Best Man" is simply too much for the world at large to bear. 
Cynics be damned.  I would point out that twenty-one years later the Joys have a house full of their namesake.  They have grown from a duo to a family.  
That was one hell of a toast.  If I do say so myself.
....and since no one else will, someone had to.  Right?
Happy Anniversary Dave and Christine!  I do the toasts.  I leave the music to another Jersey boy.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Staying Within the Navigational Buoys in a Sea of Assholes....

It is worth remembering - and I am as guilty of forgetting it as anyone and everyone else is - that while everyone else views us through their own eyes, the person we should strive the hardest to please and to not disappoint is the person whose face stares back at us in the mirror every morning.  

Life is hard business - irrespective of the color of your skin, the fatness of your wallet or the manner in which you spend your day-to-day.  A certain percentage of your time is to be spent in the company of good people.  People who you admire.  People who you trust.  People who you love. 

And if you are truly blessed, people who love you too. 

Inevitably a certain percentage of your time is to be spent in the company of assholes.  People who you do not admire.  People who you do not trust.  People who you most assuredly do not love.  People who you do not trust as far as you could hurl them.  And people whose aerodynamic properties you would very much like to test out.  Just for shits and giggles. 

You cannot - and should not - let the assholes get you down.  Negative energy is easy to generate.  It can be significantly harder to resist.  Do all you can, though, to do so.  Every day if necessary.  It takes work to be certain.  But the reward is worth the effort.   



Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Plumbless Depths

I know less about cars than any male of the species currently alive.  To be fair I know less about cars than most - if not all - of the females of the species too.  Actually, to be really, really fair I know less about cars than any human, either currently alive or alive at some time during the past century or so.  On Sunday night, I learned yet again a little something that I had previously not known about vehicles of the motorized persuasion.  And in absorbing this particular nugget of knowledge, the bottomless, plumbless depths of my ignorance acquired a bit more depth.

In the year or so that I have owned by present vehicle, which is a 2010 Volvo S40 that I purchased from a local Volvo dealer, I have never had to put a key into the vehicle's ignition to start it or into a door to open it.  Big whoop; right?  Well, as someone whose previous vehicle was affectionately dubbed "Skate" due to its utter lack of anything "fancy" aside from air conditioning and a CD player, this upgrade is fairly state-of-the-art.  For six years prior to buying my present car, I had piloted a vehicle that was decidedly VHS in a DVR world.  I was happy.  It was happy.  Yet I somewhat foolishly decided I wanted something more - as if I have an iota of sense about what constitutes "more".

Do not misunderstand.  I am quite fond of my present car.  I am most fond of the fact that when I depress the accelerator with "enthusiasm", the car does in fact accelerate.  And it does so in a manner that can fairly be described as enthusiastically.  It turns out that while I am quite fond of my car, I am wholly ignorant of the seemingly benign way in which I had been slowly killing it for the past several weeks.  Or I should say I had been until just about 6:45 PM on Sunday night.

I was parked behind Margaret on the driveway so the Missus and Gidg were going to use my car to go run an errand or some such thing.  Margaret came back into the house after taking the keys to report to me that my car was deader than dead.  Given that it runs like a tank - and had in fact run with no difficulties earlier in the day - I was quite surprised to learn of its demise.  I called AAA.  A young man, Bill, whose arrival had been promised within 45 minutes of my call arrived within 20.  Upon his arrival Bill diagnosed the problem with my car - which thankfully was only that it had a dead battery as opposed to a problem with the alternator or the starter (I do not fully grasp what either does although the latter has a name that at least suggests its purpose).  After running a series of tests on my battery, Bill replaced mine with a new one.  Happiness abounded. 

What I had failed to grasp - being a dolt - was that the sensor inside of my vehicle's keys, which obviates the need to unlock the vehicle's doors as long as the keys are on my person, is not powered by magic or some such other mystical force.  So when a certain someone had - on multiple occasions over the past several weeks - left his car keys inside of his vehicle for hours at a time while he and his wife moved things out of their soon-to-be former home that certain someone had unknowingly placed a constant, consistent drain upon his car's battery.  Being a true genius, I did it enough that I sucked the life right out of the damn thing. 

Kudos to the good folks from AAA and most of all to those from DeFalco's in Chatham and the young man, Bill, whose mission on a hot, steamy Sunday night was to tutor Captain Incompetent on the finer points of automotive logic and common sense.  How good a student I am remains to be seen but Bill was an excellent teacher.  For one to explain something car-related in a manner that I can understand is no small undertaking, I assure you.  Yet he pulled it off.  And did so quite seamlessly. 

Class dismissed.  Well, until the next time.


Monday, July 15, 2013

Built to Last

I'm proud of the house we built.
It's stronger than sticks, stones, and steel.
It's not a big place sittin' up high on some hill.
A lot of things will come and go but love never will.
Oh, I'm proud.
I'm proud of the house we built.
- Brooks & Dunn
I think we have finally reached the end of the process.  The process of getting all of our stuff - treasures, trash and otherwise - out of our soon to be former home.  The Missus and I spent our Sunday morning in the blast furnace that 'NTSG has been since July took up residency on the calendar gathering up the final last car loads of items and bringing them to our new digs.  One never realizes just how much stuff one has until one has to pack it and move it.  Then one realizes that one has more than he or she ever could reasonably anticipate using or needing.  In this lifetime or the next. 
I shall miss our old digs.  A lot of life was lived within those four walls.  It is not accurate to say that Suzanne and Rob were raised there.  They were not.  We moved there in the summer of 2000, shortly after Rob graduated from OLMV.  They spent their high school years there - and then Suz spent her college years, the year she took off from academic pursuits after college and before she started work on her Master's, her Master's years and the first year-plus after she achieved her Master's there too.  Rob last lived there close to ten years ago.  He came home from New York City only during the summer following his freshman year at John Jay.  "His room" existed far longer in theory than it ever did in actuality. 

Even though it is not the home in which our kids grew up it is a place in which we marked a number of milestone events in each of their lives.  Lives that have now led them several hundred miles away from the place of their birth.  Lives in which they are thriving. 

Nice thing about a strong foundation.  It permits expansion.  And growth.


Sunday, July 14, 2013

Mission Impressive

There are - I am sure - more inhospitable climates to run in than Jersey in July.  However at approximately eight thirty yesterday morning - as 2600 runners lined up facing south on Ocean Avenue in Belmar - in the hot soup that was the weather - I could readily have conjured up any number of them to put on my list of places  I would rather have been.  Yet I did what we all did.  When the gun went off, I ran. 
I covered the five-plus mile course (my Garmin GPS recorded the race distance as 5.04 miles) in 42:30.  I had hoped to run a bit faster - something closer to 40 minutes was my stated hope when I woke up yesterday morning - but I will take eight and one half minute miles back to back to back to back to back for a five mile race in the conditions in which we ran yesterday.  My friend Jerry Della Torre had an excellent run - covering the course in slightly less than 35 minutes.  Amazing stuff.
But the day belonged to a young man whose parents are good friends of Margaret's.  Travis Mahoney - 22 years young - blazed to the win in less than twenty-five minutes.  Five consecutive miles in extreme conditions and each one run in less than five minutes.  Thanks to his dad Joe telling us pre-race that he was in the field and shooting to win Margaret positioned herself at the finish line and captured Travis just as he reached the finish
and then again just after he crossed it
I spent about fifteen minutes trying to Photoshop myself into the finish line photos.  I simply could not figure it out.  Just as well.  Had Travis seen me right behind him in the picture, he might start inviting me to run with him. 
Neither my heart nor my knees could possibly pull that off.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

To Reach the Beach

It is almost utterly incomprehensible to me that we have arrived at July's mid-point already.  The summer that feels to me as if it has not actually started is in fact burning daylight fast. 

Today the Missus and I shall make our first sojourn to the Shore since Memorial Day weekend.  I am participating this morning in my favorite masochistic summertime activity:  the Belmar Five, which is a five-mile road race.  It shall take place this morning in conditions akin to those which have existed each of the past three summers in which I have participated in it:  heat and humidity.  It is Jersey in July after all.

I look forward to this event every summer because of the physical challenge that it is.  I also look forward to it because it gives Margaret and me a chance to spend a bit of time afterwards just relaxing with Gidg, Lynne and my unbelievably fleet-footed old high school comrade Jerry Della Torre.  But for the fact that we retire to Bar A post-race for some "rehydration" I would not see Jerry at all since he completes the five-mile course approximately eight to ten minutes faster than I.  I could close the gap on him if he would agree to carry me - even for just a mile or two.  To date, he has not warmed to that idea.  Go figure.

However your Saturday is to be spent I hope it is a good one.  A hope that I have for the Missus and me as well.


Friday, July 12, 2013

A Worshipper in the Cathedral of the Holy Cow

Here he comes, squeeze play, it's gonna be close,
here's the throw, there's the play at the plate,
holy cow, I think he's gonna make it!
- Phil Rizzuto
The Scooter's contribution to American pop music was on my mind quite a bit as I sat down to write today's installment of my daily contribution to American clutter.  Not only because the Yankees played yesterday afternoon and I caught the tail end of the post-game show on my way home from my depositions in Monmouth County - celebrating an 8-4 win over the Royals.  And not only because we had meatloaf for dinner. 
It was because yesterday - after two weeks or so of nonsensical douchebaggery on the part of the guy buying our home (most of it in my estimation either urged on by or manufactured wholly by his attorney), wasting a lot of his time and ours trying to nickel and dime us on various things, he finally cried "Uncle".  At some point yesterday morning his lawyer notified our lawyer (my law partner Louis Karp) that they were finally finished dicking around.   The light bulb finally went off in someone's head that we were finished negotiating - principally over issues generated by the asshat who performed the home inspection on his behalf - and he either acceded to our terms or moved on up the road and became someone else's pain in the ass.  Happiness is when the other guy folds.  I went to sleep last night very, very happy.
We are not yet finished.  We are awaiting the results of the appraisal, which our realtor thinks will go according to Hoyle.  I am a skeptic by nature so I shall believe it roughly seven or eight minutes after I see it.  Not a moment earlier.  But we are in fact closer to home than we have been at any time since this process began. 
Hence the baseball metaphor. 
Hence the Scooter.
Besides - who among us does not enjoy the occasional serving of meatloaf....

Thursday, July 11, 2013

King Crab & The Mid Summer Nightmare

I do not wish to be drummed out of the corps of fans of the Great American Pastime but I am a baseball fan who finds everything associated with the All-Star Game to be utterly tedious.  Worst of all is the Home Run Derby, which is such a fucking buzzkill it makes my hair hurt.  Whoever in the world of ESPN thinks allowing that unimaginative dolt Chris Berman to repeat the phrase "It's back, back, back!"  7,518 times during the course of the broadcast, which lasts close to 100 hours is a good idea needs to have a big-screen plasma TV forcibly inserted into an orifice of a viewer's choice.  It is almost enough to make one look forward to watching the game itself the following night.  Almost. 

This time next week baseball will be awakening from its Mid-Summer Slumber, which this year will be observed at the Mets' new(ish) ballpark - Citi Field.  As we move into the middle of July the Yankees are still hovering around contention for the AL East lead and one of the two Wild-Card spots.  Given that their roster features a number of players whose names were not only unfamiliar to me thirty days ago, they were to Joe Girardi and Mariano Rivera as well, their relative success this season has been quite extraordinary.  As painful as some of their games are to watch - as the erstwhile Bronx Bombers often spend a week at a time trying to string together wins while scoring at a robust one run per game clip (last night being the exception that proves the rule) - I am already looking forward to watching the resumption of their regular season against the Red Sox at the Fens far more than next Tuesday night's silliness in Flushing.

I am hopeful that whoever is in charge of such things - I presume that the squads will be managed by Bruce Bochy and Jim Leyland since their teams won their respective pennants last year - will select Matt Harvey of the Mets and Leyland's ace du jour Max Scherzer to start the game.  Harvey has been nothing short of phenomenal for New York's "other" baseball club this season, he is a huge New York Rangers fan and - as the ace of the Mets' staff - he is the star pitcher for the team that is hosting the game.  Scherzer is undefeated thus far this season.  He took a no-decision on Tuesday night but remains perfect at 13-0.  Scherzer just might be one of the easiest players in baseball for whom to root.  Go here and read the story of him, his brother Alex and the relationship between the two that has transcended everything - including death. 

In a season where the Lords of Baseball - having moved the Houston Astros to the AL from the NL - had to construct the artifice of interleague play EVERY EFFING DAY simply to ensure that every team can play every day they should give up the bullshit about "This Time It Counts".  For the past decade or so, the representative of the league that wins the All-Star Game is awarded home-field advantage in the World Series.  Seems fair right?  The 1998 Yankees won 114 games in the regular season.  Yet had the present rules been in effect in 1998, their right to home-field advantage in the World Series would have been wholly dependent upon the result of the All-Star Game and not upon the fact that their opponent in the Series that year, the San Diego Padres,  won sixteen fewer games.  Makes perfect sense....

....especially once the hair grows back over your lobotomy scar.


Wednesday, July 10, 2013

A Toast to Innocence Lost

I was in college when Oliver Stone's Platoon was released.  A long time ago.  Long enough that it was made at a time when Charlie Sheen was an actor instead of a punch line. 
The tag line used in the movie's advertising campaign was "The first casualty of war is innocence". 
A few days ago I ran across a piece on CNN's website.  A piece about the life and death of a young American war veteran named Daniel Somers.  Sgt. Somers served two tours in Iraq - in an intelligence unit.  He came home from Iraq battered emotionally by all he had seen and all he had endured.  A brave man.  An earnest man.  Neither his strength nor his stamina was strong enough to overcome his PTSD. 
Daniel Somers committed suicide on June 10, 2013.  His suicide note, which his parents shared with local media outlets in the Phoenix, Arizona area where they live, is among the most heartbreaking missives I have read in a long time.   Among the things Sgt. Somers wrote was, "Too trapped in a war to be at peace, too damaged to be at war."  No one should have to live that way.  Least of all one of the men or women who wears the uniform of this nation and places himself or herself in harm's way for the benefit of the rest of us.
As a nation, we need to do better by our veterans.  As an individual, I need to do better.  Significantly better.... 
....because innocence can be war's casualty even years after a soldier has last had to face enemy fire.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Birds In The Air

Yesterday was THE DAY.  Suzanne and Ryan's wedding was T Minus 60 Days away as of yesterday.  Holy smokes.  Sixty days.

Margaret spent Sunday night sitting in the kitchen with Gidg putting all the stuff that goes inside an envelope that contains a wedding invitation.  I am not trying to be deliberately obtuse.  I dd pay attention when Margaret told me what all of the inserts are.  I just find it impossible to keep track of them.

Yesterday was the day that Margaret mailed out the invitations.   And suddenly this process got a bit more real for me.  When we were in Houston in October I saw a photo of Suz wearing a wedding gown, which Margaret took while they were out shopping together.  That served as my initial wake up call.  Yesterday was the latest in the series.  This is indeed going to happen.  My little girl is getting married.

The birds are in the air.  And it is indeed a beautiful thing.


Monday, July 8, 2013

Sunday Night Load Lightening

I do not necessarily the notion that with age comes wisdom.  Some of the wisest people I know - including but not limited to my nephew Patrick who is 31 years young today - but also to Suzanne and Rob - are significantly younger than I am.  Speaking only for myself, with age has come....well, age.  And gray hair.  And ever-creakier and noisier joints.  Wisdom?  Not for me to say.
However as I have gotten older I have come to appreciate the importance of having something to do - other than the thing you do to earn your daily bread - to occupy your mind and to keep you sharp.  And more importantly - to bring you peace.  I write because it is an exercise that is both cathartic and therapeutic.  I run for essentially the same reasons.  Neither running nor writing is relaxing.  But both are soothing.  Cleansing if you will.  Both offer me the chance to clear my head.  The chance to get lost in something else altogether.
A couple of summers ago I started taking a more active interest in cooking.  Well, not cooking as much as grilling.  What started as something to take the burden off of Margaret - having to not only decide what to make for dinner but handling the preparation of it - has morphed into a third, full-fledged way for me to cleanse my mind.  I not only enjoy doing it - I need to do it.  My work week starts more smoothly on Monday morning if I have spent Sunday afternoon and evening in the pursuit of food preparation.  I have no delusions of grandeur.  While I am enthusiastic about it, I do not mistake enthusiasm for excellence.  Nor effort for aptitude.  Although in my defense, no one ever complains about what I cook.  And none of my charges has yet starved to death.  That counts for something I suppose.
Full bellies.  Clear mind.....
....We'll deal with that later.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

These Things We Do

Summer has arrived with some force here in the State of Concrete Gardens.  The weather has been fairly consistently brutal since July's arrival.  If history is any guide, it shall remain that way until mid-September's arrival.  Such is life.  Here in Jersey we anticipate that in the depths of winter it shall be bone-chillingly cold.  And in the heat of summer it shall be spine-meltingly hot.  To date this summer we have not been disappointed.  Heat has been in ample supply.  As has rain, which is why more often than not this past week it felt as if that each breath taken out of doors has been taken through a smelly sweat sock. 
Life goes on.  As does the need to perform necessary tasks.  Yesterday the Missus and I spent the day putting the finishing touches on almost everything we need to do at our soon-to-officially-be our form digs to be able to turn the keys and the garage door openers over to the new owner at closing.  To warm up for what promised to be a hot, stinky day (and which did not disappoint in that regard at all) I went for a five-plus mile run through town at sunrise.  It could not have been any more than eighty-five degrees.  If I had waited an hour or so - when the sun was offering heat in addition to light - it might have been decidedly uncomfortable. 
While it was not fun to spend Saturday sweating our asses off, we accomplished a great deal.  As anticipated, having a dumpster in our driveway encouraged divers of all shapes and sizes.  One gentlemen asked permission to climb into the junk, wade through it and pick out the things he wanted.  Two reasons demanded that we say "Yes".  One - the charge for the dumpster is based upon how much it weighs at pick up so everything "Juan the Junk Man" took from our dumpster and tossed into his own (OK it was an old, rusted Toyota pickup truck) lessens the load.  Second - there are scant things as much fun to watch as a person waist deep in a dumpster looking for treasure like Pirate Pete. 
At some point however those itching for the chance to dive became a distraction.  We had too much to do to take the time needed to ask each diver to stay out of the dumpster.  Instead, we mounted a Dumpster Crow.  And she worked like a charm. 
Quite a looker to boot too.  
For reasons not entirely clear to me - while removing years and years of stuff from our home and discarding items with impunity (well I did it with impunity while Margaret did it while battling pangs of guilt) - the cookie jar that once upon a lifetime ago adorned the kitchen counter at our home in Canal Road was rescued from the depths of our basement and given a space on the Pack-Rat.  It shall continue its life in our new digs.  It is as likely as not that there it shall end up where it ended up at 57 Delaware - in the basement.  If you were to put a gun to my head I would not be able to tell you when the last time was I ate a cookie out of it.  Hell, prior to seeing it in a stack of stuff in our garage on Friday night I did not realize we still had it.  Yet, I am happy that it has made the cut.  It just seemed right that it did.
It has been a long time since Canal Road.  Then again maybe not as long as it seems....

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Of Divers and Dumpsters

The Missus and I spent our Friday night packing and pitching.  Items deemed worthy to live to see the dawn of another day made it to the cozy confines of our Pack-Rat.  Items deemed less so made it to the less bucolic surroundings of the dumpster that we had dropped off in the driveway of our soon-to-be-former home earlier yesterday.  Life in the fast lane?  Perhaps.  Perhaps not.  Either way, I surely believe that I have lost my mind. 

As I was pitching "treasures" into the dumpster last evening, I found myself smiling a lot.  You know the old saw about ignorance and bliss; right?  Well, my ignorance was not the only factor that made our situation humorous.  What Margaret and I did last night took me back in time to my last year in Boulder.  Jay, John, Alex and I lived down on Canyon Boulevard at a Shangri-La know as 2228 Canyon.  But for the way in which the apartment building's layout lent itself to our being able to purloin our neighbor's cable feed and their electrical service, that rat-trap was not then - and is not now - featured at all in the Michelin Guide to Places to Live in Boulder, Colorado.  A dump owned and managed by a rather shady character whose full-time gig was as an attorney.  Who would have guessed it?  Whip out the box of Crayolas Timmy and color me stunned!  But then

In the late 1980's Boulder had a very happening leftover hippie/perpetual Dead Head population who were often mistaken - by me at least - for homeless people.  It did not help illuminate the line between them that many of the Granolas spent their time enthusiastically pursuing pasttimes other than work.  A favorite Friday afternoon excursion of theirs - at least for the ones who lived in our neighborhood - was "Dumpster Diving".

Irrespective of the weather, each and every Friday afternoon a small cadre of the neighborhood 'Nolas would descend upon - and ultimately into -the dumpsters in the alley behind out building and the neighboring shitholes.  The theory I reckon was that college kids typically kick off the weekend on Thursday nights.  Thus, on Friday afternoon the dumpsters were chock full of bottles and cans to be recycled and turned in for deposit - not to mention slightly damaged furniture to rescue and if the tea leaves were properly aligned the remnants of a leftover Abo's slice, a Taco Bell run  or a gyro from the little Greek joint down on the Pearl Street Mall.   As the Swallows returned to Capistrano so did the neighborhood 'Nolas return to the alley.

I do not know how my old college partner in crime spent his Friday night but I hope that if and when he reads this he will see how I spent mine - think about how we used to watch others spend theirs and have a good laugh or two. 

Even if just for old time's sake....


Friday, July 5, 2013

Moving Pictures....

All the world's indeed a stage,
And we are merely players,
Performers and portrayers,
Each another's audience
Outside the gilded cage....

The Missus and I spent our Independence Day trying to wrap up the process of vacating our former home.  I had no idea how much stuff we had acquired and gathered over the course of the past thirteen years - until it had to be sorted through, boxed up and/or thrown out.  Once we are finished with this project I intend to embrace minimalism as my life's mantra.  I have learned my lesson.  Or at least I hope I have.

An unintended benefit of taking our home apart one item at a time is that we have come across a number of long forgotten items.  Yesterday we actually came across an item I did not realize I possessed.  For the past almost three decades I have operated under the assumption that the high school yearbook I have had in a box of my "treasures" was my senior yearbook.  It turns out that it was actually a copy of the W-H 1983 yearbook.  1983 was the year that Jill graduated.  As luck would have it I apparently never possessed a copy of my senior yearbook.  Fear not.  I suspect that I will survive this trauma.  I anticipate coming back strong.  Very strong.  

Prior to consigning the yearbook to history's scrap heap I thumbed through it.  While I suspect that the 21st Century edition of the W-H yearbook is a high-tech affair, Jill's senior yearbook was replete with simply gorgeous black and white photographs.  Especially so in the final section of the book, which is where people purchased advertising space, including those advertisements designed to salute a specific member of the graduating class. 

A couple of them were simply stunning.   One of Jill's classmates was Greg Boff.  Their senior year he led the Boys' Basketball Team to the State Championship.  About ten years or so after they graduated, Greg died in an automobile accident.  This fall - at Fall Fair - he is being posthumously enshrined into the W-H Athletic Hall of Fame.  A well-deserved honor.   I am looking forward very much to seeing his two sisters, Stacy and Dana, as they accept it on Greg's behalf.  I have known few people in my life who handle such moments with the grace and aplomb of Stacy and Dana.  It should be a very moving evening.  

 Among the other terrific shots I stumbled across was one that accompanied a salute to the Class of '83 that was purchased by two recent alumni:  one who was a member of the Class of '81 and the other an '82 graduate.  I had forgotten just how inseparable John Penvenne and Dave Stout were when they roamed the halls and soccer fields of W-H together until I saw the photograph.  And it made me smile.  Twin sons of different mothers indeed.  In the photo, they are both looking off into the distance.  At what I know not.  I wonder if all these years later John, himself, remembers.   Dave Stout, too, died far too young - in late March of this year.   In this particular photo, however, he is forever young.  Forever seventeen.

Buried towards the back of the yearbook was an unexpected gem.  Apparently Kara and I bought an advertisement saluting Jill and her classmates.  And the photograph we used was one from her heyday at St. Paul's School in Princeton, which we referred to (with no trace of affection whatsoever) as "St. Paul's Prison Camp".  I suspect that had Jill's future foes on the field hockey and lacrosse fields seen the look in 4th grade Jill's eyes from her school picture, they would have stayed the hell out of her way.  Not that it would have helped. 

Someone much wiser than I am once observed that one picture is worth one thousand words.  There goes your proof.  Three times in fact. 


Thursday, July 4, 2013

Go Fourth....


In the event you awaken this morning in these United States dissatisfied - even to a degree - with your place in the Universe or with your lot in Life and feeling as if the World owes you something, then I invite you to consider this.  You awaken this morning in a free nation.  A nation governed by duly elected individuals.  I get it - Hammerhead - that you may have voted for "the other guy".  So what.  Armed men have not descended upon your home and carted you and/or your loved ones off to confinement somewhere for doing so; right?  Your personal liberties have not been unjustly circumscribed because you have been identified as a member of "the opposition; have they?  They have not.  They shall not. 
Life is not so idyllic everywhere.  Do not feel constrained to take my word for it.  Go to your local travel agent and book a summer sojourn to Egypt.  Just be certain to pack your track shoes for in Cairo these days the "Run for Your Life" light is in a permanent state of illumination these days. 
Happy 4th of July America.  Remember - today is not simply a day off from work.  It is a celebration of what it means  - and more significantly - what it takes to be an American.  Independence came at a price two hundred and thirty-seven years ago.  And it is a price we must be ready and willing to pay today.  And every day.