Monday, June 30, 2014

A Most Painful Anniversary

It is the exception that proves the rule.  The adjective most often associated with the word "Anniversary" is "Happy".  Life being what it is, however, we are reminded more often than we wish we were that happy is not an adjective that applies with unflinching uniformity.

On this very date one year ago, nineteen members of the Granite Mountain Hotshot Fire Crew, which is part of the Prescott, Arizona Fire Department, died in the line of duty.  The Hotshots were battling a 2,000 acre brush/wildfire known as the Yarnell Hill Fire when unspeakable tragedy struck.  The fire quite unexpectedly and unpredictably changed directions -and did so with such pace and with such ferocity that their positions were overrun.  They died where they had stood shoulder to shoulder doing all that they were capable of doing to protect the lives of their families, their friends, their neighbors and total strangers from the Yarnell Hill Fire's killing force.  

One who runs towards the Gates of Hell voluntarily, without hesitation and without succumbing to the fear that very well might await him or her is one made of sterner stuff than I could ever hope to be.  One who does such a thing is most assuredly a hero.  One who is does such a thing is also most assuredly a firefighter.  It is one of but a handful of professions (law enforcement officer and soldier leap immediately to mind) where "to serve and protect" is neither a punchline nor a cliche.  It is a mantra.  It is a code.  It is a way of life. 

Even in death. 

May the families of the 19 members of the Granite Mountain Hotshot Fire Crew find some appreciable amount of solace and comfort in the way in which the men whom they loved lived their lives and may they find - on this darkest of days - the strength to keep running towards whatever Life may throw at them.  For them too doing so has always been a mantra.  A code.  A way of life.  


Sunday, June 29, 2014

Recalculating the Lowest Common Denominator

So there he was on a water bed,
Readin' an airport novelette.
Listening to Andrew Lloyd Webber's "Requiem".
He said before it had really begun,
"I prefer the one about my Son.
I've been wading through all this unbelievable junk
And wondering if I should have just given the world
to the Monkeys.
- "God's Comic"
Elvis Costello 

A particularly disturbing bit of business occurred this past week here within the geographical boundaries of the State of Concrete Gardens.  A woman named Latia Harris viciously assaulted another woman, Catherine Ferreira, which assault allegedly was the result of some workplace gossip directed at Ms. Harris that Ms. Ferreira had either initiated or participated in a couple of weeks earlier.

Having simmered over this particular slight for the past couple of weeks, this past Tuesday afternoon Ms. Harris decided to act upon her rage.  As Ms. Ferreira and her two-year-old son walked through a park that connects the McDonald's in Salem City (where Ms. Harris worked and where apparently until recently where Ms. Ferreira also worked) with the apartment complex where Ms. Ferreira and her son live, Ms. Harris approached Ms. Ferreira from behind.  Once she caught up with her, she commenced to beating the hell out of her.  And no, I am not exaggerating.  Not even a little:

As disturbing as the actions of the thugette Ms. Harris are - and I invite you - Hell I double dog dare you to offer justification for what she is shown doing - it is the actions of those who witnessed this beatdown that remind me just why I prefer the company of dogs to that of humans.   

The video itself was shot via a cellphone or some such device by one of the several young adults and/or full-sized adults who witnessed the attack.  As the video follows the action, its creator captures more than one other budding Scorcese in the crowd with her or her cellphone at the ready.  No one is dialing 911 of course.  After all, why would someone witnessing a vicious assault in broad daylight use a phone they have at the ready to call for help...when that someone could use it to get a video recording of the assault to post on-line.  

One person at the scene came to Ms. Ferreira's defense while she was defenseless on the ground getting punched, kicked, slapped and for good measure spat upon by Ms. Harris.  Unfortunately that one person was her two-year-old son.  For his troubles, he himself was threatened with bodily harm by Ms. Harris.  Comforting to know what an equal opporunity piece of garbage she is.  Not one of the persons who bore witness to this assault either attempted to intervene - even if just to pull Ms. Harris away from Ms. Ferreira - or called 911 to get law enforcement personnel and medical assistance to the scene.  

It has been said that all that separates us human beings from the rest of the Animal Kingdom is our ability to think and our super-cool, wholly functional thumbs.  For all of you assholes who stood around on Tuesday night in that park in Salem City "Ooohing" and "Aaahing" as if you had ringside seats to a WWE Main Event while one woman brutalized another, may you never again leave the house without wearing a pair of hockey gloves.  You can ill afford a thumb injury.  

Even worse than the painfully obvious inability all of the moron collective who gathered in the park on Tuesday night to watch a spontaneous performance of "Fight Club" to think is their equally obvious inability to feel.  A condition precedent to being a member of the human race is being able to act like a human being.  The people who stood around on Tuesday night in that park in Salem County and whose first thought was "Holy Shit I have to capture this on video so I can post it on Facebook or Twitter or YouTube and see how many hits I get!" as opposed to "Holy Shit, I have to call 911!" demonstrated an abject failure to meet that critically important condition precedent. 

Their actions were despicable...  

...but it is the utterly predictable nature of them that is significantly more troubling. 


Saturday, June 28, 2014

An Asterisk

If you believe not in the alacrity with which Time moves, then you are likely not taken aback at all by the fact that we have arrived already at the final weekend of June.  Is it possible that my son and his beautiful bride have been married for three weeks already?  It is not only possible it is in fact what has transpired.  Forgive me, therefore, when you and I part company over the speed with which Time travels on its winged feet. 

In two days we shall have reached the halfway point of 2014.  Already?  I had not even finished making all of the resolutions that I intended to break this year and half of the fucker has already blown past me.  By this time next week, the 4th of July shall be in the rear-view mirror too.  It is as if every time I turn around someone has ratcheted up the RPM at which Time moves another hair or two.    

So on this - the final Saturday of June - unless you have developed the technology that actually enables you to harness time, waste not more one minute of it here.   I shall not.

Same as it ever was...


Friday, June 27, 2014

The Immeasurable Width Of The Spectrum

Apropos of nothing, it was simply terrific to see a genuinely good man get honored and rewarded by his peers the other evening.  My favorite New York Ranger, Dominic Moore, was the recipient of the 2014 Masterton Trophy at this year's NHL Awards Banquet on Tuesday.  The Masterton Trophy is awarded to the player who best exemplifies the qualities of "perserverance, sportsmanship and dedication to ice hockey."  Moore had returned to the NHL for the 2013-14 season after he sat out the 2012-13 campaign as he first cared for his terminally ill wife Katie and thereafter as he mourned her death. 

Dominic Moore is an impossibly easy human being for whom to root, which principle may be put to the test for this upcoming season.  Presently, Moore is a free agent and it is less than certain that he shall return to play for the Broadway Blueshirts.  While I hope like hell he does return to the Rangers, irrespective of where he calls home next season I for one shall continue to cheer for him and to support the good work he is doing through the Foundation he established in honor of Katie.  

Luis Suarez of the Uruguay National Soccer Team is about as far removed from Dom Moore in terms of the quality of his character in his chosen profession as Montevideo is from Manhattan.  In Uruguay's final Group Match in this year's World Cup, which Uruguay won 1-0 against Italy to qualify for the Knockout Round and to send the Italians home on the "All-Underachieving European Team" charter flight on which Spain and England joined them, Suarez bit an Italian player on the shoulder. 

Please note the lack of the word "allegedly" from the final sentence of the preceding paragraph.  Its omission is not inadvertent.  He not only bit the Italian player, he sat on the turf in the 18-yard box thereafter futzing around with his teeth as if he was some sort of dementia-stricken denture wearer.   Utterly f*cking ridiculous.  Especially so when one considers that his Pac-Man impersonation on Tuesday marked the third time since 2010 that Suarez had bitten an opposing player during game action.  His first two attacks garnered him a seven and a ten-game suspension respectively.

Kudos to FIFA for rewarding Suarez's petulance with a punishment that certainly fits the crime.  On Thursday, soccer's governing body suspended Suarez for nine games and four months, fined him $100,000 Swiss francs and declared him "unwelcome" at any soccer-related activities during the period of his suspension.  Uruguay immediately announced its intention to appeal FIFA's punishment while the rest of the international soccer community invited Uruguay and its star player to go fornicate without human companionship. 

One might surmise that Luis Suarez would benefit from some quality time spent in the company of Masterton Trophy-winning Dom Moore.  I would be inclined to agree subject to one caveat:  Moore whacks Suarez in the mouth as hard as he can with the Masterton Trophy.  That f*cker is big, heavy and sort of pointy on top.  It would most certainly do the job - provided that "the job" was the simultaneous removal of all of Suarez's teeth...

...then again society might be better served if Dom Moore allows someone such as Yours Truly to borrow his trophy for a couple of minutes in order to show it to Suarez.  Something tells me that Dom Moore is far too much of a gentleman to do with it what needs to be done.  Fortunately, I suffer from no such similar infirmity.

"That's right Luis.  Smile and say Sportsmanship!" 



Thursday, June 26, 2014

It All Goes By So Fast

An American treasure, Pete Hamill, turned seventy-nine on Tuesday.  In his simply gorgeous work, Downtown:  My Manhattan, which should be an immediate addition to your bookshelf if it is not already there, he observed that "Time itself is long, even if the time of Man is short."   That is true even if man himself is short.  Or if he earns his living playing short.  Shortstop that is.

In this - the final season of his Hall-of-Fame career manning the position once made famous by the Scooter and Bucky "F*cking" Dent - Derek Jeter today celebrates his fortieth birthday.  Jeter is forty.  Great, as if you, me and the rest of the world do not feel old enough already every day as we drag our asses out of bed and go off to work, we now have to welcome Jeter to Club Forty.  How the hell did that happen? 

At season's end, those of us who root, root, root for the Bronx's best apostles shall bid farewell to Jeter as a player.  His career in the rear-view mirror, he certainly appears to have a whole lot of life left to live thereafter.  Contrary to what is written on the back pages of the Daily News and the Post, at age forty Jeter is still a young man.  His time on the stage known as Yankee Stadium is drawing to a close but one hopes that his time left to spend on the much bigger stage of Life has many, many years to run. 

In Downtown:  My Manhattan Hamill wrote that, "Sentimentality is always about a lie.  Nostalgia is about real things gone.  Nobody truly mourns a lie."  A distinction worth remembering any day.

Including today.


Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Controlling The Nozzle's Spray

Everyone has a plan 'till
They get punched in the mouth.
- "Iron" Mike Tyson

I am my father's son.  Among other things that means that I have adapted fairly well to functioning day in and day out on amounts of sleep that others might find lacking.  Truth be told, I do not spend my day curing cancer, splitting atoms or trying to solve Rubik's Cube.  I practice law for a living.  Thus perhaps my best is good enough doing what I do with the amount of sleep I get by on but it would be deemed insufficient in another arena, such as operating heavy equipment or defusing explosive devices.  I know not.  I know only what I know.  I assure you that is not very goddamn much at all.

Monday I was reminded again that while I function perfectly well on four hours of sleep, I am a surly, cantankerous little f*ck when I do not sleep well.  For reasons that remain a mystery to me, Sunday night I simply could not fall asleep.  I tried.  Holy shit I tried.  I finally dozed off at or about 11:45 and thereafter woke up at 1:15, 2:15 and - finally when I surrendered and declared an end to the night's futility - at 3:15.  Sufficiently pissed off, I got up, showered and went to the office. 

The anger funk in which I shrouded myself enveloped me for the entirety of Monday.  I found myself almost begging for human interaction just so I could vent my self-pitying spleen on some unfortunate soul.  Thankfully - for me as much as for the rest of the world - I gave off enough of the "I am a big dog and the whole world is my fire hydrant" scent that I was left alone to stew in my own juices most of the day.  Good.  I f*cked up my own day by being a douche nozzle.  I am relieved to know that I managed to avoid inflicting lasting harm upon anyone else.   

After all, when conducting yourself like a grumpy old bastard the day you ruin should be your own...  

...and no one else's.  


Tuesday, June 24, 2014

One More Thing...

There are any number of things that occur in my day-to-day for which I have no rational explanation.  In a perfect world - or a reasonable facsimile thereof I suppose - all that I do day in and day out would be intimately connected to the furtherance of some wonderfully articulate life plan.  In the real world that I inhabit the divide between what is planned and what occurs is tangible.  And every so often, it feels utterly insurmountable.

Sunday evening I spent a bit of quality time in the backyard with my faithful canine companion Rosalita.  Rosie's fidelity is directly linked to the extent to which she appreciates the aromas emanating from the grill.  If her nose picks up a smell or two that it - and by extension she - finds agreeable then she attaches herself to me like a fur coat.  Otherwise, she finds a shady spot in which to lie down and await the completion of the cooking. 

Irrespective of her level of interest in what it is I am making, there is one thing that always generates a fervent response from her:  the sound of a jet airliner flying overhead.  Prop planes have little impact upon her but jet engines trigger a response in her that is palpable.  Upon first noticing the sound she cranes her head upward attempting to pick the plane out against the backdrop of the sky and if she is able to do so she runs across the yard mirroring its path until she reaches the edge of the property.

I cannot determine whether her doing what she does is an example of her mirroring my behavior or whether what I do when I hear a jet pass overhead is an example of me mirroring her behavior.  As soon as my ears detect the sound of a jet engine, my neck cranes upward towards the sky in an effort to locate the source of the sound.  My success rate is only marginally better than Rosie's.  It is a behavior in which I believe I never engaged - not even on one occasion - in the years prior to September 11, 2001.  And it is a behavior in which I have not been able to stop engaging in the almost thirteen years since that dreadful day.

Its origin - I presume - comes from that morning although it does not serve to replicate (for me) the events of that day.  I was inside the Bergen County Justice Center during all of the events of that morning, from the first Tower being struck to the second Tower falling.  I did not hear a jet do anything at all that morning.  Not one sound.  I know people who experienced real, personal loss on September 11, 2001, whether it was a family member, a close friend or a colleague whose life was taken from them that day.  I suffered no such real, personal loss.  I am therefore (pardon the pun) at a loss to explain not only the origin of this reflex but, candidly, its staying power.  

I simply do not understand it.

One more thing to add to that particular list I reckon.  One more thing...



Monday, June 23, 2014

The Half-Empty Bowl

Perhaps now the Silver Spoon Twins will finally get it.  Perhaps now - in the fifth season of their residency at the "new" Yankee Stadium - the Brothers Steinbrenner finally will open their eyes to what the rest of the world has known for these past four-plus seasons:  the ticket prices at the Stadium are far too high.  This is why far more often than not Yankee fans attend games at the Stadium dressed as empty seats - particuarly in the Stadium's lower bowl in and around home plate.  

Saturday and Sunday the Yankees had "special" days at the Stadium.  Prior to the game Saturday afternoon, the Yankees honored Constantino Martinez with a plaque in Monument Park.  Setting aside for a moment whether Tino Martinez - who was one of my favorite of Joe Torre's Yankees - is in fact "plaque-worthy" (to paraphrase Elaine Benes), one would have expected that tickets for that event would have sold out well in advance of Saturday.  

Similarly, yesterday was Old-Timers Day at the Stadium.  Candidly, I do not know whether any team other than the Yankees has an Old-Timers Day but I assure you that at the Stadium it is an incredible affair.  Legend after legend dons the Pinstripes to an ovation from the crowd with none more thunderous than that reserved for that great American philosopher Lawrence Peter Berra.  The Yankees actually turned yesterday into a double-barrel promotional day.  Not only was it Old-Timers Day but it was also the day on which the team honored Hall of Fame relief pitcher Goose Gossage with his own plaque in Monument Park. 

Parenthetically at the pace they are erecting plaques in Monument Park, look for Jeter's - and possibly Tanaka's - to be there before season's end.  

But I digress.

As of 8:00 am on Saturday morning - a/k/a four hours prior to the start time for the ceremony honoring Tino Martinez - there were still seats aplenty to be found on Ticketmaster for that afternoon's game.  Ditto for Old-Timers/Goose Gossage Day.  The prices ranged from approximately $85.00 to $515.00.  For $515.00, I expect not only a seat in the Stadium but also the chance to play a half-inning in the field at second base.  Before you scoff, roll video on just how productive Brian Roberts has been manning that post thus far this season.  Show of hands of everyone who is glad we have him at second base rather than Robbie Cano.  Other than Brian's mom, anyone else?  Me neither. 

Note to Hal and Hank:  Come back to us.  With eighty-one home dates a season, perhaps it would make better sense to lower the price of admission to the Stadium in the hope of attracting an additional customer or an additional several thousand customers to it on a game in, game out basis.  I grasp the fact that you two have spent a lot of the money you made the old-fashioned way - when Papa George died you fell into it - by hiring players to be Yankees and that the money to pay those salaries has to come from someplace.  But just how many overpriced beers does an empty seat purchase at each game?  How many Yankee Franks or ice cream sundaes or cotton candy does each empty seat buy?  Are you able to peddle a lot of that Steiner collectible crap to those patrons who are not in attendance?  

I do appreciate the YES Network though boys and I thank you very much for it.  Its coverage of the games is so good that when I watch on TV I feel as if I am in the ballpark myself.  And I am...

...I am the empty seat in the lower bowl three rows back just to the first base dugout side of home plate.  Tune in Friday night when the Sox are in town.  I will wave to you.  


Sunday, June 22, 2014

Does This Bus Stop At Arena Amazonia?

If you are like me then you are looking forward to today's second World Cup game for our American National Team.  Our squad has had so much time off between its first and second games that one wonders whether the World Cup organizers set up our Group's schedule with an eye towards establishing at least Brasilian residency - if not citizenship - for the nations comprising Group G.  Come to think of it, once upon a lifetime ago there was a book (and a film that flowed from it) that touched upon - at least in part - the interrelationship between Germany and Brazil. 

In this day and age, "The Boys From Brazil", thankfully, has an altogether different connotation.  

Whether the "score first and park the bus" strategy that we employed successfully - if not artistically - in winning the first of our three Group matches against Ghana can be replicated today against a Portugal side still smarting after getting bitchslapped by Germany 4-0 in its first game I know not.  Methinks that Ronaldo and his colleagues will put forth a better effort today against the United States than they did against the Germans.  It would be hard to put forth a lesser effort. 

Parenthetically this has been an utterly brutal World Cup thus far for the Iberian Peninsula.  Not only did the Portugese get waxed in their first game but the defending champions from Spain were eliminated from the tournament before they even played their final Group match, courtesy of back-to-back pastings at the boots of the Netherlands and Chile respectively.  Here in the 21st Century the Line of Demarcation has taken on an entirely new meaning.  On this side of it is where all the ass-kickings to which Spain shall be subjected are to take place.  The other side of the line is reserved for those ass-kickings to be visited upon the Portugese.  

If the United States squad can manage to snatch victory - or even a tie - from defeat's jaws today, then we the people of these United States will be fairly well set up in terms of having a "home team" for which to root in the knockout round.  While a loss today would not be fatal to the American side, it would likely put them in the position of needing to defeat Germany in their third and final Group game to ensure their continuing participation in the tournament.  Impossible?  No.  An order of the tallest magnitude?  Indeed. 

Here is to hoping that the American team can render such contingency plans moot by earning at least one point against Portugal.  As long as we accrue points, then we keep hope of advancing into the Round of 16 alive.

And right here, right now the dope is that there is still hope...


Saturday, June 21, 2014

Where Our Sins Are All Forgiven

"We bury our sins here, Dave.
We wash them clean."
-Jimmy Markum
(Mystic River)

To celebrate the arrival of Summer here in the State of Concrete Gardens, on this very night (OK, we are likely heading south not later than mid-afternoon) my baby and me are indeed gonna ride to the sea.  Hand-washing shall undoubtedly be included but merely because we are both sticklers about hygiene.  I long ago abandoned any hope that enough water can be channeled my direction to ever wash my accrued sins off of my hands. 

As of right now, I know not what this afternoon and evening's weather shall bring to the Shore.  It matters little - if at all (although it might impact upon my Frog Bog time).  Margaret and I shall this evening do what I find too damn difficult to do any year in which our anniversary falls during the work week, which is celebrate it.  Sorry.  2:45 AM simply comes too f*cking early. 

However your day is to be spent I hope it is at least in the company of one other who you love very much and who feels similarly about you.  And I hope at least a portion of it is spent outdoors.  Today is the Summer Solstice after all.  Squeeze every moment you can out of our hemisphere's longest day of the year.  From this point forward - even on the hot, hazy days of July and August - we begin the slow, inexorable march towards Winter.

That is a discussion for another day.  Today - officially - summer is here.  And I do not have to tell you what that means do I?

Until tomorrow then...

"Racing in the Street" - Houston, Texas 1978
(in honor of the return to New Jersey of the daughter
f/k/a "The Texas Tornado")


Friday, June 20, 2014

Fare Thee Well...

Ah Spring, our late-arriving, fickle friend.  Just as we had gotten acquainted, it is time for you to depart.  Tomorrow - at 6:51 EDT to be precise - summer arrives in the Northern Hemisphere.  'Tis Summer Solstice time. 

Summer's arrival in the State of Concrete Gardens heralds the arrival of two other intertwined things.  First, weather that lands with at least one toe over the line that separates habitable space from blast furnace.  If you like heat and humidity, then I assure you that you have come to the right place.  We shall have a surplus of both for most of - if not all of - the next ninety days.  Second, people who bitch and moan on a recurring basis - and in some extreme cases - about the amount of heat and humidity with which they are being forced to deal just trying to make it through their day-to-day. 

If you are a newbie to these parts and have never lived through the pure, unadulterated joy that is a Jersey summer, then allow me to share with you a veteran's trick for identifying those people.  They are the same people who relentlessly complained all f*cking winter about how miserably cold it was.  This time of the year, all they do is flip the 3 x 5 card over to the other side so that they can recite their "List of Grievances" regarding all things summer-related.

Fellow Jerseyans, how about we accept these things as true and simply move on without boring each other to death about them:  It shall be hot more often than not.  It shall be humid pretty much all of the time.  And as long as you are fortunate enough to live, work and/or drive in a space(s) with available air conditioning, while you may be uncomfortable you shall survive.  Keep a good thought this time of year - and an eye out as well - for little ones, for the elderly, for your pets and for those you know and love who earn their living working outdoors.  Also, those among our population who do not enjoy the luxury of indoor living.  Summer is not a fun time of year to be living on the street.  

Simply put:  Shut the F*ck Up and enjoy the summer.  And if you simply cannot, then think about it this way.  As of tomorrow you are only six short months away from the Winter Solstice, which annually serves as a harbinger of really cold, shitty weather to come unabated and uninterrupted for the sixty or ninety days that follow it. 

Dress appropriately...



Thursday, June 19, 2014

Savior Of A Stubborn Man

Well I'm out here on my own
Followin' a star
Asking on my knees, for some direction, please,
And, God, you know that's hard...

On what may very well be too many times to count - and as a general rule I tend to leave things all things arithmetic to those better equipped to handle them than I - I have noted in this space that Margaret is the great miracle of my life.  I mean it.  I would not say it were it not so. 

June 19, 1993

For those who pop by this space and read what it is written here, you know that I do not do self-effacing well.  My ego is comparable to the Jupiter-sized carrying case affixed to my shoulders.  Always has been.  And if you are familiar at all with the adage addressing the relationship between dogs of a certain age and tricks that have a certain amount of novelty associated with them, then you have all the information you shall ever need to possess to document the likelihood of a change ever coming.  Here's a hint:  If you have any breath, then do not hold it.

It is not an exaggeration - not even a teeny, tiny one - when I note that Margaret's arrival into my life saved it.  It most assuredly did.  Whether I would have ended up walking on into the ocean until I was entirely underwater or some such thing I know not.  I suspect however that I might have gotten wet up to my knees at least.  I do know however that it merely took her entry onto the scene to point out to me - in rather stark, unflattering tones as I recall - the difference between living a life and merely being alive.  It is from her that every good thing that has occurred in my adult life has flowed.  

But for Margaret, there would never have been Suzanne.  But for Margaret, there would never have been Rob.  But for Suzanne, there would never have been Ryan.  But for Rob, there would never have been Jess.  In other words, none of the most important components of my day-to-day would presently exist without Margaret.  She is the font from which all of these great things emanate.  

Without her in it as my partner, my journey through this life most assuredly would have been a solo flight.  I am, by nature, most comfortable keeping the rest of the world at arm's length.  It is not an accident that two of the activities that fill a significant portion of my non-work hours - writing and running - are both solo endeavors.  Margaret is the person tasked with the almost-impossible responsibility of ensuring that day in and day out I play well enough with others to make sure that we all make it out alive.    

My wife has been the preeminent part of my day-to-day for so long that while I am not entirely certain what my life would look like without her in it, I do know it would be a decidedly dark place.  Certainly much darker than it is presently.  And, candidly, my level of enthusiasm for continuing to participate in it would be reduced substantially.      

It was twenty-one years ago on this very day that she said, "I do".  Every morning, just before I prepare to head off to work, while she is still asleep I whisper, "Remember no givebacks" in her ear.  Better safe than sorry.  Thus far, she has honored my request.  

And I am most assuredly the luckiest of all men because she has done so.

June 6, 2014

...Cause I'm such a stubborn man
Lord, I'm stubborn as a mule
Even though I struggle some,
I believe a change will come
And I hear you love a fool.
-John Hiatt


Wednesday, June 18, 2014

A Final At-Bat

I was in Washington D.C. on Monday morning when my phone buzzed with a news alert.  And what a sad bit of business it turned out to be.  Longtime San Diego Padres outfielder Tony Gwynn, a first-ballot Hall of Fame inductee with more than 97% of the votes, had died.  Gwynn was only fifty-four years young. 

Gwynn had spent the past decade or so as the baseball coach at his alma mater, San Diego State University.  He stepped away from the Aztecs dugout in March - taking a medical leave of absence.  Sadly, he never made it back.  According to the several reports I read it was cancer that killed Tony Gwynn. 

While I have never been a fan of the San Diego Padres (not even during that brief period of time when former Yankees Goose Gossage and Craig Nettles played for them), I always was an enormous fan of Tony Gwynn.  He was not simply one hell of a player, which he was.  He was, by all accounts, a better man than he was ballplayer, which given the prodigious nature of his ballplaying talents was saying more than just a little something. 

Gwynn was to San Diego what Cal Ripken was to Baltimore, what Kirby Puckett was to Minnesota and what Derek Jeter shall be upon his retirement at season's end to New York:  the star who never left.  The Padres never achieved any sustained level of success during Gwynn's time in San Diego.  Yet he never did anything other than everything he could do to make them as good as he and they could be.  Every at bat of every game of every season.  He loved San Diego.  San Diego loved him right back. 

If you are prone to believing in such things, then I suppose you can readily conjure up the image in your mind's eye of Gwynn already immersed in a spirited discussion with Ted Williams about hitting, whose era it was tougher to play in and why.  On the other hand, if you are like me, then you are simply a bit sadder today than you might have been forty-eight hours ago as you pause briefly to mourn the passing of a man whose passion and approach for the game in which he earned his living inured to the benefit of all of us who love it. 


Tuesday, June 17, 2014

We Now Resume Our Regularly Scheduled Programming

I spent most of last week doing something I enjoy doing very much:  trying a case.  The result, while not unexpected, was adverse.  The experience, however, was a good one.  It is always a pleasure to spend time in the company of an attorney who is not only a skilled advocate but is a true gentleman.  Howard Wiener fits the bill on both counts.  I hate losing more than anything else in the world.  But if I have to, then I hope it always will be to someone like Howard.  Not too often mind you.  That would be damn bad for business.  Very, very bad.

Conversely I spent yesterday doing something for work that I hate very much:  I had to travel out of state.  The entire day was spent in Washington, D.C. at a deposition.  It had to be done.  The demands of the case dictated it.  Yet, it was a really shitty way to start the week. 

Truth be told, Yours truly is a creature of habit.  I loathe the things that disrupt the rhythm of my day-to-day.  Excursions to Washington, D.C. for work on 90+ degree days in our Nation's capital certainly qualify. 

It is not every week that I look forward to the Day after Monday more than I do Monday.  This is one such week. 


Monday, June 16, 2014

The Continuation of the Quest

It was the wee small hours of the morning - in our time zone at least - on Saturday June 14 when the NHL season came to an end.  This season ended in a manner analogous to most seasons for those of us who root for the New York Rangers, which is to say it ended without the Rangers winning the Stanley Cup.  However, this season - while analogous to many seasons past - was far from identical to them for this Rangers team, long on grit and full of heart, did something that no Rangers team had done since 1994.  They played their way all the way to the Stanley Cup Finals. 

There are those among my Rangers-rooting brethren who shall lay the blame for their defeat in five games at the sticks and skates of the Los Angeles Kings squarely at the feet of the officials.  Respectfully, they would be wrong.  The Rangers lost to a superior hockey team.  Nothing more.  Nothing less.  In three of the five games, including two of the three games that were played in Los Angeles, the Rangers carried a lead into the third period, which lead they relinquished and which relinquishment resulted in overtime.  A team cannot win a best-of-seven playoff series - irrespective of its heart and its determination - if it cannot protect third-period leads.  The Rangers could not and, consequently, the Rangers did not.  Win that is.

At first glance, it would appear that a five-game series is at the very least suggestive of a series that was one-sided and non-competitive.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  Games One, Two, Four and Five were all one-goal affairs.  Of those four, three of them (Games One, Two and Five) all went to overtime.  And of the three that went into an overtime period, two of them (Game Two and the last game - Game Five) went into double overtime.  The two teams played enough "bonus hockey" that in five games they played the equivalent of six full games and two-thirds of a seventh. 

So, yet another Rangers season has drawn to a close.  And it has done so without Lord Stanley's wine goblet taking up residency at the corner of 33rd Street and 7th Avenue in Manhattan.  What does that mean?  Nothing other than when the puck drops on the 2014-15 regular season in early October, the Rangers will resume their quest to capture the franchise's third Stanley Cup in the past seventy-five years.  And those of us who root like hell for them will be along for the ride, knowing that it is more likely than not that they shall fall short of their quest and in doing so shall break our hearts at least just a little bit along the way, but nevertheless hoping against hope that this year will be THE YEAR.   Logical?  Of course not.  But the heart wants what the heart wants.

And in the interim, we will continue to not only accept a year such as this one but to embrace it.  For when you root, root, root for the Broadway Blueshirts there simply is no other way.


Sunday, June 15, 2014

Lathered Up

One of the greatest honors of my life - right alongside being able to identify myself as Margaret's husband - is being able to identify myself as a father to two extraordinary human beings.  Suzanne and Rob are both fortunate in that neither is afflicted by my DNA.  After all, just how many jumbo-size headed, epileptic misanthropes does any one family need?  I would like to think though that over the course of the past quarter century or so - since our little quartet took our first nascent steps towards familyhood - some benefit has been visited upon them by the environment in which they were raised.  On at least one occasion or perhaps two. 

Fatherhood is a job that I know that I, for one, have always had more enthusiasm than ability.  It is a job though in which I think enthusiasm makes up for a number of shortcomings.  My career as an attorney was just starting to really percolate when Suzanne and Rob were in the latter stages of grammar school and in high school.  There were a lot of "things" therefore to which I bore no witness.  Yet some of my happiest memories of their childhoods are the seasons I spent on the bench during either basketball season or softball season helping coach whatever team on which one of them was a member.  The fact that each of them has grown into a fully functional, exceptional adult human is to the credit of two individuals:  themselves and their mother.  Somebody had to drive the car and in the words of the great Dustin Hoffman, "I'm an excellent driver."

For my brothers, my father-in-law Joe, my brothers-in-law, Rick Aldrich, Joe Lipman and all of the other dads out there doing what it is we all do today and every day I say simply this:  Keep up the good work.  Irrespective of their age, your children shall continue to reflect the best of you in their day-to-day.  You taught them well.  Remember too that much like a story, the lessons never end.  Neither those you teach them nor those they teach you. 

Splash some cold water on your face and towel off.  Winning the day today is great but it is what it is, which is its own reward.  Tomorrow is another day.  Yet another opportunity to break out the shaving mug and lather up.  

Happy Father's Day...


Saturday, June 14, 2014

Old Glory

Two hundred and thirty seven years ago - on this very day - the Second Continental Congress formally adopted the flag of the United States.  For those keeping score at home, today is also the two hundred and thirty ninth birthday of the United States Army, which came into being on this date in 1775 as the "American Continental Army". 

Symbols are powerful things.  The flag of the United States is a powerful symbol.  From the desk of the President of these United States on Friday, June 6, 2014:

Over farmlands and town squares, atop skyscrapers and capitol buildings, the American flag soars. It reminds us of our history -- 13 colonies that rose up against an empire -- and celebrates the spirit of 50 proud States that form our Union today. On Flag Day and during National Flag Week, we pay tribute to the banner that weaves us together and waves above us all.

For more than two centuries, Americans have saluted Old Glory in times of trial and triumph. Generations have looked to it as they steeled their resolve, and an unbroken chain of men and women in uniform has served under our flag. From the banks of Baltimore's Inner Harbor to European trenches and Pacific islands, from the deserts of Iraq to the mountains of Afghanistan, they have risked their lives so we might live ours. When we lay our veterans to rest, many go draped with the stars and stripes upon them, and their families find solace in the folds of honor held tightly to their chest. Because of their sacrifice, our Nation is stronger, safer, and will always remain a shining beacon of freedom for the rest of the world.

With a familiar design that has evolved along with a growing Nation, our flag stitches the ideals for which America was born to the reality of our times. It reminds us that fidelity to our founding principles requires new responses to new challenges. As we prepare to meet the great tests of our age, let every American draw inspiration from this symbol of our past, our present, and our common dreams.

Well said, Mr. President.  Well said indeed. 


Friday, June 13, 2014

Club 86

The hero of my life, the one and only Joanie K., celebrates her 86th birthday today.  I presume that she is spending her day soaking up the rays on the beach in Jupiter, Florida, which she has called home for what is quickly approaching twenty years now.  She might very well be still a bit fatigued from all of the running around she did during her "Jersey Jaunt" last week.  Wearing her "Super Grandma" cape she joined us on Thursday evening for Jess and Rob's rehearsal dinner before going to Princeton on Friday morning to watch Jill and Joe's younger daughter Julia graduate from high school (Go J!) and then pinballing back down to Point Pleasant Beach on Friday evening to smile as she watched Jess and Rob exchange their wedding vows on the sands of Bradshaw's Beach. 

My mother is now - and has always been - the bravest person I have ever known.  Today she is eighty-six.  Slightly more than thirty-three years ago she was fifty-two going on fifty-three when Dad died, taking with him 80% of their combined household income and leaving her in whatever is worse than dire straits financially - and with three of their six children still to get through college.  Then, for good measure, slightly less than two years after Dad died, she was diagnosed with breast cancer against which she battled hard and - to this point in the program - to a stalemate.  Its entry into her life however opened her up for a myriad of other health issues - some cancer-related and some not - against which she has waged war ever since. 

Mom is the toughest old Irish broad I know.  She is braver every day than I have likely ever been on my bravest of days.   She is the best teacher I have ever had.  She remains to this day a source of advice and dispenser of wisdom.  She remains to this day what she has been for me each and every day of my life - an inspiration to do better and to be better than I might otherwise be. 

Happy Birthday Mom.  I love you very much.  Wish big.  Wish very, very big.


Thursday, June 12, 2014

Tarnish Upon Chrome

Make sure that your worst enemy
Doesn't live between your own two ears.
- Laird Hamilton

In the immediate aftermath of his horse's failed run at horse racing's Triple Crown at Belmont Park this past Saturday the co-owner of California Chrome, Steve Coburn, made some on-air comments that were (to be kind) unfortunate.  Irrespective of the amount of vitriol contained within them, it appeared as if most of the people who heard them, whether live or over NBC's airwaves, were prepared to take them for what they were:  Words expressed in frustration by a man whose dream had just been crushed right before his eyes.  We the people of these United States know a thing or two about operating on pure emotion.  It is a sin of which all of us likely has been guilty or shall be guilty of committing on at least one occasion in our own life.  As sins go, it is not a biggie. 

However, Coburn then awakened the following morning (presumably after having had sufficient time to calm down, cool down and cheer up) and resumed his war of words.  After having focused his remarks Saturday evening on cowardly horses and the cowardly cowards who own them, train them and will not run them in either the Kentucky Derby or the Preakness Stakes (and conveniently overlooking the fact that the last three horses to win the Triple Crown competed at Belmont against horses that had run in neither the Derby nor the Preakness - and Secretariat even managed to somehow squeak through by a mere thirty-plus lengths), Coburn expanded his field of fire on Sunday to include this rather unfortunate comment:

"It wouldn't be fair if I played basketball with a child in a wheelchair because I got an unfair advantage," Coburn said. "If your horse is good enough to run in the Belmont, where was he in the Kentucky Derby and Preakness? It says Triple Crown, not one out of two, one out of three or two out of three."

He left unsaid that his unfair advantage against a wheelchair basketball player was less than his disadvantage against anyone in an IQ test or a test measuring class or character.  Respectfully, his Monday mea culpa was a day late and a dollar short.  It was - more likely than not - the by-product of at least one terse conversation between his lawyer and the lawyer(s) for the companies that signed endorsement deals with Coburn and his partner at Dumb Ass Stables last week for various and sundry items marketing California Chrome. 

His true colors were on full display neither Saturday nor Monday.  They were in full blush on Sunday when he had time to reflect upon the inanity of his post-race comments the evening before and rather than walking away from any of them simply invited the world to F*ck Ourselves Very Much.  A classless boor who - when faced with adversity - revealed his true self to the world that had been worshipping at the altar of his three-year-old colt and marveling at the story of how Chrome was transformed from a $10,000 purchase into a $3 Million prize-winning champion. 

The great Mark Twain once observed that, "It is better to keep your mouth closed and let people think you are a fool than to open it and remove all doubt." 

Mr. Coburn would be well-advised to heed Mr. Twain's advice.


Wednesday, June 11, 2014

May Their Fire Escape Always Be Home To Angels

The newly-minted Mr. and Mrs. Robert MacMaster are presently playing the parts brought to life by Jackie Gleason and Audrey Meadows all those many years ago.  Ah, to be a couple of honeymooners. 

He has chosen well has my son.  Well indeed.  Jess is an incredible young woman and - having had the opportunity to get to know the fine folks who brought her into this world - proof positive of the proximity between apples and trees.  At the risk of sounding immodest, my daughter-in-law has also chosen well.  Rob is one hell of a good man.  He is every inch his mother's son. 

One of the most enjoyable moments for me at their reception Friday night - in what was a non-stop parade of enjoyable moments - was our brief recreation (or bastardization I suppose) of the long-shelved "Guitars and Cigars" nights in the backyard at 57 Delaware Avenue.  For as "Born to Run" burst forth from the sound system, Rob and I formed one half of the best-dressed barbershop quartets you have ever seen (Dan Byrnes and Joe Byrnes completing the set) singing along in full-throated glory.  Frankie Valli can go kiss my Irish arse - I know real Jersey Boys when I hear them.  One hell of a good time was had by all...or at least by the four of us.  Apologies to those who were positioned within "ear-bleeding" range. 

Rob and his beautiful bride are now off enjoying the first few days of what one hopes will be a lifetime of happiness.  A journey during which irrespective of their age or the anniversary that they are celebrating they shall forever remain so young and in love...


Tuesday, June 10, 2014

A Journey Across The Bridge

The world lost one of its better angels on Friday night.  Diana Kizis, matriarch of the Family Kizis, which is an assemblage of some of the finest people it has ever been my privilege to know, died.

"Hazel" as she was called affectionately by the four daughters she and her husband Robert (a/k/a "B - O - B") raised battled valiantly against cancer for the final year-plus of her life.  In the end, it did what that virulent bastard does far too often.  It wore her down.  And Friday night, it killed her.

A remarkable woman, Mrs. Kizis, whose impact and effect shall long resonate with the husband with whom she partnered up for five-plus decades, her four daughters, her six grandchildren, shall be forever missed but never forgotten.  It was and shall forever remain my great pleasure and privilege to have made her acquaintance several years ago through my own friendship with Lynne and Gidg.  When one uses the phrase "Her Mother's Daughter" to describe any of the four Sisters Kizis, the compliment being paid is of the highest order.  

May those who loved her most of all find solace in the memory of their common, shared experience of having loved her and having lived in the glow of her love's light.  May they take comfort in the knowledge that she fought as hard as she could for as long as she could against impossible odds.  She lived a hero's life - from her first breath to her last. 

She shall be missed... 

...The great ones always are.

“There is a land of the living
 and a land of the dead
 and the bridge is love,
 the only survival, the only meaning.”
-Thornton Wilder


Monday, June 9, 2014

Whilst You May Have Been Otherwise Engaged

I know not the amount of content that filled your last seven-day period but Yours truly has had a blissfully busy last week or so.  Between Jess/Rob's wedding and all related activities and the beginning of the Stanley Cup Finals (oh yeah and the preparation for a trial that may start this morning in Middlesex County) I have been fairly well occupied.  Good stuff to be sure but attention-consuming stuff as well. Consequently certain things that briefly caught my eye as they happened had escaped comment here.  Up until right now.

Last Monday morning, it was announced that Miami Dolphins Hall of Fame quarterback and recently deposed CBS broadcaster Dan Marino was one of fifteen former NFL players who had joined one of the "concussion" lawsuits filed against the NFL.   Last Tuesday morning, Marino (through his attorneys) announced that he was withdrawing his name from the lawsuit.  The claim from #13's camp was that his name had been joined to the lawsuit "in error".  As someone who has spent two decades defending lawsuits of one type or another, I must confess that "inadvertent plaintiff" is not a concept with which I have had to wrestle often.  And by often, I mean ever. 

Be that as it may, last Tuesday afternoon Marino declared that he never had suffered a concussion while playing in the NFL and has not experienced any concussion-like symptoms in the years since he retired.  Hmmm...I presume he was exempting his actions from the preceding twenty-four hour period from his proffer. 

Full disclosure:  I am a registered Republican.  Full disclosure, part two:  I did not vote in last Tuesday's primary election, which included four Republican candidates vying for the right to run against former Newark Mayor Cory Booker in November.  Booker won the Special Election last year to complete the term of the late Frank Lautenberg and is now seeking his own first, full six-year term in the United States Senate.  The Republican race was apparently fairly closely contested.  The winner?  Jeffrey Bell.  Bell was last seen in these parts getting his electoral ass kicked by then first-time candidate Bill 1978. 

This is the best the New Jersey Republican Party has to offer?  Really?  I suppose it could have been worse.  The weekend before the election I heard a radio spot from one of Bell's opponents, Richard Pezzullo.  Holy shit.  A more terrifying thirty seconds I have not spent in a long, long time.  Pezzullo finished second in the four-man field.  His place in the final standings says something I am sure about my fellow Jersey Republicans.  What it is frightens me more than just a little bit. 

Apparently the Statute of Limitations on time spent in exile after an Election Day beating is thirty-six years.  Good news I suppose for one-time Essex County Executive Peter Shapiro.  Shapiro had the misfortune of being out of the room when the State Democratic Party met to decide who was going to get crushed by Tom Kean when our then-Governor ran for reelection.  Thus, it was Shapiro who in 1985 played the part of Barbara Buono to Kean's Chris Christie in the Gubernatorial Election.  He is eligible to resurface in 2021.

Which means that here in the State of Concrete Gardens we are "Babs-free" 'til 2049.  And that is not a bad way to be especially if you are - as I am - of an age now where you do not reasonably anticipate being upright by the middle of this century. 

I almost hope I do make it to 2049.  The Bell vs. Buono tilt will be one for the ages.  "Loser-Take-All" for the first time in American political history...

...on second thought, a toe tag with a "2048" date scribbled on it seems like a much smoother way to go.   


Sunday, June 8, 2014

Just What The Doctor Ordered

Today heralds the final scenes of what has been an extraordinary couple of days in our little corner of the world.  Margaret and I woke up yesterday to find ourselves as the parents of not one - but two - children who are now so fully immersed in the adult world that each has a spouse to prove it.  How much more adult can one get than "Party to a Legally Binding Social Contract"?  Not very. 

This morning the Missus and I shall pack our gear and break camp from what has been our home away from home since Thursday - the White Sands Motel and Resort on Ocean Avenue in Point Pleasant Beach.  It had been so long since I had spent any time in a Jersey Shore "resort" that prior to checking in here on Thursday I cannot recall when the last time is I had done so.  Irrespective of the reason I had last done so, it paled in comparison to why we have been here these past few days.  In the past nine months I have walked my daughter down the aisle and stood on a beach to watch my son marry.  I have gotten far better than I deserve.  Far better.

The Texas Tornado and Ryan are flying back to the Land of All Hat, No Cattle this morning.  For once however it is their time there that shall be short.  By this time next week they will have relocated to the State of Concrete Gardens.  May the week to come pass for them as smoothly and as painlessly as possible. 

Meanwhile the newlyweds are off beginning their journey as husband and wife.  Margaret and I are thrilled to have added a DIL to the family.  She is the perfect complement to the SIL we brought on board nine months ago.  She completes the set much in the same way as Pepper does Salt.   

The northbound lanes of the Parkway beckon.  Work resumes tomorrow.  Reality awaits.  Too much to bear?  Not even close.  In the words of the immortal Dr. Seuss, "Don't cry because it's over, Smile because it happened."  

Believe me when I say this:  You should listen to Seuss.  After all, he was a doctor. 


Saturday, June 7, 2014

California Dreamin'

In 1978 a 3 year-old thoroughbred named Affirmed won horse racing's Triple Crown.  His triumph followed on the heels (or hooves I suppose) of Seattle Slew's in 1977 and that of the great Secretariat in 1973.  I was eleven years old.  I thought that a horse winning the Triple Crown was an annual rite of passage - much like Yankees fans such as my son who came of baseball-rooting age in the late 1990's thought the Yankees winning the World Series was an annual rite of Autumn.  At least until Luis Gonzalez came along.  

I know not why it is that no horse has captured the Triple Crown since Affirmed stuck his nose out in front of that of his great rival Alydar at Belmont Park on June's first Saturday thirty-six years ago.  I know simply that none has.  And I know that today, in the late afternoon/early evening of a New York City Saturday night California Chrome shall look to bring a halt to the three and one-half decade long drought.  

It is not possible that any person alive knows less about horse racing than I do.  My ignorance shall not stop me from cheering full throat for Chrome (all of his friends call him by just one name) to complete his mission and capture this year's Triple Crown.  Truth be told, I would root for him to win even if he was not going for the Triple Crown.  I, too, use Breath-Right strips to help me breathe - and to keep me from snoring.  I have a soft spot in my heart for any steed that is similarly nasally compromised...  

...especially since he has a bigger head than even I do. 


Friday, June 6, 2014

Tickets Purchased & Suitcases Packed

I was fourteen years old when my father died.  He did not live long enough to see me - his youngest of six children - get married.  

This evening my only son shall be married.  At some time shortly after 5:00 pm he and Jess shall exchange their vows.  They shall do so just about nine months to the minute after Rob's sister Suzanne and her husband Ryan did likewise.  It has been one hell of a banner year for weddings in our home.  One hell of a year indeed. 

To have lived long enough to see both of my children get married warms the little charcoal briquette I facetiously call a heart more than I can properly express.  At this point in my life, I have borne witness to many remarkable things that each has done.  And this evening I shall see my son marry.  I have made out better in this life than I had any right to expect.

No one likes to hear a lawyer talk - well, except for the lawyer himself I suppose - so this evening Yours truly shall smile much and speak little.  If I was to speak, to my son and my daughter-in-law on this their day of days, I would offer nothing more than this...

The mere thought of the two of you makes me smile. As a father, the thing for which I hoped most of all for Rob was that he would find Peace.  In Jess, he has found Peace.  She has brought it into his day-to-day.  For that, I shall be forever grateful. 

I love you both very much.  I could not be happier for you or prouder of you than I am.  As the Poet Laureate of Freehold once observed, rather famously in fact, "You'll need a good companion now for this part of the Ride."  Each of you has chosen an exceptional companion. 

May much Love, much Luck and most of all much Peace always travel with You. 

Slainte! off you go down the road of your Life together, taking what you can carry.  Safe journey.  Be good to one another.  Always.


Thursday, June 5, 2014

Another June. Another Groom.

It was twenty years and fifty weeks ago today that the great love of my life, Margaret, bestowed upon me the great gift of becoming my bride.  Tomorrow evening she and I shall bear witness to our son, Rob, marry Jess.  She is the great love of his life. 

In the weeks leading up to tomorrow, the Missus has unearthed a treasure trove of photographs.  There are any number of them that resonate in the little charcoal briquette in my chest that masquerades as my heart.  One of them in particular seems appropriate today. 

Rob and Adam
June 19, 1993

As happy as I was on that June day a lifetime ago to have Rob standing with me when Margaret and I married, that joy pales in comparison to that which I am feeling now - and shall feel tomorrow evening - at the thought of witnessing him exchange his wedding vows with Jess. 

I buried my father when he was still a young man and when I was, relatively speaking, a child.  WPK, Sr. fathered three sons and he did not bear witness to any of our wedding days.  I have but one son.  Tomorrow evening I shall bear witness to him getting married.  It is a source of joy that far exceeds my limited gift of expression.  

Another June.  Another Groom...

...because something worth doing is certainly worth repeating. 


Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Feets Don't Fail Us Now!

Happy National Running Day! 

Let me say that again.  Today is National Running Day.  It is a goddamn holiday for crying out loud. 

What the hell are you doing hanging out around here today?  Put down the phone.  Power down the computer.  Dim the tablet.  Get out there and run...

...or jog or whatever.  Enjoy the day.

And while you are out there running today might I suggest that you listen to a bit of Springsteen's Born in the USA album on your iPod?  BITUSA was released thirty years ago on this very day.  It has never been my favorite Springsteen record but my appreciation for it has risen over the years, especially so in the aftermath of the deaths of Danny Federici and Clarence Clemons.  And I suppose it shall always hold a place of some significance in my heart - arriving upon the scene as it did just before the end of my Junior  year at W-H.  It formed an important part of the soundtrack of my Senior year of high school.  

No retreat.  No surrender...