Monday, March 31, 2014

Law School & Everything After

Mother Nature thou art a cruel bitch.  All I needed yesterday - after having been at the office for a four-hour trial preparation blitzkrieg that began at 5 AM (and served as the "other shoe" to the seven-hour day I spent at the shop on Saturday) - was it to stop raining long enough for me to get a chance to take a lengthy run through the streets of my pseudo-hometown.  Nothing more.  Did I get it?  Of course not.  Murphy was indeed an Irishman.

Happiness is not spending every day this week in the construction-created clusterf*ck that is the part of Jersey City in the immediate vicinity of the Brennan Court House - especially since in an effort to make it possible for people to get in and out of the area, the Presiding Judge of the Vicinage, the Hon. Peter Bariso modified the hours of operation at the court so that closing time is now 6 PM.  I am so looking forward to a week's worth of getting home at 8 PM after spending all day on trial.  There are times when I really wish I had possessed sufficient math or science skills to have been able to earn a living doing something other than practicing law.  This is one of those times.  Perhaps I shall be pleasantly surprised and a matter that has seemed to have no reasonable likelihood of resolving itself without being tried to verdict will do so.  If not, then at least I will spend the week matching wits with an adversary who I both like personally and admire professionally.

Maybe in my next life I will come back as a man with a brain. 

-AK 

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Rubber-Toeing Time

Today is not a National Holiday.  Not yet anyway.  Truth be told - having had a former MLB team owner in the White House for eight years with no discernible progress having been made on this particular point, it probably never will be.  Oh well, a boy can dream.  Unless perhaps that boy is an insomniac.  Under such circumstances, I would suppose that dreaming might come with a modicum of difficulty.  Ah, to be a narcoleptic and dream whenever and wherever you want. 

But I digress.

While the schedule is admittedly light, today is in fact Opening Day of the 2014 Major League Baseball season.  From this day forward until September's end - with the exception of the three-day break taken mid-July for the dreadful exercise that is the All-Star Game and the attendant nonsense that accompanies it - at least one big-league baseball game shall be played every day somewhere on the North American continent.  

I type today with fingers crossed in the hope that my beloved New York Rangers not only qualify for the NHL playoffs but last deep enough in them to give me something to actually compete with the Yankees for my attention during the early part of the latter's season.  I cannot fake giving a rat's ass about professional basketball.  If the NBA Finals were played in my backyard, I would close the drapes and shut off the back porch light.  I appreciate that it is a sport enjoyed by millions and I wish no ill towards either those who watch it or those who earn their living by playing it.  It simply is not a sport that I enjoy.  

Thus, all I shall need to be a contented sports fan for the next sixty days or so is for the Yankees to start strong and the Rangers to finish that very same way.  History has taught me that while I have a reasonable expectation of enjoying the former, the latter occurs with an infrequency that would cause Halley to blush. 

Hope remains. 

And why not. 

It is, after all, Opening Day.


-AK   

  

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Once More Into The Blood-Streaked, Falling Sky

"Courage", the great Mark Twain once famously observed, "is resistance to fear, mastery of fear, not absence of fear."  On the same subject Amborse Redmoon posited that, "Courage is not the absence of fear but rather the judgment that something else is more important than fear."  

By either Twain's definition or Redmoon's definition, Lt. Edward J. Walsh, Jr. and Firefighter Michael R. Kennedy were men long on courage.  On Wednesday, these two were among the first members of the Boston Fire Department to respond to what would eventually become a nine-alarm inferno in the Back Bay.  While doing that which they loved to do and that which they were driven to, which was run at full speed into harm's way in order to save those already there, Lt. Walsh and FF Kennedy were killed.  And Boston, a great American city that has had to do more than its fair share of mourning these past twelve months, mourned yet again.  Two of its Bravest answered their last alarm.  

According to the Boston Globe, Lieutenant Edward J. Walsh, Jr. of Ladder 33 was a nine-plus year veteran of the Boston Fire Department.  Lt. Walsh's late father had been a lieutenant in the Watertown Fire Department, which is where Walsh the younger was raised.  Although Lt. Walsh initially pursued a career in finance, he ultimately responded to the call to become part of the "family business".  Not only was his father a lieutenant in the Watertown Fire Department but his late uncle Bill was too.  Lt. Walsh's cousin, Bill, is a captain in the Watertown Fire Department.  

Lt. Edward J. Walsh, Jr., forty-three years young, was married.  He is survived by his widowed bride and their three children - two sons and a daughter - all of whom are younger than ten.  

The Globe reported that Firefighter Michael R. Kennedy of Engine 15, who worked with Lt. Walsh at the Boylston Street Firehouse, joined the Boston Fire Department six-plus years ago.  FF Kennedy joined the Department after having served this country as a United States Marine, which service included combat duty in Iraq.  Last April, when terrorists bombed the finish line area of the Boston Marathon, FF Kennedy was among the first of the first responders on scene giving assistance to those in need.  He, himself, had been in training to run the 2014 Boston Marathon, which is less than one month away. 

When he was not on-duty, FF Kennedy enjoyed spending time helping others in a variety of ways.  He was a member of Big Brothers/Big Sisters.  He organized functions such as a mass blood donation/bone marrow registry sign-up by members of the Department for a six-year-old child from Rhode Island stricken with leukemia.  He was active in a motorcycle club, the American Infidels, which is densely populated with veterans such as FF Kennedy.  

Firefighter Michael R. Kennedy, who was unmarried, was only thirty-three years old.

For Lt. Walsh and FF Kennedy, for their families and for their brothers and sisters of the Boston Fire Department, may our strength give them strength, may our faith give them faith, may our hope give them hope and may our love give them love in an amount at least equal to that which they gave it to - and for - the people of Boston.  People who they took a vow to serve and to protect and for whom they gave their lives in honoring that vow.

   
-AK

Friday, March 28, 2014

Serenity Now

Take it calmly and serene
It's the famous final scene....
- Bob Seger

James Rebhorn died last Friday.  He was sixty-five.  If you are - as I am - a person who has watched more than your fair share of television and movies over the course of the last four decades or so, then you most assuredly know his face.  Even if you did not - for sure - know his name.  If you watch "Homeland" on Showtime, then you know him as the father of Claire Danes' Carrie Mathison.  He was the prosecutor in "My Cousin Vinny".  He was the Secretary of Defense in "Independence Day".  He was good at what he did and was rewarded for it with a career in Hollywood that spanned decades.  If you saw the George Street Playhouse's revival of "Twelve Angry Men" two years ago as the Missus and I did, then you know him from that as well.  

Mr. Rebhorn died last Friday after a battle with melanoma.  Apparently as he found himself locked in mortal combat with this insidious disease, he opted to do something that I have often teased my wife I hope to do while I still have time to do it.  He wrote his own obituary.  And having read it, I must say that it is quite remarkable: 

His Life, According to Jim

James Robert Rebhorn was born on Sept. 1, 1948, in Philadelphia, PA. His mother, Ardell Frances Rebhorn, nee Hoch, loved him very much and supported all his dreams. She taught him the value of good manners and courtesy, and that hospitality is no small thing. His father, James Harry Rebhorn, was no less devoted to him. From him, Jim learned that there is no excuse for poor craftsmanship. A job well done rarely takes more or less time than a job poorly done. They gave him his faith and wisely encouraged him to stay in touch with God.

He is survived by his sister, Janice Barbara Galbraith, of Myrtle Beach, SC. She was his friend, his confidant, and, more often than either of them would like to admit, his bridge over troubled waters.

He is also survived by his wife, Rebecca Fulton Linn, and his two daughters, Emma Rebecca Rebhorn and Hannah Linn Rebhorn. They anchored his life and gave him the freedom to live it. Without them, always at the center of his being, his life would have been little more than a vapor. Rebecca loved him with all his flaws, and in her the concept of ceaseless love could find no better example.

His children made him immensely proud. Their dedication to improving our species and making the world a better place gave him hope for the future. They deal with grief differently, and they should each manage it as they see fit. He hopes, however, that they will grieve his passing only as long as necessary. They have much good work to do, and they should get busy doing it. Time is flying by. His son-in-law, Ben, also survives him. Jim loved Ben, who was as a son to Jim, especially through these last months.

His aunts Jean, Dorothy and Florence, numerous cousins and their families, and many devoted friends also survive Jim. He loved them all, and he knows they loved him.

Jim received his BA at Wittenberg University and his MFA at Columbia. He was a member of Lambda Chi Alpha Nu Zeta 624, a life-long Lutheran, and a longtime member of both the AMC and ACLU.

Jim was fortunate enough to earn his living doing what he loved. He was a professional actor. His unions were always there for him, and he will remain forever grateful for the benefits he gained as a result of the union struggle. Without his exceptional teachers and the representation of the best agents in the business, he wouldn’t have had much of a career. He was a lucky man in every way.

–Jim Rebhorn, March 2014

A graceful, gracious exit from a life well-lived by a man well-loved.  A better finish it could not have been had it been scripted by Shakespeare and shot by Scorcese.  The words that serve as his final words serve as a lesson for us all as well....



-AK 

Thursday, March 27, 2014

The Rock of Giuseppe

And I stood arrow straight
Unencumbered by the weight
Of all these hustlers and their schemes
I stood proud, I stood tall
High above it all
I still believed in my dreams....
-Bob Seger
Life is a Journey - not a Destination.  If it was possible to predict in the cradle the course and trajectory of the path we would walk from that point forward to the grave, then maybe psychics would be able to get face time on network news shows and not solely on CNN.  Maybe.  Of course, it is not. 

The richness of a man can be measured in a number of ways I suppose.  Financial wealth is one measurement of course - but not the sole determining factor.  I would surmise that one's richness is better measured by the lives affected by that individual and the depth of that affection.  By such a measurement, my father-in-law Joseph Bozzomo may well be the richest man in town.  Today is Joe's birthday:  81 years young.  Happy Birthday Giuseppe.


Joe's Retirement Party - Nov. 2013

Had my father-in-law decided to simply cash out at any point in the game these past few years, it would have been hard to find fault with him for doing so.  In the past six years he has buried his mother-in-law, two older brothers and his older sister.  Worse yet, we are rapidly approaching the fifth anniversary of the death of his wife - the incredible Suzy B.  She was his everything. 

And yet in this - what he declares himself to be the "final quarter" of his life - he has not receded from view.  He has not gone gentle into that good night.  He has lived his life. 

Joe & his new bicycle:  Christmas Morning 2009

He has embraced his children. 

Margaret, Frank & Joe singing Xmas Eve 2013

And his grandchildren as well. 

Suzanne & Joe at Meg/Adam's Wedding '09


Joe and Nicole Christmas Eve 2010


Rob & Joe at Colorado State University 2012

He has overseen the expansion of the "family business" to include great-grandchildren.  He has borne witness to the weddings of three of his grandchildren to date with Rob and Jess on deck in the #4 hole this June.  He has been to places he had never been in the first seven and one-half decades of his life, including Washington DC, Wyoming, Colorado and just this past month the Bahamas.  


Joe at Lucaya Marketplace on
Grand Bahama Island Feb. 2014

It is not a stretch to say that the past half-decade or so has not proceeded according to Giuseppe's master plan.  When he and Suzy B said "I Do" on that February day a lifetime ago, he could not have fully appreciated the solemnity of the vow that harped on "'Til Death Do Us Part".  When you are young and in love on your wedding day, no one does.  Death is a million miles and a thousand years away - a consideration for another date and another time.  Once that time arrives, one has to decide what to do.  There are but two choices:  Fold Up or Stay Strong.  He chose the latter and it has made all of the difference.   

Where does one get the grit and the determination to stay strong and keep going forward when one's Life partner is taken from him?  I know not.  I live in dread of having to learn the answer to that question myself one day.  But in the case of my father-in-law, maybe just maybe the source of his strength flows from the music of a long-ago carousel and a summer's night on the Boardwalk.  For he could not have gotten here had he not first passed through that point in time.  Everything and everyone he needed is there - all together in one photograph.  Frank safely ensconced in his father's arms while Suzy B sits beaming beneath him, carrying the precious cargo that would one day be my wife in her belly. 


Joe, Frank, Suzy B & Margaret
Summer of '62

Happy Birthday Giuseppe.  It has been my pleasure and privilege to have shared the past two-plus decades of this ride with you.  It has been one hell of a trip thus far. 

And sometimes late at night
When I'm bathed in the firelight
The moon comes callin' a ghostly white
And I recall
I recall....



-AK

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

The Shadow & The Tree

When nothing is owed or deserved or expected
And your life doesn't change by the man that's elected
If you're loved by someone, you're never rejected
Decide what to be and go be it.
- The Avett Brothers

One wonders what the talking heads on the 24/7/365 cable news networks shall resume covering round-the-clock now that it appears as if the sad tale of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 has reached its predictably tragic conclusion.  One (presuming that one is Yours truly) wonders also that if it turns out that what happened to the poor folks on that plane was indeed catastrophic mechanical failure and had exactly zero to do with the pilot and/or the co-pilot whether the scrubbing clean of names so readily soiled and besmirched in the aftermath of the plane's disappearance will be conducted with one-quarter of the zeal as the soiling was itself.  Sadly, this is not my first rodeo.  Therefore I know the answer to that question.  And if you stop for a moment and think about it, so do you.

We the people use words as weapons.  Except for the Russians that is, who use weapons as weapons - but only when after the people of Crimea beg with them to do so in order to preserve the results of fair, democratic referendum on whether Crimea will remain part of the Ukraine of join Mother Russia.  We use words as weapons in a decidedly deliberate manner.  Speech is not as careless as we might like to try and convince one another it is.  More often than not - in my experience anyway - it is utilized with deliberate design.  A surgical strike in the guise of a slip of the tongue.

Once upon a lifetime ago my old man was fond of telling me that we are born into this world alone, we exit it the same way and in between the only thing of value that we hold in trade - as commerce if you will - with the rest of the world is our good name.  When that which we hold most dear - our good name - is attacked whether it is done with provocation or without, it matters not.  The brush with which we are painted does not contain washable ink. 

I love John Wooden and the way in which he used his "classroom" - the basketball court - to teach those who played for him more than just the "X's" and "O's" of basketball.  However, I wonder if his "Woodenism" regarding the interrelationship of reputation and character ever envisioned an "instant everything" world.  Coach Wooden's philosophy was "Be more concerned with your character than your reputation, because your character is what you really are while your reputation is merely what others think you are."  We live now in a world where one's reputation - attacked on-line with enthusiasm by someone with an ax in need of a grinding - can be irrevocably harmed in little to no time.  Being a person of good character may seem to be of little moment once the court of public opinion opts to try, convict and sentence you - facts be damned.   Being Nancy Grace means never having to say you are sorry after all.    

At day's end, however, I remain committed to the idea that my father was right.  We are who we are.  We own what we own - both good and bad.  Our character can either be our strongest trait or our frailest.  The choice is ours. 

Here in the State of Concrete Gardens we have seen a prime example of the strength of character over the course of the past several days.  Over this past weekend, a fire broke out at an elementary school in Edison Township, gutting the school and rendering its faculty and students in need of a new home at least for the duration of this school year.  The Edison Township Fire Department initally deemed the fire "suspicious".  Turns out it was not.  Jerome Higgins, Facilities Manager for the Edison Township School District who supervised the custodians at this particular school, and who has worked for the District for close to a quarter-century, did something careless while leaving the building Saturday evening after having worked there for part of the day.  He tossed a still-lit or smoldering cigarette into a garbage can.  What followed was chaos.  The school, which was constructed fifty years ago, had no sprinklers.  By the time the Edison Fire Department responded, the building was engulfed in flames.   Mr. Higgins has been charged with a petty disorderly persons offense because smoking in the school building is not permitted.  He has accepted responsibility for what happened.  He understands that his carelessness has consequences, including him being placed on paid administrative leave by the District for an indeterminate period of time while it contemplates further action against him.  

Given the nature of the world, it is more likely than not that at least one occasion shall arise in which we are attacked, whether personally or professionally (or both perhaps), in a manner that damages our reputation.  And do not feel compelled to take my word for it.  Read the comments to the story regarding Mr. Higgins here:
http://www.nj.com/middlesex/index.ssf/2014/03/supervisor_whose_cigarette_burned_down_edison_school_is_suspended.html#incart_river  

Stand fast.  Hold tight to your core values.  Know who you have been, who you are presently and who you shall be.  Waver not at all from those principles.  Those around you whose ears are pricked by the sounds of nonsense and lies being told about you are those with whom you should not have been wasting any of your precious time.       

But those who remain.  Those who support you in your time of strife as you do them in theirs, those are the ones who appreciate the distinction between character and reputation.  Those are the ones who know you for who you are.  Those are the ones worth knowing.  

The ones who can tell the difference between the shadow and the tree....

 
-AK



Tuesday, March 25, 2014

The Joy & The Sadness Of All Things Madness

Ah the best laid plans of mice and men.  I fully intended to introduce myself to the jury in my case that had been assigned to trial before Judge Kravarik in Middlesex County yesterday morning as, "Adam Kenny, World-Record Holder" and damn if the case did not settle before we picked a jury.  Lucky for me I have a matter scheduled for trial next Monday in Hudson County.   Another opportunity awaits! 

After Suzanne won it all last Spring I officially retired from my part-time, unpaid gig as Commissioner of the March Madness Pool.  Luckily for the folks in my office, the son of one of the other partners picked up the reins and is running this year's edition of the Pool.  Happiness is not having to spend a Sunday evening trying to calculate the results for dozens of different sheets.  Hell, I went to bed Sunday night before Arizona and Gonzaga played and I think before Virginia and Memphis tipped it up as well.  It was nice to go to sleep not worrying about how not staying awake to track the results was going to add to my workload the following morning as I updated everyone's brackets and released the Pool's standings after Week One.  Running such an endeavor is a young man's gig.  Thankfully, Sam Tabakin is a young man. 

While I did not watch a lot of hoops this past weekend I did enjoy the action I saw.  I was bummed out to see Wichita State lose to Kentucky on Sunday afternoon and not solely because Kentucky's embrace of the "One and Done" recruiting model strikes me as offensive.  I like Wichita State and their coach Greg Marshall.  I thought they were a hell of a good story the entire season and I was rooting hard for them to get a shot to play for the National Championship.  They came up short against Kentucky, losing 78-76 in what was an exceptionally exciting game - and well-played by both teams - but it detracts not at all from the incredible year they had. 

One of the things I love about March Madness is the way in which it introduces us - perhaps only briefly - to kids and coaches and programs that we otherwise would not know a damn thing about.  This year's case in point was Mercer.  Mercer seemingly had no business taking out the Duke Blue Devils on Friday afternoon - or at least as little business doing so as the kids from Stephen F. Austin had in upsetting Virginia Commonwealth on Friday night - and they did it anyway.  When the Magic Carpet Ride ended on Sunday for the Mercer kids in a loss to Tennessee, the reaction was extraordinary.  There, at game's end, stood sweat-soaked young men standing on the court facing towards their fans and applauding them for supporting the team.  As the kids acknowledged their fans, their fans acknowledged them right back - as did a number of the fans of the other schools playing at that site who happened to be in the arena. 

For these kids, the movie of their lives will never include standing atop a ladder with confetti falling from the ceiling around them as they take turns cutting down the nets after winning the NCAA title.  But the scenes that it will include from this year - and from this March - will be just as memorable.  Maybe not for you or for me, to be sure, but certainly for them.  And at day's end, at game's end, nothing else matters. 

Not even a little bit.  

-AK   

Monday, March 24, 2014

We Came, We Banged, We Smashed

You may feel free to enjoy, beginning today and from every day forward, the writings of "World Record Holder" Adam Kenny.  On Saturday morning, the Missus and I - and our teammates on "Bang Her & Smash" - as well as close to 2500 other participants put forth a record-setting effort in the Jersey Shore Kilt Run.

Partial Team Photo of "Bang Her & Smash"

As of last evening, the event's organizers had not yet received confirmation from the Guinness people whether the manner in which they conducted the event passed official muster.  The only "glitch" would be the organizers' decision to not take a head count at the conclusion of the race after scanning all participants at the beginning and, thereafter, filming the first couple of hundred meters of the race to document those who walked and ran.  Apparently those who maintain the record book prefer a head count being taken at the beginning AND at the end of the event. 

Unless and until someone officially informs me that I am not a world-record holder, I intend to refer to myself as a "World Record Holder" at every opportunity.  In fact, this morning I am supposed to start trial in Middlesex County before the Hon. Martin Kravarik.  Once we get a jury empanelled and proceed to opening statements, I intend to work it into mine. 

No one on "Bang Her & Smash" had a better day than I did on Saturday.  I woke up as a lawyer.  I went to bed as a world-record holder.  It took me more than forty-seven years to do it, but I had finally made my mother proud.


Pete Gonzalez - Keeping Calm & Chiving On

-AK
 

Sunday, March 23, 2014

At Long Last....

Easy come, easy go I reckon.  I had hoped that my Buffs might make it past their first game in this year's NCAA tournament.  They did not even make it to the first TV timeout at the "under 16 minute" mark in the first half.  Come out flat and you get pancaked.  Kudos to the Pitt Panthers who parlayed a 13-0 start into a 77-49 beatdown of the Buffs.  As the youngest son of a lifelong - both her's and the team's - Brooklyn Dodgers fan and being myself a lifelong New York Ranger Fan, I am well-versed in the mantra, "Wait 'Til Next Year!"  I shall indeed. 

Do you suppose Warren Buffett got to be as rich as he is by betting on college basketball?  Not likely.  Methinks that at some point AFTER Harvard upset Cincy and Dayton upset Ohio State and North Dakota State upset Oklahoma and Mercer upset Duke in first-round action this past Thursday and Friday, everyone who filled out a bracket in his Billion-Dollar Bracket Challenge arrived at the very same conclusion.  Luck is nice.  Smarts is better.  

Better still?  How about the fact that while Major League Baseball will open its regular season in earnest on this continent next Sunday night when the Dodgers - who Mom refuses to acknowledge since the "Abandonment of Brooklyn" almost six decades ago - travel to San Diego to play the Padres, those two teams played the first two games of their opening three-game set yesterday....in Australia.  For those of us in the Eastern Time Zone it was some different sort of day/night doubleheader.  First pitch for the opener was at 4:00 AM while game two was at 10:00 PM.  Opening Day Down Under.  

I suppose having the regular season open in an international setting makes a fair amount of sense from a marketing perspective.  At least the Dodgers and the Padres are long-time rivals - at least  kind of, sort of anyway.  The Yankees open the 2014 campaign on Rob's birthday against the same historic rival against whom they closed out the 2013 season - the Houston Astros.  If one presumes that the Astros will draw about 500,000 fans to their games this season, then one can further presume that about 20% of those folks will pass through the turnstiles during their first three home games.  Nothing says tradition like Yankees vs. 'Stros.  

Truth be told, I am certain that there are at least 1,000,000 other things that say "tradition" better than Yankees vs. 'Stros.  Who cares?  It is baseball.  It is Opening Day.  And from this point on the space-time continuum it is but one week away.  

Put me in Coach.  Put us all in....

-AK  

Saturday, March 22, 2014

A Dance With No Pants

Truth be told, the activity that the Missus and I shall participate in this morning in my favorite little Jersey town, Manasquan, is not a 'dance' with no pants but, rather, a run/walk.  Had I entitled this piece "A Run/Walk With No Pants" you might very well have sidled right on by.  Instead, with your prurient interest piqued here you are.  A lifetime of reading The New York Post has taught me something, including for one memorable day in the Summer of 2004 that Dick Gephardt was John Kerry's choice to be his Vice-Presidential candidate.  He was not of course.  Oh well.  Anyone can make a mistake such as that one.  And besides, it is not as if anyone reads the headline....on the front page.  Good thing they used the small font for the headline huh?

  
But I digress....

This morning we are in 'Squan to participate in an effort to set a record that would land us - and the countless other fine folks taking part - in the annals of the Guinness Book of World Records.  Full disclosure:  I had no idea that there still was a Guinness Book of World Records.  I remember looking at it when I was a little kid but had no idea it still was published.  It would seem to me - in the age of instant information being accessible on the Internet - that it is about as relevant and necessary as the Encyclopedia Brittanica.  In fairness to the people from Guinness I have also been far more fond of the stout-brewing half of the family than I have the book-publishing gang.

Irrespective of its utter lack of hipness and relevancy, should we accomplish our task then I shall - beginning Monday - start identifying myself in all court filings (and personal correspondence) as Adam Kenny, World Record Holder.  Do not scoff.  People still refer to Tatum O'Neal as "Oscar-winning actress Tatum O'Neal" for a part she played forty years ago, when she was eight or nine years old.  There is apparently no statute of limitations on "milking it". 

The record-attempting effort we are part of this morning is the first-ever Jersey Shore Kilt Run/Walk.  The organizers are attempting to set the record for "most people wearing a kilt at one event".  The current record - apparently - is 1700 people.  I have seen Braveheart a zillion times and it certainly seemed in some of the battle scenes as if there were a lot of folks "wearing a kilt at one event".  Perhaps since Mel Gibson went insane people stopped counting his record-breaking achievements.  Perhaps a lot of the folks who appeared real on the screen were just CGI-created images.  Either way, this morning we are gearing up to kick William Wallace's arse!  

All silliness aside, this morning's 2-mile run/walk is raising money for an excellent cause, SquanStrong, which is a 501(c)(3) organization that came into existence after Ms. Sandy attempted to annhilate New Jersey in the Fall of 2012 raising money for - and providing aid to - individuals all over the Shore (and beyond) whose lives were shattered.  Good people doing good works.  

Our team, cheekily named "Bang Her & Smash", is (I think) eighteen strong or so.  All of us are going to look resplendent in our kilts.  The Missus and I are wearing matching red ones.  Rumor has it that Super Dave, Lynne and Gidg's cousin, is going to opt for "traditional" garb under his kilt.  If I was a religious man, I would spend the drive down to 'Squan this morning praying for that rumor to be false. 

Or as true as Gephardt being Kerry's choice for V-P.  Either way.  It is all good. 



-AK    

Friday, March 21, 2014

The Vanity Project

Sometimes no Truth is more Powerful
Than One Expressed in Anger by
A Melancholy Man....
- Pete Hamill

I have spent the better part of the past three months training for the 2014 New Jersey Marathon.  This year's edition is on April's final Sunday, the 27th.  My dedication to running as a daily discipline since Thanksgiving has been off-the-charts.  I have missed about one week's worth of days (total) in the past four months.  I feel good.  My soul is light.  My soles are firm.  

Two Sundays ago I re-remembered the significance of not lying to one's self.  I think I wrote in this space on that day something to the effect that one cannot change one's DNA.  We are who we are.  Lest anyone think I was pointing a finger of judgment outward let me clarify that point.  I was not.  I was pointing a finger of judgment.  But I was doing so in the direction of the face I see in the bathroom mirror every morning. 

Marathon training is tough.  Running in a marathon is tough too.  A battle of will in many respects.  When you are a 'ham and egger' as I am and are going to spend four hours or so on the marathon course, the part of your body that needs to be in the right place even more than your legs or your lungs is your mind. 

Two Sundays ago, as I was fast approaching Mile 13 of a 16-mile training run and doing so at a 8:30 pace or so that had me very, very pleased with the manner in which I was running, my mind trumped my legs and my lungs.  The New Jersey Marathon is a very nice event.  It is well-organized.  The volunteers who serve as Pace Runners for the various groups are terrific.  There are a lot of things to like about it. 

However, there is one thing - for me - at least to not like about it:  the course.  Once you head south on Ocean Avenue out of Long Branch towards Asbury Park you run on extended stretches of deserted landscape as you pass through towns such as Deal whose occupants have not yet arrived for the Summer.  Worse yet, once you reach Asbury Park and run on the boardwalk down to Ocean Grove and get juiced by the sights and sounds of hundreds of people milling around and enjoying their Sunday morning as you run past them and through them, you head north out of Asbury Park and back into the wasteland that separates it from Long Branch.  

So, a week ago Sunday as I was cruising along towards Mile 13 of my 16-mile journey, I asked myself the question that one should never ask himself while cruising along towards Mile 13 of a 16-mile journey, "Why am I doing this?"  Worse yet was the follow-up question, which was, "Do I really want to have to run 26.2 miles on this course?"  The answer to the former was "I don't know".  The answer to the latter was "No".  Having made that decision, I adjusted my route so that I completed Mile 13 much closer to my home than I otherwise would have, hit the 'STOP' button on my GARMIN and ran home the rest of the way untimed and unencumbered.  

I love the challenge of the marathon.  I look forward to running in New York City with my friend Gidg in another couple of years.  It is on her "Bucket List" of things to do for her 50th birthday and I would be honored to participate in that event with her.  I would like to run the Marine Corps Marathon once before my legs quit on me altogether.  But I realized, out there on Birch Run Drive in Piscataway gazing at some of the homes that my brother Kelly helped build thirty-plus years ago that I have zero desire to run in my home state's marathon.  Been there, done that.  

The decision having been made, I contacted the New Jersey Marathon people and "deferred" my 2014 entry to 2015.  I know as I type this that I shall not run it in 2015.  My last best chance at tricking myself into thinking I wanted to was this year.  Having fallen short in the effort to pull the wool over my own eyes, I shall not try it again.  

Whether it was coincidence or not I know not but this past weekend, I had two of the most enjoyable, mid-distance runs (6 or so miles) back-to-back that I have had in some time.  It was as if with the weight of my own artifice lifted off of my shoulders I strode more purposefully and in a far more relaxed and free-flowing manner.  I enjoyed the sights I took in on my run a lot more than I had just one week earlier.  I am likely reading far too much into it.  I tend to do such things. 


There'll be a rider
And there'll be a wall
As long as the dreamer remains
And if it's all for nothing
All the roadrunning's
Been in vain....
- M. Knopfler/E. Harris

Gee, I hope not.   If it has been, then I have put a lot of mileage on my legs for nothing.

-AK

  

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Sunshine She's Here

Congratulations fellow inhabitants of the Northern Hemisphere and most particularly anyone who lives in a postal code that was introduced on at least one occasion this winter to the term "Polar Vortex"!  We have made it.  The Winter of 2013-14 is officially over. 

Everyone's favorite Equinox, Vernal, arrives today.  Irrespective of how warm - or not - it turns out to be today here in the State of Concrete Gardens his mere appearance on the scene, coming as it does after a winter that seemed as if Morgan Spurlock had super-sized it, could not be more welcome.

I cannot tell a lie.  My first day of Spring shall feel a hell of a lot nicer if my beloved Buffaloes are able to find away to defeat the Pitt Panthers in the first round of the NCAA Tournament this afternoon - with the winner's reward being served up to Tournament #1 overall seed Florida on Saturday.  But even should my Alma mater's rather remarkable season come to an end today in Orlando, Florida, it shall not put a permanent crimp in my mood.  For at long last Spring has arrived.  We have been sprung from our Winter of Hell. 

It is enough to make even a grouch like me happy....



-AK


Wednesday, March 19, 2014

V-R Day

Reunited and it feels so good
Reunited 'cause we understood
There's one perfect fit
And, sugar, this one is it
We both are so excited
'Cause we're reunited, hey, hey....

Today, finally, slightly more than four weeks after winning the Battle of Route 287 North and repelling Bambi much like a Russian tank division would its Ukranian counterpart during a "training exercise" in Crimea, I am to be reunited with my car.  I would jump for joy but my lack of verticality has already been documented in this space and nothing further needs to be said about it.

Shameless plug time.  If you and your car are assaulted by a medium-to-large-size woodland creature and the marauder inflicts harm upon your steel baby, then you really should acquaint yourself with Lou Tierno at Tierno's Auto Body in Middlesex.  http://www.tiernosautobody.com/.  Of course, if you are reading this from your home in Florida or the Netherlands or some such place, common sense would dictate that you find the Lou Tierno who calls your neck of the woods home as opposed to making the trek 'NTSG to meet the genuine article firsthand.  I reckon you had already arrived at that very same conclusion.

Grammatical error in his tagline notwithstanding, he is a top-flight mechanic and - as importantly when you are dealing with an insurance company (be it yours or someone else's) - a no-bullshit negotiator.  One of the things that delayed the completion of the needed repair work on my car was that my insurance carrier, which is paying for the work, sought to hold its costs down by writing an estimate that called for junkyard-quality parts to be put on my car.  Considering that my car is less than four years old and has less than 60,000 miles on it, Lou told them their position was ridiculous.  He had to fight it out with them for more than a week or so.  Eventually he prevailed upon them that he was right, they were wrong and (of significance to the Missus and me) they would pay for the parts he recommended and not the bullshit they tried to pass off on me.  

I am very excited at the prospect of actually driving to work tomorrow behind the wheel of my own car.  Not as excited as Margaret is, I wager, seeing as how she has ceded to me the use of her chariot since we returned home from vacation.  She has been driving Joe's car in the interim.  Familiarity breeds affection much sooner than it breeds contempt.  She misses her car as much as I miss mine.  

'Tis a fine, fine day for a reunion. 

-AK

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

They Are All Inferno

I reserved my middle seat on the over-sold flight to Hell between two obese flop-sweaters a lifetime ago.  I have no delusions about where I am spending eternity in the event that there really is a second act that commences upon my tripping the mortal coil.  Margaret shall have me cremated in large part to help my body and soul adjust to the climate.  Were I being buried, my tombstone would read "DRESS LIGHT".  Thus, I say what I say today with no concern whatsoever about its impact on my eternal resting place.  None at all.

Fred Phelps is a virulent, malevolent force on this planet.  He and the mouth-breeding spawn who have assembled themselves in "God's Name" under the banner of the Westboro Baptist Church are the worst of the worst.  He is a cancer among the species.  A human being so despicable that other members of the Kingdom Animalia applaud the fact that all they had to give up in exhange for opposable thumbs and the ability to process complex thought was the right to call him one of "their" own. 

A man whose claim to infamy has been his ability to continually inspire the douchebags who follow his lead to protest at the funerals of the men and women who die in combat while in the service of this country and whose organization's Constitutional right to do so was affirmed by the Supreme Court of the United States several years ago is on death's door.  This past weekend, two of his sons confirmed to different media outlets that Pastor Fred has terminal cancer.  He is receiving hospice care.  As the sign says, "THE END IS NEAR!" 

I hate cancer.  It is an insidious, virulent, relentless disease that has taken the lives of too many good people to count, including among them the one and only Suzy B., and that assails the lives of too many other good people on a day in and day out basis.  One such soul of whom I think of today - and every day - is Mrs. Kizis.  Good people do not deserve to be attacked by cancer.  Good people do not deserve to feel helpless as they watch one they love fight to fend it off. 

Fred Phelps is not a good person.  The people who drink his Kool-Aid are not good people.  My hope for Pastor Fred is that his final days are as painful as they deserve to be.  His status as a Prick of Misery has been his calling card for generations.  I hope that on his way off of the Big Blue Marble, he feels every fucking bit of the pain that he has to endure.  He deserves it. 

And he deserves when he dies to have the good people whose lives he has tried to ruin, good people such as Al Snyder, show up at his funeral carrying signs assailing Phelps and his beliefs and making it their mission to make it impossible for his family to bury him in peace.  Good people such as Al Snyder will not engage in such behavior.  It is what makes the good people the good people after all. 

Me?  I suffer from no such delusion.  The train for "goodness" left the station and Yours truly was inside at the bar trying to skip out on the tab.  Fred Phelps is human deritus.  I hope only that he gets everything he deserves.  He has spent a lifetime trying to rob the Karma bank.  When his eyes close for the final time, he will then and there know that all debts are to be paid.  In full. 

Bon voyage Jagoff.  I hope it hurts.  You certainly fucking earned it. 

Oh, and dress light Slick.  Regardless of what the nice fella at the Gates told you, they are indeed all Inferno. 


-AK 

Monday, March 17, 2014

The Reason Behind The Smilin' Eyes

May you have the hindsight to know where you've been
the foresight to know where you're going
and the insight to know when you're going too far....
-Irish Blessing

I am an Irish-American.  Dad was the first person on his side of the family born in the United States.  I cannot remember whether I found it more humorous than sad or vice versa - when cleaning out his desk at home thirty-three summers ago - I found his passport, which contained a black-and-white photo of my father as a baby.  The passport had a couple of stamps on it. 

As I recall what Mom told me way back when, Grandma Kenny had traveled to the United States to have him, had returned to Ireland with him shortly thereafter before returning again to the States.  Dad died at fifty-seven.  His one and only passport photo was of him when he was less than one year old.  He had not yet developed the habit of putting the end of one of the arms of his eyeglasses in his mouth and sucking on it.  At least he was not doing it in the photograph.

Mom's parents were - to the best of my recollection - both born here.  Before Mom married Dad her last name was Kelly.  Grandma Kelly's maiden name was Callahan.  We have been a Bangers and Mash crowd for generations. 

Today is, of course, St. Patrick's Day.  Having been 100% Irish-American for every second of every day of each of my forty-seven-plus years - and having been an obnoxious drunk (Ah, Alcoholism - the Gift that Keeps on Giving!) for more of them than I would care to admit, today is a day that has always had an "amateur hour" vibe to it.  Kind of like a kissing cousin to New Year's Eve or some such nonsense.  Wherever you go today and whatever you do, be careful.  Whether you are "celebrating" it or not, you are more likely than not to encounter one or more persons who are and it is a reasonable likelihood that among their number will be at least one "Irish for a Day" asshole creating a danger for him or herself and the world that comes into contact with them. 

When I think of St. Patrick's Day I think always of my niece Katie.  Katie is the youngest of Kelly and Linda's three kids.  Much to her father's eternal pleasure, Katie is a St. Patrick's Day baby.  I remember - as if it was yesterday - standing in the hallway of my apartment at 943 Broadway in Boulder when Kelly called me on St. Patrick's Day, 1988 to report Katie's arrival.  

The Kenny men are not known for our love of extended telephone conversations.  As I remember it, the call that morning was typically brisk in its pace and brief in its length.  A report of Katie's arrival and that she and Linda were both doing fine from him, a "congratulations and give my love to one and all" from me and that was it.  Twenty-six years.  Where does the time go?  

Happy Birthday Katie.  Keep on wishing big....

May you live a long life
Full of gladness and health,
With a pocket full of gold
As the least of you wealth.
May the dreams you hold dearest,
Be those which come true,
The kindness you spread,
Keep returning to you....
- Irish Blessing





 



Sunday, March 16, 2014

Indelible Ink

I have long been fascinated by those who cling to the theory that human beings are capable of change.  I find it stunning - well almost - when those doing the clinging are articulate, educated and otherwise well-reasoned people.  While we are a species capable of evolving (check yourself for primordial ooze output if you believe me not), change and evolution are not the same. 

Human beings are animals.  Animals are creatures of habit.  When in doubt, those of us of a human persuasion favor familiarity over that which is far less so.  It was Einstein who observed that insanity is merely doing the same act over and over and wishing for a different result.  Who coined the phrase, "The Devil you know is better than the Devil you don't know?"  I know not.  But I am willing to wager he or she was a member of the tribe and not a dolphin or a squash or a peregrine falcon or some such thing. 

We are who we are.  And try as we might we cannot change our DNA.  The factory-installed wiring stays with us from birth canal to bone yard regardless of the shape and form that its carrying case takes on from year to year.  Oscar Wilde once wrote, "No Man is rich enough to buy back his Past."  True enough.  He might have added, "....nor fast enough to outrun it."

I bristle a bit any time my daughter Suzanne - who is one of the four or five most brilliant people I have ever known - refers to me as being "on the Spectrum".  I bristle because I know that she, the resident genius, is of course spot-on in her assessment of the old man.  I have now - as I have always had - an ability to focus intensely on a finite amount of things simultaneously, almost to the exclusion of everything - and everyone - else around me.  I am not a "casual" kind of guy.  Never have been.  When I am in, I am all in.  And if you and/or what it is you do are of little to no moment to me, then I am all out.  Not surprisingly perhaps (and not at all if you have ever spent any time in my company), I am a man of scant few friends.  It is an arrangement that works to the mutual benefit of me and the world at large.  In close to a half-century neither of us has voiced a dissenting word about it.  I anticipate that streak shall continue for quite some time. 

Life is too damn short to waste the indeterminate amount of time allotted to each of us to waste chasing fables.  We are who we are.  We can - and should aspire to - build the best version of ourselves we can off of that blueprint.  But we should not dedicate a moment to trying to breathe life into the fantasy of "the changed human".  Of course, it matters not what is written here - or anywhere for that matter - on the subject.  What matters is what is written in your heart. 



The ink is indelible. 

-AK

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Buon Appetito!

The Missus and I shall spend our Saturday night doing something we do not do too often.  We are going to the theatre.  I am more of a movie guy than a theatre guy, I must admit.  Perhaps if live theatrical performances would include coming attractions and talking hot dogs and Jujubees to advertise the concessions available for purchase they would be more to my taste.  To the dismay of all I am certain I have opted against holding my breath waiting for that to happen. 

Anyway, tonight we are off to the George Street Playhouse in New Brunswick to take in "I Loved, I Lost, I Made Spaghetti", which is described as, "A mouth-watering comedy, this deliciously hilarious play celebrates Italian home cooking as both an expression of love and a source of comfort when the romance goes cold."   

I have been married to my life's great love, an Italian girl, for almost twenty-one years now.  While there is a joke to be told about the irony of Margaret wanting to see a play in which the protagonist is an Italian woman who is a prodigious cook, I shall not tell it.  There is a chance that this shall be on of the three of four days a year that the Missus pops by this space to see just what I am up to.  I am far too undisciplined to train myself to sleep with one eye open every night for the rest of my life.

However brief it might be....

-AK    



   

 

Friday, March 14, 2014

Make Mine Pecan


It is possible that I know less about mathematics and science than any person alive on the planet.  Yet in celebration of the fact that today is "Pi Day" and in view of the fact that I shall spend a significant portion of my day at the Historic Court House in Newark biting down hard on my tongue in an effort to avoid having just this conversation over and over and over with my adversary, this cartoon testimonial to this day seemed apropos. 

However you shall spend your Pi Day, make it a good one.  Take a moment today and raise a glass - or a calculator - to George and Weezy.  Damn good people, those Jeffersons.  Not to mention people who truly had an appreciation for the value of Pi.  

Or was it Pie?  

It matters not. 

Either way it was one hell of a theme song....

 
-AK

Thursday, March 13, 2014

A Shining Moment

Ah March!  Thou art truly a month resplendent in your Madness here in the State of Concrete Gardens.  Sixty degrees yesterday.  Twenty degrees today.  Who the hell knows what tomorrow might bring?  I pity the people who live in a place such as San Diego, California where the weather is benignly beautiful year-round.  The boredom must be crushing. 

March is indeed the month for Madness throughout this great land of ours (and I shall not take this opportunity to go on a jag about the fact that the Final Four will not be contested until April's first weekend).  I remain ever-hopeful that once again this year the field of teams invited to compete for the NCAA Mens' Basketball Championship will include my beloved Alma mater.  Given that our "hoops tradition" began in earnest about twelve minutes after Coach Tad Boyle arrived in Boulder four-plus years ago, we are never a sure thing.  With our best player lost to a season-ending injury in the first week of January, how he and his Buffaloes managed to win 21 games against a schedule determined to be the 13th-toughest in the country I know not.  I know that if their name is called as part of the field on Sunday night, I shall root hard for them.  If it is not, then I shall still root hard for them but I shall do so in the NIT. 

Step away from the madness for just a moment.  Step away to encounter and to enjoy the simply great story of Beau Howell, his teammates from Trinity Classical Academy and their opponents from Desert Chapel High School.  Last week, in a playoff game between the two schools that Trinity was leading by 20+ points in the game's final couple of minutes, Trinity's coach inserted Howell into the game.  Beau Howell is autistic.  He had never scored a basket in a game.  His teammates tried hard to get him one by passing him the ball but he missed the shots that he attempted.  It appeared as if he would not score. 

But with about thirty seconds to go in the game, a Desert Chapel player rebounded a missed shot.  His coach called timeout.  When Desert Chapel came out of the timeout and back onto the floor, one of their players motioned for Howell and his teammates to come down towards the basket that Desert Chapel was defending and when Howell reached the vicinity of the foul line, a Desert Chapel player passed him the ball.  It took him at least three more shots to finally drain that elusive first-ever hoop but drain it he did, with every miss being returned to him by an "opponent" from Desert Chapel and with encouragement being given to him by the other nine kids on the floor. 


I know not how this year's NCAA Tournament shall end.  I do know however that regardless of who wins, it is not likely that March (or April) will deliver a better, more magical moment than Beau Howell's.  

-AK       

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Oh Henry!

March is the month for mathematicians, which in and of itself explains why Mom popped me out in February I suppose.  Yesterday was our third basic math day of 2014 (3/11/14) - although truth be told after we soar to the dizzying height that is 7/7/14 it is all downhill from there.  This Friday is Pi Day.  Math is busting out all over.  

Mathematics and numbers have a special place in the otherwise empty chest cavity of the man who owns the Miami Marlins, Jeffrey Luria.    Luria is the man who prevailed upon the taxpayers of Dade County, Florida to foot the bill for the Marlins' new stadium a few years back, threatening to move the team to any city not smart enough to recognize him as a peddler of all varieties of snake oil unless a new baseball-only stadium was built for them.  He cried poverty when certain elected officials and residents wondered aloud why the team could not pay for its own stadium and, against their better arguments, and to the chagrin of the folks down there, he won.  The people who do the working and tax-paying in Dade County, Florida ended up paying for the Marlins' new park.

Half a season into their first year in their new home - and buried in last place in spite of a roster of All-Star caliber players - Luria sent his high-priced talent packing.  The Marlins' march to payroll paucity was the envy of everyone not named William Tecumseh Sherman.  It caused spontaneous outrage attacks throughout South Florida as the people who paid so much to keep Luria's team as their team now wondered who the hell exactly their team was.  And Luria?  He and his sidekick, David Samson (when Shakespeare wrote, "What's in a name?" he never could have guessed with this one eh?) did what they have done for years and years.  He waved to his fans....but he used only his longest, centrally-located finger.  Man has to know when to conserve right?

In 2013 the Marlins won 62 games.  For those unfamiliar with the length of the Major League season, you might be interested to know that they won exactly 38 fewer games than they lost.  That takes some doing.  Think of it this way:  they lost more than one month's more worth of games than they won.  It was as if they went "0 for May" or some such thing.  Luria laughed all the way to the bank.  His "Major League" payroll last year was a hairball over $36 Million.

Last week, in the Grapefruit League, the Red Sox sent a team to play against the Marlins.  Luria, whose balls bear such a striking resemblance to church bells that he likely gets struck in them three to four times a year inadvertently by bell tower ringers, actually charged his fans a 'premium price' for the tickets for this particular game.  Not to see the Marlins of course, whose lineup included two veteran infielders who were both out of Major League Baseball completely in 2013, but to see the World Series-winning Red Sox.  

The Red Sox, not giving a rat's ass about the Marlins' raping of their own fans over the price of tickets for this particular game and, instead, caring about things like preparing for the 2014 season and the defense of their World Series title, sent a team to play the Marlins that did not include any of their regulars.  In fact, seven of the nine players in the starting lineup had never had an official at-bat in the Major Leagues.  The Marlins - classy to the end - went bat shit crazy.  They complained long and loud - to the press and thereafter to MLB - that the Red Sox had done them and their fans a disservice by failing to field a major-league caliber lineup.  They were quoted as being "outraged" by what the Sox had allegedly done. 

The young fella who is Boston's GM is a good guy, Ben Cherington, and he took it upon himself to apologize for his team's unintentional diss of the Marlins and their fans.  Next time, Ben might want to call his owner to see if he really has to say "Sorry" when he has not in fact done anything wrong.  This past weekend, John Henry took to his Twitter to deliver a resounding "F*ck You" to Luria, Samson and the rest of the whiny, diapy-wearing douche nozzles currently screwing the people of South Florida out of an actual Major League Baseball team.  Tweeted Henry, "They should apologize for their regular season lineup."  

Not that Mr. Henry needs or covets applause from those of us who cheer for New York's American League entry but he is getting it from me nonetheless.  The people who are damaging the Marlins are not the Red Sox or any other team that failed to get the "Super Premium Pricing" memo but rather the people who occupy the owner's box and the executive offices at the Marlins' home stadium.  Jeff Luria is a joke as an owner.  Worse than that he is a thief.  He happily sticks his hand out every year to collect his share of luxury tax money that the people who own the Yankees, the Red Sox, the Rangers and the Dodgers pay in their effort to put the best, most-competitive team they can on the field in their cities for their fans.  Once he has that money in hand, where does it go?  It most certainly does not go back into the Marlins' roster.  Their 2014 payroll is expected to be as microscopic as the 2013 version.  And he watches them play bad baseball from the air-conditioned luxury paid for by the taxpayers of Dade County.   

Oh, by the way, the Red Sox team that outraged the Marlins by showing up to play on "Super Premium Price" ticket day did not win the game.  But it did not lose the game either.  The teams played to a 0-0 tie.  That, all by itself, tells you all you need to know about the Marlins' prospects for 2014.  

Spring has not yet arrived.  And these fish already stink....

....and to the surprise of no one - the stink starts at the head and moves downward from there. 

-AK  

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Wild Billy's Real-Life Story

A ragged suitcase in his hand,
he steals silently away from the circus grounds
And the highway's haunted by the carnival sounds
They dance like a great greasepaint ghost on the wind
A man in baggy pants, a lonely face, a crazy grin
Runnin' home to some small Ohio town
Jesus send some good women to save all your clowns....
-Bruce Springsteen

Bill Guarnere died on Saturday night.  He was ninety years old.  Guarnere was one of the men of Easy Company, the paratroopers whose World War II exploits where appropriately memorialized by Stephen Ambrose in "Band of Brothers"



Guarnere was nicknamed "Will Bill", a sorbriquet earned on the field of battle.  As a member of Easy Company, Guarnere fought his way across Europe as a participant in some of the fiercest battles of World War II.  In the Battle of the Bulge, while coming to the aid of one of his brothers-in-arms who had been injured, Guarnere himself was seriously injured.  He lost his right leg.  He earned multiple commendations including two Purple Hearts, two Bronze Stars and a Silver Star. 

When the war ended, Guarnere returned home to South Philadelphia.  He remained in or around the area he had always called home for the remainder of his life.  Like many of his fellow World War II veterans, he was reticent to talk to anyone, including his family, about what he had lived through in combat.  His son, Bill, Jr., said that his dad never spoke about the war.  His family probably learned more about what he had been through due to the publication of Ambrose's book and the HBO Miniseries upon which it was based, which was brought to life by the collaborative talents of Tom Hanks and Steven Spielberg.  Yet, according to his son, Guarnere did not change much.  Not the type to let a little fame go to his head it seems.  

In doing a bit of research myself into "Wild Bill", I came across a photograph that first appeared on a website, www.101airborneww2.com, which came pretty damn close to breaking my heart.  There he is, in dress uniform, visiting some of his old friends - members of his Band of Brothers who did not live to see 90 or V-E Day for that matter. 



When you see that face standing in the midst of that cemetery it makes it easy to understand why his "fame" late in his life did not change him.  He knew the terrible price he had paid - and the even more terrible prices that others had as well.  He and they did what they did because it was their job.  It was their duty.  It was their obligation. 

His friends with whom he served, including those who were left behind on the battlefields of Europe, were his great joy.  And the things he shared with them and them with him were known to all of them.  They did not need to be shared with the world at large.  Perhaps that is why, according to his son, Guarnere spent a good deal of time organizing reunions of the Easy Company survivors and making sure that his fellow Brothers were doing well.    

Rest in Peace Wild Bill.  And once again, a grateful nation thanks you for your service.   

  
-AK