Saturday, October 31, 2015

Because Their Words Had Forked No Lightning

Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.
-Dylan Thomas

Full disclosure demands that I cop to the fact that but for being a fan of Rodney Dangerfield, Dylan Thomas's "Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night" is a poem of which I would have no knowledge at all.  



Thank you, Thornton Melon.  Nothing expresses the rage I feel annually at this occasion's appearance on the calendar as well as your succinct, beautiful recitation of Thomas's work. No day makes me angrier than the one that marks the end of Daylight Savings Time.  It is not merely a day on the calendar.  It is the commencement of a sentence.  A sentence that shall last until March 13, 2016

For the next five and one-half months, there shall be at least five days each week in which I will not see my home in the daylight.  Arriving at work before dawn is something I have done, by choice, for close to two decades.  Even when days are at their longest here in the State of Concrete Gardens, in the latter half of June, I outrace the sunrise to Parsippany every day.  Winning that race never bothers me.  My ride home at night - irrespective of my departure time - is bathed in sunlight.  

Not now.  And more importantly, not for the next five and one-half months.  I shall take up residency in the House of Mole and grind my teeth in anger at the state of perpetual darkness into which I shall be forced to dwell.  

If you are one of those blissfully ignorant miscreants who jumps for joy at the prospect of receiving a one-time only gift of an additional hour of sleep tonight as Nature's consideration for fucking you out of daylight for the next five and one-half months, then permit me to offer you this piece of advice, unsolicited as it may be, which might just save your life tonight as you trick-or-treat:

Irrespective of how friendly the unshaven man in the dirty sweatshirt seems to be, do not get into his windowless van...



-AK 
   

Friday, October 30, 2015

Friday Free-for-All!

We have reached the end (for business purposes at least) of 2015's tenth month.  My little brain, over-matched on most days even when operating at what purports to be full capacity - is fried.  In lieu of anything substantive (stop laughing) to be discussed here today, it is a little bit of a "Friday Free-for-All"

I was in and out of the 3rd GOP Presidential Candidates' Debate on Wednesday night but based upon the snippets I watched, I have arrived at the conclusion that former Florida Governor Jeb Bush has as little interest in being elected President as we, the people, have in electing him to the office.  Jeez, Governor Bush, I know spending a couple of hours with your peeps under the bright lights in Boulder debating who is meaner, the mainstream media or Donald Trump, is not as exciting to you as being all snuggly under your covers watching "Supergirl" but could you try to at least fake your way through it?  Word of advice to whichever vendor got the gig to produce "JEB '16" bumper stickers, pins, lawn signs, etc.:  Cease production.  His brother George, at this point, has a better shot at winning the White House in 2016 than does Jeb. 

Another interesting little tidbit I picked up from tuning in on Wednesday night:  Senator Marco Rubio's dad was a bartender, his mom was a maid, and they fled Cuba for America and their opportunity at the American dream.  Who knew?  Boy, I am surprised that Marco ("Polo!") does not weave that story into his narrative with more frequency.  Compelling stuff.  And I am not the only member of my family who thinks so.  My daughter, Suzanne, who would have to have a railroad spike driven through her skull (a Phineas Gage reference - on a Friday!) in order for me to be viewed as her intellectual equal also wonders why Senator Rubio does not go to the whip on that story more often.  It cannot be just the two of us who find it moving.  Can it? 

Apparently on Wednesday, not all of the government-issue hot air was polluting the atmosphere at my Alma mater.  At some point shortly before noon, a JLENS Blimp pulled off the usually difficult- to-execute "tether break" and put the Aberdeen Proving Grounds in its rear-view mirror as it began an unsupervised visit to various parts of Pennsylvania.   

I must confess that at first I found the story of the unmanned dirigible cruising on an October afternoon mildly amusing.  I did not realize that in addition to the Russians, the Iranians, the North Koreans, and ISIS, the United States Army has been tasked with the responsibility of keeping this nation safe from attack by Boris, Natasha, and the Fearless Leader.  My chuckle-fest stopped when I came across this investigative piece from the Los Angeles Times.  

For those out there who are fans of the New York Metropolitans baseball club, work hard to suppress stepping on the panic button until after tonight's third World Series game.  I understand that the goal was not to come home from Kansas City down 2-0.  It bears remembering Pat Riley's mantra that a team is not in trouble in a series until it loses at home.  Thus far, all the Royals have done is hold serve.  Will the Mets bounce back, win tonight, and go on to capture their first championship in three decades?  I have no idea.  I do know that the World Series is a Best-of-Seven affair and as that great American philosopher, Lawrence Peter Berra, instructed us all, "It ain't over 'til it's over."  After two games, it ain't over.  

However, we are.  


-AK 

Thursday, October 29, 2015

The Final Steps of a Long Walk Home

It was three years ago today that Superstorm Sandy made landfall here in the State of Concrete Gardens.  The havoc that it wrought profoundly affected the lives of too many people for me - with my limited arithmetic skills - to accurately count.  There are still too damn many presently being affected by it.  People such as Chuck Griffin and Doug Quinn.  People who simply want to get home.  

Earlier this week, in Belmar, the borough's last two families who had been displaced from their homes by Sandy finally completed their long walks to their respective homes. While the June, 2015 target date announced by the "Home by Summer" fundraising campaign that the Borough and the Saint Vincent  De Paul Society of Saint Rose in Belmar established in February, 2015 came and went without Teresa Keefe's family returning to its 14th Avenue home and without Krista Sperber's family returning to their 8th Avenue home.  Truth be told, as of Monday, the Sperbers' home was still not ready but, with an attitude befitting a woman who has embodied the mantra of "adapt and overcome" for the past three years, Krista Sperber was unfazed by the prospect of being a week or so away from her official re-entry date.  Then again, being a mother of two school-age children who you have shepherded through six moves in thirty-six months tends to toughen one's resolve while simultaneously removing one's panic button.   

There are still too many families across New Jersey who remain unable to complete their post-Sandy journeys home.  Three years ago, they believed they had an ally in our fleece-wearing Governor.  Now, with him spending more time out-of-state than in as part of his relentless, fruitless pursuit of a job he shall never attain, they cannot shake the feeling that the wool in his favorite garment has been shorn from a source they recognize all too well. 

A long walk home indeed...


-AK 

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Spirited Debate and Fine Dining

Stand up yah voracious man-eatin' sonofabitch and receive yir sintince.
When yah came to Hinsdale County, there was siven Dimmycrats. But you,
Yah et five of 'em, goddam yah.  
I sintince yah t' be hand by th' neck ontil yer dead,
Dead, dead, as a warnin' ag'in reducin' 
Th' Dimmycratic populayshun of this county.
Packer, you Republican cannibal, I would sintince ya ta Hell
But the statutes forbid it. 
- Statement attributed to Presiding Judge, the Hon. M.B. Gerry, at the
April 13, 1883 Sentencing of Alferd G. Packer in Lake City, Colorado
(Convicted of five counts of cannibalism murder)


Alferd G. Packer
"America's Cannibal"

To borrow a phrase from Mark Fields, the CEO of Ford Motor Co., "Facts are stubborn things." Judge Gerry did indeed sentence Alferd G. Packer to death on April 13, 1883 but  - as is often the case - the language he used when pronouncing sentence was far less colorful than that attributed to him above.  

One of my favorite places on earth, the University of Colorado, Boulder, shall serve this evening as the host for the third Republican Presidential Debate.  When I first read about tonight's festivities - I think the notification came in one of the e-mails that I, as an alum, receive from CU on a regular basis, which e-mail likely hit my inbox over the summer, I read it.  And then I smiled.  And then I had a hearty laugh. 

In the latter half of the 1980's, as an Alex P. Keaton Republican on the CU-Boulder campus, I was one of a very, very small number of students of that particular political affiliation.  CU-Boulder is an extraordinary place.  Thirty years ago, in addition to being very beautiful and very fun, it was very Caucasian (freakishly so based upon my own upbringing) and very left-leaning politically.  Even now, I would wager that one is more likely to find more members of the CU community (students, staff, and faculty) willing to admit to being University of Nebraska football fans than would admit to being a registered Republican.    

And yet, the Republicans are coming, the Republicans are coming.  

Apparently, however, the students are not.  Well, at least, not in any appreciable number anyway. The debate shall be held at the 11,000-seat Events Center, which thanks to Coach Tad Boyle (#RollTad) and his Buffaloes, has been filled near capacity on many a winter's evening more often than not during the past five years.  Tonight's debate will be conducted before an audience of 1,000.  One hundred and fifty tickets have been allocated to CU students, staff, and faculty. There are some on campus who appear to be more than slightly tweaked about the fact that only fifteen percent of the audience shall be made up of members of the CU community.  

For those who want to attend but will not be able to gain admittance to the hall, I have a friendly Alum to Undergrad suggestion:   Head on over to the UMC and grab a bite to eat at the Alferd Packer Restaurant and Grill.  Find a television set and watch the debate if you want while enjoying a delicious meal (if you are in the mood for Mexican, then might I suggest something at El Canibal)? 

Or better yet, watch Game Two of the World Series.  If it is half as exciting as Game One, you will be talking about it for days to come.  Look, in another four years, CU might again have the chance to host a Republican Presidential Debate and afford you another opportunity to pine over time not spent with a whole new crop of lying politicians (or perhaps the Democrats' circus will pitch a debate tent at the Events Center during this election cycle and you can experience it that much sooner).  Four years is an eye-blink.  The Kansas City Royals, champions of the American League, have won one World Series title in their history - and yesterday was the thirtieth anniversary of that great event.  Their opponents, the National League's champions - the New York Mets - have captured two World Championships in their history.  Yesterday marked the twenty-ninth anniversary of their most recent title.    These two teams meeting in the World Series arguably qualifies as historical.  Fourteen Republicans in Boulder, Colorado simultaneously - including two Republicans who happen, also, to be minorities - may be newsworthy but it is most certainly not a historically significant event. 

If you are a CU-Boulder student experiencing outrage, whether real or feigned (and I spent four years at CU kiddos so I know a thing or two about watching young Trustfundafarians attempting to master the art of faux outrage), about tonight's on-campus debate, get over yourself, get over it, and get on over to the Alferd G. Packer Grill for some good eats.  

And remember to never dine alone...




...at least not at the beginning of the meal. 

-AK 












Tuesday, October 27, 2015

DuFresne's Dichotomy

I guess it comes down to a simple choice, really.
Get busy living, or get busy dying. 
- Andy DuFresne

In this space, every now and again, I have shared a central, indisputable fact of my life, which is that from the moment she entered into it, close to a quarter-century ago, Margaret saved my life.  It is not an exaggeration.  Not even slightly.  A compelling argument could in fact be made that it is an understatement. 

I have serious doubt as to whether, without her, I would have made it to this point in the program - close enough to the half-century mark that I can clearly see it on the horizon line.  I know simply that before I was given the gift of her, I was utterly apathetic about the prospect of growing old.  I had gotten busy dying.  Very busy, as a matter of fact.  

The Missus celebrates a birthday today.  No one I know embraces her birthday with as much aplomb as does my wife.  Irrespective of this date's appearance on the calendar, I cannot shake the feeling that the day's present belongs to me, a phenomenon that makes today a twin to each and every day whose company it keeps.

Happy Birthday, Honey...

...and thank you. 

-AK 



  

Monday, October 26, 2015

The Church of Autumn

Sort of a change of pace weekend in these parts.   The Missus hosted - with Suzanne's help - a garage sale.  Of the endless number of things I find exasperating, the garage sale is an event that holds a very special place in the Collection of Undertakings I Cannot Fucking Stand.  Strangers roaming all over my driveway while haggling over nickels and dimes.  All in the pursuit of a "bargain".   Margaret has the stomach for such nonsense.  I do not.  

Thus, while she was home doing her thing I went to the beach to do some work at our little piece of Paradise by the Sea.  I completed a painting project as well as some other chores.  And it would not be a weekend at the beach if I did not squeeze in a run along the water.  

As I waited for the first coat of paint to dry I headed south around our town's namesake and into Spring Lake.  I love the Shore in October.  There are only a fraction of the people around as opposed to those you might see in July.  The streets are quiet.  The air is crisp and, Saturday, the sky over the ocean was a spectacular gun-metal gray.  

A wise man once observed that "it ain't no sin to be glad you're alive".  

Amen. 

-AK

Sunday, October 25, 2015

The Hucking of the Fuskers

Twenty-nine years is a long time for which to remember anything.  For a memory to live in my mind's eye for that length of time, it has to have been a spectacularly vivid memory.  To be alive in my head today, is has fought off not only the ravages of time but the rather spirited effort I made as a much younger man to further the "fogging" process.  

It was on this date, twenty-nine Octobers ago, in Boulder, Colorado that I bore witness to the University of Colorado Buffaloes doing something that they had not done since Dwight Eisenhower had used 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, Washington, D.C. as the return address on his Christmas cards. I was a nineteen-year-old sophomore at CU and I stood in the student section crammed with other hopeful pseudo-cynics.  We wanted to believe that Coach Mac, Mark Hatcher, and the rest of the Buffs could spring the upset on undefeated and #3 in the nation Nebraska.  

There is a fine line between hope and confidence and for most of the afternoon, we did little more than straddle that line.  We yelled our lungs out as the Buffs, who took the field that afternoon with an underwhelming 2-4 record (although riding a two-game winning streak), battled the heavily-favored Huskers.  At the time, CU and Nebraska were both members of the Big Eight Conference and played each other every season.  Nebraska had defeated the Buffs eighteen consecutive times, last losing to CU in Lincoln in 1967.  The Buffs had not defeated the Huskers in Boulder since America still liked Ike.  

Thus, even when the Buffs jumped out to a 10-0 lead, having utilized "trickeration" for which Coach Mac was not particularly well known, those of us in the student section watched with one eye fixed on the action taking place on Folsom Field's artificial turf surface and the other fixed on the sky above, anticipating the downward trajectory of the other shoe.  When Nebraska broke through and the score at the end of three quarters was CU 10, NU 7, I for one was certain I saw at least the tip of a lace break through the clouds.  

I was wrong.  

Bill McCartney was - to be kind - a conservative football coach.  On more than one occasion during my four years in Boulder, a fan in the student section who bears an uncanny resemblance (or used to anyway) to the reflection I see in the bathroom mirror every morning, used to implore Coach Mac to turn over his 3 x 5 index card and call our other play.  I can only imagine the amount of gentle persuasion his staff employed during the week leading up to the game to get the Campbell reverse installed as part of the game plan.  

Having emptied what was believed to have been the entire contents of our bag of trick, Tom Osborne and Nebraska had every reason to suspect that Coach Mac had nothing else up his sleeve once the fourth quarter began.  

Oops...


Following Lance Carl's touchdown reception, the teams traded field goals.  The final score:  CU 20, NU 10. As the seconds counted down on the clock, I made my way down onto the field with what appeared to be every other person who had been in the stands - at least those of us there cheering for the home team.  While chaos abounded in some corners of Folsom Field, I was drawn to the expressions on the faces of a few of the players who were simply sitting quietly on the bench, taking it all in.  Those of us who spent that day as I did - cheering from the stands - had been witnesses to history.  They, on the other hand, had been participants.  Our experiences, while concurrent, were not the same. 

Seeing the players seated on the bench, in the role of spectator, affected me.  I quickly thereafter found my way off of the field, out of the stadium, and back to Farrand Hall to celebrate with my friends.  

For one solid week thereafter, as we played our nightly after-dinner football game on Farrand Field, we could still see "CU 20, NU 10" on the scoreboard at Folsom Field.  It was almost as if the university could not bear to see the game end. 

But it did.  It always does.  

The memory remains. 

That is enough.  

-AK 


Saturday, October 24, 2015

Nowhere Near All, Folks...

Life is not a popularity contest.
And if it is, we're not winning.
-WPK, Sr.

Hilarity is defined as United Nations Day and the birthday of a member of the Kenny Sextet of Siblings occurring on the same day.  Irony is defined as United Nations Day sharing its space on the calendar with the birthday of one of the three male members of the aforementioned Sextet.  Diplomacy has long not been the strong suit among male members of our clan.  It is practiced infrequently and not well, both with the world at large and, on occasion, with one another.  Such is the case with an inherited trait I suppose.  

Today is my older brother Kelly's birthday.  It would please him immensely, I know, if our beloved New York Rangers could turn their jaunt south on the Turnpike into a win and two precious points in the standings when they skate in Philadelphia against the Flyers.  Frankly, it is nowhere near my birthday and it would make me pretty damn happy as well.  

Other than that, I am willing to wager that his list of "wishes" on this day looks quite a lot like yesterday's wish list looked and quite a lot like tomorrow's shall look as well:  Health and happiness for his wife Linda, his three adult offspring (all of whom are too old to be called "children" any longer), his grand kids, and Smoochie...and no one doing or saying anything on the job that requires him to count backwards from one hundred in order to avoid making that person a "permanent" member of the project.  Simple wishes.  

And damn important ones as well.

Especially when made by the birthday boy.  




-AK 

  

Friday, October 23, 2015

October Magic

Whether baseball remains America's Pastime, here, halfway through the second decade of the 21st Century, I would not pretend to know.  Much has been written and spoken about the fact that America's best young male athletes have cooled on baseball and are, instead, honing their skills in sports including basketball, football, golf, soccer, and even lacrosse.  

Here, in 21st Century America, where the cost of an education has reached a level akin to indentured servitude, parents are less inclined to encourage their school-age son or daughter to play any and all sports that they enjoy.  Instead, youngsters are being herded towards devoting their time and talents to one particular sport, full-time, and year-round.  It is hard for a twelve-year-old to find time for a pickup game with friends with a three time per week commitment with both his or her strength and conditioning coach and nutritionist already occupying permanent places on the calendar.  

Baseball is a sport whose pace is an anathema to our "everything all at once and all of the time" society.  It shall be both the saddest and most celebrated day in human history when food scientists create food that passes through us almost instantaneously while providing us with the nutrition our bodies require.  The day on which we are able to eat and shit simultaneously shall be a red-letter day for us humans.  A modicum of efficiency we shall be...even as we are sitting in a meeting wearing our adult diaper and making that goofy face that babies make when they are dropping a deuce.  Do you smell that, son?  That, that is the smell of...progress.

Against a backdrop of "instant everything", baseball stands with its jaw locked and jutting outward, proudly holding firm against the relentless assault of those who wish to equate "newer" with "better" even in the absence of evidence to support the hypothesis.  And it does so with its most majesty, and its most splendor, in October.  

For it is in October that the magic with which any plot of land shaped into a baseball diamond is inherently imbued creates days of miracle and wonder.  We see things that we otherwise do not see.  As the air dries, the days shorten, and the evenings cool, October's magic often serves as a B-12 shot for those players who are mere mortals.  Thus far this October, the magic has laid within the bat of Daniel Murphy.   

Murphy is the second baseman for the New York Mets.  He is a solid pro, a very good hitter who has worked hard to elevate his defense, which has long been viewed as the weakest part of his game.   This season, with their captain, David Wright, on the disabled list for an extended period of time, Murphy moved from second base over to third base in Wright's absence and was a critical cog in the Mets' machine that captured the NL East title in a rout.  

Nothing Murphy did in the regular season explains his October.  Nothing he has ever done in his career explains it either.  

And therein lies the beauty of baseball. 

So far this October, Daniel Murphy and his Mets have played nine postseason games.  In those nine games, Murphy has batted .426, scored nine runs, hit seven home runs, and driven in eleven runs.  Along the way, he has hit a home run in six consecutive playoff games.  In the long, storied history of baseball, his is the only name that appears on that particular stat line.   Not Ruth.  Not Gerhig.  Not Mantle.  Not Bonds.  Daniel "Friggin'" Murphy.  In the interest of full disclosure, I know not whether anyone actually calls him "Friggin'" although I am willing to wager that right about the time he turned Rodney's 98 MPH fastball around in the top of the 8th inning in Game Four of the NLCS for his final home run of the series, more than one Cubs fan affixed that sobriquet upon him. 

The World Series begins on Tuesday night, either in Toronto or in Kansas City.  Barring a sweep, this year is one in which we shall have November baseball as Game Five of the World Series is scheduled to be played at Citi Field on November 1.  Game Four will be played on Halloween night at Citi Field.  Would it not be great fun if MLB allowed the teams to play the game while wearing Halloween costumes?  

Whether the teams are permitted to play in costume or not, Daniel Murphy will be there...

...as Roy Hobbs.

No costume required. 

-AK 

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Headlong Into Danger

The world is a dangerous place to live;
not because of the people who are evil,
but because of the people who don't do anything about it.
- Albert Einstein


Officer Randolph Holder
NYPD

It is the great sportswriter Jerry Izenberg who has - on more than occasion - referred to sports, which is the milieu in which he has made his mark, as being something akin to the "kiddie swim" portion of the program.  While athletic competition invariably involves winning and losing, rare is the occasion when a win or a loss is a matter of life and death.  And there is not, of course, a goddamn thing wrong with that at all.

I was reminded of Mr. Izenberg's prescient observation yesterday morning when I awakened to learn that Police Officer Randolph Holder, a 33-year-old Guyanese immigrant and a five-year veteran of the NYPD, had been murdered in the line of duty on Tuesday night in East Harlem.   The Missus and I had stayed up late (for us) on Tuesday night watching the Mets win Game Three of the National League Championship Series and had fallen asleep without watching the local news.  We went to bed unaware that Officer Holder had been shot in the head by a fleeing suspect and that Officer Holder, who had been rushed to Harlem Hospital Center, had been pronounced dead, there, at 10:22 PM.  

Randolph Holder was a third-generation police officer.  His father and his father's father both worked as police officers in Officer Holder's native Guyana.  Officer Holder joined the NYPD in July 2010.  He worked in the Department's Housing Division, which is the Division that is charged with the responsibility of policing the City's public housing complexes.  It is the Division in which officers are required to regularly perform "vertical patrols" of the stairwells in the various high-rise buildings that comprise a significant portion of the City's public housing units.  A dangerous beat and one on which, by all accounts, Officer Holder performed in an exemplary fashion.   

At Harlem Hospital Center on Tuesday night, Commissioner William Bratton, whose Department has now seen four officers murdered in the line of duty since last December, said of Officer Holder, "Tonight he did what every other officer in the NYPD does when that call comes - he ran towards danger.  It was the last time he will respond to that call." 


-AK 


Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Doc Brown, Marty McFly & Jimmy Fab...

Other than Marty McFly, the only other person I know who has ever owned and/or driven a DeLorean is my high school friend, wrestling teammate, and fellow member of the Class of  '85 Jim Fabricatore.  

I had a very non-specific recollection of Jim's picture in our Senior Yearbook including his DeLorean.  There was a real likelihood that I was wrong in that recollection.  I did not believe that I actually possessed a copy of my Senior Yearbook as I had no recollection of actually possessing one, neither now nor ever.  I had not seen one in quite some time - damn close to thirty years. Last night, however, as I was looking in the basement for something that I want to send to Rob, I came across a box that my wife (Middlesex's answer to Indiana Jones in the realm of artifact preservation) has had stored in a back corner - for some time apparently.  A copy of my Senior Yearbook, among other real treasures (giving that term its broadest possible definition), was inside.



Jim and his car did, in fact, look damn cool. It occurred to me, while looking at his Senior Photo, that I have not seen Jim in person in thirty years although we interact on a regular basis through the monster known as social media.  I presume the DeLorean is a vehicle he no longer possesses. However, for all I know, he might in fact still have it - if not to use as an everyday vehicle, then perhaps to keep as a collector's item or - given its stainless steel construction - as a source of extra cutlery around the holidays.  

Today is October 21, 2015.  In the interest of full disclosure I must admit that until I read it on-line a couple of days ago, I did not know that today is "the day" to which Doc Brown and Marty McFly travel in Back to the Future II.  That omission from my knowledge of all things (he says with his tongue planted firmly inside of his cheek) is due in large part to the fact that while the first of three films in this particular trilogy is one that I enjoyed a great deal (in no small part due to the fact that I am a longstanding fan of Michael J. Fox and Christopher Lloyd and the film's basic premise was a fresh one), I did not enjoy BTTF II nearly as much as the first film.  I have never even watched the third film in the series, in which the two men traveled back in time to the Old West.  

Perhaps were I a Cubs fan, BTTF II would hold a spot much nearer and dearer to my heart. I am not. Therefore, it does not.  Besides, I am not convinced that any amount of wishful thinking contained within a movie screenplay will be enough to overcome Murphy's Law, whether the Murphy laying it down is a sweet-swinging second baseman or a billy goat.   

Try using that as fuel for the flux capacitor...

...and, while you are trying to do something that may prove to be impossible, try avoiding the fact that if the Mets have their way, October 21, 2015 shall indeed be a date of significance in the history of the Chicago Cubs.

It shall be the date upon which their 2015 season ended.

-AK 




Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Dear Santa: It's A Long Story

Dear Elf, Old and Jolly: 

Let's dispense with the pleasantries, fat man, OK?  For as far back as I can remember you and your team of Holiday Homunculi have ground your Christmas axes all over me.  Do you think I have forgotten that - as a little boy - each Christmas for three years in a row I asked you to bring me the set of 500 Army men that I saw advertised on the back cover of every comic book that I ever sneaked into our home under Dad's nose and that for three years running, you screwed me?  What type of tree-hugging peacenik are you? Have you and Bernie Sanders ever been photographed in the same place?  Ever?   

But I digress.

I suppose that I have long understood that, from your perspective, Christmas is a meritocracy.  Be good, get good stuff.  Be a lawyer, get...well, get enough coal to justify casting Sissy Spacek and Tommy Lee Jones in a biopic.  I am far too far past the exit ramp for the Road to Redemption to ever hope to find my way back to it at this point in my life.  So, Mr. Claus, I borrowed a page from the late, great Warren Zevon and went looking for the next best thing.  I am pleased to report, I have found it.  

This December, Ol' Double K, I shall not be any less of a miserable SOB than I have been in Decembers past (or Januaries through Novembers Past, truth be told), but I shall still have myself a merry little Christmas.  I have bypassed you entirely!  My route to Yuletide Joy? 

Out on the Backstreets of course.  And it turns out all I needed to get there was a credit card and means to pay the bill when it arrives.  Merry Christmas to me - and to Rob as well!  


-AK 

P.S. - Lay off the cookies.  Just sayin'.  

Monday, October 19, 2015

While Somewhere Pete Hamill Smiles...

Here I must plead guilty to nostalgia,
but not to sentimentality, 
which is always a lie about the past. 
- Pete Hamill 

I am a great fan of Pete Hamill, whose memoir "A Drinking Life" as well as "Downtown:  My Manhattan" should be - I think - required reading.   I could actually make a compelling argument that everything he has written should be required reading but I figured I would give you an easily attainable goal first and allow you to expand your horizons from there.

Saturday was a day awash in nostalgia but wholly bereft of sentimentality.  The annual Alumni Awards Event at Wardlaw-Hartridge was, as it always is, a wonderful, remarkable, and important event.  I am a member of the committee that selects the individuals and the teams that are enshrined in the Athletic Hall of Fame each October, and on Saturday, I had the pleasure of presenting Jay Hoffacker (Class of 1969) for enshrinement.  He was one hell of an extraordinary swimmer - posting in 1968 the fastest time of any prep school swimmer in the United States in the 100-yard backstroke. Prior to meeting him shortly before the ceremony on Saturday afternoon, I had never met Jay - although I had chatted with him via e-mail.  I am pleased that I had the opportunity to spend a considerable amount of time with Jay and his wife Joanna on Saturday.  He is a great a gentleman as he was a competitive swimmer.  

The honor of being selected for the Hall of Fame was something that clearly meant a lot to him, as it did to the other  members of the class of 2015, Clayton "Chuckie" Mayers and Alarice Cesareo Lonergan.  Each of the three of them spoke of their reaction to learning of their selection and, more importantly, the importance that the school had played in their lives, both while each was there as a student, and in the years since graduation.  

Later that evening, a number of us who graduated from W-H in the mid-1980's got together at Darby Road in Scotch Plains.  While among our group were faces of friends with whom I have had regular interaction over the past thirty years, there were also those among our number who I had not seen since high school.  We had a simply terrific time.  While a small percentage of our time together was spent in the "remember when" chatter that threatens to overwhelm such a gathering, the lion's share of the time was spent discussing one another's lives in the present tense.  Such conversation is reflective of a greater interest in who we are, presently, as opposed to who we were a lifetime ago as teenagers.  

Kudos to our ringleader, Em, for putting the evening together.  While small in size, she remains now that which she was a lifetime ago, which is a person to whom it is very difficult to say "No".  Her energy tends to be infectious.  

And on Saturday night, we were all happy to be under the weather.

Darby Road Pub - Scotch Plains
October 17, 2015 

-AK 





Sunday, October 18, 2015

And Then There Were Two...

Two weeks from today, I shall awaken before sunrise in a hotel room in lower Manhattan, shower, dress, bid the Missus farewell, and board a ferry.  Waiting for me at the end of the boat ride shall be the starting area for the 2015 New York City Marathon.  

At my office the other day, one of my colleagues asked me what my goal is for the Marathon.  "Survival", I replied, only half-kidding.  That is - of course - an incorrect answer.  My goal for the Marathon is that which it always is, which is to make it home.  For me, however, home is represented not by an address but by an individual.  Margaret, to me, is "home".  On Marathon Sunday, she will be in Central Park, with our friends Sue and Jeff to keep her company, patiently awaiting the arrival of her lumbering spouse, which arrival shall likely not occur for at least five hours after the firing of the starting gun.  

Irrespective of the time of day and regardless of the time on the race clock, at the moment in time at which I reach Margaret I shall have arrived home.  That is the goal.  On Marathon Sunday.  Every day.


-AK 


Saturday, October 17, 2015

The Importance of Institutional History

Norlin Library - West Entrance
University of Colorado, Boulder

Eighty years ago, University of Colorado President George Norlin shared with that year's graduating class that his words were going to be etched in stone above the as-yet-to-be-completed library on the Boulder campus that bears his names.  They were, as he explained to the Class of '35, designed to serve as a charge to them - and to all CU students who would follow them - that a school's greatest asset - irrespective of the beauty of its campus - is its people.  Being a modest and forthright man, President Norlin acknowledged that he had crafted his charge from the words of Roman author Marcus Tullius Cicero, who had written: 

Nescire autem antequam natus sis acciderit,
id est semper esse puerum

which translated from Latin into English means, "To be ignorant of what occurred before you were born is to remain always a child." 

This afternoon, at or about 4:00 PM, the high school Alma mater of the back half of the Kenny sextet, which doubled as Mom's employer for close to a decade and a half as well as the institution to which Dad devoted the final dozen or so years of his life, shall host its Annual Alumni Reception/Awards Ceremony.  A half- dozen individuals shall be honored.  Among them are five graduates of the school whose graduation dates span fifty-five years:

Henry Parker '44 (Distinguished Alumnus)
Whitney Stevens '44 (Distinguished Alumnus)
Jay Hoffacker '69 (Athletic Hall-of-Fame)
Chuck Mayers '74 (Athletic Hall-of-Fame)
Alice Cesareo Lonergan '99 (Athletic Hall-of-Fame)

The sixth honoree is Robert Gould.  Mr. Gould is retiring this year after devoted the past forty-two years of his life to teaching, first, at Wardlaw, and, thereafter, at Wardlaw-Hartridge.   How does one measure the depths of his devotion?  Mileage might be an effective measuring stick.  I had Mr. Gould for 8th grade science in 1980-81.  As of that time, he was already living in Sussex County, New Jersey.  He has therefore, at least, the past thirty-five years traveling eighty-plus miles round-trip every day to teach and to coach.  Four hundred-plus miles a week.  

Every October, this event serves to remind me of the wisdom of Cicero and the wisdom of George Norlin.  It is the people, not the things, which are an institution's greatest assets.  

-AK 

Friday, October 16, 2015

The Truth According to Terrence Mann

In the interest of full disclosure, I must confess that although I intended to honor the Yankees' one-and-done appearance in this year's MLB playoffs but sulking my way through ignoring the playoffs, I have failed miserably in that effort.

The absence of a rooting interest has not quelled my enthusiasm for playoff baseball at all.  I cannot name five members of either the Royals or the Astros (or the Royals AND the Astros combined) and yet I found their five-game ALDS to be very compelling stuff.  Not as compelling as the Rangers vs the Blue Jays but, in fairness to KC and Houston, that is a testament to just how exciting that series was and not a knock on the Royals and the Astros.

And any time the Chicago Cubs are still playing deep into October, all is indeed right in the baseball world.  Well, almost entirely right.  If the Cubbies are the NL representative in this year's World Series and Wrigley Field hosts a game played entirely in daylight, then baseball bliss shall indeed have been achieved.  Although irrespective of whenever the first pitch is thrown, each game in the NLCS between the Cubs and the Mets should be pretty damn exciting.

If the Mets win, then maybe their skipper Terry Collins will be written of more fondly in his boss Sandy Alderson's next "Why I Am a Baseball Genius" book than he was in Alderson's most recent tome.

-AK

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Fate's Right Hand

Robert Serra was twenty-one years old in the fall of 2001.  On September's second Tuesday, he spent his first full day at his new job, which job he loved so much that he anticipated spending many, many years on it.  For many of us, the first day at a new job entails filling out forms for payroll and insurance purposes, meeting our new co-workers, and figuring out a good place to go for lunch.  Robert Serra's first day was nothing of the sort. 

The second Tuesday of September, 2001 was September 11.  And it was on that very day that FF Robert Serra began his career in the FDNY.  One day earlier, he had graduated from the FDNY's Fire Academy.  The Staten Island native witnessed the attack on the Twin Towers from the Verrazano Bridge, hustled home to get his bunker gear, and headed into Lower Manhattan.  

FF Serra spent countless hours at Ground Zero, initially in a search for survivors and thereafter, in what became a recovery operation.  In the process, he himself became extremely ill.  He still is ill. FF Serra, now a thirty-five-year-old husband and father of three, has spent the past fourteen years having dozens of polyps removed from his nose and from his sinuses, has nodules on his thyroid, and suffers from a host of illnesses, including acid reflux, IBS, GERD, and PTSD.   His illnesses forced him to retire from the FDNY.  He is one of the many first responders whose ability to continue to pay for the fight against the ravages of his many diseases was recently dealt a body blow by Congress's failure to permanently renew the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act, which failure led to a portion of the Act expiring earlier this month.  

It has been pointed out countless times, both in this space, and in spaces occupied by those with a far greater gift of language than I, that Congress's unconscionable behavior on this issue is not a Democrat thing or a Republican thing, but merely a Douchebag thing.  It must also be pointed out, of course, that good people on both sides of the political aisle in Congress are fighting the good fight for first responders such as FF Serra.  New York and New Jersey have taken the lead in terms of bi-partisan support by our members of Congress in championing our first responders' cause.  

Proving if nothing else I suppose than just what a fickle bitch Fate can be, FF Serra's first day on his new job proved to be the final day of his future-father-in-law's life.  Among those Cantor Fitzgerald employees murdered on September 11, 2001 was Vincent M. Litto.  Mr. Litto, only fifty-two years young, was a Senior Vice-President at Cantor Fitzgerald.  He was in his office on the 104th floor of the North Tower when it was struck at 8:46 a.m.  Mr. Litto was survived by his parents, Michael and Marie, his wife, Linda, his four daughters, Michelle Restaino, Katie Petras, Kimberly Litto, and Kristen Litto, and four grandchildren.  

Is it irony or is it coincidence that Kristen Litto, the daughter of a man who spent three years as a member of the NYPD prior to trading in his handcuffs for cuff links would would fall in love with and marry a member of the FDNY?  I do not pretend to know.  I do know, however, that Kristen Litto Serra, a young woman whose father was murdered fourteen-plus years ago should not be faced with the prospect of having that very same event circle back on her - and on her family - in an effort to kill her husband too.  It simply is not right. 

And if wherever you are reading this, you live in a Congressional District in which your elected Representative has voted to gas-light FF Serra and the thousands of men and women who are in desperate need of the assistance the Zadroga Act has provided to them and/or you live in a state where one or both of your Senators has done likewise, then you need to do something about it - and about them.



-AK   

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

The Price of Youthful Exuberance

According to a jury in Bridgeport, Connecticut, yesterday afternoon, the going rate for it is $0.00

Nada.  

Zilch. 

Jennifer Connell, a fifty-four year-old New York woman, had sued her nephew, Sean Tarala of Westport, Connecticut, because - as per Ms. Connell - four years ago, then-eight-year-old Sean had acted unreasonably when he exuberantly responded to her arrival at his birthday party. On the witness stand this past Friday, she recounted for the jury what horror befell her upon her arrival: 

According to Connell, Sean's behavior was clearly negligent and entirely unexpected.  After all, who has ever heard of a little boy ever expressing any enthusiasm at (a) his 8th birthday party; (b) the appearance of a favorite aunt; or (c) the appearance of that favorite aunt at his 8th birthday party?  Apparently, not "Auntie Jen".   Perhaps had she spent more time with Sean before he reached the advanced age of eight, she could have communicated to him the importance of her being able to walk up three flights of stairs to her apartment...although I must confess that as a non-physician I fail to appreciate the relationship between her broken wrist and her ability to ambulate up and down three flights of stairs.   
She definitely should have made him aware of the importance of her social life and reminded him of the hardship associated with not being able to cram a handful of pigs in a blanket or crab puffs into her mouth with her usual alacrity because of the difficulty associated with holding her hors d'oeuvre plate.  It is a little-known fact that there were not Twelve Labors of Hercules, as commonly believed, but thirteen.   The final one, The Impossible-to-Balance Hors D'oeuvre Plate, is often omitted from scholastic textbooks out of concern that no child would believe that Hercules successfully completed that Labor, which Zeus himself referred to as "The Triple Lindy of Labors". 
On Tuesday afternoon, a six-member jury unanimously rejected Ms. Connell's claim that Sean's negligence had caused her to suffer damages in the amount of $127,000.  Sean, the jury unanimously ruled, was not liable for his actions.  
Much to Ms. Connell's relief, no doubt, the jury was not asked to assess her liability for her action in filing a lawsuit against her young nephew.  Considering it took them only twenty-five minutes of deliberation to exonerate Sean, methinks she would not have enjoyed their verdict.  
-AK 

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

A Word of Caution for the Cardboard Cowboys

We had not even finished our synchronized hand-wringing over the multiple killings that occurred on the campus of Umpqua Community College two Thursdays ago, when that particular act of insanity was pushed off of the front pages by dual shootings at Northern Arizona University and Texas Southern University, which occurred within hours of one another this past Friday.  One develops a good appreciation for just how far through the looking glass we have come when commentators - discussing the latter two events - took solace from the fact that in both instances the shooter was not an "active shooter".  Rather, the shooter was someone pissed off about something (real or perceived) that one or more of his victims had done to him and responded to that horrible transgression by shooting the committer of that particular sin as well as anyone else in the immediate vicinity.   Phew - what a relief, right?  

Thirty Septembers ago, it freaked me out more than a little when my roommate Alex unpacked his stuff in our freshman dorm room (Farrand 487) and his belongs included a Chouinard Ice Axe.  I might have shit the bed nightly had he unpacked a gun among his treasures.  

I find all of the political back-and-forth that goes on in the wake of events such as these to be as pathetic as it is predictable.  Among the "ideas" (to give that term the broadest definition permitted by the Einstein Estate) that I have heard vocalized is the one that goes something like this:  If more persons were armed on campuses, including college campuses, then it would curtail events such as these because those viewed as targets by the "active shooter" would likely include at least one individual armed with a weapon that he or she is prepared to use to kill, if necessary, the bad guy.  

It is this idea that I find the most offensive.  It is this idea that I find the most potentially dangerous.  It is this idea - in a seemingly endless stream of stupid fucking ideas - to be the single dumbest fucking idea of all.  Why?  For it is this idea that poses the most potential danger to one of the people on this planet about whom I care most of all.  And before I stand by quietly and let one of the Cardboard Cowboys currently running for elective office repeat it with sufficient frequency to elevate it -almost by default - to a position of reason and logic, I will do my damnedest to expose the innate stupidity at its core.   For me, it is not a political issue.  It is a parental issue.  

My son, Rob, has chosen a career in public service.  Unlike Yours truly, who finds it difficult to manufacture even a faux fuck about the world in general, he is one of those individuals to whom the term "first responder" applies.  When shit and fan arrive at the point of intersection, he heads towards that point with all due dispatch.  His is a path I could not - and shall not - pretend to have been born with enough (a) courage; and (b) selflessness to walk upon - not even one single step.  

Those among us who do what it is my son does for a living have enough to worry about when responding to a rapidly-unfolding situation without trying to discern which person with the weapon is "a good guy" and which person with the person is "the bad guy".  Also, unlike me - and possibly you as well - he was required to satisfactorily complete the best training in the world - MORE THAN FOUR MONTHS OF IT - before he was entrusted with his duty weapon.  If and when he receives the call to respond to a situation such as the ones that have played out already this month in Arizona, Oregon, and Texas, his "to-do" list upon arrival will be full enough, thank you very much, without having to worry about dodging friendly fire from a well-meaning person who is "just trying to help". 

Note to all of the aforementioned Cardboard Cowboys:  Irrespective of your gender or your political affiliation, the peddling of this particularly virulent strain of political expediency, which could adversely affect someone I love dearly, has gotten my attention and shall continue to commend my attention for as long as you intend to peddle it.  And I shall do all I that I am able to protect him - and the men and women who serve alongside him both literally and figuratively - from you and your dangerous "appeal to the lowest common denominator" approach.  

I have never been smart enough to back away from a fight in my entire life.  I can assure you that given how much I loathe change, this is not likely to be the first time I do so.  And if you think for even one second that I might be bluffing, then I double-dog-dare you to call me on it.

In the words of celluloid hero John McClane, "Yippee Ki Yay, Mother Fucker...

-AK 

Monday, October 12, 2015

My Happy Place

Weather has no memory.  Seven short days after people all along the Jersey Shore were trying not to get blown away by a Nor'easter, this weekend featured gorgeous October days back-to-back.  

Saturday morning was the Friendly Sons of the Shillelagh 5K, which began and ended at Bar Anticipation in Lake Como, which event had originally been scheduled for Saturday, October 3.  Happiness is an event that takes place so close to home that I was able to walk to it and home from it.  In fact, it took place so close to home that I was able to run over to Bar A, pre-race, and pick up my bib and assorted race swag, run home to drop off all of the stuff for which I had no pressing need (everything but the bib), and then run back over to Bar A in time for the race.

Margaret did not make it down the beach until late in the afternoon.  I resisted the temptation to spend the day post-race either (a) at Bar A's outside bar enjoying their wonderful Bloody Marys; or (b) napping on the couch.  Instead I spent it enjoying the outdoors while doing some yard work.  There is something about crisp autumnal air that motivates even my lazy ass.  On Saturday night, the Missus and I had quite an excellent time with Denise and Joe Lipman at what was an impromptu get-together for dinner.  Proof that the best things often occur with no advance planning whatsoever - even when you discover that the local pub you intended to dine at has shuttered its doors since you were last there one month ago.  Fare thee well, Connolly Station.  I, for one, shall miss you.  

Yesterday the Missus and I had a great time while doing...well not a great deal of anything at all.  I ran my final double-figure mileage training run in preparation for the New York City Marathon and then we spent the rest of the day just goofing off.  We spent a bit of time at Belmar's Octoberfest and - in the interest of equal time - at Lake Como Day as well.

Without exception, the best money I have ever spent in my life was on the purchase of our home in Lake Como.   

I have found my happy place.  

-AK

Sunday, October 11, 2015

The Leaves On The Trees...

To those who know me, it comes as no surprise at all for me to acknowledge myself as something less than the world's most social of social animals.  I am a person of many acquaintances and very few friends.  I am also a man whose favorite leisure pursuits include several (reading, writing, and running) that are single-serve activities.  

Margaret and I purchased our little piece of Paradise by the Sea in May.  We were able to make good use of our digs all summer, spending close to every weekend at the beach.  It was, in a word, terrific.  

October has proven to be even better.  Our little town is calm, mellow, and very quiet as it is now freed from the hustle and bustle of summer.  We are a couple of years, at least, away from being full-time Lake Como residents but this preview that Autumn has provided of what life is like down here "off-season" has only heightened my anticipation for that day's arrival.  

Today is Lake Como Day.  It is the 20th Anmual celebration of this little hamlet.  While I have no idea how many people we shall see at the lake front today, I am looking forward to taking in the entire experience.   Between today's festivities here in town and Octoberfest in Belmar opportunities abound today to be out "under the cover of October skies" and enjoying every minute of it.   

-AK

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Hello, I Must Be Going

We have been on a bit of what I consider to be a bad roll lately at the Firm.  I happen to loathe change.  Twice in the past two weeks we have had to bid farewell to an eminently capable and extremely personable members of our staff.  

I am always sorry when we lose good employees.  Sorrier still when the person - beyond being a good employee - is a good person.   Happy for them though and hopeful that the move they are making turns out to be all that they had hoped it would be.  

-AK

Friday, October 9, 2015

It Is Like Trying To Squeeze Toothpaste Back Into The Tube

Less than twenty-four hours after the baseball season - or at least the only part of it about which I truly care - came to an inglorious end, the hockey season - or the only part of it about which I truly care - began quite nicely.  The New York Rangers ruined the "Hey Look We Won the Stanley Cup!" party that the Chicago Blackhawks threw for their fans on Wednesday night.  Hooray for us.  One game down, eighty-one more to go.  And that is just the regular season.  I love hockey and I love the Rangers but it is easier for my brain to process it conceptually once we pass certain mile markers on the calendar - such as Columbus Day.  

It frightens me - and not just a little - that effective October 6, 2015, McDonald's changed its rules of operation so that breakfast is now available all day, every day.  In the interest of full disclosure, I have not eaten at a McDonald's in such a long time that I cannot recall when it was that I last did so.  I have any number of vices that are injurious to my health and well-being.  Fast food, however, is not among them.  

That being said, when I saw McDonald's blanket advertising about the ability to order an Egg McMuffin for dinner, coupled with the positive feedback on social media, I became more than a bit frightened for this country.  It occurs to me that perhaps, just perhaps, the elixir for America's rampant obesity is not something that further broadens the appeal of fast food.  It also occurs to me that McDonald's has implemented (in certain locations) the outsourcing of taking orders at its drive-thru windows in order to expedite the process and improve its accuracy.   If I am concerned about the ability of the people who work for me properly performing the critical tasks associated with their jobs, then is adding more responsibility to their job really the best course of action?  

I am constantly impressed by the inclusion of entirely unnecessary instructions - not warning labels but instructions - on household products that we use on a day in, day out basis.  If no one ever thought to affix "Lather.  Rinse.  Repeat" to a shampoo bottle, is there a concern that we the people might have thought that we were to drink the bottle's contents or, perhaps, squirt the contents up our ass in order to assure we achieve a bright, silky head of hair?  

Similarly, who first determined that these words must be emblazoned on your toothpaste tube:  

FOR BEST RESULTS, SQUEEZE TUBE FROM 
THE BOTTOM AND FLATTEN AS YOU GO UP. 

What exactly does that even mean?  Best results in terms of the quality of the tooth-brushing experience - suggesting that everyone from Crest to Tom hides the good paste in the bottom of the tube or simply best results in extracting the product from the tube without leaving big globby balls of it all over your bathroom vanity?  If it is the former, then thank you Mr. Colgate for thinking of me.  If it is the latter, then who fucking cares?  

Furthermore, who is it who determined - whenever such a determination was made - that operating a tube of toothpaste is a process that requires fourteen words worth of guidance but that assembling any piece of furniture purchased at Ikea is a task best explained through an amalgam of diagrams and drawings.   No worries, Sven.  It is after all only my children who I intend to place EVERY NIGHT in their brand-new Mydal Bunk Bed Frame I just purchased at your furniture and meatball emporium.  Assembling it by adhering to the fourteen-page cartoon you call "Assembly Instructions" concerns me for their safety not at all.  

After all, furniture assembly is not rocket science, right?  Or even as hard as, let's say, trying to squeeze toothpaste back into the tube.  As a wise man once observed of the Triple Lindy, "Hard?  It's not hard.  It's impossible."    

-AK 


Thursday, October 8, 2015

No More Surprises...

The world constantly surprises me.  Not always for the better.   Neither of those things makes me extraordinary.  

It continues to surprise how little we do in this country to protect ourselves and each other.  It surprises me - constantly - how little respect we have for one another.  Every time something happens such as the latest debauchery in Oregon, the debate rages over guns.  Is it possible that the debate is focused on the wrong element?  

Maybe, just maybe, ours is not a "gun" problem.  At least not just a gun problem.  Maybe, just maybe, ours is a "people" problem as well.  These days we work damn hard at devaluing one another.  So much so that it makes it easy for certain of us to see the rest of us as something less than human.  Something disposable.  

I would not pretend to speak for anyone other than the old grouch who stares back at me in the bathroom mirror every morning but he is fucking sick of the world surprising him.  

Me too.  

-AK

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Much More Than the Sum of Her Parts

Two Sundays ago, the Missus and I participated in the annual Tunnel to Towers 5K Run/Walk in New York City.  It is an incredible event - a labor of love bestowed upon all of us who take part in it, and all of those who are the recipients of the Siller Foundation's great works - by the family of FDNY Firefighter Stephen Siller, who was one of the 343 members of the FDNY who was murdered on September 11, 2001 at the World Trade Center.  

FF Stephen Siller was only thirty-four years old when he was killed on that terrible Tuesday.  In addition to his older siblings (he was the youngest of the seven Siller Sibs), he left behind his wife Sally and the couple's five children:  Jake, Stephen, Katherine, Genevieve, and Olivia.  

Yesterday morning, I had the pleasure and the privilege of coming across an essay that Olivia Siller, a student at Manhattan College, wrote entitled "The Life of a 9/11 Kid".  It is, in my estimation, among the best pieces of writing I have ever read, not only on the subject of September 11, 2001 but, on the far more involved and complicated topics of mourning, grieving, and carrying on.  Far too many children - including those who knew nothing of each other's existence - simultaneously became conscripts in an army to which not a single one of them wanted to belong:  The Army of 9/11 Kids.  

She writes (speaking of the aforementioned "Army"), "We've never seen September 12th."  Invest the several minutes required to read her piece and to digest it.  When you do, be ever mindful of the presence of mind required to marry such words and such ideas and then, even if it for just a moment, remember that the one doing so is, herself, still just a young woman.  

An extraordinary young lady.  Simply extraordinary. 

-AK   

    

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Playing for Keeps

Here's to being grateful that Joe Girardi earns his living as the Manager of the New York Yankees and that I do not.  Whether the Yankees manage to do tonight something that they managed to do just once during the final week of the regular season, which is win a game (and not just any game but the game that they must win in order to continue their season), I do not know.  I know that I shall be rooting for them to win.  I also know that wishing for one's success is not a guarantee that one shall succeed.  

I also know that I shall be rooting very hard for CC Sabathia to succeed.  Whether he shall I know not.  If one believes in the old adage that the first step is admitting that one has a problem that requires assistance, then he has made it through the batting order once without getting nicked for as much as a single hit.

To earn the win, however, he needs to complete five innings.  That means, of course, he has to negotiate his way through at least one more time through the other team's order.  The second go-round is rarely as easy as the first.  Success is dependent upon more than just one's fastball.  It is dependent upon heart, guts, and resiliency.

I hope for his sake and for that of his family that those three qualities, which have served him so well between the white lines of the baseball diamond for more than a decade, do likewise for him now.

For at day's end, irrespective of the level at which one competes, baseball is just a game.

Life is not.

-AK