Sunday, January 31, 2016

The Price of This Particular Form of Refuge

Einstein, a man much smarter than Yours truly, once remarked that insanity is defined as performing the same act over and over and anticipating a different result.  From Professor Einstein's perspective perhaps, therefore, I am indeed insane.  I know not.  Again, I readily acknowledge that his noggin was significantly bigger than mine - at least in terms of its contents.  I win hands-down in a contest of diameter and/or circumference.  Apparently, we would end up in a flat-footed tie in terms of cleanliness of work area - based upon information of which I have only recently become aware

"If a cluttered desk is a sign of a cluttered mind,
of what, then, is an empty desk a sign?" 
- Albert Einstein 

Ah, the joy and torture of a cluttered mind! 

But I digress.

I did not know how much time I would take from this space when I stepped away from it for an indeterminate period of time.  Through no fault of its own it had become a distraction.  However, I underestimated the amount of stability it provides to my day-to-day.  

And I think that I acted a bit in haste - although I had contemplated doing what I did here for some time prior to doing it.  Truth be told, over the years I have developed the habit of writing a day or two ahead.  Sometimes more depending upon the subject matter.  This piece was originally written to be - as its name suggested - the second-to-last piece that appeared here.   But for a bout of insomnia on Saturday night, this dreck never would have been spawned.  I, for one, cannot fake giving a rat's ass about the Patriots or their quarterback.  

The great American philosopher Hillary Norman Peterson once observed that, "You can never be unfaithful to your one true love.  You'll always come back to her."  While I have little doubt that Margaret is my one true love, to whom I would never be unfaithful, I suspect that the cheeky nymph that is sanity likely has scored a spot on the "Adam Kenny True Love" medal platform.  I am a fairly fucked up cat.  But for all my whistles and tics, I manage to keep my shit together and I do so, on a day in/day out basis, far better than most of the supposedly sane persons with whom I interact.  

It turns out, upon further reflection that I needed to remind myself of the purpose that this ritual performs for me.  It is one of exercise and of exorcism.  I need both.  

Every form of refuge does indeed have its price.  That is beyond question.  

The only question is one's willingness to meet it.  I consider it answered.

For today, at least.

Even in a perfect world, 
Where everyone is equal
I'd still own the film rights and
- Elvis Costello


Monday, January 18, 2016

The Geronimo Adjustment

- James McMurtry

An experiment in peace-keeping that began on a Saturday morning many April moons ago, having proven only moderately successful - and even then on an intermittent basis - has reached its inevitable, predictable conclusion.  For now, at least. 

For a considerable period of time, this place had served as my elixir.  For a long time, it had effectively tamped down the noise emanating from all of the competing voices inside of my head.    I know not when.  I know not how.  I know not why.  All I know is that, for present purposes anyway, it has ceased to fulfill that function.  

Will it ever again?  There are too many questions to count to which I do not know the answer.  This one is among them.  If it does once more offer a port in the storm, then perhaps I shall return to it.  If it does not, then I shall not. Either way, I am confident that the continuing sovereignty of the Republic is not dependent upon that particular question's answer. 

Unless Prince Albert of the Valley creates an entirely new Inter Web, which eviscerates that which has come before it including but not limited to this little outpost, the thoughts and ideas that have been written here since that very first Saturday all those Aprils ago shall remain right here.  They shall be available for further examination and contemplation - although not for use and appropriation ("Ain't no property like intellectual property!") - at your leisure should you wish to revisit them.  Or, should you either lose a bet or commit a disorderly persons offense and be required to do so, which it seems to me is a far more likely scenario.  For present purposes, at least, (borrowing a line from myself and something I wrote a lifetime ago), "There are no more words to write."

So, allow me one to borrow a line just one last time (with meaning, of course) from the Poet Laureate of Freehold, "One sunny morning we'll rise I know, and I'll meet you further on up the road..."

Until then...

Final Scene of Cheers (May 20, 1993)
"Sorry, we're closed." 


P.S. - Do yourself the favor of watching the 2 minute-plus clip from Cheers that has been provided for your viewing pleasure.  First, it is the final two minutes of one of the truly great TV comedies (in my opinion at least).  Second, if you do not watch it through to its conclusion, then the title of this piece will make zero sense.  It would be a shame, would it not, to have slogged through all of this bullshit for the past seven and three-quarter years only to have missed the final payoff?  

Sunday, January 17, 2016

An Atheist's Best Evidence

I was reminded again on Saturday evening that no greater evidence exists to support an argument against the existence of God than the continuing success of the New England Patriots.  

Keep the faith, Ted Cruz.  You are within striking distance. 


Saturday, January 16, 2016

A Celebration of the Penultimate

I am the tail-gunner in the sextet of Kenny siblings.  The one closest to me in age is Jill, my immediate older sister.  In the seventeen-year journey from kindergarten to college graduation, Jill and I attended the same school for all but four years.  But for my junior and senior years at Wardlaw-Hartridge and my junior and senior years at CU, we were students in the same place and at the same time.  But for her decision to transfer to CU, after suffering through her freshman year at the University of Notre Dame, I never would have applied to CU, let alone visited it towards the end of my senior year in high school or, subsequently, attended it.  

Today is Wilma's birthday.  She does not send out cards marking the occasion but I came across something on-line yesterday morning that made me chuckle, made me think of her, and struck me immediately as the type of card I could anticipate receiving from her to mark this occasion.

In celebration of the occasion, I do not offer a card but instead a look back at something I wrote two birthdays ago.  It made me smile when I wrote it.  It made me smile again when I re-read it yesterday. May it make her smile, today, as well. 

Happy Birthday, Wilma...


Birthdays and B-Sides

Early September 1982.  It was shortly after the first day of school of what was my 10th grade year at W-H.  It was the start of Jill's senior year.  Kara was in California having just started her second year in college at the College of Notre Dame in Belmont, which actually had a better football team in the early '80's that its namesake in Indiana.  Dad had been dead for a bit more than a year.  It was just Jill, Mom and me at the homestead two tumbleweeds past nowhere's middle - Neshanic Station. 

I needed new screw-on studs for my soccer cleats so after dinner Jill and I had hopped into Mom's little red Chevette (the ultimate automotive "B"-side) and headed off to the nearest sporting goods store.  Thirty-plus years later I have no recollection as to what store we went to - although I would suspect it was probably a "Herman's World of Sporting Goods" since I have a vague recollection of one being located in the strip mall on Route 22 East in Green Brook where the Perkin's Pancake House now stands.  Wherever we went we got what I needed and we headed home.

As we drove up Amwell Road - heading towards Wertsville Road and thereafter our house - I blurted out how much fun it would be if I could drive.  I recall making the type of argument that sounds incredibly well-reasoned in the mind's eye of a lunatic.  Given that we were the only car on the road and given that we were less than a couple of miles from home, Jill quickly ran through worst-case scenarios in her head and, finding none of them to be overwhelmingly terrifying, she relented.  We pulled over into the parking lot of the little church - I think it is the Neshanic Reformed Church - that was located on the right side of Amwell Road a half-mile or so before the first leg of Wertsville Road - and we switched positions in the vehicle.

Let history reflect that the first two or three minutes of my vehicle operations history were silky smooth.  Mom's Chevette was an automatic transmission and I moved effortlessly from the parking lot out onto Amwell Road and then began the climb up the little hill that led to Amwell's "T" intersection with Wertsville.  I was a natural.  No doubt about it. 

For reasons that probably help explain a great deal why as a child playing baseball I had a tendency to swing at and miss pitches a foot or more off of the outside corner of home plate, it was when I made the left turn from Amwell onto Wertsville that the wheels started to come off.  Literally and figuratively.  I took the turn a bit too wide - although not more than three feet or so - and managed to scrape the right side of the Chevette - including of course both right-side tires - along the huge, over-sized railroad ties that the people who owned the home at the corner used as some sort of weird demarcation line for their property. 

Jill instantly recognized that the noise coming from beneath the right side of the vehicle was not one that a driver, experienced or otherwise, expected to hear.  I drove us not more than 50-100 feet down Wertsville Road - the technical term I believe is "leaving the scene of the accident" - so we could escape detection while assessing the damage.  The first prong of our plan was a smashing success.  No one came out of the house at the corner or any other one for that matter.  The second prong was very much less so.  I presume at some point within the past three decades some utility company has placed light fixtures along Wertsville Road.  Back in September '82 there were only three types of lighting available:  Sun, Moon and Head.  None of the three was a viable option for us.  Thus, our damage assessment was a bit "underwhelming". 

Luckily I did not flatten either of the tires, which enabled us - with Jill now calling the shots again on the bridge - to complete the trip home.  Better luck for us was seeing when we arrived home and pulled the car into the garage that it had not been dented or dinged at all.

However, it did appear as if it had been sexually assaulted by a Lincoln Log.  There were railroad tie shreds and scraps sticking out of rim around the front right tire as well as a number of other auto-fices on the vehicle's right side.  Not wanting to alert Mom to anything being wrong with the car we excised them as much as we could and then went into the house. 

The next day Jill drove all three of us to W-H.  When Mom walked around to the front passenger's door she stopped and stood silently staring at the right rear tire.  There, as big as a Sequoia in a forest appeared a sizable piece of railroad tie sticking out of the rim.  I know not how we missed it during our post-incident inspection the night before.  Clearly we had.  I was about to confess to what I had done when Mom volunteered that she knew what must have happened.  She then regaled us with a story involving a truck carrying lumber/building supplies on Route 287 one night the week before as she was driving herself home from work and how - although she could not remember it having done so - it must have spilled a bit of its load, which load included of course the Magic Railroad Tie.  Neither Jill nor I said a word.  I volunteered to remove it from the rim for her (having earned my Merit Badge in Railroad Tie Extraction less than twelve hours earlier), which I did without difficulty.  The three of us then got into Mom's Chevette and drove to school.

Today is Jill's birthday.  Wilma has come a long way since the night that her little brother made her an accessory both before and after the fact.  She has come a considerable distance more than have I.  There have been times however when we have walked along the same path - including college.  When I graduated from W-H in 1985 I took the advice of Horace Greeley.  This young man went West - to Boulder, Colorado - where as a freshman I got to learn the ropes from my big sister.  Jill was just starting her junior year. Between the year I entered kindergarten and the year I graduated from college, there were but four years during which Jill and I were not students at the same school:  my final two years of high school and my final two years at CU.

I know not whether in the course of their teenage years her two daughters - my two beautiful nieces -Simone and Julia ever conspired to put one over on her.  I suspect they did.  And I suspect that having assessed the situation and come to realize it was really no big thing, she permitted them to have their victory.

Much like Mom permitted us to have ours all those Septembers ago. 

Happy Birthday Wilma.  Love you lots. 


Friday, January 15, 2016

A Most Unlikely Point of Confluence

The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands
In moments of comfort and convenience, 
But where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.
- Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. 

Were he still alive, today Dr. King would be marking his eighty-seventh birthday.   As someone who is a non-celebrant of my own birthday, I do not subscribe to the notion that everyone "celebrates" his or her birthday.  Never having met Dr. King, I would not pretend to know his preference.  

Perhaps, even if he could not be persuaded to eat a piece of cake in celebration of his birthday, the fact that today is the first "FWBM" Day of 2016 ("Fun With Basic Math" - Month + Day = Year) would be sufficient motivation for him to pick up a noisemaker, put on a silly hat, and party.  Again, I never met Dr. King.  I would not therefore know how much love - or not - he had for all things arithmetic.

Then again, I need not have made his acquaintance to know just how much love he had for all things oratorical.  It was, at the very least, equal to his gift for same


Thursday, January 14, 2016

Of Blowhards, Buffoons and Ball Players

In case you doubted the importance of Tuesday, January 12, 2016 on the calendar for those men and women seeking election to a national office, consider that our Absentee Governor and his fellow GOP-nomination-seeking thunder buddy, Florida's Junior Senator, each spent the day in the city where their respective constituencies presumed they would be when each was elected.  To hell with Powerball.  You would have gotten better odds on a monkey flying out of your ass while riding a lightning bolt and juggling chainsaws than you would have gotten on those occurrences happening on the same day.  

You might have missed it but Monte Irvin died earlier this week.  A Negro League superstar who became one of the first two African-American players to wear the uniform of the New York (baseball) Giants and a member of the Baseball Hall-of-Fame in Cooperstown, New York (Class of 1973), he died on Monday night.  He was ninety-six.   

Irvin was the last surviving member of the Newark Eagles and was a leader on the 1946 Eagles team that captured the Negro League World Series.  Monte Irvin - in spite of his superior physical gifts - took a lot of shit from a lot of bigoted assholes who judged him by the color of his skin rather than the content of his character.  He could have lived this past century with a chip on his shoulder that no one - save Atlas himself - possesses the strength to knock off.  He did not.   

Set aside a minute or three today - hell, do it right now (I assure you that there is nothing that follows here that you shall ever regret not having read) - and read the great Jerry Izenberg's tribute to Monte Irvin, which originally appeared on the front page of the January 13, 2016 edition of The Star-Ledger as well as on the web site.  Reading it, I felt through the page the joy with which Irvin and his teammates played the game they loved - even as they were barred from competing in the Major Leagues.  It was a joy that he never permitted those who had deprived him of his opportunity to play in the big leagues to take from him, even after he finally "arrived" in the National League.  

A live well-lived.  A lesson to which attention should properly be paid. 

1946 Newark Eagles
Negro League World Series Champions
(Monte Irvin - Top Row/Far Left)


Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Red Shoes Laced Up & Ready To Dance

I don't know where I'm going from here,
but I promise it won't be boring.
- David Bowie

David Bowie died on Sunday in New York City, in the presence of those he loved and those who loved him.  He was sixty-nine years old.  His death, on January 10, was preceded by his birthday just two days earlier.  In a world of perpetual overexposure and over-sharing of one's most intimate secrets, his death - after an eighteen-month battle with cancer - was a shock to all but a chosen few.  His health was his business.  He did not allow it to become everyone else's.  

I have enjoyed his music for years.  That being said, I do not pretend to possess an encyclopedic knowledge of his catalog.  The music of his with which I am familiar I like very much.  I am quite confident, however, that the songs with which I am familiar make up nothing more than a very small percentage of his work.  His voice, to my ear at least, was instantly recognizable.  Everything he sang had an air of cool nonchalance about it.  It was as if - without even trying very hard - he was smoother and cooler than you ever had any right to hope to be yourself.  I remember, all those years ago, when he married Iman, the model/actress.  If they were not the most effortlessly stylish celebrity couple, then they were at the very least somewhere on the medal stand.   

When I think of David Bowie, the thought that jumps to the forefront of my mind is a performance of his from slightly less than fourteen and one-half years ago.  On October 20, 2001, Bowie was the first performer to take the stage at "The Concert for New York City", which was held at Madison Square Garden.  It was an all-star event designed to raise money to aid the various charitable organizations that were still providing relief to families throughout the Tri-State area who were still reeling from the September 11 attacks.  Equally important was its functioning as a platform for honoring New York City's first responders, both those who had died only forty days earlier at the World Trade Center, and those who had spent those forty days working the pile at Ground Zero in a desperate attempt to find any trace of those who had been murdered there.  

Bowie performed two songs that night.  He began the show by playing Simon and Garfunkel's "America".  He was onstage by himself, seated on the floor of the stage itself, and illuminated by a single spotlight.  He then performed one of his seminal works, "Heroes".  Before he sang a word of it, though, he greeted the crowd by saying, "Hi friends, my fellow New Yorkers.  I'd like particularly to say hello to the folks from my local Ladder.  You know where you are.  It's an absolute privilege to play for your tonight."  

His "local Ladder" was Ladder 20.  Bowie and Iman lived on Lafayette Street in NoLIta since 1999 and Ladder 20 was their neighborhood fire house.  Ladder 20 lost seven men on September 11, 2001, all of whom were killed when the North Tower collapsed.  

In the fourteen years or so since he gave it, I have not been able to listen to or to watch Bowie's performance from that evening without feeling a catch in my throat, thinking of the men and women whose lives were lost that day as he sang so beautifully about them and for them.  I invite you to listen to it now and see if you fare any better than I.

I know now, going forward from this moment that the catch I feel in my throat each time I listen to it will be not only for those he honored that night but for the man who honored them as well.

Their friend.  Their fellow New Yorker. 


Tuesday, January 12, 2016

One Bad Mutha Rucker

Without heroes we are all plain people
And don't know how far we can go.
-Bernard Malamud

Congratulations to Vic Wise and his wing men.  This past weekend, the team completed the 2016 Freedom Ruck - a 100-mile walk completed while each carried a fifty-pound ruck on his back - in just over forty-four hours, which was approximately four hours less than their goal time of forty-eight hours.  In the process, Freedom Ruck raised approximately $10,000 for the Navy SEAL Foundation, which is the purpose of the exercise.  

A good man doing one hell of a thing.  Kudos to him, to those who undertook this edition of this ruck with him, and to those who functioned as their support crew on the 100-mile trek north through Virginia.  

Thank you, Vic, for reminding me - and undoubtedly others as well - of the import of Malamud's words.  And of the importance of action.  

Rest up, young man.  January, 2017 will be here before you know it. 


Monday, January 11, 2016

Oh Wait, There's More?

Admittedly my interest level would be different were I a graduate of Clemson, Alabama, or a school that has been relevant (even a little) in the world of college football at any point in the past decade (OK, fifteen years), but I do not intend to spend much (if any) of my Monday night watching the College Football Championship Game.  

I make that admission even though I am an enthusiastic fan of college football.  While I think the fact that the sport plays down to a single, definitive title game is an excellent one - not to mention one that was about three decades overdue - I think the fact that college football shall not crown its champion until the middle of January is not. 

When I was a child, college football season ended on New Year's Day, which was a day that traditionally started with the Cotton Bowl, which was actually played at the Cotton Bowl, and ended with the Orange Bowl, which was actually played at the Orange Bowl.  Not any longer.  Before Clemson and Alabama take the field tonight, one-third of January is already in the rear-view mirror.  The NFL completed an entire round of playoff games, the start of its post-season tournament, before college football put the finishing touches on its post-season.  

(Apropos of nothing, way to stay classy Cincinnati...and yes I am referring to the players who the Bengals pay to wear those ridiculous-looking uniforms and the miscreants who root, root, root for the home team.)

I do not pretend to know what the solution is to preventing the college football season from turning into the never-ending story.  I do know that I hope someone much smarter than I am crafts one - and does so sooner rather than later.  


Sunday, January 10, 2016

A Maintenance Check

If we do not maintain Justice,
Justice will not maintain us.
- Francis Bacon

I can feel - from miles away - the scowls forming on the faces of my siblings and my wife each and every time I mention just how little pleasure I deprive out of the practice of law.  If it were not true - and I was not such an unrepentant asshole - then I would feel badly about anyone feeling badly about my rather caustic self-assessment.  It is.  I am.  I do not.  

To be clear, among the people for whom I do not feel sorry is me.  To steal a phrase from the Poet Laureate of Freehold, I chose the chance I took.  I did so with eyes wide open and big boy pants pulled up and belted.  I do not lament it.  It has made possible things that I otherwise lack the ability to have made so, such as getting our two children educated, Suzanne's wedding, and most recently our purchase of our little Paradise by the Sea.  I simply acknowledge it for what it is and myself for what I am.  

My decision to opt for a path of least resistance in the law has tempered my enthusiasm for what it is I do.  It has not however dulled one bit my appreciation for those who have taken a different path.  In today's New York Times Magazine, there is a piece on an attorney named Rob Bilott.  It is an extraordinary story.  And it is well-told.  It is not an especially quick read (when I read it for the first time via the iPhone app earlier in the week, the app advised me that it was take approximately thirty-two minutes to complete.  It is, however, an extremely worthwhile read.   

Time well spent.  


Saturday, January 9, 2016

Quarter Pounder

I really do try to avoid writing about politics.  I am not always successful. Today, I have failed. 

Full disclosure demands that I acknowledge that I happily voted for Chris Christie when he ran, first for election to the office of Governor of New Jersey, and, thereafter, when he ran for re-election.  On both occasions I was satisfied that he was a better alternative than his opponent.  Perfect?  Nope.  But then again, neither am I nor anyone I know. 

Our Governor has spent the past year seeking the nomination of the Republican Party for the Presidency of the United States.  If he is successful in his pursuit, then I shall likely be the most surprised person within this nation's geographical boundaries.  If I am not, then I shall most certainly be on the medal stand.  

In 2015, according to the Wall Street Journal, our Governor spent 72% of his days in a state other than the state whose residents pay his salary.   How does one govern effectively while spending 261 days in a calendar year focused apparently solely on one's pursuit of a new job?  

Not well.  Not well at all.  The good news for those of us who live in the State of Concrete Gardens is that we only have had to pay him for the days he has worked, which means last year he accepted only 28% of his salary.  

Oh wait, I totally made that up.  He has collected full-time pay for a quarter-time job.  

And do not bother asking him to give it back.  Is not going to happen. 


Friday, January 8, 2016

A Firehouse. A Dog. A Life.

On the morning of Tuesday, September 11, 2001, seven members of FDNY Ladder 20 were among the 343 casualties that the FDNY sustained.  The seven men of Ladder 20 were last seen in the North Tower and were killed when that tower collapsed at 10:28 a.m.  

In New York City, a firehouse becomes an integral part of the fabric of its neighborhood.  Ladder 20's devastating loss on that terrible Tuesday morning was felt not just within the four walls of the firehouse and in the firefighters' homes.  It was felt throughout the NoLIta community that Ladder 20 serves and protects.  It was felt beyond the neighborhood's boundary lines as well.     

Among those who responded to the anguish that had befallen Ladder 20 were two sheriffs from Rochester, New York.  Shortly after September 11, 2001 they paid a visit to Ladder 20.  In addition to paying their respects, they delivered a present:  a Dalmation puppy.  

"Twenty" became a member of the Company almost immediately upon her arrival at the firehouse.  She was more than the Company's mascot.  She became a companion to the firefighters and - in the  process - a bit of a star.  According to Lt. Gary Iorio, "She really helped to build up the morale in the years following 9/11.  I can't say enough about what she did to help us.  She went on all the runs, she'd jump in the truck, stick her head out the window and bark.  She became a local celebrity."  

Earlier this week, Twenty died.  The FDNY announced her death on its official Facebook page, lauding her for fourteen-plus years of faithful service with her brothers of Ladder 20.   While she shall be missed by her two-legged companions, what she did to lift their spirits in the aftermath of a day that took the lives of Capt. John Fischer, FF David LaForge, FF Robert McMahon, FF John Burnside, FF Sean Hanley, FF Robert Linnane, and FF James Gray cannot be overstated.  

It shall never be forgotten.  Neither shall she.  Not by the men to whom she meant the world. The men of Ladder 20. 

"Today, Twenty has taken her final run to Heaven.
Rest in peace, man's best friend." 
- Lt. James Iorio, FDNY
(Photo Credit:  Tim Schultz) 


Thursday, January 7, 2016

The Catcher and The Kid

The 2016 class for the baseball Hall-of-Fame is half the size of the 2015 edition.  What it lacks in numbers however it more than makes up for in star power.  

Ken Griffey, Jr. is one of my favorite players.  Irrespective of the team for which he plays, I will always love a baseball player who is unquestionably the most talented  member of his team but who hustles and busts his ass as if he is the 25th man on the roster.  Junior was as apt to barrel headlong into the wall to catch a fly ball as he was to launch a tape-measure home run.  Other than when he wreaked havoc on my Yankees (1995 ALDS anyone?), he was an absolute joy to watch play.  

I read online last night that Junior has never set foot inside of the Hall-of-Fame.  As a player, he played in the Hall-of-Fame game three times.  He never went into the HOF however.  His reasoning? He did not want to go inside until he was a member.  I hope he enjoys his first visit.  

Mike Piazza was an incredible offensive player, principally for the Dodgers and the Mets.  His arrival in New York in 1998 immediately restored credibility to the Mets, which they had lacked since Davy Johnson and Darryl Strawberry put Flushing in their rear-view mirrors.  Piazza not only put a charge into the Mets' fan base, he led them to back-to-back appearances in the NLCS in 1999 and 2000.  

But for him, the only Subway Series played thus far in my lifetime, the 2000 World Series, probably would not have occurred.   Piazza made the final out of the 2000 Series, although when the ball left his bat I feared it was going over the wall and not into the glove of Bernie Williams...who was standing in deep left-center field when he caught it.  

For me, Piazza's ticket to Cooperstown was punched the following September.  The Mets hosted the Braves in the first post-September 11 sporting event played in New York City.  Friday, September 21, 2001 was an incredible, emotional night.  On the field, however, through seven-plus innings, the Mets - who had started the night 5 1/2 games behind the Braves for the NL East lead, were trailing Atlanta.  In the bottom of the eighth inning, Piazza changed all of that with one swing of his bat.

With one swing, he lifted an entire city - even those of us who are Yankees fans.  It takes damn broad shoulders to carry millions of people simultaneously.  For that moment, on that night, Mike Piazza did just that.  A moment for the ages.   Brought to us by an immortal.  

Nicely done, gentlemen.  Congratulations.  


Wednesday, January 6, 2016

For Those About To Ruck

Nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm.
- Ralph Waldo Emerson

If it was easy, then young Vic Wise likely would not undertake this particular endeavor, which has become a rite of January for him since he first set off on this journey in January, 2014.  Well, perhaps he would if for no other reason than his is a higher purpose.  He does what he does not for himself but for others.  He does what he does for the Navy Seal Foundation.

Those of us older than a certain age in this country engage in the practice of ageism.  And we likely do it far more frequently than we might otherwise suspect we do.  It has become almost a reflexive exercise, the dismissal of all of those whose dates of birth fall on or after a certain date as being frivolous, foolhardy, or - worst of all - Kardashians.  In my experience, painting in such broad strokes is not only short-sighted, it is intellectually sloppy.  People composed of mere gossamer can be found in any age-based demographic, including that dominated by those of us with gray hair and craggy faces.  I know more "young people" than I can count who are people of substance and purpose.  

Vic Wise is firmly ensconced on that list.  A young man who honors not only his own family's tradition of service (he is the son of a retired First Sergeant who served in Operation Enduring Freedom) but that of the Seals, including not merely the men who voluntarily run headlong into harm's way but their families.  Theirs is a remarkable, selfless mission.  

On Friday morning, Vic Wise and his two fellow ruckers, Alex Miller and Randy Sulcer, will each hoist a ruck weighing more than fifty pounds over his shoulders and onto his back and, then, go for a little walk.  At 7:30 a.m. they will embark from the Virginia War Memorial in Richmond and begin walking north on U.S. Route 1.  Their objective is to make it to Arlington National Cemetery, a distance of more than one hundred miles, in less than forty-eight hours.  Do not bet against Vic and his wing men achieving their objective.  In 2014, When he took this challenge on for the first time in 2014, he battled weather more suitable for rounding up matching pairs of animals than it was for walking one hundred miles carrying a fifty-plus pound pack on his back for most of, if not all of, his trek.  It did not stop him.    

It is Emerson who observed that, "So nigh is grandeur to your dust, so near to God is Man, when Duty whispers low, 'Thou must', the Youth replies, 'I can'."   

On Friday morning, at 7:30 Eastern Time, he shall do so again.  

Let Freedom Ruck.


Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Here is Where Time is on Our Side

In the end, it's not the years in your life that count.
It's the life in your years. 
- Abraham Lincoln

On January 5, 1998 I walked into the Firm - as an employee - for the first time.  But for a four-month period in the first quarter of 2009, I have spent every day of my professional life since January 5, 1998 there.  Today marks the beginning of Year Nineteen.  

Presuming Lincoln was right - and given the considerable nature of his intellect it is an eminently reasonable presumption - I often wonder how faithfully I honor his mantra in the day-to-day pursuit of my chosen profession. 


Monday, January 4, 2016

The Snows of January

Welcome to Winter.  The past couple of weeks, with their combination of good feelings and warmer-than-normal temperatures, bore no resemblance whatsoever to winter.  Here in the State of Concrete Gardens, winter begins today.  

Curbs all over the state are littered with discarded Christmas trees, lawns recently festooned with inflatables, lights, and ornamental figures are now bare.  This week, Monday really means Monday - the tip of the spear for a five-day work week, which for many people (including my secretary) represents a step up from the just-completed back-to-back three-day work weeks.  

In January, the Mercury readings no longer feel like Christmas.  Now, cold simply is cold.  And it shall get plenty cold this month and next.  That much is certain.  

What is not certain is whether the "Christmas spirit" of which there was a surplus just days ago shall have any legs and presuming it does whether those legs shall carry it and us into and through the cold, dark days of January and February.  Giving a rat's ass about one's fellow man between Thanksgiving Day and New Year's Day is a good thing.  But if it is simply seasonal - like a Snickerdoodle Macchiato - than it is no less of a contrivance than a Rankin-Bass special.  

How our year unfolds is a choice that belongs to us.  The decision is ours to make.  

Same as it ever was...


Sunday, January 3, 2016

Here It Comes The Hardest Part...

Now, it's finally time to leave
Yes, it's finally time to leave
Take it calmly and serene
It's the famous final scene.
- Bob Seger

It appears as if today's game at Met Life Stadium will be the final one for Tom Coughlin as Head Coach of the New York Giants.  In his dozen years as their coach, the Giants have won thirteen more games than they have lost, made the playoffs five times, won the NFC East three times, and done not once - but twice - something that no other team has yet figured out how to do:  Defeat Bill Belichick and Tom Brady's New England Patriots in the Super Bowl.

But the past few seasons have not been good for Coach Coughlin and the men of Mara Tech.  Since their most recent Super Bowl triumph over the Patriots in February, 2012, Coughlin's Giants have only had one winning season and they have not made the playoffs a single time.  If they win their final game of the season this afternoon against the Eagles (a team playing out the equally poor string of an equally lost season), then they will finish 2016 with seven wins.  If they lose this afternoon, then this shall be their second consecutive ten-loss season.

Life - irrespective of one's profession - is very much a "What have you done for me lately?" exercise. That said, fixation on one's recent failures does not - and should not - diminish the significance of his accomplishments.  Tom Coughlin is sixty-nine years old.  If today is the final time that he shall coach a game for the Giants, then here is to hoping that he exits the field today with his head held high - regardless of the game's final score.


Saturday, January 2, 2016

When You Were Young...

Being essentially a shallow, disconnected asshole affords me a considerable tactical advantage over most of the people I know.  I have an exceptionally limited emotional investment in what goes on in the world around me.  So limited in fact that when I do connect with something emotionally, the effect of that connection is usually pretty substantial. 

NYPD Detective and Air National Guard Sergeant Joseph Lemm (a/k/a "Superman") was one of six American service members killed in Afghanistan on December 21, 2015 by a suicide bomber. This tour of duty in Afghanistan was his second.  He also served a tour in Iraq.  When he was not serving his nation overseas, Joseph Lemm was serving the people of New York City as a decorated member of the NYPD.  

Joseph Lemm was just forty-five years young when he was killed last month.  Left to mourn his loss are his wife, Christine, seventeen-year-old daughter Brooke, and four-year-old son Ryan.  On Wednesday, nine days after his death, Joseph Lemm was laid to rest.  Outside of St. Patrick's Cathedral in Manhattan, where his funeral mass was held, young Ryan Lemm did what I submit is a singularly extraordinary thing.  

Looking every inch like a little man as opposed to a boy of just four, wearing his dark-blue suit adorned with Dad's gold shield and complemented by his red tie, Ryan Lemm became a face for the ages.  And in the process of doing so, he completely shattered the charcoal briquette in my chest that masquerades as a heart.  

Then again, if the image of Ryan Lemm saluting his father's flag-draped casket does not break your heart at least a little, then you might want to consider asking the Wizard for a new one.   On that day, four-year-old Ryan Lemm was braver than I have ever been on any single day of my life.  An extraordinary, brave little boy.  

Evidence, no doubt, of the importance of the geographical proximity between apples and trees. 

Friday, January 1, 2016

Where Pleasures Are Chased & Treasures Are Dug...

If your eyes have opened and your brain is functioning at a level sufficient to enable you to read and to comprehend the words that are written here, then congratulations.  No, you are not being congratulated for being able to comprehend blather authored by an idiot - although perhaps you should.  You are being congratulated for having gotten out of 2015 alive.  

Welcome to the Other Side.

If you are disappointed at what you have seen and what you have experienced thus far in 2016, then feel free to complain to anyone upon whom you can impose the obligation of listening to you.  In case at some point last evening - while transitioning from '15 to '16 - you knocked your noggin and are unclear exactly who it is that you might impose upon to listen to you as you express your disappointment, then allow me to help you out by narrowing down the list of possibilities.

It is not me.

Happy 2016.