Thursday, March 31, 2016

A Party Way Down Beneath the Neon Lights

Ah, Thursday.  

One of the two best parts of my typical Thursday is reading the new edition of The Coast Star, which I have delivered to me electronically.  It provides, for my money, the best bang for my buck in terms of permitting me to stay apprised of the goings on at the beach, in Lake Como as well as in our neighboring communities.  The other best part of my typical Thursday is relaxing at home with Margaret and watching The Big Bang Theory.   Life in the fast lane. That's how we roll.  

Today, although a Thursday, is a delightfully atypical one.  Rather than spend a portion of my morning with my reading glasses on perusing the latest news from the Shore, I shall spend it with my running sunglasses on, perusing the sights and sounds of Fort Collins, Colorado.  We arrived in Denver last night and today is the first day of our "vacationette".  I am very much looking forward to spending the day with Rob and Jess but one of my favorite things about where it is they live is how many great places there are to run in and around Fort Collins.  I shall reacquaint myself with several miles worth of them bright and early this morning.

This evening, instead of watching The Big Bang Theory with Rosie, Dempsey, and Tobias ("Never Toby"), Margaret and I will ride south to Denver with Rob and Jess and watch Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band.  This is the second time that the four of us have seen Springsteen and his band of merry men in concert in Denver.  Tonight's show should be extraordinary as its focal point shall be the performance of all twenty tracks from The River in the order in which they appear on the double album.   I had the pleasure of seeing Bruce and the Band exactly two months ago in Newark.  I am looking forward very much to sharing this particular live music experience with Rob, Jess, and Margaret. 


Wednesday, March 30, 2016


Today is my favorite kind of Wednesday.  It is a Wednesday wearing the pants of a Friday - and they are shorts to boot! After putting in an exhausting half-day at the office, which at the risk of sounding entirely immodest still translates for me to a 7 to 8 hour day, I am playing hooky for the rest of the month.  Searching for a twinge of regret or remorse in my voice?  Keep searching.  It is not there to be found but whatever you need to do to fill up the old box score, go right ahead.

Later this afternoon the Missus and I are winging our way West to spend a few days with the Colorado branch office of the family business.  Considering we last saw Rob and Jess at Christmastime and then only for the typically abbreviated kind of visit associated with the Holidays, it shall be nice to spend a couple of days with them, catch up on their latest adventures, and enjoy some clean Colorado living.  Oh - and a little live Springsteen.  Did I forget to mention that?  My brain must already be on "vacation time". 

Enjoy your Wednesday.  I am certainly looking forward to mine. 


Tuesday, March 29, 2016

We're Not Little Children

On some great and glorious day, 
the plain folks of the land
will reach their heart's desire at last, 
and the White House will be adorned
by a downright moron.
- H.L. Mencken

If biting satire, political and otherwise, is not your thing, then I presume you are not a member of your local chapter of the H.L. Mencken Fan Club.  No matter.  More coffee and crumb cake for me at the next meeting.

Election Day is slightly more than seven months away.  Yet, given the banal, crass, and never-ending nature of the primary campaigns, Election Day has now acquired the distinction of being something that cannot get here soon enough and something that seems as if it shall never get here.  Before you get too wedded to the former, remember that the prize that awaits us on the first Tuesday after the first Monday this November is (in all likelihood) one of the five combatants still alive and breathing on the primary campaign trail.  

If in spite of that thought you are able to sleep through the night without incident, I implore you to send me a copy of your prescription and the name of the physician who wrote it for you so that I can get me some of that good stuff too.  I suspect that while a good buzz will not make what awaits us at the end of this particular journey any more palatable, it will at least add a dimension of pleasantness to it that has been, as of this point, conspicuous by its absence


Monday, March 28, 2016

The Return of an Old Friend

Here is a thought that either shall serve to warm the cockles of your heart or prompt you to book a visit to a cardiologist so that he or she can examine just what the hell the thing is in your chest that pumps blood throughout your body:  This week is the final "non-baseball" week on the calendar until at least late October.  

On Sunday, ball will indeed be played.  The third and final game of the day will be played Sunday night in Kansas City, Missouri.  The Kansas City Royals shall open defense of their World Series Championship when they host the New York Mets, who they defeated in a five-game Series that was far more competitive than a best-of-seven series that was decided in just five games might otherwise have appeared to be at first glance.    

I do my baseball rooting for the "other" New York team but I would be lying if I did not acknowledge - as a baseball fan - that I am looking forward to Matt Harvey toeing the rubber in KC on Sunday night and starting his '16 season against the last team he pitched against last season  - especially given the circumstances surrounding that outing.  Harvey is a young man who not only does not shy away from the spotlight and from pressure but, instead, runs towards them as quickly as he can.  I know not whether he will win or lose on Sunday night but I am confident in predicting that he will show up and he will compete.  

There is, indeed, new grass on the field.


Sunday, March 27, 2016

On A Day When This Whole Thing Is Gooney... is worth remembering that it is important to adhere to the 5Ps (Proper Planning Prevents Poor Performance) and to never, ever put all of your eggs in one basket.  

Not even if they are Easter Yeggs...


Saturday, March 26, 2016

Remembered Joy

God have mercy on the Man
Who doubts what he's sure of.
- Bruce Springsteen

On Monday morning, Detective Matthew Kurtz of the Sayreville, New Jersey Police Department drove his car to the parking lot of the long-shuttered Amboy Cinemas complex, and ended his own life by shooting himself.  Detective Kurtz was just thirty-four years of age.  In addition to being a well-regarded, highly-decorated police officer who had recently earned the promotion to the rank of Detective, he was a husband to Jamie, and a father to two sons, Connor and Matthew.   

Too many families in this country have been directly affected - and shall continue to be so - by one family member's decision to end his or her own life.  I did not know Matthew Kurtz.  I do not know his family.  I would not pretend to try to pass myself off as some sort of ham-handed, amateur pop psychiatrist in an effort to delve into the reason or reasons that led him to make the tragic, irreversible decision that he made on Monday morning.  Suicide is an insidious force that has descended in recent years onto more than one family who I have the pleasure and privilege of knowing - all of whom are good people - and I cannot pretend to wrap my head around what led their loved one to make - at an earlier point in time - the same decision that Matthew Kurtz made earlier this week.  

Countless numbers of us say - and do so undoubtedly with the courage of our convictions -that we would never take our own life.  Perhaps unstated in that declaration - but lurking somewhere beneath the surface - are words to the effect of "I hope I never find myself in a place where I would contemplate or consider doing so".  Me?  I am a firm believer in the idea of the breaking point.  Each of us has one.  One of the tricks to surviving the innate meanness of this world, it seems to me, is to do all that you can to avoid being pushed to your breaking point or - worse yet - beyond it.   Unless and until you are there, a declaration of how you would respond once you reach it is, with all respect, coffee-house bullshit.  

May the peace that Matthew Kurtz apparently lost hope of being able to find and/or rediscover somehow find its way to him now.  Moreover, may peace come for the family that grieves him, including his young widow and two little boys.  

Each of them has a life to live - for him, beyond him, and, tragically, without him.   It was not supposed to be this way.  

It rarely is. 


Friday, March 25, 2016

A Jersey Tale

In the Roman Catholic Church, today is Good Friday, which might be the only Friday on which  shouting, "TGIF!" is entirely inappropriate - not to mention abjectly stupid and dated - and is frowned upon just as much as driving to work with a "Pontius is my co-Pilate" bumper sticker on your ride.   Just say "No".  

In the spirit of the holiday, both Catholic and Cadbury, I give you evidence of Easter, Jersey Style (as well as a Proof of Life video for New York TV news veteran Magee Hickey):

As luck would have it, the Battling Bunny (Kassim Charles) and the angry father with whom he traded punches (Juan Jiminez-Gerrero) both had outstanding warrants, which the police became aware of when they processed the two combatants after their tussle.  Kassim Charles's (a/k/a "the Bunny") outstanding warrant was for "fare-hopping".   

Every so often, the material writes itself.   One might even call it a miracle. 

Cue the horn-playing angel...


Thursday, March 24, 2016

Never Been Kissed

After taking three complete days off, which time was not solely so that all of those whose March Madness Brackets became suitable for recycling late Friday afternoon could compose themselves, the 2016 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament resumes tonight.  The sixteen sweetest Division I hoops teams in all the land shall be reduced by a quarter (how appropriate is that - perhaps not at all in a sport in which they play halves) by night's end.  By the time Friday night greets Saturday morning, the field will be pared by four again.  And by the time the groundhog sees his shadow on Monday morning, there will be but four teams left standing. 

My Alma mater lost its first game - last Thursday - so I have no rooting interest in this year's tournament any longer - although I will be very happy for my son-in-law, Ryan, if his Villanova Wildcats manage to emerge victorious from the South Region.  In order to do so, Villanova needs to defeat Miami tonight and then - on Saturday - the survivor of tonight's Kansas / Maryland game. 

If you believe in form and order, then the West Region is the region for you.  It is the only Region in which each of the top four seeds remains alive (although #1 seed Oregon tried very hard to lose its second-round game against St. Joseph's).  Tonight, the top-seeded Ducks play #4 seed Duke in one semi-final while the second seed and the third seed, Oklahoma and Texas A&M, resume hostilities in the other.  In the event that you are the one person in the nation who does not yet root against Duke (Mrs. Coach K is exempted from this list), then here something that might bring you around to the correct way of thinking:  Duke star (and anti-hero) Grayson Allen bears a rather striking resemblance to Ted Cruz.    

Margaret will be happy after tonight's round of games is completed.  Unlike Ryan, she has no rooting interest in the outcome of the games.  And unlike millions of Americans, she has no betting interest in the outcome of the games either.  In fact, she has zero interest in them altogether.  Were they not being broadcast tonight on CBS beginning at 7:00 PM here in the East, then she would not care where or when they were played. But with Jay Wright and Melo Tremble occupying space typically occupied on a Thursday night by Dr. Sheldon Cooper and Howard Wolowitz, she cares quite a lot about them.  

And not in a good way either.  Something much more akin to the second kind of dumb of which Old George spoke in Hoosiers...


Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Do Not Try This At Home

Before you hurl something in anger at the shrine you undoubtedly have constructed to me in your home or in your office, understand that the advice above is not mine for you.  It is, rather, Eddie Izzard's advice for you, for me, and for everyone. 

In addition to being an actor and a comedian, Eddie Izzard is a man with a big heart and an almost inhuman amount of endurance.  On March 20, 2016, Mr. Izzard completed two marathons.  A big deal? Maybe, maybe not.  When one considers that in the twenty-six days that preceded Sunday, March 20, Izzard had completed twenty-five marathons, perhaps two in one day is not as extraordinary as right-thinking people might consider it to be. 

Izzard did what he did for two wonderful reasons (although I have difficulty appreciating how whatever inner peace he realized from his mission's purpose offset the pain in his legs and other parts of his body).  First, the "27 in 27" was his tribute to former South African President Nelson Mandela who, while apartheid was still the law of the land in South Africa, spent twenty-seven years in prison.  Second, Izzard's odyssey raised $1.94 Million for Sport Relief, which is a British not-for-profit, charitable organization that performs its good deeds all over the world.   On Sunday, Izzard's epic run reached its appropriate conclusion:  Nelson Mandela's statue outside the Union Buildings in Pretoria.  He ran 707.4 miles in twenty-seven days.  I feel tired just typing that sentence.  I cannot envision actually living it. 

It turns out that this undertaking was not the first time that Eddie Izzard had put his heart and soles into such a Herculean effort.  In 2009, at age forty-seven (and again to raise money for Sport Relief) he completed forty-three marathons in fifty-two days in a brisk 1,126.6 mile jaunt across and around Great Britain.

If the word extraordinary does not apply to what it is he has done, both in 2009 and again, here in 2016, then I do not know the set of circumstances to which extraordinary might apply.  It is an undertaking I cannot fathom ever beginning - let alone completing.

The Master of his Fate.  The Captain of his Soul.

Indeed he is.


Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Pulp Non-Fiction

If you have ever happened by this space at any time prior to today, then you know that I am not in the  "Hey, you should read/watch/listen to!" this type of fellow.  Something that is important to me is important to me irrespective of whether it is to anyone else.   I expect - and hope - that such is the case with the rest of the world.  

I had expected to not enjoy the FX mini-series The People vs. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story.  I have actually enjoyed it very much.  Almost two decades ago I bought Jeffrey Toobin's book "The Run Of His Life:  The People vs. O.J. Simpson".  It was - I thought - an exceptionally well-written book. Toobin had incredible access throughout the trial and that access coupled with his background as a prosecutor and his ability to write resulted in a book that was as informative as it was frustrating.  

In mid-June, 1994, O.J. Simpson killed his ex-wife and a young man who apparently had the misfortune of being in the wrong place at the wrong time.  The killings occurred shortly after I graduated from Seton Hall University School of Law with my J.D. Perhaps one of the reasons that I was fascinated by the Simpson case - and remain interested in it two-plus decades later - is that the events of the case unfolded just as I was embarking on my own career in the law.

I was at the Gateway Hilton in Newark taking a Bar Prep Course the night of the "Bronco Chase" in June, 1994.  Two friends of mine and I went into the hotel's bar during a break in the Course in the hope of getting the score from the Knicks/Rockets NBA Finals Game.  When we entered the bar, the car chase was on the TV.  It was only when the game did not return after a minute or two that we realized what we were watching was not TV commercial for the Ford Bronco but was, instead, a live news event.  I had really just begun practicing law full-time in late September, 1994 (to the extent that I could while awaiting results of the Bar Exam), which is when jury selection began in Simpson's criminal case.  I was in Tumulty's Pub in New Brunswick - coincidentally waiting for a jury to come back - in early October, 1995 - when the jury's verdict in the Simpson case was published in Judge Ito's courtroom.  

The jurors reached their verdict after less than two hours of deliberation.  Two hours.  A cautionary tale perhaps on the perils of sequestration? The jurors in the Simpson case - including the alternates - were sequestered for the duration of the trial.  When Judge Ito introduced himself to them at the commencement of jury selection in September, 1994, he cautioned them that he expected the trial to last for quite a long time...until February, 1995.  His Honor proved to only be off in his estimate by eight months.    

The FX show has been very well done.  I have enjoyed it so much that I actually bought another copy of Toobin's book - and read it again last week.  I would recommend either to anyone.  Time well spent. 


Monday, March 21, 2016

No Small Achievement

Spring got off to a bit of an auspicious debut in these parts.  Fear not.  By the end of this week, temperatures here in the State of Concrete Gardens are expected to be in the 60's.  This latest act of weather drama is not likely to have any staying power.   While I prefer a dearth of wintry weather, if I have to experience it, then this "Reader's Digest Condensed" version is the way to go.  

Fortunately, winter's last hurrah waited until Spring's first day to arrive.  While it was a bit cold on Saturday morning in Long Branch, the conditions for a seventeen-mile training run on the New Jersey Marathon's course were actually quite good.  Brooke and I had one hell of a run.  We put up fifteen miles at an average clip of 9:35 per mile.  But for a bit of a cramp behind my left knee slowing us down the final mile and a half we might have covered all seventeen at that pace.  As it was, we went seventeen miles in less than three hours.  

Considering that neither of us ever runs with anyone, our first effort at running together was an unqualified success.  Running seventeen miles at one time is not easy.  But on Saturday it was fun, which it usually is not.  Even running through Deal twice did not suck.  And if you have ever run through Deal then you know that is no small achievement.  


Sunday, March 20, 2016

And It Cuts Like A Knife

It occurs to me that after leaving a question for all of us to ponder yesterday, I never bothered to check back to see whether anyone had any thoughts on it  - and the absurdity of it all.  Apologies.   

Yesterday afternoon I decompressed after running seventeen miles in the morning.  I did so by watching TV.  Rather than watch college basketball, I came across (on one of the endless number of movie channels that we have and never watch) a Spike Lee-directed documentary on Michael Jackson.  Once I landed on it, I was hooked. 

The film examined the career of Michael Jackson from his earliest days as a member of the Jackson Five - a member of the Motown studio - through the release of his first solo record, Off  The Wall, in 1979.  It was not only entertaining.  It was very informative.  And whether it was intended to be or not, it was more than a little sad. 

It was sad because it reminded me that long before he apparently lost his way in the world, became fodder for tabloid stories, and became embroiled in a seemingly endless number of legal problems, he was an extremely talented man.  And a man who was passionate about his craft and dedicated to honing it.  

His life and his death serve, perhaps, as a cautionary tale.  Even those among us who seem to have everything may not in fact be as "together" as we may appear to be.  


Saturday, March 19, 2016

Off and Running

Much to do today - not the least of which is driving down to Long Branch so that I can run a 17-mile training run on the New Jersey Marathon's course with the Marathon Amazon herself, Brooke.  On May 1 she is making her maiden voyage in the New Jersey Marathon so I thought it best that she have the chance to check out the course in advance.  Hopefully, it will make it easier for her to deal with just how unbelievably boring the course is on the trek up and down Ocean Avenue between Long Branch and Asbury Park. 

Since time is short, let me - a registered Republican - ask a quick question on my way out the door (open to anyone of any political persuasion):   If all of us (the American people) deserve a voice in determining who shall next join the Supreme Court of the United States (you know, the way it has always worked for more than two centuries), then why are the people in charge of the Republican Party falling all over themselves in an effort to silence that very same voice's participation in the GOP's Presidential nomination process (you know, the way it has worked for the past couple of centuries). 

Feel free to discuss among yourselves.  I have a date with a long run.


Friday, March 18, 2016

A Temporal State of Sadness

I had a bit of a distracted day yesterday. While slogging through a number of things on my "to-do" list, I also kept apace of what was happening in the NCAA Tournament Game between my beloved Colorado Buffaloes and the Connecticut Huskies.  If this was the year that the rules governing basketball had been changed so that the winner of a game was declared at halftime, then the Buffs would be preparing for their second-round game on Saturday.  

They do not.  

Therefore, they shall not. 

I recognize that there are grown-ups in the world who live and die with the fortunes and misfortunes of young people a generation - at least - their junior.  I am not such a grown-up.  I root for the young men and women who take on the responsibility and the challenge of wearing the colors of my Alma mater because having played competitive sports a lifetime ago (albeit only as far as on the high school level), I appreciate the amount of time and energy they dedicate to the pursuit of their own dreams.  

And here is the thing - and to me there is no other way to look at it:  It is their dream.  Simply having a framed diploma on the wall of my office and a ring on the ring finger of my right hand from the same university that they presently attend does not give me license to live my life vicariously through them.  All it gives me is a reason to applaud their results when they triumph and to praise their efforts, irrespective of the outcome.  

For an old curmudgeon like me that is more than I could otherwise hope to be entitled and it is more than enough...

Coach Tad Boyle - 03/17/16
(U Conn 74, CU 67)

...well that and a little bit of faith. 


Thursday, March 17, 2016

A Shovelful of Forgiveness

The Irish forgive their great men 
When they are safely buried.
- Irish Proverb

For those among us who are Irish every day and for those of you among us who view Irish and intoxicated as interchangeable terms and aspire, therefore, to be "Irish" by day's end today, Happy St. Patrick's Day.  May one and all enjoy the day and do so in a manner that does not substantially interfere with another's ability to enjoy it.  Simply put:  Do not use the fact that is St. Patrick's Day to behave like an irresponsible jagoff.  

It is not only St. Patrick's Day, but Throat Punch Thursday.  Be always mindful of the latter while celebrating the former. 

Be careful out there.


Wednesday, March 16, 2016

A Word of Thanks

First things first:  Thank you.  

It was one week ago that I accepted the opportunity to run the 2016 New York City Marathon as a member of Team STOMP THE MONSTER, which is a Jersey-based charitable organization that provides cancer patients, their families, and their caretakers with the assistance they need, financial, emotional, and otherwise, while they battle against the insidious, relentless enemy that is cancer.  

Inextricably intertwined with the acceptance of the responsibility to be part of Team STM is the responsibility to raise money for the organization.  I am a person who is loathe to ask for assistance for any reason.  I can think of no one thing that makes me more uncomfortable than asking another person for money - even if the money requested is not for me but is for a third-party.  Yet, to honor my commitment to Team STM I have done just that.  Hell, I have even gone as far as to employ an utterly adorable photo of Rosalita with her Sue's Crew hat as part of my fundraising pitch. Shameless?  Perhaps, but being a lawyer, shameless is not exactly hard for me to pull off.  

In just one week, through the generosity of family and friends, an already significant amount of money has been raised and has been donated to Team STM by the aforementioned family and friends on my behalf.  I say thank you because I am rendered effectively speechless - as does not happen nearly as often as those of me who spend their day within earshot of me wishes it would - and unable to say anything else to adequately express how I feel.  

It is a sentiment worth repeating, and I shall (so be prepared!) in the days and weeks ahead.  Thank you for focusing on the message and overlooking the wart-festooned exterior of the messenger.  

2016 New York City Marathon


Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Captain Egregious and the Van Winkles

Yesterday was not only Pi Day, which truth be told seems to me at least to be more than enough to put on one day's plate.  Someone other than me decided that it was not.  Yesterday was also National Napping Day.  Indeed.  National Napping Day.  It is a day such as yesterday that gives me a greater appreciation for my pal Phil Ayoub's decision to become a greeting card magnate.  A license to print money, I tell you.  An absolute license to print money.  

I am notoriously obtuse.  Thus, I am constantly befuddled between the seemingly paradoxical yet interconnected relationship between irony and coincidence.  Often, probably too often in fact, they seem to me to be opposite sides of the same coin.  Apropos of nothing, when I was a little kid I never won a coin toss.  Not once.  Kelly used to be the one who flipped the coin and every time he did, he would subtly remind me that the outcome was pre-determined, "Heads I win.  Tails you lose."  It is not easy going through childhood wishing for a leaner.  

But I digress. 

Yesterday morning, the Washington Post posted a story on its site, written by Lindsay Bever, about something that would be funny only if it happened to someone other than you or someone who you know and love.  Ms. Bever's piece told the story of Nicholas Ragin.  Approximately ten years ago a man named Nicholas Ragin was tried and convicted in the United States District Court for the Western District of North Carolina on charges of conspiracy and racketeering.  Ragin was sentenced to thirty years in Federal prison as punishment for his crimes.  This past Friday, a three-judge panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, sitting in Richmond, Virginia, overturned Ragin's conviction.  

The basis for the Fourth Circuit's decision was its determination, based upon evidence adduced at an evidentiary hearing granted to Mr. Ragin in connection with a motion he filed pursuant to 28 U.S.C. 2255 to have his conviction vacated in which he argued that he had been deprived his Sixth Amendment right to assistance of counsel.  His motion was not predicated upon the fact that he had not had an attorney at trial.  He had.  In fact, his attorney was a lawyer named Nikita V. Mackey.  Mr. Mackey was appointed by the District Court to represent Mr. Ragin.  The underlying basis of Mr. Ragin's motion was that even though Mr. Mackey was there - he really was not there because he was too busy sleeping to effectively represent his client.  

The Ragin court, in a unanimous opinion authored by the Hon. Roger L. Gregory, U.S.C.J., concluded that Mr. Ragin's unrebutted evidence, which he presented in the form of witness testimony at his 2255 hearing, established that Mr. Mackey slept in court quite a lot.  Every day, in the morning and again in the afternoon as a matter of fact: 

Based on this record, we find it impossible not to conclude that Mackey slept, and was therefore not functioning as a lawyer during a substantial portion of the trial. “Unconscious counsel equates to no counsel at all.” Burdine, 262 F.3d at 349.  Unconscious counsel cannot “analyze, object, listen or in any way exercise judgment on behalf of a client.” Id

Because we have no basis to conclude that an attorney who sleeps through a substantial portion of the trial has exercised judgment on his client’s behalf, “we have insufficient basis for trusting the fairness of that trial and consequently must presume prejudice.” Id. Therefore, the fact that Mackey was sleeping during Ragin’s trial amounted to constructive denial of counsel for substantial periods of that trial.

Judge Gregory and his colleagues were quick to point out, however that not every criminal case in which defense counsel catches up on his or her beauty sleep while he or she is supposed to be zealously representing the client will give rise to the vacation of a conviction as it did in Mr. Ragin's case.  In a footnote, the Ragin court pointed out that the conduct of the defense attorney must be looked at on a case-by-case basis, which is the type of thing that as a lawyer to me makes perfect sense while, I realize, driving wholesale portions of the population bat-shit crazy: 

Whether a lawyer slept for a substantial portion of the trial should be determined on a case-by-case basis, considering, but not limited to, the length of time counsel slept, the proportion of the trial missed, and the significance of the portion counsel slept through. At the same time, however, while we decline to dictate precise parameters for what must necessarily be a case-by-case assessment, we caution district courts that the scope of our holding today should not be limited to only the most egregious instances of attorney slumber.

"The most egregious instances of attorney slumber".  It rolls right off of tongue does it not?  I hope that should I live to be 1,000 that I never have to defend myself and the effectiveness of my representation of a client by relying upon the fact that my slumber did not rise to the level of being among "the most egregious instances" of such conduct.  

The Ragin opinion can be read in its entirety here


Monday, March 14, 2016

An Homage to George and Weezy

Fish don't fry in the kitchen
Beans don't burn on the grill.
Took a whole lotta tryin',
Just to get up that hill.
- "Movin' On Up" 
(The Jeffersons)

Today, everybody gets to be a Jefferson, an honor heretofore reserved only for George, Eloise, and Lionel.  For today, everyone everywhere - on this side of the International Date Line at least - shall all get our piece of the pie.  

Oops.  Apparently today is NOT "Pie Day".  It is "Pi Day".  Apologies.  Please take no offense.  I assure you that none was intended.  

Everyone just stay calm.  


Sunday, March 13, 2016

For The Chance To Sway 'Neath This Serious Moonlight

Today is Selection Sunday.  By nightfall, all sixty-eight spots in the field for the 2016 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament shall be filled and the insanity that long ago justified its well-worn sobriquet ("March Madness") shall be underway. 

I am cautiously optimistic that my Alma mater will be one of the sixty-eight teams invited to participate in this year's tournament.  Coach Tad Boyle and the Buffaloes finished their regular season with a record of 22-11.  Coach Boyle has been the head coach in Boulder for six seasons now, during which time his Buffaloes have won twenty-plus games five times and have garnered three NCAA bids (with #4 to be announced - hopefully - later on today).   As someone whose four years as an undergrad saw the male hoopsters post win totals of 7, 9, 7, and 7, the manner in which Coach Boyle, his assistants, and the young men who have played for him (including of course this year's herd) have manufactured success out of whole cloth is nothing short of extraordinary.

Whether the rejuvenation of a once-moribund basketball program along Colorado's Front Range is of any solace to my oldest brother, Bill, and other Rutgers alumni I do not pretend to know.  These are pretty bleak days along the banks of the old Rar-i-tan for the Scarlet Knights.  This past week the three-year tenure of Head Coach Eddie Jordan came to an unceremonious and wholly predictable end.  Athletic Director Patrick Hobbs fired him.  In three years as the man in charge, Jordan coached his Knights to just twenty-nine victories (against sixty-nine losses) overall, including a Big Ten Conference record of 3-35.    

I reckon that the decision to fire Coach Jordan was a hard one for A.D. Hobbs and the RU administration, irrespective of his brutal won-loss record.  Eddie Jordan is a link to RU's glory days of college basketball, which occurred four decades ago.  Jordan was the lightning-quick point guard who ran Coach Tom Young's offense and who, along with Phil Sellers, Mike Dabney, Jammin' James Bailey, and Hollis Copeland, made it to the Final Four in 1976 with a 31-0 record.  The fact that once Rutgers reached the Final Four, it did not win another game has done little to nothing to detract from Jordan's legacy or the legacy of the '76 team.  

And Jordan is the favorite son who rode headlong into the Hell created by the kerfuffle former coach Mike Rice created with his abuse of his players, which deservedly cost Rice his job and cost then-Athletic Director Tim Pernetti his job too.  Rutgers hired Eddie Jordan, in significant part because of what he has meant to RU since he arrived on campus forty-plus years ago and because of what RU has meant to him as well.  It was a coupling that deserved a better fate.  

In the movies, happy endings can be crafted at the screenwriter's whim.  

In real-life, not so much.   


Saturday, March 12, 2016

The Lonely Walk of the Only Son

There was a very sad story reported on in these parts earlier this week.  A young man, eighteen years young in fact, who by all outward appearances had the world at his feet and an enviable future, took his own life.  

Yesterday, those who loved Jacob J. "Cody" St. Phard most of all, including of course his parents, his sister, the rest of his family, and his friends, gathered to say goodbye to him.  At the Princeton Alliance Church in Plainsboro, 1,500 programs were printed up for the service.  All of them were distributed well in advance of the service's completion.  

Being a parent is the most terrifying job on the planet because of the stakes involved.  As a parent you try your level best to keep your child safe from all dangers, seen and unseen, known and unknown.  The likelihood of you being wholly successful in your mission is absurdly low.  But it is a job that most of us, once we have signed up for it, would not trade for any other.  Not even temporarily. 

His mom and dad, admittedly not knowing what else to do since this is not something covered in the manual, a copy of which none of us are given when we become parents but yet the contents of which all of us are presumed to possess a working knowledge, established a GoFundMe page in his honor (#flyhighCoby), the purpose of which they humbly acknowledged remains unclear to them. The important thing for them was to be able to ascribe a happy thought to a despairing event the depth of which is presently incapable of being plumbed. 

And hope like Hell that at some point, which right now might not be discernible along the horizon line, happy thoughts become significantly easier for them to attain.  I would not pretend to know when that point in time is or what one does to ensure its arrival.  I hope that I shall never be required to find out.  

And I wish like hell that it is an experience they could have been spared as well.  


Friday, March 11, 2016

The Ballad of Joao and Dindim

We live in a world in which the most vulnerable of people 
end up taking the brunt of disasters resulting both from
natural processes and from human activities. 
- Kai Erikson

He might not be your first choice to give the Best Man's toast at your wedding but Mr. Erikson has a point.  There is a lot of bad, truly rotten shit that goes down on this planet.  Every day.  Seemingly without interruption and far too often, whether we want to accept it or not, with an easily-understood explanation.  

It is for that reason that the story of Joao Pereira de Souza, a 71 year-old retired bricklayer who lives on an island off Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, and his best friend, Dindim, is so goddamn wonderful.  If you hear it and it does not bring a smile to your face, then perhaps you need to skip on off down the yellow brick road and call upon the Wizard for it is time to replace the briquette in your chest masquerading as a heart. 

Dindim is a South American Magellanic penguin.  Approximately five years ago, Dindim washed up onto Joao's beach.  He was covered in oil and near death.  Joao spent a week cleaning Dindim's feathers until he was oil-free.  He nursed him back to health and when Dindim was ready, Joao released him in the wild.  

If the story of Joao and Dindim ended right there, it would be heartwarming.  

It does not. 

Dindim came back.  And he has kept coming back to visit his best human buddy and his savior.  He makes an annual pilgrimage to Joao's beach to visit his old friend.  Once he arrives, Dindim hunkers down.  He spends an average of eight months with Joao and then heads back out into the ocean to his mating grounds, which are off of the coast of Argentina and Chile.  Dindim puts an estimated 5,000 miles annually on his flippers.  Sure, most of them are ocean miles, less stopping and starting, less restrictive traveling conditions, but still, 5,000 miles is 5,000 miles.  

Which may or may not really be any distance at all...


Thursday, March 10, 2016

Of Lucky Ladies & Monsters in Need of Stomping

Tuesday was "Drawing Day" for the 2016 TCS New York City Marathon.  It was on Tuesday that anyone who had completed an entry for the Marathon Lottery learned his/her fate.  Last year I was lucky enough to hold one of the golden tickets.  This year I was not.  

Such is life in the big city - and what city is bigger (in every sense of the word) than New York City? While I was disappointed that Lady Luck disregarded Sky Masterson's heart-felt plea

(at least with regard to me) I was beyond thrilled to learn from Kara, my sister, that she was among the almost-twenty thousand runners upon whom luck's light did indeed shine.  She will have the time of her life on November 6, 2016.  The time of her life. 

And I am pleased to report that I shall have the chance to share the experience with her, as shall my running companera, Gidg.  The two of us are lucky enough to be running in the 2016 NYC Marathon as part of Team Stomp The Monster.  Stomp The Monster is a New Jersey-based, not-for-profit charitable organization with one simple, beautiful mission:   It provides financial support and other support to cancer patients, their families, and their caregivers when it is needed the most - during their fight with the disease.  We promote a healthy lifestyle with proper diet and exercise, leading by example, and provide funding for potential advances in prevention and treatment.  

Thus, unlike last year when the only goal of my Marathon journey was to make it to Margaret and the finish line in Central Park alive (and before darkness), this year Gidg and I shall hoof it through the City in support of Stomp The Monster and the good works performed by its good folks and on behalf of good folks.  For if there is a Monster that needs to be stomped today, tomorrow, and on Marathon Sunday, it is cancer.  

Over the course of the next several months, I shall run the risk of making you angry by the number of times I mention this particular mission and the number of times that I provide a link to my fundraising page, on which you can help me help Team STM help others in need of assistance.  Perhaps your anger shall be assuaged by the fact that any help you are able to provide is appreciated, beyond my limited ability to express.  




Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Strength from Strength

The Shore in the summer is outstanding.  It is also fairly congested.  I cannot speak for anywhere else in the world but significantly more people travel to the ocean, in New Jersey, in the summer than make the trip in March.  

No matter how closely or keenly you listen, you shall not hear me complain about life in the off-season.  Margaret and I have tried to avail ourselves of as much time at our little Paradise by the Sea as we can manage - and since Labor Day we have been in Lake Como on a regular basis.  I think that I have spent close to every other weekend there throughout the autumn and the winter.  It is a habit I intend to keep as winter's chill gives way to spring's thaw.

May 1, 2016 is the New Jersey Marathon.  This weekend, I availed myself of favorable weather conditions (not too cold, not too hot, not too windy) to run outdoors on Saturday morning and then again on Sunday morning.  I mis-read the marathon training schedule that I am using, which is why on Saturday morning instead of running six miles, I ended up going seven and one-half miles.  I thought that this past week's intermediate run was a seven-mile run so when I exceeded that goal by roughly one-half mile, I thought nothing of it.  Oops.  If reading is fundamental, then apparently I am fundamentally unsound.  

Saturday's jaunt took me south from Belmar, through Spring Lake, and then into Sea Girt.  I ran until I reached the southern end of the Sea Girt Boardwalk before I turned, first, inland, and, thereafter, north for the return leg to Lake Como.  Along the way, I managed to pop off some shots of the sights I saw. 

Sun coming up over Sea Girt as seen
from southern end of Boardwalk
(turn-around point on my run)

Beach in Spring Lake looking northeast 
(taken on way home to Lake Como)

The Columns on Ocean Avenue 
(taken from Spring Lake side looking 
north towards Belmar) 

Lake Como - looking southwest towards the Atlantic
(taken from North Boulevard in Lake Como) 

Sunday was "long run" day and, fortunately (or unfortunately depending upon your perspective I reckon) the calendar informed me that "long run" equaled sixteen miles.  Under cool, crisp, and decidedly overcast skies, at shortly before 7:00 A.M. I headed out our back door and down 17th Avenue to the Boardwalk.  Once there I headed north.  My journey took me through Belmar, Avon-by-the-Sea, Bradley Beach, and Ocean Grove.  As I crossed from Ocean Grove into Asbury Park, I decided to swing inland - as I continued running north - and ended up following signs that pointed me towards Allenhurst and Wanamassa.  I continued north until I was approximately eight and one-half miles from home.  At that point, I headed east again and, thereafter, south, which enabled me to take in the sights one can only see along the Asbury Park Boardwalk.  

My goal on Sunday morning was to complete my sixteen-mile run at a ten-minute per mile pace.  I met my goal.  In fact, I finished approximately three and one-half minutes ahead of schedule.   While no one is going to mistake 2:36:46 for sixteen miles with a world-record effort, I was damn happy that I had met my goal and happier still about the sights I saw along my journey. 

Our Beach:  17th Avenue Beach, Belmar, NJ


Looking east towards the Belmar Fishing Club

Bradley Beach

Ocean Grove

Ocean Grove 

Festhalle Biergarten 
Asbury Park

Empress Hotel 
Asbury Park

Mural at Asbury Lanes
Asbury Park 

Lions in the spirit of St. Patrick's Day

Drummond Cemetery 

Carousel Building 
Asbury Park 

For me, running sixteen miles is "no bullshit" undertaking.  It is taxing.  But, down the Shore, it is somehow less so.  I run in the presence of sights that I shall never tire of seeing and am kept company by the sound of the ocean - and the countless other lunatics out running, cycling, and walking at 7:00 A.M. on a chilly, gray Sunday morning in March.  

It makes the prospect of 26.2 miles on the first Sunday in May and the prospect of 26.2 miles, again, on the first Sunday in November seem a bit less daunting somehow.  



Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Slow-Moving Targets and Lightning Strikes

Considering I have a bit of skin in the game, you might presume that I keep track of things such as the fact that today is the day that the TCS New York City Marathon announces the results of its lottery for entry into the 2016 Marathon.  You might have presumed that I keep track of such things. You would have been incorrect.  Quite incorrect in fact.  Truth is, until I received an e-mail late yesterday afternoon from Brooke wishing Gidg and me luck in the drawing, I had zero idea of the date on which it occurs.  

Now I know. 

Full disclosure demands that I acknowledge while I had the time of my life completing the 2015 Marathon, had I not drawn a golden ticket in the lottery, I would not have participated in the event.  This year, if the luck of the Irish is not with me, it matters not in terms of my commitment to participate in the 2016 Marathon.  My running companera, Gidg (who also awaits word from the lottery gods today) turns "50" this year, which she shall do within days of this year's Marathon.  Thus, whether one or both of us is a lottery winner or one or both of us is a participant through our participation on a charitable, fund-raising team, both of us shall spend a considerable portion of November's first Sunday toeing the blacktop of the five boroughs of New York City. 

It is a hell of a day - Marathon Sunday.  And the first step towards the finish line in Central Park is taken today...

...even by those of us who are too damn stupid to pay attention to such a thing. 


Monday, March 7, 2016

A Sight for Smiling Eyes

The Missus and I had an extraordinary time yesterday.   We broke our maiden at the Belmar-Lake Como St Patrick's Day Parade.  This year's parade was the 43rd annual.  Never having been before, I know not how this year compared to past years in terms of crowd size.  I find it hard to believe that the crowd in years past has been more enthusiastic than the crowd was yesterday.   A simply terrific afternoon.  

A simply terrific event.  Kudos to those charged with the responsibility of planning it and thereafter, on Parade Day, executing it.   There were a lot of moving parts and to the eye of this attendee, each moved exactly as it was intended to move.  

Luck of the Irish?  Perhaps.  More likely than not however it was the result of proper planning and preparation.  Two things that trump luck every day.  

And twice on Sunday.   Even Parade Sunday.  


Sunday, March 6, 2016

Nothing Without Effort

"Tada gan iarracht"
("Nothing without Effort")

For a man who is an unapologetic, unrepentant asshole I have made out far better than I have had any reasonable to expect.  I am married to a woman who is now wholly and completely out of my league. I have two grown children who are remarkably well-functioning, productive adults and who are married to two equally well-functioning, productive adults, none of which I am positioned to take credit for - but for the fact that I (along with Bob) walked Suzanne down the aisle on her wedding day.  

I am a man of few friends, an agreement arrived upon for the mutual benefit of the world and me.  I am fortunate though that I count among them, a number of truly extraordinary individuals.  One of them is celebrating a birthday today.  I would give her grief about the age she has now attained except 75% of the time I am thirty-one days older than she is.  This year?  I am thirty-two.  Luckily for her, being a bit of a brainiac she learned a lifetime ago that I am one elder upon whom her time should not be wasted extending respect. 

To me, being a bit of a simpleton, the always-interesting thing about life is that big moments do not always come wrapped in shiny paper and adorned with a bow and a sign declaring them to be a "BIG MOMENT'.  In my experience, far more often than not, they simply arrive disguised as regular, everyday moments.  And they are provided to us by individuals whose civilian garb conceals the superhero contained within. 

Well, on most occasions anyway...

...Happy Birthday LLIJ.  Remember, make that inhale a good one.  Forty-nine is an adult-sized number of candles.