Friday, August 18, 2017

All That I Cannot Outrun

Last Saturday was a significantly more draining day for me than I had anticipated it would be.  A portion of the "drain" was physical.  Margaret and I attended a wedding on Friday night in West Orange from which we arrived home late (for us anyway).  We spent the night in Middlesex.  I woke up early and headed to Lake Como to pick up the gear I needed to run Saturday morning in the Asbury Park 5K, which had an 8:30 a.m. start time.  25:25.5 minutes after I started, I was finished in Asbury Park, back in the car, and on the road again. 

With the morning's tip-off event squarely in the rear-view mirror, I turned my attention to the significantly more important event of the day, which was Mom Fest at Taylor Pavilion in Belmar.  At some point, though (I think it might have been as I was standing in our outdoor shower cleaning up post-race) the significance of what we gathered to do on Saturday hit home for me.  Mom had no wake.  She had no funeral.  Those were her wishes and we honored them.  Saturday, for all of my cheeky references to it as "Mom Fest" was not simply a celebration of an extraordinary woman's life, it was a farewell.  It was a gathering not simply of "remember when" but of "until we see you again, Mom."  Once my eyes opened to that fact, which I simply had been denying I suppose while the arrangements were being made, it affected me far more than I had anticipated it would. 

Following Mom's memorial, I walked the twelve of so blocks home from Taylor Pavilion to our little Paradise by the Sea.  My great friend, Loku, who I first met in late August, 1986 when he arrived at CU as a freshman who lived across the hall from me, a sophomore, in Farrand Hall, came up from Georgia to pay his respects.  He walked home with me and once we got there we spent several hours out on the back patio with Margaret, Suzanne, Ryan, Jess, and Rob, telling stories.  

Happily, few and far between are the nights when I drink more than I should.  It represents a nice change of pace from thirty or so years ago when a night when I drank more than I should was a night that was part of a day of the week that ends in "y".  Saturday was such a night.  Nevertheless, I woke up at 5:00 or so Sunday morning and went for a run.  It was an incredibly steamy, humid morning.  To pay a bit of penance for having overdone the night before, after running the three blocks from home to the 17th Avenue Beach, I then headed south. What little air there was available to breathe was low-quality.  It did not matter. I pounded through it.  Finally, after I decided I had deprived myself of enough oxygen for one morning's run, I headed east to the waterline and ran the homeward leg of my journey there. 

Each of us has a history.  None of us is capable of moving fast enough to outrun it.  It seems to me that a better play is simply to acknowledge it, and to carry it with you, always moving forward but never forgetting the steps you took to get you wherever you are at a particular point in time.  


Boardwalk - 17th Avenue Beach 
(20 minutes or so prior to sunrise)


Sunrise over Spring Lake
(the sun did not get the memo)


Spring Lake
(approx. 10 minutes after sunrise)


King of the Jetty! 


Lifeguard Stand 
17th Avenue Beach

-AK 


Thursday, August 17, 2017

No Windex Required

Another journey in the WABAC Machine is on tap today.  Occasionally - and sadly far less frequently than I wish I could claim it does - I stumble back across something that has appeared here and think "Hey, that is not too bad."  Contrary to what some shall tell you about my belief in my own bullshit, it is not sacrosanct.  Not even I can pull the wool down far enough over my own eyes to believe that it happens on an infrequent basis.

What appeared here on August 16, 2014 is, in my always-less-than-humble opinion, something that still holds up.  Certain things have changed since its original date of publication.  For instance, I no longer refer to grandchildren in hypothetical terms. Maggie (a/k/a "the Franchise") is three and one-half months old.  Certain things have remained unchanged.  Rush Limbaugh remains a fat fuck and an asshole.  

I also believe that the larger theme of the piece remains true.  For me, anyway.  Perhaps for you also...

SATURDAY, AUGUST 16, 2014

From Here Inside My House Of Glass

Sometimes no Truth is more powerful
Than one expressed in Anger
By a melancholy Man.
- Pete Hamill

A departure from the regularly-scheduled programming today.  I do so, well because I use this space as I see fit and I see fit to do what I do and to write what I write here today.  I do so also in recognition of the fact that there may indeed be an interrelationship between what has occupied this space all week (and shall resume doing so, again, tomorrow) and what appears here today. 

Robin Williams died earlier this week.  He took his own life.  In the immediate aftermath of his suicide, not only did expressions of shock and sadness reverberate around the world, so did condolences for his children and his wife and, sadly but certainly not surprisingly, expressions of disappointment and even ridicule (Yes Rush Limbaugh you fat fuck and perpetual waste of oxygen that would otherwise be available for my yet-to-be-born grandchildren to breathe someday I am looking squarely at you) as to how one who seemingly had "everything" could commit suicide.  

The great facade of the age in which we live, the age of instant information, is that the more gadgetry and resources we have at our disposal the less connected to one another we sometimes become.  I point the accusatory finger not outward but inward.  For someone such as me, who has a day-to-day that the interruption of and deviation from is a cause of much consternation, the allure of social media can be intoxicating.  It requires little to no effort to maintain "friendships" via Facebook or Twitter or LinkedIn or whatever hip service the kids are using today.  Ask yourself though whether these connections are actually contact or whether they are in fact something significantly less than that.  Now ask yourself these questions:  (a) How many of your Facebook friends have you never met; (b) For how many of them (without looking at their personal profile information) can you identify by name their spouse, their children and/or whether they have one or both of the above; and (c) When and where was the last time (presuming that you answered "Zero" to Question (a)) that you and this particular friend were somewhere together?  

Here in the age of instant information we know a little about a lot.  And not just "things" and "stuff" but each other too.  You cannot - as a matter of course - know what another is experiencing unless and until you put your feet into his or her shoes.  You cannot therefore - not without showing an absence of empathy that would make a sociopath blush - pretend to "know" what another is going through.  If you are sitting right now reading this and either mouthing to yourself of even saying aloud perhaps, "Yes I can" then do me a favor.  Stop reading right now.  Take your self-congratulatory, delusional bullshit someplace else.  Feel free to tell yourself whatever lies you need to get through your day-to-day.  You may not, however, do it here.   

Every day - for reasons that are exclusively their own - men and women of all colors, creeds, races and religious affiliations end their own lives.  Suffering is a human condition.  It belongs to all of us.  Life is inherently unfair.  If it was not, then we would not die at the end of it.  Inside each and every one of us there is a reservoir.  It, and it alone, serves to let us know just how much suffering we can withstand.  And much like us, the reservoir inside of us is not "one size fits all".    Maybe yours can hold a significantly greater amount of suffering than mine.  Maybe mine is bigger than yours and everyone else I have ever met.  I know not.  And neither do you.  We cannot. 

And it is because we cannot that we need to be a bit more judicious in our rush to judgment when things happen such as someone choosing to take his or her own life.  By the time I was eighteen years old, I had buried all four of my grandparents, a number of aunts and uncles and - the cherry atop the sundae of fun - my father.  Yet I had never been at a more somber, sullen funeral than the one I attended in the Summer of '85 for my friend and former classmate, Brian.  I did not know then - and I do not know now - what made a young man - hell a boy - of eighteen commit suicide.  And my understanding - or lack thereof - is as singularly unimportant today as it was twenty-nine years ago. 

Good people die by their own hand every day.  And a person's decision to end his or her own life makes that person neither a coward nor selfish.  It does however likely make the people who loved that person and whose lives have been directly affected by that person's decision profoundly sad.  And it is them - should we be among those who know them and can perhaps be of some comfort to them - for whom we should look to provide shelter and comfort.  We may not ever be able to understand.  But it does not mean that we cannot be there to listen and to offer support.  

Remember, the shoes you walk in are your own. 

Not mine. 

Not anyone else's. 

Not now. 

Not ever...  


-AK

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Speaking Frankly

I will spend a portion of my day today in Plainfield, meeting with a client whose located a short walk from the intersection of Park Avenue and 7th Street.  A lifetime ago, before I had a beard, gray or otherwise, the building that stands there, 705 Park Avenue, was the home to the first law firm at which I ever worked.  

Luckily for me, while I was toiling at my first lawyer job I came under the wing of one of the best gentlemen, lawyer or otherwise, I have ever known.  Frank DeVito was the goods.  A good lawyer and an even better human being.  My only regret when, in the summer of 1996, I left that first job for greener pastures, which in my case meant a pasture in which my paycheck did not bounce was that I no longer worked for and with Frank on a daily basis.  

It occurred to me last night, preparing as I was for this morning's client meeting in Plainfield that it was in early August several years ago that Frank DeVito died.  But for the wake for my mother-in-law, Suzy B., I have never seen a turnout for a wake like I saw at Frank's.  It took almost an hour for me to reach Josephine and the kids from the time I got out of my car - and I parked directly across the street from the funeral home.  

Last night, I came across something that I wrote seven Augusts ago in memory of - and in honor of - my friend and mentor, Frank DeVito.  For a man seven years gone but not forgotten...


WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 4, 2010


The Eternal Frankie D.

Don McLean knew of which he spoke. Yesterday's paper did indeed drop bad news on the doorstep. A million years ago - or at least it seems that way sometimes - my first job out of law school was in a small plaintiff's PI shop in Plainfield. When I first started there - actually even before I was out of law school as I served as their law clerk (meaning I cranked out a lot of briefs, wrote a lot of motions and did a lot of on-line legal research courtesy of my free Westlaw subscription). I started working there shortly after the beginning of my final year of law school and upon graduation - and after having sat for the Bar - I formally joined the firm. It was while I was in the employ of a shop then known as Frost & Rhodes that I found out I had passed the Bar Exams of Pennsylvania (November 16, 2004 upon returning home from Boston where I had spent the day with the firm's senior partner Jack Frost doing some investigative work on a case) and New Jersey (Pearl Harbor Day - drove home at lunch from the office to check my mail). It was as a newbie at that firm that I took my oath and formally became a member of the Bar. 

Ours was a little shop, more often than not maddeningly short on non-essential things such as funds to cover payroll and to keep the lights on, but loaded to the gunwales with colorful characters. That first Christmas Margaret and I were invited to the party that Jack and his partner Kirk Rhodes threw for the attorneys, staff and family. It was at that party that they announced that Frank DeVito had made partner. Everyone in our little group cheered loud and long. Frank was just one of those guys. Once you met him, you knew him forever. And once you knew him, you flat-out loved him.


From my pre-lawyer beginnings in the Fall of 1993 through June 1996 I worked at the firm that had given me my start in the law. I learned an awful lot while there - a lot of it good, a lot of it bad and all of it incredibly interesting about the law and the business of practicing law. The best part about my time there was that I got to work daily with Frank. Frank was in charge of the office's personal injury practice (we represented only plaintiffs) and worker's compensation practice (we represented only petitioners). We would meet in his office at day's end pretty much on a daily basis to review the day that was and the next day. There is a line in Springsteen's No Surrender, "We learned more from a 3-minute record than we ever learned in school" that aptly sums up what those daily skull sessions were like for me. Frank knew how to practice law. He did not pretend to be the most scholarly guy in the world and he carried himself with no artifice or pretense. But he knew what a case was worth, what it could be resolved for, the difference between the two and how to secure the former - and not the latter - for our client.



His ability to schmooze and to win people over benefited not only him. I became his tip of the spear guy for a lot of municipal court work that we took in and invariably before sending me off to battle on behalf of a client who probably deserved better than a still wiping the soap from behind his ears rookie, he would pen a note on the back of his business card addressed to the Municipal Prosecutor in the town where I was going. Nothing elaborate. Just a quick hello and a "be good to my boy" type of thing. Some of the best deals I have ever struck in municipal court were clinched upon a prosecuting attorney saying, "You work for Frank? Tell him I said hello. Now what are we going to do here?" or words to that effect. Once you met him, you knew him forever. Once you knew him, you flat-out loved him.



The advantage to being a newbie in a small, unpolished, trench warfare type of law firm (think "The Practice" circa Season One) is that unlike a number of my fellow newbies I got dropped into a vat of fire immediately. No one hides a newbie in a small firm in the rear office. Nope. You are sent off to defend depositions, take depositions, argue motions, appear at arraignments, negotiate settlements, negotiate plea deals and just about everything else under the son. And you are sent to do it before the ink has dried on the fancy law license the State of New Jersey gives you to display in your office.



Frank taught me the ropes with a velvet touch. I made more mistakes than I would care to admit - though I shall long remember them - and each one regardless of its slightness or its heft would cause me to seek his counsel. He was a priest and rabbi all rolled into one. No matter what I did - including when what I did created a mess that he would immediately have to clean up behind me - he would send me out to battle every day with the same credo, "Do your best and do your best to not commit malpractice" and he would send me home every night with the same pep talk, "You did not commit malpractice today. Tomorrow you will get up and do then exactly what you did today. Now go home." 



My favorite memory of Frank is from shortly before I left the firm in June 1996. We used - as a lot of businesses do - postage paid reply envelopes. However, because we had failed to make timely payments on our account with the Postal Service and had not in fact paid the postage that was due and owing on those envelopes, we went a period of slightly more than 45 days in which we received none of them. Finally, upon paying the past due amount we were able to pick them up at the Post Office. A lot of them contained a Release that a client had signed to settle his or her case, which settlement had been held up by the fact that the signed Release had never been sent to the insurance carrier and/or to the defense attorney. How could it? It was trapped in limbo at the Post Office. Frank and I spent the better part of three days not only matching up Releases to resolved matters but then talking to insurance adjusters about how quickly we could get the settlement funds once the Release was received and - more than once - popping over to a claims office with the Release in hand to get a check issued while we waited. Check in hand, we would then endeavor to locate our client so that we could get the check signed and deposited into the bank so that we could thereafter issue a check to our client.



As part of our blitzkrieg operation we had to go door-to-door in the projects in Plainfield attempting to track down a client who we discovered had moved at some point after he signed his Release and sent it back to the firm. There we were, two white guys in dark suits wandering around a high-rise complex calling out the same name over and over. Bringing up the image in my mind's eye I never fail to think of Aretha Franklin in The Blues Brothers Movie when Jake and Elwood wander into the place she owns with her husband Matt "Guitar" Murphy and order lunch. Trust me when I say that the description of, "two honkeys who look like Hasidic diamond merchants" fit us - one a middle-aged Italian and the other a young Irishman - to a "T".



And the funny thing about all of our great adventures and misadventures was that we got done what we needed to get done......including getting our "lost" client to come to our office within a day or two of our hard-target search for him to sign his settlement check so that we could get him his money and ensure that the firm collected its fee.


Frank D. DeVito died on Monday. The obituary reports that he was a place he loved, home, surrounded by those he loved and who loved him the best, his family, at the time of his death. He was an extraordinary man for a million reasons that might - if taken alone - strike you as being eminently ordinary. I learned a lot from Frank during my "apprenticeship". I learned a lot about being a lawyer. I learned a lot more about being a man. About accepting both good fortune and tough luck with grace and with dignity.


Safe journey Frank. And many thanks. I owe a debt that I shall never be able to pay in full. But tomorrow is another day. And I shall be back at it. Continuing to apply lessons learned. Learned from a man I was fortunate enough to meet when I was young. A man who I was fortunate, upon meeting him, to know forever....and, well, you know the rest of the story.

-AK

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

The Rose of Belmar



Saturday evening I walked home from Mom Fest.  My friend, Loku, and I walked home on the Boardwalk from Taylor Pavilion.  I took note of when we passed 14th Avenue.  I have a very good friend, Tom, who lives on 14th.

Today marks a sad anniversary for Tom, his fellow 14th Avenue residents, and everyone who knew Mark Oberschewen or his father, Bill.  On August 15, 2016, Mark and Bill (as well as Mark's dog, Tickles) were killed in a fast-moving fire that gutted their 14th Avenue home. Mark was just forty-nine.   He doted on his two kids, Michael and Gina.  A good man, he deserved a better fate than Life bestowed upon him. 

-AK 

Monday, August 14, 2017

Spot On...




A thank you to one and all who joined us in Belmar on Saturday afternoon to celebrate Mom's life.  Thanks too to everyone who - although unable to make it to Mom Fest - communicated good thoughts to us for Mom.  

For me, the highlight of the day was Kara's impromptu, pitch-perfect tribute to Mom.  What started out as her thanking everyone who had come for being there quickly turned into something more.  Much more in fact. Stel is - and has always been - the embodiment of Mom.  

Saturday as she spoke, Mom smiled.  And probably teared up at least a little.

As did I.  

Sunday, August 13, 2017

The World According to Mariano...

As luck would have it, the Colorado branch of the family business awakens today here in the State of Concrete Gardens.  Rob and Jess have spent a few whirlwind days here in the Eastern Time Zone, at a speed not unlike that associated with most of their all-too-brief sojourns "home", celebrating, on Friday night, the life that Jess's sister, Sara, and her brand new brother-in-law, Joe, have just begun and, then, on Saturday afternoon celebrating the life that my mother lived, which ended earlier this summer.  

This time last year, Rob was not within the geographical boundaries of the great state of New Jersey but he was on my mind, as he tends to be frequently.  On this very date last year, I wrote what is reprinted here today.  I liked it enough the first time to rerun it.  I shall defer to you whether your level of enthusiasm matches mine.  Whether it does or not, your secret is safe with me...



SATURDAY, AUGUST 13, 2016

Not Playing But Still Winning


Mariano Duncan
1996 New York Yankees

Today in the Bronx the Yankees are celebrating the 20th Anniversary of their 1996 World Championship.  Their playoff appearances, including World Series victories, would blossom into something close to ritualistic for close to the decade that followed.  However, in 1996, the World Series they won when they roared back from a 2-0 Series deficit to defeat the Atlanta Braves in six games, Joe Torre's team was making the franchise's first Fall Classic appearance in a decade and a half.  What would in relatively short order take on the appearance of being ordinary was certainly anything but in October 1996. 

There are any number of memories that are emblazoned in my mind's eye from that season.  That October's big moments belonged in equal measures to Jeffrey Maier and to Jim Leyritz.  The Torre Family did it all:  Joe managedFrank convalesced, and Sister Marguerite prayed.  And for the first time in almost two decades, a Yankees' season culminated in a parade up the Canyon of Heroes. 

But what makes me smile the most at the memory of the fall of 1996 is Rob.  He was ten years old and had just started to acquire a taste for baseball.  Towards the end of that summer, on Fan Appreciation Day, he made his first trip to the Stadium.  On a sun-soaked Saturday afternoon, the Yankees defeated the Red Sox in extra innings.  A skinny, baby-faced rookie shortstop named Jeter drove in the the winning run.  

Rob and I lived and died with the Yankees that post-season.  It was his first year in scouting and the weekend of Games Three, Four, and Five of the ALCS in Baltimore, his troop had a camping trip to Picatinny Arsenal.  While we had no television on which to watch the games, one of his fellow Scouts had a radio, and quite a few of us, dads and sons, sat together at our campsite and listened to the games. 

A hell of a lot has happened in the twenty years since Charlie Hayes squeezed the final out of Game Six into his glove.  A lot of it has been good.  Quite a bit of it has been decidedly less so.  Neither the passage of time nor how I feel on a particular day when I get out of bed shall ever dampen or diminish my memory of that baseball season.  That team.  That experience that I had the chance to share with my son.  

Thanks again, Joe, for what you and your team accomplished.  The World Series Rings are yours alone but the memories?  They are available for all of us to savor.  

-AK  

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Toasting The One Who Kept Me From Crawling Through


Joan Marie Kelly Kenny
"Mom" (06/13/28 - 06/03/17)

On the sixty-eighth day following Mom's death, which came on the three hundred and fifty-fifth day of her eighty-eighth year, her life shall be celebrated.  This afternoon, beginning at four o'clock, a Celebration of Mom's Life will happen at Taylor Pavilion in Belmar.  All of the pertinent information regarding said celebration is here.  The theme is celebratory.  The dress code is casual.  Taylor Pavilion is located on the beach in Belmar between 5th and 6th Avenues so I recommend wearing shoes that can be easily removed should you desire to walk barefoot in the sand. 

Today is a day to which I have looking forward with anticipation and anxiety.  Mom is the great hero of my life.  She is the person from whom I learned that strength and volume are not inexorably linked concepts.  She is the one who taught me the importance of never panicking, an ability that can in fact save your life.  It has saved mine.  More than once.  Mom instilled in me the importance of being true to your own code of conduct and the importance of discounting the noise generated by the uninformed.  It turns out that ignorance is not only blissful, it is often loud.  

Ours was a unique relationship. Dad died at the end of the school year when I was in eighth grade. He left no life insurance (his multiple heart attacks made him a risk no carrier would insure) and no will, while taking with him roughly 80-85% of the income on which our household depended.  By the time I started eleventh grade, Mom and I were the last and the second to last of the Mohicans. I had a birds-eye view of just how tough her day-to-day was.  I lived it right along side of her. 

It was an unrelenting grind, the harshness of which we chatted about regularly over dinner, a meal that three night a week consisted of such delicacies as bologna sandwiches or scrambled eggs.  She was afraid of course.  I was too.  Yet she not only controlled her fear, she harnessed it into the energy necessary to keep on keeping on.  It never manifested itself into panic.  It was then and there that I learned - from watching her - that fear and panic are not interchangeable concepts.  Fear energizes. Panic paralyzes.  Mom spent eighty-eight-years-plus fully energized. She spent not one goddamn moment paralyzed.  

Mom is the great hero of my life.  Yesterday.  Today.  Tomorrow.  Forever...


 


...and may I honor her always by carrying with me the lessons she taught me for however long I may live. 

-AK 




Friday, August 11, 2017

In the Beginning...

On my drive to the office this morning, I will pass the time by tossing about in mind the answer to this question:  Who is unhappier that this summer Friday finds me in the office and not working from the beach, me or everyone else?  A real likelihood exists that it is a flat-footed tie. 

The only thing that shall keep today from descending into "F*ck 'Em All" Friday is the bit of business on tap that kept me north of the Raritan River last night.  The Missus and I shall be among the guests this evening when Sara Lipman marries Joseph Fusco.  Sara is the younger sister of Rob's beloved, Jess.  Two exceptionally nice young people are, today, formally beginning their life together. While I love the smell of salt air and the feel of sand between my toes, this is one fine way to spend a Friday evening. 

She chose him.  He chose her. 

May each celebrate the choice from this day forward...




-AK 

Thursday, August 10, 2017

An Autumnal Boogaloo Down Broadway




Details? Details?  Here is where you can read your beloved details

The American philosopher Lawrence Peter Berra once famously observed that around here it gets late early.  This autumn, for a bit less than two months, irrespective of the time of day, it shall feel like midnight in Manhattan.  A most wonderful feeling indeed...



-AK 

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

I Wanted To Be With You Alone...

...and talk about the weather.

I suggest that we begin our discussion here.  When we have more time to chat, and we shall need it since the work itself is more than five hundred pages long, we can continue it here.  Being an admitted non-expert (in most things, including this) I have focused my initial efforts on reading and comprehending the "Executive Summary".  Admittedly, the former is going much more smoothly than the latter thus far.  

It is not suggested here - or in the source material itself for that matter - that this shall be a fun read. This is no light lift.  It is, however, important.  Therefore, even though we have no resource scarcer than time, allocating enough of it to this task is the very essence of "time well-spent".

As is, I would argue, this as well...




-AK 

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Family Matters

This week shapes up as my favorite type of work week.  It is an abbreviated one.  I spent Monday playing hooky at the beach and the Connecticut branch of the family beach.  My only regret is that the weather here in the State of Concrete Gardens was less than sterling. It was - as it always is - great to see them (and as an added bonus to spend a bit of time with Jill, Joe, and their crew on Saturday afternoon).  

As luck shall have it we shall see them again this weekend at the beach. The Celebration of Mom's life is Saturday afternoon at Taylor Pavilion in Belmar.  Not necessarily the happiest of occasions but,  given the manner in which Mom lived her life, it should be something other than a sad occasion.  

Here is to hoping the weather cooperates.  

-AK

Monday, August 7, 2017

Three Plus One

The Franchise turned three months old yesterday.  She is remarkable.  An elixir for the soul.  The best part of my day.  

Every day. 

-AK

Sunday, August 6, 2017

It Is For You That We Have Come

Today is August 6.  Three months from yesterday is the 2017 New York City Marathon.  This year, as I did last year, I am running in the marathon as a member of Team Stomp the Monster, which is a charity team designed to raise money for Stomp the Monster, Inc., a Jersey-born and raised not-for-profit that provides financial, emotional, and spiritual support to cancer patients and their families.  

This year, as you may know, my sister Kara is running as a member of Team STM as well.  As it turns out, she is not the only one of my siblings with whom I shall enjoy Marathon Sunday.  Jill told me on Thursday afternoon that she had spoken with Tracey Levine of Stomp the Monster about joining Team STM and, as luck would have it, Tracey was able to locate an available charity team spot.  Thus, as of Thursday, the 2017 edition of Team STM has three Kennys on its roster.  Thursday, two months to the day after Mom died, she worked a little magic? I, for one, believe that she did. 

Yes, Monster, you piece of shit, it is for you that we have come.  Three strong.  Team Tiger coming at you, for you, and right fucking through you.  




-AK

Saturday, August 5, 2017

A Saturday in Sea Girt

Although August, as a general rule, bums me out a bit given its unfortunate position as the last month of summer, I cut it some slack because August is also the home of the Sea Girt 5K, which is one of my favorite summertime events.  

This morning in Sea Girt a few hundred runners and walkers shall gather for the 26th annual Sea Girt 5K.  The weather forecast suggests that it might be a bit on the sticky side - if not on the altogether wet side - when the starter's gun is fired at 8:30 am.  So what if it is?  It is Jersey in August.  Heat and humidity are rather reliable traveling companions this time of year 'round here.  

In my experience, irrespective of the weather, the Sea Girt 5K is always a well-attended, enthusiastically-supported, terrifically well-organized event.  If I have persuaded you to check it out and you have not yet signed up, fear not.  You can register this morning until 8:00 am.  The details can be found by clicking on the link in this piece's first paragraph. 

-AK 


Friday, August 4, 2017

Irretrievable Lives and Unredeemable Sins

We honor our parents by not accepting as the final equation
the most troubling characteristics of our relationship.  I decided
between my father and me that the sum of our troubles 
would not be the summation of our lives together.  
In analysis you work to turn the ghosts that haunt you 
into ancestors who accompany you.
That takes hard work and a lot of love, 
but it's the way we lessen the burdens our children have to carry.  
Insisting on our own experience, our own calculus of love, 
trouble, hard times, and, if we're lucky, a little transcendence.  
This is how we claim our own lives as sons and daughters, 
independent souls on our piece of ground.  
It's not always an option. 
There are irretrievable lives and unredeemable sins, 
but the chance to rise above is one I wish for you and yours. 
-Bruce Springsteen

It occurred to me, Wednesday night, while I was looking through some more Springsteen discs that in forty years of listening to his music, I learned more about him from reading his autobiography than I have from the combined power of all of his three-minute records.  When I read it, there were a number of passages that I marked with a Post-it for future reference.  Including the one at the top of this piece.  

"Irretrievable lives".  "Unredeemable sins".  And yet, even after all of that, a chance at the rising.  If you are to be granted just one wish, it is one hell of a one to receive.




-AK



Thursday, August 3, 2017

And Then There Were Two...



Food for thought.  Whether you have an appetite for it is up to you. Whether you devour it or turn your nose up at it, whatever comes after is nothing more or less than exactly that to which you are entitled.  There is that word again.  Go figure. 

Sunday morning dawned bright and beautiful at the beach.  It reinforced my belief that weather possesses no memory.  The stormy weather of Friday night and Saturday disappeared and in its place a simply splendid summer morning arrived.  I availed myself of the weather to run a 10K (6.2 miles) in combination style.  I ran south on the boardwalk from the 17th Avenue Beach in Belmar to Spring Lake.  Then, when I reached the southern end of the boards in Spring Lake, I continued south on 1st Avenue into Sea Girt.  My trek into Sea Girt took me as far as the intersection of 1st Avenue and Brooklyn Boulevard where - being WPK, Sr.'s son - I turned left and headed to the beach. 

I ran onto the beach in Sea Girt at Brooklyn Boulevard and, from there, trekked home to the 17th Avenue Beach in Belmar from down by the waterline.  The tide was low, the sun was out, and the gulls were feasting on the mussels.  

As the song says, "When I die I don't want no part of Heaven, I would not do Heaven's work well." Besides, I cannot imagine it looks any more beautiful than these things I have seen...


17th Avenue Beach 
(Belmar) 


Sunrise - 5:52 a.m. 
(Spring Lake) 


Brooklyn Blvd. Beach
(Sea Girt) 









Giddy the Crab








Lifeguard Stand - 17th Avenue Beach
(Belmar)

August 3.  Where does the time go?  Two months already. 

-AK 
  

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Connectivity

I have been engaging in a rather fun project lately.  I have been listening to a number of the several hundred "Audience Created Recordings" of Springsteen shows that I have acquired over the years for the purpose of culling the herd to find ones to bestow upon a young man, Kieran, who is friends with my niece, Simone.  He is developing an appreciation for Springsteen and I had volunteered to my sister, Jill, to help him along. 

Young Kieran is indeed a fortunate man in that he will be in New Jersey this weekend - hanging out with Simone - and will likely have the benefit of learning about Springsteen from the man who taught me about him.  Bill and the Connecticut branch of the family business are coming to the Shore this weekend for a visit. I hope very much to be able to introduce my Springsteen teacher to my Springsteen pupil.  I am looking forward to it in fact. 

A proverbial meeting 'neath a giant Exxon sign if you will...




-AK 

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Just Trying To Leave Something Behind

I worked from the beach on Friday, as I tend to do in the summer months.  I find that I am less likely to kill those around me in the office if I spend Friday somewhere other than at the Firm.  It shall help my newly-minted secretary (new to me but not to the Firm) markedly if and when she realizes that "WFB" Friday is not a euphemism but rather a mechanism by which I try to alleviate some of her work-related pressure by not being in the office and allowing her, in theory, to get a bit closer to being caught up with the work I have generated from Monday through Thursday.  So far, so not very good.  It is something that she shall either figure out or ours shall be a very short-lived arrangement.  

Friday began for me as every "WFB" Friday begins, with a run.  I headed south through Spring Lake on 3rd Avenue and then came back north to the 17th Avenue Beach in Belmar on the water.  Low tide at sunrise is an absolute treat - unless you are a mussel I suppose.  It does not appear to be very much fun at all for those poor bastards. 

Friday ended for me in an atypical fashion.  The Missus did not migrate south until Saturday afternoon so Friday night it was just Rosalita and me.  I watched the Yankees defeat the Rays in a game that played from first pitch to last in roughly two and one half hours and then, through the magic of the "Free Preview Weekend", I browsed through however many HBO channels Verizon FIOS offers its subscribers.  I ended up watching The Accountant with Ben Affleck, Anna Kendrick, John Lithgow, Jean Smart, and J.K. Simmons (they were not the only five actors in the film but were the only ones whose names I know).  I know that Affleck is a Hollywood star upon whom people love to heap derision but since last I checked he has never done a bad thing to me or to anyone I know and about whom I care, I have always been at a bit of a loss to understand the enmity.  I happened to like Argo and The Town, both of which he appeared in and directed.  While there was never a minute I spent watching The Accountant that made me think I was witnessing cinematic history being made, it was entertaining.  Moreover, its closing credits featured a song I had never before heard sung by a man whose name I had never heard, which simply blew me away.  




I got this feeling that I'm still at the shore
And pockets don't know what it means to be poor
I can get through the wall if you give me a door
So I can leave something behind...


...a sentiment that I easily understand and wholeheartedly embrace.




















-AK





Monday, July 31, 2017

Present Tense

Today is the birthday of my great friend, Gracie.  What feels like a lifetime ago now we were partners in crime at the Firm, which partnership ended when she left for a place where the pasture grass grew greener. For an eye blink eight years ago, I did likewise and we celebrated a reunion, which proved to be very short-lived.  As it turned out, what under her feet was greener grass was, under mine, merely painted concrete.  In spite of that failure (mine - not hers) we have remained great friends.  

I often think that had the delivery of her jumbo-size-headed sixth baby and the subsequent asshole he proved to be not sworn Mom off of ever having a seventh child, Gracie could have been my younger sister.  Absence of common DNA notwithstanding, in the almost twenty years I have known her that is the prism through which I have always viewed her.  I know not specifically how she, Joe, and Helen (her mom) shall celebrate her annual journey around the sun but however the occasion is marked, I hope it is feted.  It certainly should be...

...and maybe to honor her, her beloved Baltimore Orioles will win their game tonight.  Given that they are playing the Kansas City Royals, who are firmly ensconced in the game of postseason Musical Chairs (along with the Red Sox, the Rays, the Mariners, the Indians, and, of course, the Yankees) that is presently all the rage in the American League, should they do so they will be giving a great gift not only to her but to her favorite Yankees fan too.  That, after all, is the very best kind of present.

-AK 

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Winter in July

There is a neat little feature on the Google "Blogger" gizmo that enables me to see what particular pieces of dreck that have appeared here on a particular date have been read.  It tells not by whom or for what reason. It simply provides an accounting of what has been read - or what perhaps has served as the portal through which someone has popped by here to read today's time-waster. 

Yesterday morning, as I was hanging out stag at our little Paradise by the Sea (well, not stag exactly as I was keeping company with my faithful canine companion), I hopped on here to write something to fill today's version of this space.  As I tend to do, I clicked on the "Stats" link, which provides a template for site traffic, and saw that someone (or perhaps more than one someone) had cast an eyeball at three different pieces that I had written way back when in February, 2014.  Perhaps it was because yesterday dawned rainy and windy (sufficiently so that my morning run happened well after sunrise as opposed to coinciding with its arrival) that the piece that makes its de facto encore appearance here today was the one whose title made me click on it to see what exactly I had written. 

And reading it again made me smile - not for the quality of the prose (for not even I am that self-believing when it comes to my own bullshit - in spite of whatever you might have heard to the contrary) but for the memory it conjured up.  If it brings a smile to yours when you read it, then think of it as perhaps time less poorly spent here today than on other days...

SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 16, 2014

The Sunset Beckons....

1996.  A lifetime ago.  Not an entire lifetime of course but certainly a year in which the world was a markedly different place than it is now.  The terms "September 11", "Ground Zero" and "Let's Roll" did not yet occupy a tragically important place in the American lexicon. 

On the baseball diamond it was a magical year.  In the Bronx at least.  Led by their brand-new manager, a Brooklynite named Torre, the New York Yankees did something they had not done since 1981.  They won the American League pennant.  Even better, they did something that they had not done since 1978.  They won the World Series.  My son Rob was a little boy.  He turned ten that April.  Derek Jeter was a rookie.

In an era when baseball teams still had "Fan Appreciation Day", Rob made his very-first trip to Yankee Stadium on Saturday, September 21st.  It was the middle game of a three-game weekend set with the Boston Red Sox.  It was a game that would otherwise be lost to the dustbin of history for me but for the fact that it was Rob's first-ever game.  In a real pitcher's duel, the Yankees defeated the Red Sox 12-11 in ten innings.  The eight pitchers Torre used did a slightly better job of scattering fourteen Boston hits than the seven hurlers who toed the rubber for the Sox did that afternoon and who surrendered a whopping twenty hits.  

Boston Red Sox 11, New York Yankees 12
Game played on Saturday, September 21, 1996 at Yankee Stadium
ab
  r
  h
rbi
Bragg cf,rf,cf
5
1
2
0
Frye 2b
5
1
1
2
Vaughn 1b
3
0
0
0
Canseco dh
6
1
1
3
4
2
2
0
  Tinsley cf
1
0
1
0
  Cordero ph
0
0
0
0
  Nixon pr,rf
0
0
0
0
5
0
2
2
Manto 3b
2
0
0
0
  O'Leary ph,lf
1
1
0
0
5
3
3
3
3
2
2
1
  Rodriguez 3b
0
0
0
0
  Jefferson ph
1
0
0
0
  Pozo 3b
0
0
0
0
Maddux p
0
0
0
0
  Gunderson p
0
0
0
0
  Mahomes p
0
0
0
0
  Eshelman p
0
0
0
0
  Brandenburg p
0
0
0
0
  Slocumb p
0
0
0
0
  Hudson p
0
0
0
0
Totals
41
11
14
11
ab
  r
  h
rbi
Raines lf
6
3
3
2
Boggs 3b
5
3
1
0
O'Neill rf
5
2
4
2
  Rivera pr,rf
0
0
0
0
Fielder dh
6
1
1
3
5
1
1
2
4
0
3
0
Jeter ss
6
0
3
3
6
0
2
0
Sojo 2b
3
0
0
0
  Duncan ph,2b
2
1
2
0
  Fox pr,2b
0
1
0
0
  Strawberry ph
0
0
0
0
  Kelly pr,2b
0
0
0
0
Key p
0
0
0
0
  Bones p
0
0
0
0
  Pavlas p
0
0
0
0
  Nelson p
0
0
0
0
  Polley p
0
0
0
0
  Weathers p
0
0
0
0
  Lloyd p
0
0
0
0
  Wetteland p
0
0
0
0
Totals
48
12
20
12
Boston
0
0
0

1
5
2

3
0
0

0
11
14
1
New York
0
0
1

0
3
3

3
1
0

1
12
20
0

IP
H
R
ER
BB
SO
Maddux  
4.0
7
3
2
1
1
  Gunderson  
0.0
0
1
1
1
0
  Mahomes  
1.2
4
3
3
1
2
  Eshelman  
0.2
2
3
3
4
1
  Brandenburg  
0.2
2
0
0
0
0
  Slocumb  
2.0
3
1
1
3
2
  Hudson  L (3-5)
0.2
2
1
1
2
0
Totals
9.2
20
12
11
12
6
IP
H
R
ER
BB
SO
Key  
4.2
8
6
6
2
2
  Bones  
0.1
2
2
2
0
1
  Pavlas  
1.1
1
1
1
1
0
  Nelson  
0.0
2
2
2
1
0
  Polley  
0.2
0
0
0
0
0
  Weathers  
0.2
1
0
0
0
2
  Lloyd  
0.1
0
0
0
0
0
  Wetteland  W (2-3)
2.0
0
0
0
2
1
Totals
10.0
14
11
11
6
6

  E–Vaughn (15).  DP–Boston 1, New York 2.  2B–Boston Haselman 2 (12,off Key,off Nelson); Canseco (22,off Key); Bragg (23,off Bones); Greenwell (18,off Pavlas); Pemberton (6,off Nelson), New York Jeter (24,off Mahomes); B Williams (25,off Brandenburg).  3B–Boston Garciaparra (3,off Key).  HR–Boston Haselman (6,6th inning off Bones 0 on, 0 out).  SH–Garciaparra (1,off Pavlas); R Rivera (1,off Hudson).  HBP–Vaughn 2 (14,by Key,by Polley); Pemberton (1,by Bones).  IBB–Vaughn (19,by Pavlas); Cordero (4,by Wetteland); Strawberry (5,by Slocumb).  SB–Garciaparra (4,2nd base off Bones/Girardi); Frye (16,3rd base off Wetteland/Girardi); Nixon (1,2nd base off Wetteland/Girardi); Raines (10,2nd base off Slocumb/Haselman).  HBP–Key (2,Vaughn); Bones (10,Pemberton); Polley (3,Vaughn).  IBB–Slocumb (4,Strawberry); Pavlas (2,Vaughn); Wetteland (4,Cordero).  U-HP–Jim Evans, 1B–Larry McCoy, 2B–Dale Ford, 3B–Chuck Meriwether.  T–4:45.  A–54,599.
Game played on Saturday, September 21, 1996 at Yankee Stadium
Baseball Almanac Box Score |


The game took close to five hours to complete - due in no small part to the fact that the two teams' pitchers combined to issue eighteen walks.   They needed something to break up the monotony of all those base hits I suppose. 

Had I carried a cell phone in 1996 I am quite confident that Margaret would have called at least once to make sure that we were still alive and well.  I did not.  Therefore she did not.  The game finally ended in the bottom of the tenth inning when with two outs the Yankees plated the winning run courtesy of a single off of the bat of their seven-hole hitter.  A slightly built young fellow with hair on his head and an earnest look on his face who had played shortstop well enough all season to be featured prominently in the conversation for American League Rookie of the Year.  Jeter stroked the hit and as the winning run crossed home plate he rounded first base with his fist raised triumphantly.   After Jeter made his announcement, I found myself ferreting around in the basement.  The day after Rob's maiden voyage to the Stadium I had made him something to commemorate our day.  Given my abject lack of artistic ability, it is not much to see.  Yet seeing that it has survived all these years brought a smile to my face.




In the two decades or so that have passed between that season and this one, I have smiled watching Jeter and his fist pump too many times to count.  Back in the day, before college and then full-fledged adulthood (his, not mine) interceded Rob and I used to watch a lot of those moments in each other's company.  Time passes.  Children are no longer children.  For the past few years we have rooted for the Yankees from two different time zones.  Geography has done little to blunt the passion.   

This past Wednesday, as he awaited the arrival of his teammates in Tampa, Florida to start Spring Training, Derek Jeter announced that this upcoming season shall be his last.  Whenever the Yankees' 2014 season ends - and for those keeping score at home their final regular season series is at Fenway Park - so shall his extraordinary career.  He no longer has the full head of hair he had way back when he was a rookie in '96.  These things happen.  I have a hell of a lot more gray and white hair on my head than I did in 1996 so far be it for me to sound critical of his situation. 

2014.  It is the year in which my once-young son shall take a bride.  It is the year in which the manager of the 1996 World Series Champion New York Yankees....and the 1998 World Series Champion New York Yankees....and the 1999 World Series Champion New York Yankees....and the 2000 World Series Champion New York Yankees, a Brooklynite named Joe Torre, shall be enshrined in the Baseball Hall-of-Fame.  And it is the year in which Derek Jeter shall bid the New York Yankees farewell.  The final member of the Core Four.  The last remaining member of Joe Torre's Dynasty.  

     
The hero of Fan Appreciation Day 1996 - and the hero to a lot of appreciative fans on too many days to count in the years since then.   

For him, now, the sunset beckons. 

-AK