Monday, October 16, 2017

A Day Of Reckoning

I cannot remember the commercial but years ago there was a tv spot involving a contractor in which the contractor says to his customer, "You can pay me now or you can pay me later."  Today is just such a day for me. 

Up until one week ago, I'd not been to a dentist in more than a dozen years. I broke down and made an appointment with Margaret's dentist, Dr. Bara, because of an extremely bad pain in my bottom teeth on the left side of my mouth.  X-rays revealed that I have a rather sizable cavity (or perhaps two) in one of my molars.  Dr. Bara told me that there is a 50/50 chance she can save the tooth. This afternoon, we take our shot.  If it turns out she cannot, then I shall have to make a return appointment so she can extract it.  

We lie in the bed that we make.  This afternoon, I will spend a portion of it sitting in a dentist's chair. And so it goes...


Sunday, October 15, 2017

A Primer on Pooch-Screwing

When I came to Wardlaw-Hartridge as a member of Miss Williams' fifth-grade class in September, 1977, one of the first kids who befriended me was Anthony Jacobs.  Almost four decades later, he still holds the distinction of being the only friend I have ever had from Trinidad & Tobago.  He was an incredibly nice kid with well-developed sense of humor and a big laugh, which I heard for the first time - if memory serves me correctly - when I confessed that I did not understand how one person could be from two different countries at the same time upon him telling me for the first time where it was he had been born.  Sad to say I was no smarter then than I am now.  As it turns out, my learning curve flat-lined shortly after my second birthday.  Bill taught me how to read and then, apparently, my brain closed up shop.  Shame too, given the size of the carrying case that I tote around on my shoulders.

But I digress. 

I had not thought of my old friend, Anthony, or his birthplace, in - well - close to forty years until Tuesday night when the USMNT screwed the pooch and failed to qualify for the 2018 World Cup Tournament in Russia by losing to T&T on the road.  All the American men had to do to punch their ticket to the World Cup was not lose to an opponent who (no disrespect intended, Anthony) loses to everybody, regardless of the country in which the game is played.  Embarrassingly, our underachieving Men's National Team, confronted with that incredibly low bar, managed to face plant right over it.  

For future reference, US Soccer might want to remember that when you show up to play a game in a poor island nation under less than ideal conditions, and run your mouth - including taking to your official Twitter field - to belittle and embarrass your opponent, then you NEED TO WIN THE FUCKING GAME.  To paraphrase Hall-of-Fame footballer (American) Joe Namath, "It ain't bragging if you can back it up."  Unless and until you can, take a hearty helping of "Shut the Fuck Up" and just play the game.  I went to law school to stay away from hard science but I am willing to wager that the conditions on T&T's half of the pitch were not better than on the American's half.  Yet, incredibly, they were able to persevere.  

We, the people of these United States, irrespective of how many children play in organized soccer leagues within our nation's geographical confines, have not embraced professional soccer as a major spectator sport.  I understand that the MLS does well in certain markets but its ratings and its popularity cannot be confused with and will likely never surmount those of MLB, the NBA, and (perhaps) the NFL. Using myself for purposes of illustration, I am someone who grew up playing the game (four years in high school), who loved it then, and who still loves it but who has never (a) attended a MLS game in-person; and (b) watched an entire MLS game on television.  

The tendency in this country, whether it is patriotism or jingoism, is to become a soccer-consuming nation during the World Cup Tournament every four years.  Amazingly, although we have not figured out how to put together a USMNT capable of making a deep run in a World Cup (or the Olympics for that matter), every four years we nevertheless root, root, root for the home team.  We do so with equal passion for the incredible women who comprise the USWNT, an entity that has been consistently excellent for the past quarter-century, capturing multiple World Cup Championships and Olympic medals, whether led by Mia Hamm and Brandi Chastain or Carli Lloyd and Alex Morgan.  

Our Women's National Team has attained excellence over several generations and iterations. The Men's Team, better compensated and better resourced, had risen to the far-less-dizzying height of consistent mediocrity, a perch (giving that term its broadest possible definition) from which it has now fallen.  

All the credit in the world to the players on the Trinidad & Tobago Men's National Team.  Whether our petty, pre-game carping and whining provided them with any extra motivation, I know not - although I suspect it did.  At game's end, each side attained the result that it so richly deserved.


Saturday, October 14, 2017

Cracking Corn & Other Things About Which Jimmie No Longer Has To Care

I am not a lottery participant - as a general rule.  Sure, when the Powerball gets up into the several hundred million dollar range, then I whistle "Mary Had a Little Lamb" softly while I, like a true sheep, find a store where I can purchase $20.00 in tickets.  Other than that, I never play.  My lack of participation in it has nothing at all to do with a fervently-held ideological belief.  I simply never think about the lottery.  Since it usually occupies exactly zero space in my brain on a day in/day out basis, it goes on without me. 

And judging by the amount of the prizes paid out, it goes on quite well.

But I digress. 

A couple of days ago I came across the story of Jimmie Smith.  Mr. Smith is a sixty-eight-year-old man who lives in East Orange, New Jersey.  He retired (I know not how long ago from a career as a security guard).  He has two children and twelve grandchildren.  Unlike me, Mr. Smith plays the lottery.  

This past spring, Mr. Smith was watching the news on television and paid attention to a story about the New York State Lottery Commission's plea for the person who held the only winning ticket - worth $24.1 Million - for a Lotto drawing that had apparently happened almost one year earlier to claim his or her prize before the time period permitted to claim it expired.  As I understand the story, the redemption period was to expire two days after the night the story aired on the news.  

Mr. Smith has played the lottery faithfully in New Jersey and in New York for fifty years.  Apparently he has never been in too much of a hurry to check his tickets to see if he has actually won.  Watching the news that evening, he remembered that he had purchased a ticket (or tickets) for that $24.1 Million Lotto and went to his closet where he had hung an old, favorite shirt with a pocket full of unchecked tickets. 

Voila!  Among the tickets in Mr. Smith's favorite shirt was the $24.1 Million Lotto-winning ticket. 

I am constrained to share this bit of bad news with the rest of Mr. Smith's wardrobe. This shirt was his favorite before it became the article of clothing that made him $24.1 Million so none of you has any chance of ever taking over the top spot.  


Friday, October 13, 2017

The Joy of Fumes

I woke up yesterday morning exhausted - yet exhilarated.  Wednesday night I stayed up considerably past my regular bedtime to watch the 5th and deciding game of the American League Divisional Series between the Yankees and the Cleveland Indians.  The game ended shortly before midnight.  While I put my over-sized head on the pillow almost immediately thereafter and eschewed watching any of the post-game coverage, sleep did not come easily to me.  

I was too amped up from having watched the gritty, gutty group that is this year's New York Yankees play their way into this year's American League Championship Series to fall asleep.  I finally nodded off shortly before 1:00 A.M.  My alarm welcoming me to Thursday approximately three hours later was not greeted with a level of enthusiasm that Jim Harbaugh would deem satisfactory. As my great, great grandpa Phineas used to say, "If you are going to be dead on your feet all day, then at least may be as the result of too much celebrating and not too much crying in your Guinness."  Old G Squared P would have been very, very pleased.  

Whether the Yankees can continue their magic carpet ride all the way to their first World Series appearance in almost a decade I do not pretend to know.  I know that this is an impossibly easy to root for group of players, committed to not only picking up one another but also their manager, Joe Girardi.  Their success belongs to each of them.  It belongs to all of them.  For the past week or so they have reminded me just what it is I love so much about baseball in October.  I know not for how long the ride shall last but I, for one, plan to keep on enjoying the hell out of myself for as long as it does.  

Play ball! 


Thursday, October 12, 2017

Long May It Burn

Happy Birthday to my old college roommate and long-time friend, Alex.  Schneeds completes and commences another trip around the sun today.  He is significantly bigger and stronger than I am. Thus, my impeccable sense of self-preservation dictates that it be left to the reader's imagination the amount of trips he has completed to date.  Suffice it to say that I hope he has many, many more to take and to, hopefully, enjoy.   

Of all of the terrible things that emanated from Mom's death almost four-and-one-half months ago, one of the best things that happened is that I reconnected with Alex.  We had fallen out of touch some time ago and, being an unrepentant asshole, I presumed that I had done something to offend my friend, which (in a departure from my regular, day-to-day I actually felt badly about) I could not figure out.  Long and boring story short, it turns out that I did not.  The shortest distance between two points may very well be a straight line but life - in my experience anyway - turns out to be a journey traveled upon a far more circuitous route.  

Once upon a lifetime ago, Alex and I bonded over a shared love of music.  While my taste ran more to this side of the pond (Springsteen, Petty, and the like), his ran towards British invasion rock and roll, chiefly (but far from exclusively) The Who.  Through Alex, I developed an appreciation for The Faces, Ronnie Laine, Jeff Beck, and too many other groups and artists to count.  Every time I hear a Who song on the radio, I reflexively think of Schneeds.  

We were freshmen at CU when Roger Daltrey of The Who released what likely is/was the most commercially successful solo record of his career, Under A Raging Moon.  I dug it from first listen and to this day own the CD.  I think today I shall give it a spin or two as I am and out and about, acting like a lawyer.  

Irrespective of how old I get or how far removed I am from that time in my life, I shall never forget it. As the song says, "the memories smolder..."  Indeed they do.  

Happy Birthday, Schneeds!  


Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Akin to a Couple of Famished Hippos

Tonight in Cleveland, the Yankees and the Indians shall play the fifth and deciding game of their 2017 American League Divisional Series.  The winner shall play the first game of the American League Championship Series against the Houston Astros on Friday.  The loser shall next play in Spring Training in March, 2018.  

The pitching match-up tonight is a rematch of last Friday's Game Two.  Cleveland's ace, Corey Kluber, who the Yankees battered into submission several innings before they started to snatch defeat from victory's jaws, will again square off against CC Sabathia, who has gallantly raged against the dying of the light and has refused to go gentle into the good night of his distinguished career. Sabathia is no longer the horse who carried the Yankees to their most recent World Championship in 2009.  He is, however, battle-tested and unafraid.  Whether that shall be enough to carry the Bombers into the ALCS remains to be seen.  It is for that reason, of course, the game is played.

Here is an interesting factoid upon which to ruminate between now and first pitch:  Beginning with Game Seven of the 1997 World Series, which the Indians lost in heartbreaking fashion to the Florida Marlins, the Indians have played twenty-one games with a chance to win either a playoff series or a wild card game.  Their record in those twenty-one games is 4-17 with the two most recent losses having occurred this week in the Bronx.    

I hope the Yankees brought their appetite to Cleveland.  If not, then whatever that thing is that will be stuck in their craw all winter, it will not be a marble. 


Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Dancing as the Evening Sky Fades to Black

On his right hand Billy tattooed the word "LOVE"
And on his left hand was the word "FEAR"
And in which hand he held his fate was never clear...
"Cautious Man" 
- Bruce Springsteen

It was thirty years ago yesterday that Springsteen's Tunnel of Love was released.  It was the album that followed Born in the U.S.A., which was only the biggest-selling album of his career, and it was a departure from its immediate predecessor in every imaginable way.  

Tunnel of Love came out early in the first semester of my junior year at CU.  I immediately bought the album and the cassette, the latter of which I jammed into my poor man's Sony Walkman into which I retreated either on walks around campus or on walks up into the Foothills to study and to contemplate the relative meaninglessness of my existence.  It was an album that I completely dug on first listen and it is one - to my ear at least - that has held up exceptionally well over the past thirty years.  

I was just twenty years old when Tunnel of Love came out but something about the songs on the record spoke to me.  For the first time, Springsteen had written an album's worth of songs about adult relationships, their complexities, their capacity for great reward, and their equally-omnipresent capacity for heartbreak.  During my college years, I was pretty deep inside of the bottle.  That was especially so my final two years in Boulder.  Jill (and Joe) had graduated at the end of my sophomore year.  I felt as alone and as bereft of my safety net as I had when - four years earlier - she had graduated from W-H as I completed 10th grade.  

The more I drank, the more bi-polar I became.  Being my father's son and the linear descendant of a long line of fully functional alcoholics, I remained capable of excelling academically and working the job I needed to work in order to pay for luxuries such as rent and food.  Springsteen was a man in his late thirties singing about, among other topics, the wreckage of his failed marriage and the fields in which the seeds of its destruction had been sown.  I was an unmarried, self-destructive young man of twenty who not only felt as if songs such as One Step Up, Brilliant Disguise, Cautious Man and Two Faces spoke to me but, furthermore, as if I lived them on day-by-day basis.  

Anyway, a far more articulate look at - and appreciation of - this terrific collection of music than the tripe that forms the previous four paragraphs can be found here.    I enjoy Pete Chianca's writing quite a bit and this particular essay did not disappoint.  Whether you shall do likewise is up to you.  

Thirty years further on up the road from the release of Tunnel of Love, it appears from all outward appearances as if its creator is in a much better place now than he was then.  I hope that is the case. I know that I am.  But I know too that since life is a journey and not a destination, I would not have arrived at this particular point in my journey without having walked the steps I walked to get here.  

And if you stick with it long enough, then even when it feels you are taking two steps back for each step forward, you are in fact moving forward.  Slowly but surely perhaps... 

...but forward nonetheless.  


Monday, October 9, 2017

Blowing Past A Hitchhiker Out On Route 39...

Well now Columbus, he discovered America 
Even though he hadn't planned on it.
He got lost and woke up one morning 
When he's about to land on it.
He wouldn't of got out of Italy, that's for sure,
Without Queen Isabella standing on the shore,
Shouting, "Stand on it, go ahead man, stand on it!"
- Bruce Springsteen

When in doubt...


Sunday, October 8, 2017

28 Days

The 2017 New York City Marathon is twenty-eight days away, which means that the 2017 Marine Corps Marathon is only fourteen days away, which means that I am the exception to the "with age comes wisdom" rule.  That is a story for another time.

In addition to running what shall be my final marathon - and the final marathon of Meb (a/k/a "The Thunder Stealer") in the company of my long-time running companera, Gidg, I shall also be keeping company with my sisters, Jill and Kara (a/k/a "Dos Bad Asses").  Jill and Kara are each running this race on behalf of the good folks from Stomp The Monster.  

STM is a Jersey-based not-for-profit that provides financial, emotional, and moral support to cancer patients and their families.  If you are positioned to help us help STM, then please know that your assistance is appreciated well beyond my limited ability to properly express. 


Saturday, October 7, 2017

Who Says You Cannot Go Home?

For those of you who have an affiliation with Wardlaw, Hartridge, Wardlaw-Hartridge, or (in its latest iteration) Wardlaw + Hartridge and who might have inadvertently missed the memo, you have time still to "Save the Date" for this year's Homecoming/Fall Fair/Alumni Awards festivities.  

One week from today, Saturday, October 14, is Homecoming at W-H (note my protest against the "+" sign), which is always a terrific day to be on the Inman Avenue campus in Edison. There are games to play, activities in which to participate, wares to purchase, muscles to pull (if you opt to participate in the Alumni Soccer Game at 1:00 pm) and sporting events at which to cheer, cheer, cheer for the home teams.  

At or about 4:00 pm, the Fall Fair cedes the spotlight to the annual Alumni Awards Ceremony.  This year, the Alumni Awards Ceremony shall take place in the school's brand-new, on-campus Performing Arts Center.  Here is the list of this year's honorees and a rundown of some of the day's alumni-related activities: 

Fall Fair and Homecoming Day 2017

Alumni are encouraged to visit the Alumni Tent near the back athletic fields to reconnect with old friends and classmates, peruse yearbooks, update contact information and share stories for inclusion in the Class Notes of our publications. 
Milestone reunion classes will be on campus to celebrate the anniversaries of their high school graduations. Alumni, parents and friends are invited to participate in the annual Alumni Soccer Game at 1 p.m.  All alumni are invited to attend the Alumni Awards Ceremony and Reception at 4 p.m. in the new Berry Performing Arts Center.

Alumni Awards 

Congratulations to this year's Alumni Award winners:
Lucinda Buck Alwa '67 (Distinguished Alumna) 
Bill Michalski (Distinguished Faculty Member) 
Melanie Laird Wolff ’98 (Athletic Hall of Fame)
Luke Burroughs '99 (Athletic Hall of Fame)
Coach Chuck Nelson (Athletic Hall of Fame) - posthumously
If you are able to spare a moment or two to drop by campus for any portion of the day's events, which start at 10:00 a.m., I am confident that you shall not be disappointed.  And if you are able to stop by whichever local watering hole where I may be rather easily found at some point on Saturday evening and are inclined to buy me a Guinness, I am confident that I shall not be disappointed.  


Friday, October 6, 2017

Coffee by the Glass

I greeted Monday morning and the drive to the office in an openly hostile manner.  My mood was the direct result of some openly hostile and juvenile bullshit foisted upon me - and too many of my fellow Firm employees to count - on the previous Friday.  One might think that generating close to $10 Million in billable time over the course of the past two decades would cover the cost of at least one "Spare Me From the Bullshit" card.  One would be mistaken.  

My mood darkened perceptibly over the course of the day as details began to emerge regarding this nation's latest mass murder/act of domestic terror, which had actually unfolded late Sunday night in Las Vegas at an outdoor music festival.  By day's end, casualties numbered in excess of six hundred souls, including fifty-eight of whom were murdered by the latest iteration of the coward-du-jour in this nation's most recent act of domestic terrorism.

I could not help but notice, however, and perhaps I did so in a desperate attempt to squeeze a cup of lemonade out of the day's events that in the stories that came out afterwards regarding the heroism shown by the law enforcement officers who ran towards the source of the gunfire and, also, the selflessness that ordinary folks showed in protecting and helping each other.  We have descended into the abyss in this nation of attaching labels to everyone and everything. We are a nation of "snowflakes", "rednecks", "bleeding-hearts", "racists", "liberals", "left-wingers", "right-wingers", "queers", "bigots" and every other fucking derisive (or at least we hope it to be) term that we can affix to one another.  Yet, in the news reports that I read throughout this week, beginning on Monday afternoon, little attention was paid to the color, the religion, the political affiliation, or the sexual orientation of this event's victims or the men and women who risked their own lives helping another make it out of that chaos alive.  

For just a moment, those on the ground at least were galvanized by a common purpose.  The virtual Brother P Touch that each of us attempts to use to death in our day-to-day never made an appearance. I know not what it says about us - the people of these United States - that our lowest points tend to bring out the best in so many of us.  I hope that it means that we are not - as a collective - so far down the road to perdition that we are irredeemable.  Frankly, I do not know what it means. 

I do know that all of the goddamn noise is wearing me out.  I find it hard to believe that I am the only one...

...other than John Coffey. 


Thursday, October 5, 2017

Nothing You Could Rearrange

People are what people make 'em, and that ain't gonna change.
People are what people make 'em, and that ain't gonna change.
There ain't nothing you can do, nothing you could rearrange.
- Tom Petty

Yet another piece of my youth disappeared on Monday.  Tom Petty, whose music I have grown to middle-age listening to - and whose Damn The Torpedoes record was the first cassette I bought when I received a portable radio/cassette player for either my 11th or 12th birthday - died on Monday evening at a hospital in Los Angeles.  He had been rushed there, apparently, either late Sunday night or early Monday morning after suffering a major heart attack while at his home in Malibu.  He was just sixty-six years old. 

In addition to having more Petty songs (with the Heartbreakers, solo, and with Mudcrutch) on my iPod than I can count - his catalog is replete with excellent driving songs that double as excellent running songs - I shall be forever grateful for having had the opportunity to see him way back when in mid-June, 1985 at what was then called the Brendan Byrne Arena in East Rutherford.  Dave Joy, Stu Solomon, and I had just graduated from high school a week or so earlier.  It was an unforgettable evening.  

Everybody who enjoys Tom Petty's music has a favorite or two or ten, perhaps.  I, of course, have mine and not all of them are rockers.  Among my favorites is "I Forgive It All", a song that Mudcrutch released last year on their album "2".  It was, as a number of his songs were, a collaborative effort between Petty and his right-hand man, Mike Campbell.  It is, to my ear, a worthwhile sentiment that is beautifully expressed.  I hope that at his life's end he had the opportunity to forgive those who had wronged him.  Doing so is an opportunity that is available to us all.  I wonder, however, how many of us avail ourselves of it.

RIP, Tom Petty. Thank you for the music, for the memories, and for the reminder...


Wednesday, October 4, 2017

"Pomp" Chandler & the Irony of Life

While I do not know what prompted Roger Wood's post on Facebook that included photographs from bygone eras at Wardlaw and/or Wardlaw-Hartridge and/or Wardlaw + Hartridge (or whatever conjunctive symbol my high school Alma mater is employing these days), I am happy that the photographs he posted included one of a singularly extraordinary man, John Chandler. 

Mr. C. was as great a human being as I have ever known.  While his personal accomplishments were such that he could have spoken on them - without interruption or repetition - for hours, his humility was such that he never spoke of them.  He was one of my father's great friends, first at Wardlaw and then at W-H. He is an underappreciated part of the school's history, criminally so I might add.  He is one of my all-time favorite individuals, which is something that should not be held against him. 

A very long time ago, shortly after I first started using this space as an outlet for exercise and exorcism, I wrote of Mr. C.  Doing so made me smile.  Hopefully, reading it shall do so for you...


Of Mr. C, Brian Culp and Marty Lane

Apropos of nothing, I awakened this morning thinking of each of the three men mentioned above. At one time in the course of our common existences here on the big blue marble - (OK it is a bit more charcoal-y in places such as Beijing but how important is clean air anyway? Oh wait, those pesky Olympic marathoners might prefer being able to breathe. The hell with them - eat some kung pow chicken and be quiet.) our lives were intertwined. As the song says, "so many faces in and out of my life. Some will last, some will just be now and then." At one time, I thought all three might have been the former. All ended up being the latter.

John Chandler was an amazing man. In his youth, he was a Lightweight All-American football player at Rutgers University. As an African-American sportsman, he played a number of sports exceptionally well in his youth, including not only football but tennis, track and field and basketball. Later, when his playing days were over, he became the coach of two rising African-American tennis stars in the world of tennis: Althea Gibson and Arthur Ashe. I got to know Mr. C. - as all of us called him - when he came to work at Wardlaw in the twilight of his life. He was the Athletic Director of what used to be known as the Lower School at Wardlaw (Kindergarten thru 7th grade). I knew Mr. C. thru my father and their mutual employment at Wardlaw. I know not whether either of them realized when they first met that they would never leave their respective jobs there.

In addition to his Athletic Director duties, Mr. C. coached the basketball team for 5th and 6th grade boys. My first year at Wardlaw was the 5th grade. I entered a school at which my father was "the Associate Head of the Lower School" (which is private school-speak for "Vice-Principal" I think). When fall ceded the stage to winter, I did what every other boy in the 5th and 6th grade did - I tried out for the basketball team. I had - with very good reason - little expectation of making the team. First , because in the good old days at Wardlaw any team that drew its members from two grades was typically populated by players from the higher grade, which meant of course that the 5th and 6th grade basketball team was going to be made up principally by 6th graders. Second, because in the good old days at Wardlaw - I was not much better of a basketball player than I am now. I was the type of basketball player that any GM not named Isiah Thomas would run from in horror.

In fairness to me, as a kid I suffered from epilepsy, for which I took phenobarbital. As a 5th grader, still waist deep in the big muddy of the illness as it were, I was taking 2 tablespoons of it daily. Epilepsy is not fun. It can be an incredibly frustrating and embarrassing illness with which to deal - particularly as a child. I caught one tremendous break in that it affected me in such a way that my mind went about 10 times too fast for my body, which was great when we were picking teams for Spelling....but less so when choosing sides for kickball. I was picked last so often for teams as a kid, my nickname was "Who's Left". Between my gynormous-sized head and my seemingly effortless ability to conjure up a grand Mal seizure on a moment's notice, I did not consider my school chums' unwillingness to pick me out of anything other than necessity as cruel or unkind. It struck me as logical. It made damn good sense.

When I arrived at Wardlaw, the dominant athlete in the Lower School was Brian Culp, a 6th grader. Brian was one of those guys who was simply outstanding at every sport - particularly football where his knack for making your whole person feel "tackled" regardless of where he actually hit you was simply uncanny. He was also one of the 6th grade stars on the basketball team. It's funny but as I sit writing this, this morning, I cannot recall one other 6th grader on that team. It was "Culpy's" team. As was every team at Wardlaw.

To ensure that the tryouts went as well as they could for me, Dad told Mom to buy me a new pair of sneakers. Once upon a time, when we lived out in the first exit beyond the middle of nowhere, Mom used to shop at the Foodtown on Route 206 in Hillsborough. Everything she needed, in terms of groceries, she was able to find there. And I do mean everything. In an era before society recognized the power of The Sports Authority and no one, nowhere, ever had the urge to go to Modell's, Mom used the Foodtown as her sporting goods emporium. Foodtown had a "sneaker tree" - a little wire rack that hung from the corner of a display at the end of one of its aisles.

Commissioned to "buy Adam a new pair of sneakers", Mom - without wasting time on niceties such as bringing her young Larry Bird along to try them on - plucked me a pair of kicks from that tree on her very first try. A lot of guys on the team wore Adidas, some wore Converse All-Stars and one or two wore Puma. I wore "MSB" - Money Savings Brand. For $3.99, they were pretty damn snazzy sneakers. You see, Mom was moved by the spirit - school spirit that is - and bought me low-top sneakers that matched our school with gold stripes.

Whenever I hear the phrase "the fix is in" I think back to tryouts for the 5th and 6th grade basketball team for when it was over, only 2 fifth graders made it. My friend Marty Lane was one of the two 5th graders. It was a no-brainer. Marty was such an incredible player that - as a 5th grader - the school newspaper (written for all grades thru 12th grade) named him its Athlete of the Month one month during that season - an honor reserved exclusively for the high school athletes. I was the other 5th grader. What's the value of friendship? For Mr. C. and my father, it was a spot at the end of the bench with my funky, glow-in-the-dark green/gold sneakers.

Mr. C. played me a couple of minutes in every game - whether the opposition asked him to or not. I did what I could to not interfere with the flow of the game, which was easy. Our team was exceptionally good. In fact, we finished the season undefeated. Somewhere buried in a box in my basement I have a Polaroid photo of all of us that was taken on the court immediately following our final game - a rout of The Peck School in Morristown, New Jersey - and a trophy that we all received for being undefeated. At least I hope I still have that stuff socked away someplace.

I played a lot of sports in school - from 5th grade thru 12th grade. I was lucky in that by 9th grade or so, the epilepsy that had afflicted me from my youth had run its course. I no longer experienced seizures. And I stopped having to take the pheno. My motor skills caught up with my mind and my athletic prowess improved considerably......all the way to mediocrity.

By the time basketball season rolled around the following year, Brian Culp was off to the world of 7th and 8th grade sports. Marty and I were the only returning players from the undefeated team of the previous year and only one of us was any good so we did not have similar success. And worst of all, Mr. C was dead. Cancer got him at the beginning of that school year. Wardlaw hired a guy (whose name is burned into my memory but who I shall not permit to be the recipient of any free ink here) to fill Mr. C's position. The new guy was the anti-Mr. C, which is to say he was a classless, clueless boor who, while working in a school, appeared to genuinely hate children. About a year after he arrived to do a job for which he was ill-prepared, he had run his course. He was shown the door at Wardlaw (by my father I do believe) and he left Wardlaw to go spread his particular brand of venom somewhere else.

I thought of Mr. C, Brian Culp and Marty Lane because all these years later and all of the various teams on which I have played in any number of sports, the 1977-78 Wardlaw-Hartridge 5th and 6th grade basketball team remains the only unbeaten team on which I have ever played. I hope that wherever life has taken Brian and Marty that they are both doing well and are happy. I hope that Mr. C. has rested peacefully all of these years too. For just a moment when we were much younger than we are now, we shared an experience that was insignificant - except for the memories it created and the stories we can tell.

Undefeated. Everybody goes home. If only in our memories and for just a little while.


Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Perpetual Gloaming

Sixty-six years ago today, Bobby Thomson hit a home run that broke the heart of every Brooklyn Dodgers fans.  The Giants did indeed win the pennant.  The Dodgers did not.  It was the "shot heard 'round the world".  It echoed with particular effect in the borough of Brooklyn. 

Four months ago today, my all-time favorite Brooklyn Dodgers fan closed her eyes for the final time.  Mom was ten days shy of her 89th birthday when she died.  Every day since, I have appreciated how she felt on that October afternoon sixty-six years ago.   

And how Ralph Branca felt every day thereafter for the rest of his life.  


Monday, October 2, 2017

History Awaits

Apparently the Yankees did not get the memo.  In 2017, the Yankees were not supposed to be a postseason-worthy baseball team.  Happiness is arriving a year ahead of schedule, right?  Yes and no. If the Yankees win the wild-card game tomorrow night and advance to the ALDS, then happiness shall be the order of the day.  If they do not, then curb your enthusiasm and check your happiness at the door. 

Here is a not-so-fun fact.  In each of the past two years, a New York baseball team has hosted a wild-card game.  In 2015, it was the Yankees.  In 2016, it was the Mets.  Neither won.  Neither scored a run.  History does not appear to be on the Yankees' side. 

Here is a fun fact.  In the past fifteen years, the Yankees and the Twins have played four times in the American League Division Series.  Each series has been best-of-five.  The two teams have played fourteen games in those four series.  The Twins have won just two of them.  History does not appear to be on Twins' side. 

And it is for these reasons that the players play the game.  History is important - in context.  Tomorrow night, these two teams will take a shot at creating their own.  

It is October.  It is playoff baseball.  Let the game begin.  Let history be made anew once more.


Sunday, October 1, 2017

This Is No Sin

Buying a home at the beach is the smartest money I have ever spent.  I look forward to spending summers for the rest of my life sitting on the beach, watching Maggie and any other grandkids Margaret and I are lucky enough to have grow up - hopefully enjoying the ocean at least half as much as Pop Pop.  

That being said, it is this time of year that I love the beach most of all.  Indian Summer has broken. Autumn has arrived.  It is glorious.  Margaret and I have spent this weekend with the windows in the house wide open - filling it with crisp, fall air.  Yesterday morning and this morning, I went for runs along the water.  There may be places on the planet that are as beautiful as the ocean is at sunrise but there are none that are more beautiful. 

A wise man once wrote, "Ain't no sin to be glad you're alive."  I do not know if Springsteen wrote that lyric while enjoying Autumn at the Shore but I would certainly not be surprised to find out that he did.  On days like these, it is easy to believe. 


Friday, September 29, 2017

My Wake-Up Call

As I stepped out of the office last night - shortly after 6:00 pm - to get into my car and begin my drive home, the change in the temperature was immediately noticeable.  It was as if Indian Summer had received an order to vacate and skedaddled on a moment's notice.  For the first time since autumn's arrival one week ago, it finally felt like autumn.  To me, at least. 

Driving home, it occurred to me that yet another month is preparing to assume its place in my rear-view mirror.  October begins this Sunday.  2018 is just three months away.  I would ask where the time has gone but I know the answer.  You do also.  It has gone where it always goes, which is careening past me at a speed too fast for me to properly comprehend.  The older I get, the faster it moves. 

Or perhaps it just appears that way.  Perhaps the truth of the matter is that the older I get, the more slowly I react and respond to things around me.  Maybe time is not speeding up at all.  Maybe, instead, I am simply slowing down.  

Either way, it is equal parts exhilarating and terrifying.  


Thursday, September 28, 2017

The Terrible Cost of the Unintended Consequence

For the past week-plus, officials from towns along the Jersey Shore have screamed themselves blue in the face requesting, admonishing, and pleading with folks to stay out of the ocean.  It is the "off-season" in these parts and the lifeguards who man (and woman) the stands and towers all summer are no longer on duty.  That fact, coupled with the fact that the Atlantic Ocean has been in a perpetual state of "old man sending back soup at a deli" due to the non-stop hurricane hi-jinks, has made the ocean a significantly more dangerous place than it otherwise would be.  

To countless folks, all of the warnings and the advice have fallen on deaf ears.  It has been unseasonably warm in these parts for at least the past seven to ten days, which weather has attracted more people to the beaches than September might usually do.  Once there, regardless of the vacated lifeguard stands (or beaches on which they have been removed altogether), the "NO SWIMMING" signs, and the rip current warnings, too many people to count have gone into the water.  Often times, the repercussions of that decision have been significant and, on at least three occasions, they have been permanent

The saddest casualty of all might very well be Glen Carullo of Waldwick, New Jersey.  Mr. Carullo went into the water to rescue a stranger - a woman who had gone into the ocean and then found herself in over her head literally and figuratively.  She lived.  Mr. Carullo did not.  He was sixty years old.  He and his wife, Margaret, had spent the day enjoying the sunshine and the boardwalk in Point Pleasant Beach.  Apparently, a few hours before he died, Mr. Carullo had won a plush Elmo doll from one of the claw machines in the arcade.  He posed for a picture - holding it proudly in one hand while he pointed at it with the other - appropriate for its status as the first stuffed toy for the couple's first grandchild.  

The baby is expected in March, 2018. Elmo shall be there to greet him or her.  Mr. Carullo shall not.


Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Pretty Damn Good for the Day After Monday

As anyone knows who has ever read any of the nonsense that occupies this space (and if that group includes you now is as good a time as any to start rethinking your life decisions, I suppose) the worst day of the week is the "Day After Monday", which an unsuspecting rube might call "Tuesday".  Typically, the strategy for that day - far and away the worst day - is simple:  Survive and advance.  The "Day After Monday" is, therefore, the calendar equivalent of an NCAA Basketball Tournament Game.  Style points do not count.  All that matters is making it out alive.  

Imagine my surprise, therefore, when yesterday turned out to be a spectacularly rewarding "Day After Monday".  A minute or two past eleven o'clock, the jury in the case that I had spent the past week trying received the case from the judge.  Approximately thirty-four minutes later, they informed His Honor's officer that a verdict had been reached.  Their verdict was a unanimous "no cause of action" in my client's favor.  

I was quite pleased at the result.  The young man who I represented was also - as were his parents and their insurance carrier, who had paid me to represent him.  I have little doubt that the inevitable motion for a new trial will find its way to my office at some point between today and twenty days from yesterday.  If and when it does, it shall be a story for a different day. 

Today's story is about the Day After Monday and its ability, as unlikely as it seems to be, to pleasantly surprise you.

One time, at least...


Tuesday, September 26, 2017

D Day

Today, my exciting Passaic County adventure reaches its end.  My adversary and I shall present our closing arguments to the jury this morning.  Once we finish then Judge Mongiardo will charge the jury and they shall retire to deliberate. By day's end we should have a verdict. 

Here's to hoping it is one that makes my client happy. 


Monday, September 25, 2017

Many Thanks

Saturday's Sue's Crew IX was a terrific success. Heartfelt thanks to everyone who ran, walked, and suppported the cause. 

I cannot adequately express how much Margaret and I appreciate it.  Every bit of it. 

See you next September for the last roundup. 


Sunday, September 24, 2017

In the Company of Giants

In a perfect world, the need for this day would never have arisen.  

Ours is far from a perfect world. 

In our imperfect world, today represents as great an example of building something of incalculable strength and immeasurable grace out of something grotesque and hateful as I have ever experienced or likely shall ever experience. 

Nothing more needs to be said...


Saturday, September 23, 2017

In the Service of Majesty

First things first.  A very cool human celebrates a birthday today.  OK, two very cool humans celebrate a birthday today.  One of them is Bruce Springsteen.  The other is Amy Gretkowski.  A lifetime ago, when we went to CU together I was (grading conservatively) an asshole and a half to her - sort of the walking, talking embodiment of "with a friend like this who needs an enemy".  I had long suspected that she was a significantly better human being than I.  That suspicion was confirmed in the immediate aftermath of Mom's death in June.  I know not how she and her beloved, Lee, intend to spend her birthday although I suspect she will make him watch a bit of our Alma mater's game tonight against the Washington Huskies.  However she spends it, may it be a happy one.  She deserves nothing less.  

This morning, with my gorgeous granddaughter Maggie (#BeautifulBabyGenius) leading the way, Sue's Crew IX shall run and walk our way through Roosevelt Park in Edison.  It is the penultimate edition of this labor of love whose genesis was a most terrible event, the death of Suzy B., Margaret's mom, in June 2, 2009 after a heroic battle against breast cancer.  Three years ago, on June 6, 2014, the one and only "Hazel", the matriarch of the Kizis family succumbed to cancer after an epic fight. Just a little more than three months ago, on June 3, 2017, my hero - the one and only Joanie K. - bid this world farewell.  At journey's end, it was Mom's heart (big as it was) that ultimately ran out of steam.  It had powered her fearlessly for eighty-eight-plus years (she died ten days before her birthday), including the final thirty-plus that included pitched battles against a variety of ailments and illnesses, beginning with Stage IV breast cancer way when in early 1983.  

Today, this most Holy Trinity shall be honored together by those of us running or walking under the colors of Sue's Crew.  Autumn's first Saturday promises to feel quite a lot like a summer's day here in the State of Concrete Gardens.  In fact, there shall be more than just the hint of early June in the air...

...and on our backs.  


Thursday, September 21, 2017


I have been on trial all week in bucolic Paterson so I must confess that not only have I lost track of days but also of seasons.  When I was busy paying attention to other things, summer officially left the building - or does so today.  Who knew?  Literally, millions of people apparently.  

Autumn's first weekend is supposed to be, shall we say, balmy.  Mother Nature appears to give as much of a shit about the date on the calendar as she does that it is only the 2/3 point of September and she has already launched enough fucking hurricanes in the planet's oceans that a possibility exists that hatches shall be battened down for Hurricane Zebulon as part of the preparations for the Columbus Day Parade.  

Happy to know that we the people of the planet are not doing anything at all to piss our landlord off. Being an enormous fan of coincidence, I am confident that all of the Spielberg-like natural disasters that have ravaged the planet in the past thirty days alone occurred independent of anything we have done or have failed to do.  

Sure I am.  

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Pop Pop's Magical Elixir

Suzanne made my day yesterday.  She sent me a series of three photographs of Maggie wearing a Colorado Buffaloes onesie (I did not buy it for her) and keeping company with a stuffed Baby Buff, which I did buy for her.  I smiled as soon as I saw them.  

My baby granddaughter makes my heart happy.  There are any number of things that I love (well that is an exaggeration as there are a few things that I love).  I do not simply love Maggie. I absolutely adore her.  She serves as proof to her Pop Pop that good exists in the world. 

And any day that I can receive confirmation of that fact is a damn good day. 


Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Saluting the Man Who Saved the World

Last night I actually was home to watch the Evening News.  I am starting to warm up to Anthony Mason on CBS.  The last story of his newscast was a report of the death - four months ago - of Stanislav Petrov, a man whose name I am more than a bit embarrassed to admit I had never heard.  

The story of what he did in the wee small hours of September 26, 1983 is nothing short of extraordinary.  I did not know who he was.  Until I learned of it yesterday, I did not know what he did. 

Proof that a person's value and a person's popularity may in fact have nothing to do with one another. Something for which - in the case of Stanislav Petrov - I for one am very thankful.   


Monday, September 18, 2017

Old Home Week

The Missus and I did not spend this weekend at the Shore.  It was the first weekend in I do not know how long that neither of us spent any time at our little Paradise by the Sea.  Margaret spent Saturday running the second day of her two-day garage sale.  I spent most of my weekend preparing for trial that is scheduled to begin this morning in Passaic County.  That should make you feel better about your Monday.  Wherever you are spending your Monday, I have to spend mine in Paterson.  You win. 

Saturday night we went to dinner at my favorite restaurant, Uncle Vinnie's Clam Bar in Raritan.  We went early and were able to score two seats at the bar.  As if Uncle Vinnie's did not already have enough going for it, Kona Big Wave Golden Ale is now on tap. Talk about the cherry on top of the sundae.

It was great to see Lois and her gang.  The Missus and I have eaten too many times there to count over the years.  We have yet to have a disappointing meal.  The food, the drink, the atmosphere are all incomparable. 

If I cannot be at the beach on a Saturday night, then there is no place I would rather be than at Uncle Vinnie's with the Missus.


Sunday, September 17, 2017

In Sickness Or In Health

I was out of the office all day on Friday. I came in early yesterday morning to find my copy of the annual "Health Insurance" memo.  As always, it made me want to punch someone in the throat. 

Health insurance for the Missus and me costs me approximately $18,000 annually.  Eighteen thousand fucking dollars. Unreal.  It is much worse for my fellow employees who insure not only their spouse but their children as well. Insuring a family of four on the Firm's health insurance plan costs approximately $25,000 a year. 

Who can afford to get sick?  In our office it is already too goddamn expensive just trying to stay well. 

Excuse me while I turn my head and cough.  Coughing is free. For now, at least. 


Saturday, September 16, 2017

Treasure Hunt

The Missus and I are not at the beach this weekend.  I am at the office preparing for trial. Margaret is really working hard.  She is having a garage sale at our house.  If you are in - or can be in - the neighborhood of 113 Howard Avenue in Middlesex, then please come by...

...and buy.  Something.  Anything. 


Friday, September 15, 2017

A Dick Grayson Moment

I spent last night at the beach - sadly not the beginning of a long weekend but rather a work-related one night quick hit. I shall spend the weekend in the office preparing for trial. I hate when reality interferes with my good time.  Alas. 

On the ride down last night, I heard Jackson Browne's "Somebody's Baby", which was his contribution to the soundtrack of Fast Times at Ridgemont High.  

I found myself singing along as I drove and smiling while I did, which the people in the cars around me did not do. I did so not simply because it is a song I like from a movie I have always loved but because it makes me think of the night Mike Koplowitz and I saw it at the movie theatre at the old Menlo Park Mall. 

We were high-school freshmen.  I had not yet gone gray.  Mike had not yet experienced a growth spurt. Not only did we not look seventeen, which we needed to be to gain entry but we barely looked thirteen, which we were.  

Our admission to the movie was secured courtesy of an older high school kid who was on a date. We accompanied him to the window, which we were required to do, and stood behind him as he ordered four tickets.  The woman at the window looked beyond him to Mike and me and asked who we were. Without hesitation he replied, "My wards."  She looked less than convinced. Yet she took him at his word and handed him four tickets. 

Once the theatre darkened, we bid our guardian and his date farewell, found seats sufficiently far away from them to (almost) avoid the angry glances of his female companion.  We never caught his name.  Nor did he ever get ours. 

The trip south on the Parkway last night took less than an hour. The trip down memory lane lasted only as long as the length of Browne's song. The good feeling associated with the memory?  A lifetime...

...and counting. 


Thursday, September 14, 2017

Sometimes The Good Guys Finish First

The fate of my friend, Dave Lackland, and his family has weighed heavily on my mind for the past week.  The metaphorical boulder on my shoulder was lifted yesterday by his sister-in-law, who sent me a text message to tell me that she had spoken directly to Tessa (her sister/David's wife) who confirmed that both of them and their adorable little guy, Indy, were all healthy and that their home had more than held its own against the Category 5 power of Hurricane Irma.  Tessa and Indy are, within the next few days as I understand it, on their way to New Jersey.  

Dave Lackland is as good a human being as I have ever known and shall likely ever know.  His presence on this planet serves to counter the continuing existence of lesser souls, such as Yours truly. I cannot adequately express how relieved I am to know that he, Tessa, and Indy are well.  

A lot of seriously fucked-up stuff goes on here on the big blue marble day in and day out.  Every now and again, it is nice to see something good happen for something deserving of such an outcome.  It does not happen nearly as often as it should.  


Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Heard Above The Noisy Din

I did not do this year in this space what I had done for the last several years, which is devote it in the month leading up to September 11 to remembering the men and women who were murdered that day. My failure to fulfill that self-created responsibility stems not from the attenuation of my belief in the importance of continuing to honor those souls by remembering them.  

Rather it stems from an attenuation of my belief in the continuing, self-created importance of doing this.  This exercise began close to a decade ago now as a way for me to provide musical accompaniment to the voices in my head to the extent that, while there, they would be reduced to the level of white noise.  Recently, it fails as often as not to fulfill that "important to me but overall not terribly important to the world at large" purpose.

Honoring someone's life is serious business, especially so when the person in question is deceased.  It is not a task to be undertaken lightly or in an unfocused, half-assed manner.  This year, with serious reservations about my ability to do it as it must be done, I opted not to do it.  

A couple of Sundays from now, Margaret and I shall participate in the annual Tunnel to Towers Run, which begins on the Brooklyn side of the Battery Tunnel and ends approximately 3.5 miles later in Lower Manhattan at the intersection of West Street and Murray Street.  This year, as we have done for the past several years, we will go into the City on Saturday afternoon.  Prior to dinner at O'Hara's, we will go to the National September 11 Memorial where I shall, as I do every year, place a small American flag at several of the names.  

Among the names at which I place a flag each September is Antoinette Duger.  

I never met her or spoke to her.  She is, however, the cousin of one of my favorite folks, Gerard Gonnella.  Given what a good man he is, it is clearly my loss to have never made her acquaintance. 

Several years ago, at year's end, I dedicated this space to paying tribute to "G" and his family by honoring Antoinette's memory.  Consider this, therefore, either an opportunity to read it again and reacquaint yourself with her and her story or simply to learn something about a remarkable woman.

Either way...


A Simple Life, Well-Lived

Shortly before the tenth anniversary of the September 11th attacks, a good gent known as The Mighty Quinn pointed me in the direction of a very worthwhile endeavor called Project 2,996. Its purpose is to honor the lives of those who were murdered that day. I contributed a little something to it this year, which I hope at least scratched the surface of honoring the individual for whom I wrote it.

Not too long after I wrote what I wrote, a very dear friend of mine e-mailed me to tell me that he had read what I had written and that it made him think of his cousin. She too had been murdered at the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001. In our exchange of e-mails I told him a bit about Project 2,996. I also checked the site to see if his cousin was among the list of people for whom a tribute had been written. She was not.

Antoinette Duger was an anomaly in early 21st Century America - in the best possible sense of the word - in that she spent her entire professional life working for the same company. First Union hired her at age 18 - right after she graduated from Barringer High School in Newark. A career that started in an office on Broad Street in Newark continued to grow upward and uninterrupted until it reached the 47th floor of One World Trade Center. At age 44, she had already logged twenty-six years as a First Union employee. In an age where the ties that bind one to one's employer are often tenuous to the point of fragility, Antoinette's were unbreakable.

Who she was is even more extraordinary than what she did. She was forty-four years young in the Fall of 2001. A wife. A mother. One of her daily rites was to make it home by 6:30 every night in order to do something she loved - prepare a traditional Italian dinner for her husband Raymond, her daughter Megan and her to enjoy and to share. Among her other joys? Every year she would get together with her mother and her sisters so that they could press their own tomatoes and make a year's worth of sauce for each of their households.

She was more than a mother and a wife. She was a sister and a daughter. And she was also the cousin of my friend Gerard Gonnella. Tonight, those who loved Antoinette and those she loved shall mark the 11th consecutive turn from one year to the next without her. She shall be missed of course. But more importantly she shall be remembered. As she has always been. As she always shall.

Her sister Silvia Defilippo put it best, "It was a simple life. But it was a good life."

....One might in fact say that it was a wonderful life.


Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Making It Through The Rain

While I have not heard from him directly, I was very pleased last night to see that one of Dave Lackland's neighbors in St. John, USVI confirmed seeing Dave, Tessa, and their little boy, Indy, yesterday.  All appeared to be fine physically albeit "upset". Given the hell that the residents of the USVI have endured these past five or six days, a little "upset" is quite understandable.

If I had to guess - and speculating can be a dangerous game - I would guess that Dave's exit plan from St. John shall (unless it proves to be impossible - and I mean his definition of 'impossible' and not was us mere mortals might consider it to be) include making sure that the family's animals, including the three dogs, can leave with them.  Dave has extended himself more for animals in his life than I have extended myself for human beings - and by a considerable margin to boot.  It is my considered opinion that in a time of crisis, he shall do all that he can to make sure that his entire family is protected.

I will feel better when - at some point down the line - he tells me the story of the hurricane.  For present purposes, knowing that he, Tessa, and Indy took Irma's best punch and are still standing is more than enough for me.


Monday, September 11, 2017

A Prayer For Our Fallen Brothers & Sisters

A few months ago, my mother died.  Eighty-eight years old.  She died on June 3.  Thirty-six years ago, my father died.  Fifty-seven years old.  He died on May 31.  Those dates are significant to me. As they should be.  To the rest of the world they are substantially less so.  As they should be. 

Sixteen years ago today, on a spectacularly beautiful early September Tuesday morning, countless families suffered a loss of profound significance.  Mothers, fathers, sons, daughters, husbands and wives all were murdered.  

If you were alive on this date sixteen years ago and old enough to comprehend (even a little) the world around you, then it is reasonable to believe that you shall never forget where you were or what you were doing when each of the horrible events that comprised the day unfolded.  But if you were - as I am - someone who did not personally lose a person you loved and who loved you, whether a family member, a friend, or a co-worker, the ever-present risk is that you shall lose sight of what happened on Tuesday, September 11, 2001.  

What happened on that terrible day is not simply that several thousand innocents were murdered by cowards.  Sometimes, when we think about an event in terms of its scale or its scope, we lose sight of its human impact.  Each person who was killed was loved by at least one other person.  And each of them - the person whose life ended that day and the person whose life continued - awakened that morning not having any idea that the former would be taken from the latter.  Those who were killed, whether first responders, financial wizards, short-order cooks, or bottle washers, were each someone else's "everything".  

And on that terrible Tuesday morning sixteen Septembers ago, everything changed.  Irrevocably. Forever.