Thursday, August 31, 2017

Redskins Argument Again

Third-graders at a private school in Bethesda aren't allowed to wear their Redskins jerseys to school anymore.

I didn't get the school's name but that doesn't matter...

...this argument has been going on awhile.

The Redskins won't hear any of it. Snyder isn't changing the name, and every year we hear all about it.

When the topic comes up there's always a white guy on a radio show somewhere who says:

"Leave it alone! I know a Native American guy and it doesn't bother him!"

Kind of like saying:

"I have black friends," when someone calls you a racist.

Is it offensive?

Not to me...

...but if they were the Washington Wops...

...I might have a problem.

The Washington Pollacks?

Washington Drunk Irish Dudes?

The examples are endless, and the Redskins term was deragatory some time ago, right?

But I see the other side of it as well.

That has been the team name forever. It's a brand. Big money. Plenty of proud former Redskins players and we're all too sensitive now.

Snowflakes!

Stop crying!!

We've all heard it all.

The battle has been going on how long now?

I'm not sure that the third-graders need to be brought into the fight. I don't think that little Larry from Maryland should be forced to give up his favorite shirt from his favorite team because it's racist.

Why are we teaching them racism?

That kid never considered it when he was putting on his shirt.

Ah well.

Let's all talk about it for another year, right?

Stir up some more debates between the left and right....

...after all...

...everyone gets along way too famously now.

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

On Vacation

Jay Thomas, the humorist, actor, radio show host, who died this past week...

...and made me sad...

...actually left a note behind, telling people not to be sad because he had a lot of fun, and lived his life as if he were on vacation every day.

I loved that!

And unfortunately I think about such things too much, but I do know what Jay was saying there.

Death is the big end, right.

Yet, I certainly feel much as Jay has felt throughout his days.

I've enjoyed my time immensely, and if something happens suddenly I'd love people to know that much.

Life has always felt like a bit of a vacation for me as well. Even with the physical pain of the last few years I have always enjoyed my life's work, and writing the books has been a tremendous pleasure...

...it's what I might do if someone said that we only had 24 hours left!

I'd spend as much time as I could with the ones I love, of course, but at the very last moment I might end up with a pen and a notebook on my lap.

It's funny, and I just thought of it now, but as a kid I had swelling in my index finger and it had worried my mother. She wondered what was going on, but I explained that it was from holding a pen.

So, life has felt like a bit of a vacation for me.

I've enjoyed the full catastrophe of my days. I've been a part of two great families. I've laughed with hundreds of friends....and a lot of strangers, actually!

Yet, what saddens me when I hear of someone's death (especially a celebrity that I never met) is that I think of The big D coming for me.

And I don't want to miss what happens down the line!

I want to be around to see how many World Series the Yankees eventually get to...

...and flying cars...

...and life spans that eventually get to 150 or so.

But anyway...

...I'd hope that the people who've known me...

...and who get to stick around longer than me...

...don't feel sadness, either.

Because it's been a good time.

Almost as if I've been on vacation.

(The big D is an uncomfortable conversation, but it's part of life, right?)

Live your life as if you're on vacation.

RIP JT

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Heaven Here On Earth

Who isn't horrified by the photos of the people in Texas?

If you aren't, and your brain instantly switches to laying blame, or amping up for a fight...

...well, you might have a problem.

I spent a lot of time considering the horror, and then some of the images made me turn my thoughts to the compassion.

I watched a video of a man, with an elderly woman in a basket, trying to balance everything as he hung by a tether, and tried to lift her into a helicopter.

The rain and wind pummeling him, as he worked.

The sense of relief on his face as he handed her off.

I saw a photo of a man, wading through waist deep water, holding a German Shepherd close.

Saving the life of a dog.

And it occurred to me.

This is America.

None of the hateful rhetoric matters right now.

Rescuers aren't checking citizenship papers.

Men and women are banding together to save lives.

Wading in to look for people who are stranded. Carrying people, on their backs to safety.

And when the storm clears there are going to be a whole lot of stories talking about who shouldn't done what and why didn't they do this or that.

All Monday morning quarterbacking.

Know a couple of things:

1). This is where we really, really need government help and resources. I'm sure there are people who normally hate the government, being saved by it.

2). There's heaven in the details. People's lives are being saved.

The water will eventually dissipate.

The rain will stop.

And together...

...not divided...

...we shall overcome.

God help those people.

Seems it's already happening.

Heaven is alive in the hearts of the people who are risking their own safety to help total strangers out.

Monday, August 28, 2017

Stay or Go?

They say that 60% of the people who were told to evacuate in advance of the hurricane decided to stay right where they were.

Hopefully they all did okay, but the photos don't seem to bear that out. It's horrifying to hear about freeways flooded and people on the roof of their homes, waiting to be rescued.

Yet the sheriff in one of the towns told those who wanted to stay that he hoped they'd put their social security numbers on their arms so they could be easily identified.

I don't think it'd be much of a call around here. As much as we enjoy our home, we'd most certainly pack up the car and head for higher ground.

I can't imagine how scary it must be to see the news reports and know that your home is gonna get filled with water. Everything that you've worked for gone, and the flood protection regulation just recently stripped under an executive order...

...so insurance companies don't have to pay out.

We've never had such an emergency here.

You can stay in your home when there's a snowstorm coming...

...and we've had plenty of practice with those.

Yet not knowing if your roof is going to end up in your neighbors yard is a special kind of worry. And if the power goes off...

...watch out!

My kids don't do the no power thing.

We lost power here during a summer freak incident, and no games, no television and no air conditioning was big trouble.

We did have one storm where the power was off for a few days. My wife and kids headed for North Collins and left me alone with the generator.

I had pasta, steak and beer each night while they were gone.

The photos of the devastation in Texas is mind-boggling. The shots of the storm making landfall was downright scary.

People will really suffer for years and years and years.

What's nasty about a coming storm is that people seem to want to find someone to blame for it. The president always seems to get a lot of heat.

Because they can't win. The flood protection deregulation is going to get a lot of note soon and it's inconceivable that lives will be destroyed over money.

But they will.

When the storm hits the people who stayed home to brave it are considered to be morons by the people who live thousands of miles away.

Sometimes it's not so simple.

I can see people who have stayed in one home forever, being afraid to leave.

And perhaps financial constraints stop people from running for it.

Yet these days in the world of everyone is an idiot if they disagree with how you'd do it...

...sympathy is in short supply.

One woman posted that she had to stay because she worked at a hospital in the area and was on call.

She was scared and posted her story to talk to others about what she was experiencing.

"You're an idiot," the first guy wrote. "I hope your walls collapse. Why would anyone sit through a hurricane because of a stupid job?"

A number of people jumped to her defense, but the damage was done.

We would go.

At least my wife and kids would.

They'd probably leave me here to wait it out.

Hope they all recover quickly.

Hard to imagine.

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Sheriff Joe

It's been a lot of years since I first heard of Sheriff Joe Apraio and his controversial techniques in Arizona.

Like many others I sort of believed that it was a progressive way to get something out of those who might be in jail. Why let prisoners sit around, lift weights and watch television?

Can't they be put to work somehow?

Yet, time has passed and a lot of light was placed on Joe's antics.

And they were antics.

Before you jump to his defense, consider that many of those confined in his tent city hung themselves. Others were treated like animals. Many, many, many were rounded up because of what they looked like.

The color of their skin.

Immigration isn't an easy subject. That border line is like a huge scar running for miles. Men and women, running for their lives crossed that line.

Not rapists or criminals in most respects.

Men and women.

And once in a land where freedom reigns, they were rounded up and stripped of their freedoms and denied any semblance of law.

Okay. 

It has never become more apparent to me that a lot of people are actually for that type of action now. I wish I had a nickel for every social media warrior who talks of imprisoning these people, or worse, without thought of their life or liberty.

Yet Sheriff Joe was told to stop.

He received a direct order from a judge.

No more!

He was hired to uphold the law of the land. He received direct orders on numerous occasions to stop what he was doing.

He ignored those orders.

He was found guilty.

And he hadn't even been sentenced yet when he was pardoned by a man who ignored the process, ignored the directive of the judicial system that governs the land.

That's not right.

"Is he really a racist?" Kathy asked as we were watching the coverage of the Trump pardon.

A simple question because I understood where she was coming from.

Most people don't understand that someone can actually believe that you're okay with denying people  the same rights we all have...

...because of how they look.

A simple question.

Are Sheriff Joe and Trump racists?

The word is thrown around a lot these days...

...most of us don't want to believe it.

But if your actions strip a certain group of people of rights that other groups receive just by being born...

...then you just might be a racist.

And if you're still comfortable in your defense of the grand old sheriff, remember that he was also accused of installing cameras in the women's bathroom in his tent community.

And that's not racist behavior.

It's just plain disgusting.

Saturday, August 26, 2017

Jay Thomas

Damn!

This one hurts!!

I was a big fan of Jay Thomas' radio show.

Jay died on Thursday and of course, I didn't have any idea that it was coming. He'd been really sick a little while ago, but I didn't have any idea that he was THAT sick!

Because he was never serious for too long.

Yet there were a whole bunch of highlights that flooded into my brain. Jay was a good friend of the husband of a good friend of mine. Yvonne was my next door neighbor growing up, and one day, Jay spoke about her on his show.

The story he told made me shake with laughter.

I also enjoyed Jay's politics.

He was a true straight shooter.

"Get rid of him...get rid of him!" Jay would shout when a caller would get on his nerves.

And then there was the interview with Kevin Bacon.

Before the interview Jay was asked not to bring up the fact that Kevin Bacon lost money to Bernie Madoff.

"So, you lost money in the Madoff deal, huh?" Jay asked, almost immediately.

The interview went as badly as you might think.

I'm sure that his show will live on and be played over and over for years and years...

...but I won't be able to listen.

Too sad!

"Get rid of him!"

"Get rid of him!!"

Jay might say.

May he Rest In Peace.

He would always tell his listeners that he was barely famous and just a 3rd rate celebrity.

I'd beg to differ...

...he was a great one.

Fort Niagara

Sometimes my job takes me to interesting places. I have to be honest, I didn't know much about Old Fort Niagara.

I always loved history too...but didn't retain it.

The battle back in the 1700's was told on the plaques and in the actions of the men and women who dress up in the old uniforms.

And then I entered the castle.

That's when I was blown away by the architecture and the vintage furniture. I could almost imagine the scenes as they prepared for battle.

The mason who is working on some of the brick was my tour guide. We marveled at how the place was built back all those years ago.

"You have to see the jail," he said.

I thought about the battle waged in the field. I heard about the underground tunnels and we went looking for the cannons.
"That's where they loaded them."

"Whoa," I said. "This is so freaking cool!"

As we were heading back to the work area we saw a woman, dressed in the garb of the day, sitting outside, working on mending clothes, I believe.

"They worked so hard. They fought so bravely," I said.

We went over the drawbridge, and took in the solid brick walls that protected the place.

"Exactly," the mason of today said, "And most of the people we know these days are all worked up when the wi-fi goes out."

We laughed.

So cool.

The job is going to run a little while longer.

Next time I'm gonna' see what the underground tunnels were all about.

I mentioned it when I got home.

"I saw that place," Sam said. "Went there on a field trip. I remember the cannons."

Friday, August 25, 2017

Record Theater Is Closing

Sad!

The one record store that was left is closing on Sunday. Record Theater in Buffalo will close its doors on Sunday, and when I read the story, I felt sadness.

First off, I hate the way music is delivered these days.

(Mostly)

I do like being able to order something with a click of the phone, but there was absolutely nothing like getting your paycheck and heading into the record store to browse.

Even more exciting is when a record came out.

I know exactly which store I bought each Springsteen record from 1978 through about 2005.

"Why don't you get rid of all those CD's?" My beautiful wife asked me one day.

(She's strictly against my shelves that are filled with books and CD's for some reason).

"Leave me alone."

I recall Mom taking us to buy each of us a record.

John got Billy Joel, Glass Houses.

Corinne got Tom Petty, Damn the Torpedos

And I went with Bob Dylan and Slow Train Coming.

Someone recently mentioned that the record business went under because people were forced to buy full albums.

I love full albums!!

I always play them as they were written.

"Thunder Road" opened Born to Run and "Jungle land" closed it.

That's the way it was supposed to be!

So, I'm a little sad.

I now have all my music on my phone or on an iPod.

Sometimes I shuffle all the songs.

Technology kinda' cost us on this one.

We should all still be buying our music.

That ain't the worst part though...

...and I'm gonna' sound like an old man here...

...they don't write 'em like they used to now anyway!

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Are You Ready for Some Football?

My kids were fired up at the start of August.

"Tyrod has Sammy and Boldin! He's gonna' be throwing for 400 yards every week!"

Then Sammy was traded.

Shocked everyone.

The other day, Boldin retired because he wanted to do work on the division in the country.

"Dude, he figured that he had a better shot at solving racism than getting the Bills into the playoffs."

My kids weren't amused.

And the season hasn't even started yet.

Most of Western New York has already given up.

It's not even going to be fun to make fun of them.

But you know what drives me crazy about football?

It's that whenever you hear someone getting interviewed about it this is what it sounds like:

"I was talking to my football team the other day about what it means to be a football player and taking the football field. It's an honor to be a football player, and to be able to compete during a football game and over a full football season."

And God help you if the conversation gets around to the league!

No one says, "NFL" it's always "The National Football League."

Of course, I think the league is going to have an explosion anyway.

Player after player is now kneeling through the anthem.

Perhaps Boldin can solve that particular problem because if there's one thing I know:

"When a football player kneels on the football field before the football has been kicked off then the football coaches and the football owners are gonna' be mad at the football players."

Oh.

One other thing I know:

The Bills might not make the playoffs!

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Look Up

There's a moment on the Roger Waters record where he sings about looking up at the stars, feeling insignificant in the grand scheme of things...

...and not giving two shits about it.

I don't know what you thought about the solar eclipse on Monday - was just a partial deal here in Buffalo - but I saw television coverage of the total darkness...

...and it was really cool.

It's amazing that the same scientists who are so damn wrong about climate change can get the sun and moon travels down to the second.

In fact, if you can see something like that and not think about things bigger than yourself...

...you're kind of shallow.

As a kid I was kind of curious about such things, but science wasn't my best of subjects. The one time I recall being absolutely transfixed with the sky was when Skylab was falling out of it.

I was convinced it was going to land on our house.

And it is very important to look up every now and again and dream about other universes or the great beyond.

What else is out there?

Are we compromising the great scheme of things with our own actions...

...or do we not give a shit?

If you missed it...

...7 more years to the next one, and Buffalo will go totally dark.

Can't wait.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Missing A Good Game, Blue

The MLB umpires are staging a protest against the verbal assaults that they've had to endure lately.

Joe West, an ump who lives to be featured as a story above the game, sported a white arm band that was a show of solidarity with some of the other umps who've taken a beat down lately.

Tigers player Ian Kinsler went off on Angel Hernandez after a recent game, suggesting that Hernandez should do something else for a living because he's horrendous as an umpire.

Now, pay no mind to the fact that Kinsler is absolutely correct, going off on an ump is a bad look.

I watch a lot of baseball.

I've seen some strike zones that were horrendous. Most of the time the players adjust. They might get banged on a high strike in the first inning, but by the 3rd or 4th they have the feel for it, and they adjust.

I don't want to see umpires eliminated. I'm sure there could be an electronic strike zone that would remove all debate, but I don't want it.

What I do want is much what Ian Kinsler wants:

Angel Hernandez has to go!

He's awful at his job.

And the rest of the umps have to be aware that they aren't the story. Guys are competing hard. They might get angry when you call a pitch in the opposite batter's box a strike.

Let them gripe!

Nowadays if a player says something the ump rips off his own mask and fights back.

A 'your missing a good game, blue' is not met with a fight.

I was tossed from one game...in all the organized games I ever played in.

There had been a close play at the plate in a highly contested game. The call went against my team, and I had argued heartily with the ump. To his credit, he took it. Everything eventually calmed down and I got into position behind the plate as a catcher.

The next pitch arrived:

"Ball!" He called out.

"Geez," I said, shaking my head in disgust.

And he bounced me!!

I said: "Geez!"

Years later, about ten years ago, I saw the ump out where he was tending bar. I told him the story and he laughed.

"You pissed me off," he said.

And he bought me a shot of crown royal.

"We're just people," he said, as we toasted. "And crown royal isn't just for breakfast anymore."

We laughed and clanked glasses.

Can't we just all get along?

Monday, August 21, 2017

I Found His Blankie

Before Jake was even out the door I decided that the room he was leaving behind needed to be cleaned up.

It was pretty much an exercise in folding clothes that he'd left on the floor of his closet...

...clothes that he hasn't worn in years, but ones that my beautiful wife wants to hang onto because...who the hell knows why...

...in case we have another child, I guess.

Anywhoha...

I just got everything out of the closet and began to fold.

And I found the blankie.

The same one that we chased all around town because he couldn't go to sleep unless he had it in his hands.

"We left the blanket at your parents," was a horrendous thing to hear because I was going back to get it.

No question!

Jake was a tough kid. He was sick early on and he just didn't put up with any crap. It was his way and if you tried to battle him, he'd go at you even harder.

I started to think about the evening when he went off, and Kathy begged me to let him burn himself out. We heard him banging around his room, and eventually I went to check.

Every single thing he owned was in a pile I. The center of his room and he was still piling it up.

"He all right?" Kathy asked when I returned.

"He's like Keith Moon in there. I'm hoping he doesn't have any matches."

I folded the blankie and put it in the top of his closet.

He's off to college.

"Try and behave," I said. "You remember all we taught you, right?"

"I don't remember what we had for dinner," he said.

His room is cleaner now, but weird night.

Was just moments ago.

Every parent feels it.

I'm proud of my boys...

...they've grown to be fine young adults...

...a little wise-ass...

...but they get that from their mother.

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Down to One

A lot of buzz around here on Saturday as Kathy, Jake and Sam carried things down the stairs, and out the front door.

Packing up my things so Jake could take them off to school.

We're going to be down to one kid around here, and it's Sam, the easiest kid in the world to parent.

All we have to do with Sam is toss him a bag of chicken fries and a jug of hot sauce.

"You have to study," I said to Jake. "You're going to have a lot of free time. It's easy to just drink beer or play ball or take a nap, but remember to do your work first."

He was hardly listening.

The older they get, the less they appear to listen, but I actually think the opposite is true.

Matt comes by once in a blue moon now.

"What do you want?" I ask.

Once they walk out the door they tend to stay gone, and if they do come back it's usually with one more to feed as they bring a girl by.

Which explains Kathy being a tad on the emotional side.

"I was in tears on the way back," she said, after bringing Jake by for orientation.

"One more," I said, "and then what? We sit here looking at each other?"

Kathy laughed.

"That's about it."

It's going to be a lot quieter around here.

Camp Clifford has just one camper!!!

And he sleeps a lot!

"Aren't you sad?" Kathy asked.

"We can fumigate that room," I said.

But yeah.

I'm a little sad.

"Leave a few bank deposit slips," I said to Jake.

"Okay, I will," he said.

He heard that one.

Friday, August 18, 2017

Bannon Out!

Flynn was the first to go, then Spicer, then Mooch, then Preibus...

...now Bannon.

I've mentioned before, I hate chaos.

If there's one constant about what's happening, it's all about chaos and change.

And the worst part?

We're losing all the Saturday Night Live Characters!

Bannon was a lightning rod for those who have trouble with potential Nazi's, racists and white supremacists. He's the former leader of Breitbart and that's where he's going back to.

Now he has an axe to grind too.

Buckle up!

What gets me about it is that the real story of yesterday was kind of buried by the resignation or firing of Bannon.

I listened to the Mom of the woman killed in Virgina by the white supremacist. The woman was asked if she had spoken to Trump.

"I haven't, and I won't," she said.

Of course she's upset about Trump explaining that there are good and bad people on both sides.

Not what she needed to hear in a time of grief.

And that was heartbreaking to me.

Chaos is one thing.

This is unsustainable, and I've been saying that since January.

But the world has changed again.

Who would've thought that every single day you'd be waiting to see what horrific thing happened today.

9 minutes after the van plowed through the crowd in Barcelona we had footage of the bodies in the street.

"This might be difficult for some viewers," the anchor said.

Ya' think????

I turned away after 10 seconds of looking at injured or dead people.

Do we really need to see it?

Look, I don't know where his presidency is headed.

In the last 4 weeks:

The Boy Scouts were horrified by Trump's speech.

The cops were told to bang the criminals heads as they were being loaded in the police car before they're charged.

North Korea made threats and fire and fury like the world has never seen was promised.

Mooch was hired and fired.

White Nationalists attacked.

Barcelona.

Bannon out!

And we're just getting warmed up!

Let me know when we're great again.

Sirens

I grew up in a small town so I guess my fear of hearing a police, ambulance or fire siren is based on something real.

Back then there was a good chance that I'd know who was on the receiving end of that emergency call.

Now, living in a bigger town, there are more sirens.

But they still scare me.

Most of the time I hear it, and I do an inventory of who is or isn't home.

I know, I know...

...a tad irrational, but every parent in the world knows that fear.

If the emergency vehicle is on your road though, it's even worse.

My boy, Sam, is the anti-Clifford!

I go to bed at the same time each night. I wake up real early every day. Some nights I sleep better than others, but I'm highly routine.

Sam?

He sleeps when he's tired. No matter what time it is and that makes a mess of things some nights.

Well, Thursday morning at just a little after five, I was startled awake by a red, flashing light. My window was open so I heard the crackle of a radio.

"There's a light on in a garage," a voice said.

"COPS!"

Right outside my bedroom window. Looking into my back yard.

I got out of bed quickly and hustled down the stairs. I opened the door to Sam's room.

His bed was empty!!!

My heart leaped to my throat.

"What's up?" Sam said as I looked for the cop car.

"Where were you?" I asked.

"Hot tub," he said. "I fell asleep way early, woke up around midnight...been up since."

Well, the cops are here.

"Why?" He asked.

"I have no idea!"

I looked out the window...there wasn't a cop car to be found. I looked up and down the street.

Nothing!!

Time to get up anyway.

I clicked on Twitter and immediately saw a story.

"Suspect apprehended in southtowns minutes ago," the headline read.

Evidently there had been a epic car chase after the Guns N Roses concert. The driver had escaped on foot. There had been a long hunt for the guy.

"You gotta' get into a routine!" I said to my confused son.

"I didn't do anything," he said.

I couldn't fathom how to tell him about my fear of sirens.

"Go to bed," I said.

He obliged.

Better!

Safe there.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Heather Heyer

She was a 32-year old woman who wanted to protest the white supremacists in her town.

She got killed for her stance.

And it's pretty weird because whenever you hear about these tragedies you only normally get the body count.

Quick:

Name me a single victim of Columbine, or the Orlando shooting or hell, even 911.

We have a tendency not to dwell on the tragic end of life. Soon enough, we move onto the next one. The friends and families of the victims suffer in silence.

The general public moves on.

Yet, this time, because of the volatility of the scene, and because the president couldn't really bring himself to condemn those who were responsible...

...we had a chance to meet Heather.

I listened to her Mom and Dad say their goodbyes.

There was a beautiful rendition of 'Amazing Grace.'

Heather's coworkers were interviewed at length. As often happens, the newly departed is turned into a bit of a saint, but as her Mom explained, everything was a debate.

A thoughtful, caring, young woman who's life was snuffed out because of a statue of a guy who was a traitor to our country.

Seriously.

She's dead because a bunch of dipshits had a soft spot for Robert E. Freaking Lee.

I didn't comment on any of the Facebook arguments. No real reason to get screamed at by a bunch of dumbasses who just want to fight.

And we all have a right to our opinion, but if you're horribly offended by Kaepernck or Marshawn sitting on their asses during the anthem, but fight for the statue of a guy who led the battle that resulted in 700,000 deaths of Americans...

...well, you might be misguided.

There are no statues of Hitler in Germany.

Why did Robert E. Lee or Stonewall Jackson get a freaking statue in the first place?

Put the damn statue in a museum.

Don't leave it in the center of a town where people who feel the scar of slavery have to look at it.

Who is actually a fan of slavery anyway?

White Nationalists, I guess.

And once more it boils down to a lack of empathy.

Slavery might be something that you don't give a crap about in the context of American history, but if it bothers millions of other people...

...who are you to tell them that the statue should stay up?

It matters that much to you to know that Lee is captured as a hero?

He was a traitor to the country you wanna' make great again!

You know what it is?

It's an excuse to be a racist.

And there's no two sides to the argument.

No one thinks that they're racist, but if you're okay with racism, then even if you don't think you're a racist...

...guess what...

...you are.

And if you are...

...you probably shouldn't have been elected president...

...because like it or not...

...not everyone is white like you.

RIP to Heather.

May your life be celebrated...

...because you didn't have to die.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Summer, Summer, Summer

That's more like it.

The sun feels good and I enjoy going to the jobs on hot days, but it's kind of been a little funky so far this week.

My legs feel like they weigh 400 pounds apiece, and I certainly didn't play much softball...swung the bat 4 times, didn't pick up a glove, and as it turned out didn't even have to ump any games, so I sat on the bleachers and watched mostly.

The young kids played game after game and actually played basketball in between games.

"How you feel?" I asked my 17-year-old son on Monday.

"Fine. Why?" He asked.

We should have at least another 30-60 days of good weather left here in Western New York.

The other weird part about this summer is that there seems to be a fight a day on the National stage. It dawned on me that there's a threat of a civil war because of statues of the last civil war.

Are you kidding me???

And there's been a week of debate about whether or not Neo-Nazis and White Supremacists should be condemned.

Should be that difficult to say:

"How about we respect other people and their different views?"

Guess we can't do that.

A lot of this is pure nonsense...

...and people are dying!

Can't we just enjoy the summer?

Baseball, camping, meeting friends, family.

Laugh a little.

Stop the other stupid shit!

Is that idealistic or naive?

I've tried hard to avoid the news.

Way too much nastiness!

The sun is shining!!

I'm gonna' be able to get some semblance of walk ability back by the weekend...

...I swear I'm not gonna' spend even a minute thinking about hate groups and the such.

Hopefully the president goes golfing all weekend...

...and leaves his phone in his locker.

We can all use the break.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

White Nationalists

It's just so distressing.

Violent protests across this great nation.

Civil unrest.

So much division.

And those who protested the Black Lives Matter protests now have zip to say about the White Nationalists screaming about "taking their country back".

I was busy with love, family and laughter this weekend, but the news is inescapable.

It's at our fingertips.

What happened in Charlottesville, Virgina is nothing short of embarrassing.

And deadly.

Someone got in their car and drive straight into a crowd of people.

Bodies flying through the air.

Men marching and screaming about how their lives have been compromised because people who don't look like them have been granted something that they don't deserve, I guess.

The protest was about a statue of Robert E. Lee coming down.

The protestors wanted it to stay up, I guess.

And now the hatred and division will grow.

We certainly won't hear about peace and love in the coming days because we are reaping what has been sown.

Last year's news was dominated by nastiness.

One side against the other.

"You're an idiot!"

"You're stupid!"

And I don't feel much like throwing around blame to one failed politician or the other.

I don't think it's the media's fault for reporting it either.

In fact, I don't know what to say.

Other than I'm neither shocked or even a little surprised.

We're gonna' get what we get.

Until we clean up the hate.

It's going to take a good long while...

...because for now...

...each day begins with 4,5,6 or 7 hate tweets.

Sad.

Monday, August 14, 2017

Our Time

An old acquaintance has been posting photos of the North Collins Community from 1976.

I recall going to the festivities back then for the bicentennial, but there's a funny thing about memories. I was just a kid and my parents were in their 30's.

On Sunday morning a photo of Mom and Dad was making the rounds, and I have also been immensely interested in the other photos...

...picking out people we all knew.

And then we were all together for Jeff's softball tourney.

This generation of North Collins.

All loving friends.

Beer, softball, good food and laughter.

The kids took over.

As the old dogs now, the Lions went through the motions and were gone after just two games.

And we watched the kids play.

All day long I kept thinking back to the photo of Mom and Dad.

They were so young.

So many days in front of them.

Mostly very happy days.

Then I thought how quickly I went from 11 years of age to nearly 53.

Wink of an eye.

But it occurred to me.

Our time is limited.

We have what seem like mere moments to run, drink, laugh, build a family, and hang out with great friends.

I soaked in every second of the day.

My kids team had a walk-off win.

They were jumping up and down and cheering loudly.

Kept going back and forth in my mind...

...my parents turn...

...our turn...

...my kids turn.

And the lesson?

Cherish the days...like yesterday.

Our family is so grateful for the community that has wrapped us in their arms, and have loved my brother Jeff's kids.

It goes by fast.

But on the beautiful days...

...life is a lot of fun to live.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

The Big Weekend!

On Saturday morning while shaving, I started to laugh when I had finished the right side of my face.

I thought about a day long ago when Jeff and I were on vacation in Florida. We had met a couple of girls and were headed to meet them. I was driving and he was in the passenger seat.

"I thought you were going to shave," I said.

"I did," he said, and he turned to show me the right side of his face. It was clean-shaven.

But the left side I was looking at had a five o'clock shadow.

"You shaved half your face?" I asked, in disbelief.

"Going for a new look," he said.

"These girls are going to think you're crazy."

"They won't forget meeting me," he said.

And it turned out to be quite the conversation starter. We laughed a lot. Girls didn't have a lot of patience, as it turned out.

But I decided not to go with half a beard for the big weekend.

The pepper 🌶 party was a smashing success. I ate a bunch of peppers. Had to! They were amazing!

Of course, the original idea for the party had been Jeff's and he would've been thrilled with the turnout and the sounds of laughter that echoed across Corinne's & Chuck's backyard.

There will be more laughter on Sunday as the softball tourney is ready to roll!

It's a lot of work because everyone shows up to play, and eat, and laugh.

"They won't forget meeting me," Jeff had said.

Right.

No one has!

What a great weekend!

Saturday, August 12, 2017

NFL News

My boys were in a state of shock on Friday afternoon:

Sammy was traded!

Sammy, of course, was the star wide receiver who cost the Bills two draft picks, insulted everyone when he talked about people and "their little jobs", spent a lot of time hurt...

...and didn't make the playoffs.

 I had mixed emotions about Sammy.

Jake met him three times and Sammy was very accommodating, taking photos with Jake each time, and even playing basketball with Jake and his friends. Jake said that they had him laughing a lot.

Then, I noticed that Sammy also had hip surgery - same repair I had - and he too has had feet problems since.

We're both elite athletes...

...something happens during that hip surgery that presents problems with feet!

Anywhoha...

Sammy is gone.

Then there was the announcement of the suspension of the Cowboys star running back Ezekiel Elliott.

Six weeks for being accused of beating up a woman on a few occasions.

People were crying!

"How could they suspend him for six weeks when he wasn't even charged with a crime?"

You know what's a better question?

How do the stars not get charged with crimes when there appears to be solid proof of men beating up women?

Cowboys fans are in an uproar, nonetheless.

There goes their season!!!

Come on, people!

Do you need to wait until he chops of his girl's head and the waiter who brings her sunglasses?

The royal treatment of these guys is sickening.

Suspend him!

Throw him out of the sport!

Put him in a cell...

...if he did it.

Just don't defend him because he can run with a ball.

Melky and Paris can run with a ball.


Friday, August 11, 2017

Bruce On Broadway

Bruce is going to play a bunch of shows on Broadway.

The shows are in October and November and the tickets go on sale on August 30th.

Here's the rub.

There are only 952 seats for each show.

Only about 38,000 tickets for all the shows.

On August 29th I will find out if I'm in the lottery to possibly get two tickets (which is the max).

"I wanna' go," Kathy said.

"Get me two tickets," my brothers each said.

"I will be there!" Carrie said.

A few things:

1). Bruce once shut down the phone system on the Eastern seaboard when his tickets went on sale.

2). I was once in a lottery to get tickets for a Bruce show in California. Didn't win. My brother, Jim, who was flat broke at the time talked me into driving to the venue to scalp tickets. I brought my entire paycheck, believing we would pay at least 5 times the price for each ticket, and we ran into a honest guy. He sold us two for a total of $20 over the purchase price.

"I could've got more," he said, "but I hope you guys enjoy the show."

We did.

3). Back in '96 Bruce did a solo tour for his awesome 'Ghost of Tom Joad' record. There was no introduction. He carried his own stool out and said, "Hi, I'm Bruce."

And then he performed a freak show for three hours, playing the guitar, harmonica, the drums with his feet, talking and laughing.

I can't rub my stomach and tap my head at the same time and he played 25 songs by himself. My favorite part was at one point when he was mid-song:

"Come on, band!" He said, and then went off on each instrument.

So.

Wish me luck.

I really want to go!

When Bruce announced that the band would be off for 2017, I was dismayed.

Now there's a chance!

952 seats.

50,000 people looking to sit in one.

I like my chances!

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Are We Ready?????

The donations are coming in.

I swear, every year, every time someone reaches out, I get a little weepy.

It amazes me.

Yet, I also think of Jeff's days and it makes a lot of sense. He made everyone laugh, almost every time you had the pleasure of running into him.

The thing that was truly special about him was that he was always on. He always cared how YOU felt.

Which is why the day is special.

Because everyone shows up to show us how much he meant to them, and we mean to them.

What's better than that?

Well, I've lived a lot of days now, and the answer is...

...not much.

Mom will be thrilled seeing everyone and knowing that they're there to celebrate.

And my boys are talking smack now.

I only went to the plate a couple of times last year.

Not sure I'll even do one AB this year...

...but it doesn't matter.

And it's been a special year too.

Johnny has been involved in my family all year with trips here and Sam heading there and about a million face-time conversations in between.

The other morning I awoke to see that Johnny had texted me:

"Which song is this from, Bruce fan?" He asked.

He had sent it at 2:45 a.m.

The lyric was:

"There's a pillar in the temple where I carved your name."

It was early, but it took me less than 5 seconds to come up with tha name of the song:

"What Love Can Do," I texted back.

And the hook of the song is:

"Let me show you what love can do."

Every year, our family and friends show me.

I texted the answer to Johnny.

"That was the song that came out the day my Dad got sick," he said.

I know.

Thank you to all.

Showing us what love can do.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Fire & Fury

The little twerp in North Korea supposedly has nuclear weapons.

Isn't that lovely?

We are now faced with a situation that may rival the Cuban Missile Crisis. There's no doubt that Kim Jong would hurt us if he could.

So, what is most likely required is level-headed leadership.

Confident?

The potential crisis was met with a tweet.

Promising fire and fury of which the world has never seen.

Sounds promising.

I'm sure that Trump versus Kim Jong will go well.

These are nuclear weapons that are being bandied about here.

Utter destruction.

Millions of casualties.

I missed most of the news during the day on Tuesday. I was visiting jobs and listening to non-political stuff. The six crisis' every day has gotten tiresome. The daily rants against everyone and anyone...

...have grown boring.

"Trump blowing up the world today?" My son asked me when I came in the door.

"No idea. What's going on now?"

"Nuclear war," Jake said. "Can I use the car to play hoops?"

And that instantly made me think of an old Roger Waters record where there are just five minutes left before the world is blown to smithereens. The guy on the radio says, "Four minutes left, and then announces that the Dodgers game is tied at 2 in the 7th inning.

That's about it.

What the hell are we supposed to do?

Two...umm...leaders...want to get into a pissing match with nuclear weapons...

...what the hell are we supposed to do?

During the election there was a news story where Trump wondered why we have nuclear weapons and not use them.

Seemed harmless enough at the time.

Jake headed out to play ball.

I read a little about the coming battle...

...then turned my attention to the Yankees game.

Hope they can get the whole game in...

...before the fire and fury starts.

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

The big D

There was a moment at the North Collins Class Reunion.

An older woman came up to me and said:

"When is the next book coming out?"

I kinda' shrugged.

"Pretty soon. It's done, but been a little lazy about getting it through the process."

"Well, let me tell you, I loved, loved, loved Dogs On Main Street. You made me laugh and even cry. Loved it! So, hurry up! I'd like to read your next one before I die."

How's that for pressure?

I went through things...I had a grand idea of putting two books out at once.

Well, instead of doing double the work to get the art work and layout and editing done...

...I decided to go one at a time!

And The big D was the decision.

So, here we go!

The other thing about making such a decision on August 7th...

...7 years since Dad left.

Hard to get into a good mood on such a day, but the book was on my mind because in a lot of ways it was my answer to some of the things that were hammering at me about death.

I have been chasing that argument around for the better part of 30 years.

So!

Why not August 7th for the announcement?

I don't have the hard date for you yet...

...but shortly!

I will let you know for sure!



Monday, August 7, 2017

Colin Can't Find A Job

Colin Kaepernick appears to be being blackballed by the NFL.

We all know why.

He had the audacity to kneel during the national anthem in a form of protest.

I don't feel like debating that issue, thought he was short-sighted for doing it, but I respect that he had the right to use his voice.

Ray Lewis was the face of the league for years. He took a plea in a double murder. He paid off the victim's families.

He spoke out against Kaepernick.

Michael Vick murdered dogs.

He thinks Colin should be out of the league because he is wrong.

Michael Vick shouldn't be the voice of reason.

There are hundreds of examples of men who abused women.

Most of them are still employed in the league.

Drugs?

Dear Lord, there's a convicted felon on almost every team!!

And the league is silent.

Kaepernick very well may be being blackballed. He was a rising star. Almost won the Super Bowl the very year that Ray Lewis retired and was being hailed as a warrior.

I'm not a fan of the league.

They're killing their players and they know it.

The game has slipped...

...most of their games are unwatchable.

They're silent on Karpernick's unemployment as much as they were silent during his stance.

He was drawing attention to the game.

They like any attention...

...no matter who gets hurt.

And here's the rub.

People are more upset with Kaepernick than any of the murderers, rapists of wife-beaters.

His protest was the worst sin of all, in the minds of many.

The fans don't want him on their team.

Case closed.

And that's absolutely ridiculous.

Kaepernick isn't the greatest player...

...if he was, someone would sign him.

Rather, he's a marginal talent who might cause a frenzy...

...much like Tim Tebow, I guess.

So.

Felons, double-murderers, drug addicts, wife-beaters, and damaged brains five ears after your done playing is fine.

Social activists...are not!

Got it.

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Leaks

"You wanna' hear something crazy?"

Whenever someone asks you that, you always answer this way.

"Yes!"

"But you can't tell anyone!"

"No! I won't tell anyone!"

Then the secret gets spilled...

...and you can't wait to tell someone else.

I'm not much into secrets. I will often listen, but I'm pretty good at locking things down.

Seems we're having a lot of problems regarding leaks inside the current government. These are people that were hired as per of the administration, leaking to the press.

At first, it was thought that the leakers were part of the past administration, but everyone was cleared out.

And the stories just kept coming...

...leaked to the press under the guise "you gotta' keep my name out of it."

All rather entertaining. Every president has had to deal with it, but now, here's the tricky part.

The department of justice is now threatening to jail the reporters who use the anonymous sources.

The fake news is a big problem.

Writing stories based on gossip, while protecting the source...

...that's journalism!

What's worrisome, of course, is that we have the right to know what is happening. We can't have a government operation in their own best interests or threatening jail to keep their agenda quiet.

The free press must continue!

And the leaking is a natural consequence.

People gossip.

People don't keep secrets!

And the reporters make their bones by getting the stories out there.

They need to be accurate, of course, but here's the rub...

...you want to control leaks?

Be a better leader!

Be someone that people want to help rather than take down.

Management 101.

"Keep the people who love you away from the people who hate you," Billy Martin once said.

And the leaks will stop.

Saturday, August 5, 2017

I Don't Want it to End

A few weeks back I wrote a blog about being the lead actor in all the plays that we read in English class.

Well, on Friday night I spent a long while talking to the girl who played Juliet to my Romeo all those years ago.

And man, we all laughed so much at a decent showing of the reunion for the North Collins Class of 1982!

And all other North Collins classes were represented too, so it was a night when you just turned, and talked, and laughed.

I mentioned a number of times that it was really messing with my mind, because there were photos of all of us at 17-years old.

"Damn! I was good-looking!!" I said (about 100 times) "Why didn't girls want to hook up with me?"

My theory was that I was just too nice.

"You were kinda' dorky," Juliet mentioned.

Yet, what really messed with me is the real feelings of love that are in your heart that you kind of bury away and forget about.

I loved those people in that room.

Really did.

And the drama of it all rushes back and we tell ourselves the stories we need to tell to get us through. Some people suffer with the past...

..it's always close behind.

And since then I've met a lot of people and found a lot more love in my life...

...but love in your heart, even from 35 years ago...a lifetime ago...never really escapes you.

Which is awesome.

"I don't want it to end," Juliet said as we all began to say our goodbyes.

We've all been through so much.

Weddings, births, funerals, divorces...

peaks and valleys that living offers.

Life events that would've made the children in those old photos blush.

It doesn't end.

Even though the more grey, bigger (except for the girls in our class - they aren't bigger), more wrinkled, weather-beaten people, walked out the door at the end of the night...

...the love that was in the hearts of those kids...

...remains.

I love so many of the people who were in that room last night...

...lifelong friends.

Partners in English class, prom dates, romantic interests.

Loved my time in high school.

"It made us who we are," I said, at one point, "but damn! The chicks should've dug me!"

Thanks, Juliet...and all my treasured friends.

It doesn't end.

Three-Legged Dog

I'm honestly at a loss as to what to do.

It's been confounding, actually.

Let's try and figure it out together, huh?

Years ago I had hip surgery. When I came out of the surgery effects I called the surgeon's office and said:

"My hip feels okay, but did you break my foot?"

The surgeon explained that sometimes there is foot pain. Sammy Watkins, the Bills receiver had hip surgery as well...

...he missed time with foot problems.

Okay, some nerve things, perhaps...it'll come back.

I've been limping badly the last two weeks.

My foot has continued to feel like an absolute brick at the end of my leg.

Routine things:

Massages, trying to rest after work, on weekends, ice, heat, foot baths, anti-inflammatory...

...hell, my beautiful wife even rolled a ball on the bottom of my foot and rubbed my damn toes.

I was like the cartoon cat who ends up on the ceiling.

And it's summer.

Busy time.

"My phone rang every ten minutes," I said, as my phone rang at 6 p.m.

I have been considering which doctor to see for relief.

Been through them all.

"It's inflamed," they tell me. "Combination of hip, back, arthritis, gout. Stay off it if you can."

And here's the thing.

I drag it and mostly forget about it until the day is done.

"Sam! Get me ice!!"

As Kathy was rubbing my foot I felt resigned to it.

"You know what's the worst part?" I asked her.

"What's that?"

"I want to golf so badly that I passed a course yesterday and nearly broke into tears."

She laughed.

Listen, I know how life works.

People are really suffering.

A lot of people work chemo into their daily routines and try and fight back, but it gets really tiresome.

It's summer!!!

"Hey gimp," I hear seventy times a day.

"Here's the three-legged dog!"

Ah hell!

Time to get up.

Friday, August 4, 2017

What's the End Game?

I distinctly recall the night when Richard Nixon resigned the presidency.

I was 9 years old and was sitting in the back seat of the car. The news came across the radio waves. Nixon was actually the one who broke the news.

"What happens now?" I asked.

"Who knows?" My father said.

I recall feeling a little scared.

How would we go on without a president?

43 years later, with the news that Mueller is looking to get another grand jury convened, I started thinking about the end game.

What might happen?

Of course, we're still hearing that it's a nothingburger, or witch hunt or 'there's no there, there.'

But, I was certainly of the opinion that if Mueller went through things related to Trump's business...

...well, all bets might be off.

That appears to be where it's headed.

The tax returns never showed up for a reason, and it'll all come out in the wash.

Mueller won't be fired. He will have his say.

And then what?

I don't know why I'd be anxious about it. There's nothing any of us can really do to change things. But it will be very interesting.

Scenario 1:

Trump is exonerated. There was no collusion. All the Russia talk was just a result of a bunch of innocent first-time politicians who were duped.

Trump goes on to be wildly successful and makes America great.

Scenario 2:

All the smoke is 🔥

They're all guilty. The GOP is complicit and the collusion is proven beyond a shadow of a doubt. Everyone is indicted.

That's where I return to being the 9-year-old in the back of the car.

"What happens now?"

Who knows?

Scenario 3:

Somewhere in the middle, but Trump has had enough. He cuts a deal that allows him to avoid the full wrath of the investigation, and quits.

The GOP rallies around Pence, and the talking heads on each side go back to arguing over everything while simply trying to get re-elected.

Or business as usual.

The Dow, which set a record on Tuesday, did a nose dive on Wednesday.

The world is uncertain.

We're all left to wonder...

...like clueless 9-year old boys.

Saddest part?

When I woke up to the news on November 9th, I kind of figured we'd arrive here somehow.

Just didn't think it would only be 6 months in.

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Can You Believe It's August?

It seems like every time we start a new month someone mentions how it's hard to believe that we've arrived.

"Can you believe it's August?" One of the guys said on the job site.

"Well, July has 31 days and yesterday was the 31st so August arriving didn't actually shock me because I've known, since I was about three, that August follows July."

"A**h*le," he said. "Time seems to go faster is all I'm saying."

"Actually," I said. "Each day is basically the same amount of time as the day before. The months are always in the same order and so are the days of the week. I can't believe it's Wednesday! It was just Tuesday, like a matter of hours ago."

Yet, I knew what he was saying, of course.

I remember being a kid and thinking that the school year was eternal.

And Christmas!

Forget about it!!

It seemed like we were in a time warp as we hit December. Santa actually took forever to get there.

And maybe that's why time seems to fly by as we become adults. As kids we were waiting for things:

The end of the school year.

Prom.

Christmas.

The next Bruce concert.

And as we waited we thought:

 "Damn! Time is going so slow!"

Now it's:

"Ah, crap. Christmas is coming. We gotta' get some money together."

And things are rushed now.

There is Halloween candy out in a store already.

Three month window for a second rate holiday?

"Hey," I called out to the guy as he was walking away. "September is next!"

"And it'll be here in a couple of days," he said.

He gave me the finger.

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Bartman Gets A Ring

I was watching the Bartman game.

I actually wish he would've kept his hands to himself so Alou would've made that catch because it would've been Cubs-Yankees in that World Series and the Yankees would've won.

Instead they lost to the damn Marlins...a team that may have only hit a half-dozen balls out of the infield.

I hated that World Series.

I also hate that Bartman was vilified. The Cubs gave up 8 runs that inning!

That was Bartman's fault????

Not the guy who walked four guys?

Not the 2nd baseman who booted a double play grounder?

The Cubs lost because the Marlins were better.

Same reason the Yankees lost.

But back to Bartman.

What a great name for such an event.

Regardless, people wanted to kill him!!

For reaching for a foul ball.

I got a foul ball at a major league game. It bounced off Kathy's hand and I dove two rows to get it...back when I could actually move!

It was exciting...

...and Blue Jays fans punished me for getting it.

I got pinched, punched and kicked...

...for a foul ball hit by Blue Jays legend, Dave Berg, in a meaningless game.

How was Bartman not going for it???

I think the Cubs did a nice thing.

Why not?

Now let him throw out a first pitch at a game...let the guy back into Wrigley...

...gotta suck to not be able to see your favorite team for 13 years because everyone wants to kill you.

Enjoy the ring.

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

What People Do

Was on a job in Smithfield, Rhode Island.

I turned a corner and saw a Lull in the air. There wasn't anyone in the seat and the load was suspended.

Easy OSHA violation.

So, I rounded the corner to see who was guilty when I saw the suspended load...two guys...

...standing on a pallet.

Twenty-two feet in the air.

"Oh God."

"Yo," I yelled.

I had to yell because the guy was operating a masonry saw, cutting the concrete.

No glasses, no hardhat, 22' in the air, no fall protection, Lull violation.

"What's the problem?" The bigger of the two guys asked.

"You're breaking about 8 rules," I said.

He bent down.

"I've been doing this for 47 years," he said, "but enlighten me."

Not a great start.

I read off the list of violations.

Let him know that if he was involved in an OSHA inspection the fines would be roughly $50,000.

"Ahh, p**sy shit!" He yelled.

I had the hammer.

"Regardless, get down," I said.

He swore under his breath. I pointed to a scaffold that he could use as a more stable platform.

"For your information," he said. "I don't have to wear a hard hat."

"Really? Why's that?"

"I have a medical exemption. I broke my neck and the doctor cleared me to work without one."

Sounded like bullshit, but I asked.

"How'd you break your neck?"

"In a fall," he said.

I laughed.

"Something funny?" He asked.

"You don't see the irony?"

"I'm more careful now," he said.

"Okay," I said. "This is how it's going to go. When you're on this job you have to follow the rules. You can re-break your neck on the next one."

He gave me a two word answer.

Second word "you."

First word wasn't "thank".

Why?

Do people behave as they do?

Dilly Dilly

If the wintry blast of this weekend is any indication, I’m going to be watching a lot of television. I don’t want to drive on snowy roads ...