Tree Lighting 1979

Tonight the tree in Rockefeller Center will be lit in a 90-minute ordeal.


There was a time, however, that the tree was lit shortly after five pm so that people could stop off on their way home.


I used to be one of those people when I worked in Manhattan, but in 1979, I was teaching at St. Vito School in Mamaroneck and living in New Rochelle.


So, it took a little more effort to witness the tree lighting.


Eileen and I were planning to go, and I coaxed a friend of mine, Deacon Bob, who was the Deacon at St. Vito’s. So, we all set out on a train from the Larchmont Metro North Station heading to Grand Central.


We arrived a few minutes before five PM, and Rockefeller Center was jammed with eager witnesses hoping to see the spectacular tree. At one point, I had my right foot on the curb while my left foot was floating next to it with no visible means of support.


There was a young woman with a child in a stroller, and I wondered if this was a safe place for her to be.


Bob, Eileen, and I were no more than three feet apart from one another as the countdown began.
We kidded afterward, wondering if we actually saw the moment when the tree went from dark to lit.


We stood there for five minutes before we started to leave.


It was an hour before we all got together in the same place.


The crowd was like a river with its powerful current that you had no alternative but to ride it out.


Uptown, Downton, Eastside, Westside, we were pushed and prodded in all directions.


I thought of the young woman and her child in the stroller, but I never saw them after that first time.


It was kind of scary, but we were young and had a good laugh as we made our way to the train and back to Larchmont.


Later that evening, Eileen and I watched the news.


The lead story was a horrendous account of how twelve people were crushed to death at a Who concert in Cincinnati.


Having experienced the pushing and shoving at the tree lighting and being totally out of control, I vowed never to put myself in that type of situation again.


There wasn’t a mass shooting or terrible fire, just eager fans trying to get the best seat for the concert.


I never saw the tree lighting in person after that night.


The fact that it is a ninety-minute extravaganza has as much to my missing the lighting as anything.


Still, I can still feel the angst of not knowing where Eileen was for that hour.

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It Doesn’t Take Much

My mother would always remind me not to let little things bother me. Of course, at the time, I was too young to understand the wisdom of those words as I would protest I was trying to rid myself of those “little things,” thereby getting rid of them so that they would bother me no more.


The fact is that many of us share my propensity to react to little upsetting things with the explosive fervor worthy of penitents seeking forgiveness. However, we aim to impose penance rather than forgiveness on the source of our anger.


After all, people are the root of our grief and anger.


It doesn’t take much to upset us.


It could be a comment, an opposing point of view, or a Yankee striking out at a critical time.
It doesn’t take much.


But we are compelled to remember that, It doesn’t take much.


It doesn’t take much to set off a wave of joy and happiness in our hearts and mind.


Perhaps it’s a little boy who imitates the face you make and makes it on cue when his mother says, “Make Pop’s face”?


It could be the look of frustration that a little boy has when you are not quick enough to skip ads on YouTube that makes you laugh out loud.


More likely, it’s the texts and selfies he sends to me when he grabs his mother’s phone after a FaceTime call.


It doesn’t take much.


Whatever caused me grief in the past has long since been forgotten.


It may appear that it doesn’t take much, but in reality, a transformation occurs whenever that little boy walks into a room or appears on my phone.

It Doesn’t Take Much but it is a miracle all the same.


It’s very much indeed and such a nice thing to think about on a Monday morning.


Have fun, everybody.

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Holiday Traditions

The very notion of a Holiday is the first step in creating a Holiday Tradition.


All of our holidays inspire special celebrations. Memorial Day has always been the official start of summer. Out in the Hamptons, we got our new beach pass, and although it might be chilly, we ventured down to the surf, if for only a few minutes.


July Fourth was the real beginning of summer, and hot dogs and fireworks helped us celebrate America.
Even Labor Day provided a tradition or two. Just as on Memorial Day, we made our way to the beach, so too on Labor Day. Except Labor Day served as the official end of summer. We celebrated at 5 PM on Ponquogue Beach by giving the lifeguards a rousing standing ovation as the last whistle indicated that they were going home for good. See you next year.


But two holidays, in particular, have given us the most traditions.


Tomorrow is Thanksgiving, and you and your family will do what you have done for years and years. A turkey in the oven, stuffing that tastes like your mother just made it, and a nice wedge of pumpkin pie with a healthy helping of whipped cream to put an exclamation point on the Thanksgiving feast.


Of course, food is not the only tradition of the day.


Thanksgiving started with the Macy’s Parade when I was a kid and switched to the Laurel and Hardy movie, The March Of The Wooden Soldiers.


It always seemed that the Packers were playing the Lions which we watched a bit. But for my brother Michael and I, Thanksgiving represented the start of the train season. The Lionel Train season.
We would start looking at the new Lionel catalog, and the day after Thanksgiving, we got to work on creating our layout.


The only thing Black about this Black Friday was the steam engine that would soon be chugging around the loop of track affixed to our sheet of plywood.


The month between Thanksgiving and Christmas was the longest month of the year. Nevertheless, Christmas Holiday Traditions would commence soon after the stuffing was gone.


Listening to Bing Crosby and the Andrews Sisters, Johnny Mathis, and Nat King Cole was always a surefire way to get you into the holiday spirit.


Making our Santa Claus wish list ( which always made my Father laugh) helped our imagineering skills prepare us for a life of disappointment.


Finally, it was time to decorate the tree.


I have previously described what happened to the last real tree we had at 1261 Leland Avenue, so I won’t bore you again. But in 1966, my mother and I decided it might be time to look for a new artificial tree.


My brother Michael and his wife Margaret were newly married and also needed a tree.
I wonder if we had supply chain issues (not sure if there were even such things as supply chains), but there was not an artificial tree to be had in the Bronx that year. Perhaps there was a shortage of green pipe cleaners?


We looked in every possible store that might have trees to sell. We even looked in the Park Florist on Metropolitan Avenue in Parkchester.


We eventually gave up.


I forget where Michael and Margaret finally got a tree, but I reported to my mother that we were out of luck.


So, she and I got to work and decorated the tree we were so quick to toss out the window.
The result was that we had the best tree we had ever had. Perfect in shape, lighting, ornament placement, and just the right amount of tinsel.


The Ghosts of Christmas Past has so many glorious tales to tell if we can only take the time to remember.


Happy Thanksgiving, everyone! I’ll be back before Christmas.

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59

About this time fifty-nine years ago. I may have been daydreaming about the approaching Thanksgiving Holiday. More likely, I was daydreaming about a girl. In any event, I wasn’t paying attention to Sister Margaret. Although I always loved her stories about her time in the Bahamas, today was Friday, and the three o’clock bell was more interesting to ponder.

But dismissal was a long way away, and even lunchtime was far in the future. Well, when you’re thirteen, you have a distorted sense of time.

We had Math, then History, and eventually English, and all of a sudden, it was lunchtime. We prayed the Angelus, and then, those of us like me who avoided cafeteria food made our way home for a nice PBJ sandwich. Of course, in 1963, we didn’t refer to it as PBJ but as peanut butter and jelly.

It was Friday which meant bologna was off the menu in Catholic homes.

After lunch, I met Freddy, Mike, John, and Lou at Hoch’s corner candy store, and we made our way back to Blessed Sacrament.

That served as the last few moments of our normal life.

The America that we lived in would end in just a few short hours, but no one saw it coming.

The first announcement came around 2 PM.

“The President had been injured” was all that Sister Irene Mary, our Principal, said.

My classmates and I were perplexed and wondered why that announcement was so important as to interrupt our reading of our Catholic Messenger.

A few minutes later, our confusion was replaced by bewilderment.

“The President has died in Dallas.”

Assassinated?

We read about that in our History textbook, not the New York Daily News!

I am not sure any of us ever fully recovered from the shock of those few moments on a previously joyous Friday afternoon.

I know America has never recovered.

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Life After Your Second Hurricane

Ok, UNCLE!

When I finally retired and moved to Florida, I thought I would be entering the Magical Phase of my life.

Disney and Yankee Spring Training lured me south to the Sunshine State. Who knew it was also the Cat 4 State?

This past week we had another hurricane hit Florida. It was only a Cat 1, so no biggie? Wrong, it was a big biggie for those on the east coast of Florida. And, by the way, it occurred later in the year than any other hurricane that made landfall, but I wouldn’t worry about that climate change thing.

The only wave we were supposed to fear this week was that red wave sweeping through the country. Fortunately, for the remaining 49, Florida was the only state to be hit by the wave, and that’s mainly because God handpicked our governor to do His work.

But I wonder if that is really the case, as Ron’s Realm was struck by the hand of God twice in a very short time, right before the election.

A few weeks ago, I asked, “What Are You Going To Do? Where Are You Going To Go?”

Now, more urgently than before, where can I seek shelter from the storm?

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Surviving America

I feel more angst about this Election Day than any in recent memory. Even the Election of 2020 was not nearly as disturbing as 2022 is threatening to be.

The hatred and vitriol exhibited by both sides are nothing new, but after 2020 armed resistance and extremist violence are a real possibility.

We’ve seen it before

Even though there are those, who deny the occurrence of the attack on the Capitol building just as they doubt the legitimacy of the election, many of us will go to the polls to vote as if it will matter.

For me, there will be no peace coming out of this election. It will either be denied and result in more lies and, perhaps, more violence, or we will have a bloodless coup as democratic institutions fall under attack as Congress changes hands.

Regardless of what party wins, I will continue to have faith.

I surprise myself by writing that, but we are a nation of survivors.

You only have to look at the recent past (historically speaking) of our nation to understand this.

We only have to consider the following: The Great Depression; World War II; McCarthyism; the Cold War including the Cuban Missile Crisis; the assassination of President Kennedy; Viet Nam and the ensuing divisiveness it inspired; the assassination of Martin Luther King; the assassination of Bobby Kennedy; Watergate; September 11th; and the last six years of political mayhem.

America survived it all, and we will continue to survive whatever Tuesday, November 8th may deliver.

Pray God that I am right.

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The Last Freakin Friday Of October

It’s 86 degrees (feels like 91) here in Bradenton, so if it was New York, it could be the last day of July. There’s just something unnatural about having the AC on as we approach Halloween.

Nevertheless, there is a hint of Autumn’s chill in the air even here in Bradenton. We’ve already had a few days that we didn’t climb out of the sixties, but lately, it’s been back to the mid to high eighties.

I’ve learned that the sun and heat do nothing to stifle the early arrival of Christmas.

Christmas is quite evident when you go to the mall and enter the few department stores that haven’t been put out of business by Amazon. I have yet to hear Christmas music, but I haven’t been to the mall often.

Eileen and I did visit a big Christmas shop in Sarasota, and there was a line at the register on a Monday morning. I guess the people down here haven’t gotten the word that the economy is struggling. They mustn’t watch TV because every republican candidate likes to remind us that we are suffering and that the election was stolen.

It’s funny how they all seem to forget about 2000.

It was reported that home heating oil was costing more than five dollars a gallon. That is one good thing about living in Florida, but the price of oil and natural gas will affect what we pay for electricity and gas for our stove, clothes dryer, and bbq grill.

Big oil gets you no matter where you live.

But, I’ve drifted away from the last Friday of October.

There was a time when I went to Catholic grammar school and high school that a big thing was made of First Fridays.

In grammar school, we were always expected to go to mass, and we were rewarded for our faithful adherence by a late start to our school day. The notion was that we could receive the Eucharist and then go home for breakfast. You see, in those days, you couldn’t eat anything for at least three hours before you received it. So, the late opening was our payback for receiving.

Whether it was the last Friday of October or the First Friday of November, we were all into the fall.

It was football weather. The temperature was cold enough to warrant a heavy sweater or warm jacket.There was a smell that defined the season. Maybe it was the leaves decaying at our feet as we played football on Theriot Avenue.

Even as an adult living on Long Island, I loved this time of year, raking leaves and all.

It was also a great time for holidays.

There was Columbus Day. Then on October 31st, we had Halloween, which was not a day-off holiday but going to Catholic School, we got the day after, November 1st, off for All Saints Day. Then there was Election Day and then Armistice Day or Veterans Day as it was called in 1954.

The big holidays, however,  were in the bullpen, ready to start the festivities.
Thanksgiving (Can’t you still smell the turkey cooking in your mother’s kitchen?) ushered in the Christmas season. We didn’t call the day after Thanksgiving Black Friday back then, but it was a special day, notwithstanding.

You see, if you had a set of Lionel or American Flyer trains, this was the day you began to get them out of the box and begin to construct your layout. I still get goosebumps.

It’s good to remember these things. Sometimes we may forget how grand life was and continues to be. One thing I am sure of is that our parents were right. Television should be taken in small doses because I find myself getting more frustrated than entertained after a heavy  TV day.

I’m not just saying that because the Yankees were swept in the ALCS.
Happy Friday, this last Friday of October, and know that the First Friday of November is just around the corner.

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To Coin A Phrase?

I was driving home from the dentist, trying not to dribble on myself when I came to a red light.

I looked down at the center console and a bunch of coins in one of the cup holders.
There were quarters, dimes, nickels, and even a few pennies (bless their heart).


Back in the day, I would have been able to buy a cup of coffee with the change in that cup holder, but now, those coins are so much refuse, not worthy of jingling in my pocket.


I hardly ever have paper money in my wallet these days. The debit card has replaced Washington, Lincoln, and Hamilton…rarely had Benjamins in my possession. And coins? Hard metal cash? Sorry, I don’t do heavy metal when it comes to do re mi. The coins in question will probably be relegated to a jar or perhaps my sock draw with my roll of Lincoln Head pennies that I bought on eBay.


Then I thought (It was a long light) of the expression “To coin a phrase.”


Kids growing up today wouldn’t understand the verb “coin,” much less the noun coin.


Banking technology has affected our culture to the extent that it won’t be long if the keeper of Webster’s Dictionary manages to keep the word coin in its publication; no doubt, it will be described as an archaic throwback to the dark ages of the late twentieth century.


What other words or expressions are doomed to the eraser of the dictionary police?


Fax?
Democracy? (Oooh, that was nasty.)


Of course, every generation has words that evolve into and out of usage, so it should be no surprise to us as we opt for plastic and shun the currency of our past.

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Words To Grow By

Words have always mattered to me.

I never bought into that “sticks and stones” thing. A lot of crap that was. Words certainly do hurt you from time to time.

However, it is not about the words that hurt that I wish to write, but rather, the words that inspire and adorn our world with all that is good.

For me, it all started with my mother.

She had several expressions or sayings that she would often regale all of her family who would listen. Of course, we all listened.

Momma always attributed these pithy words to her own mother, Mary Dowd McHugh.

To be sure, I only got to appreciate the inherent wisdom of her words as I got older. Some of them infuriated me when I was a kid.

“Don’t let little things bother you.”

The times when life got the better of me and my frustration with not getting my way often resulted in this advice from my mother.

Don’t let little things bother you.

In all my frustration, I was trying to overcome the cause of frustration which, to me, was trying not to let little things bother me. My problem is I never really understood what my mother meant.

She wasn’t telling me anything about overcoming my particular problem of the day. Instead, she was telling me to forget about this minor issue. She really meant don’t sweat the small stuff. But I was too young to understand…until yesterday, I think.

Then, of course, she would often drift into the classics.

“Too much of anything is good for nothing.”

I think this is a catchier version of “Moderation in all things.”

So, Lizzie McHugh was a Greek and Roman literature student but put her own spin on the adage.

Then, of course, she used the Bard himself to have us scurry into our bedroom when it was time for bed.

“To bed to bed, there’s a knocking at the gate.”

I really thought she made this one up. But then I read Macbeth in high school, and sure enough, it was in Act V.

My mother taught me other things, but these were her classics, so I thought I would share them.

And, of course, others in my life inspired me with their words.

“Oh yeah, I’ll tell you something. I think you’ll understand.”

That still gives me goosebumps, just like it did that first time I heard it in the fall of 1963. Of course, I Want To Hold Your Hand by the Beatles is the sort of this lyric of all lyrics.

It possesses such power as to start a revolution. A revolution inspired by the concept of holding a loved one’s hand. Years before the sexual revolution, it was as erotic as it got. Goosebumps rather than lust was its outcome, and fifty-nine years later, I still have to stop typing and calm myself down.

Transitioning from the time of teenage love and romance to the words of Christ.

Ironically, it was about the same time in 1963 that I began to take the words of Christ to heart.

The Prodigal Son and other of Christ’s parables of forgiveness illustrated that God was not mad at me or disappointed with me. Christ showed the infinite ability to love and forgive. I realized both actions cost me nothing.

It didn’t matter how many people I loved because there was always enough love for one more. Forgiveness? When would you stop forgiving someone? Is it about the same time you would no longer require forgiveness for your transgressions?

I then turned to the Our Father.

“Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive the trespasses of others.?

Mother of Mercy! Do you mean I have to forgive others all the time when they offend me? Yeah, Jimmy, that’s what it means. Otherwise, you will run out of forgiveness sooner rather than later.

There’s no better time to introduce the words of Bob Dylan than right after writing about Christ.

“Blowin In The Wind.”

Perhaps Dylan’s most important song poses nine questions. The answers, however, were not provided, merely suggesting that the answers are Blowin In The Wind.

Go listen to the song or at least read the lyrics.

You will realize that the answer to each and every one of the questions is simply “Too Many.”

JFK inspired us to look for help rather than ask for help.

MLK dared us to dream along with him.

We were a divided nation in 1963 and 1968, and while our hatred may have gone on hiatus for a spell, it was still percolating under the surface.

We seem to be at a loss as to which words can release us from this tailspin in which we find ourselves. I don’t think we really hate each other, but maybe we’re just afraid to grasp that hand of the other in a commitment of friendship, if not full-blown love.

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Bronx 72, New York

Before the US Postal Service put ZIP in our address, I lived at 1261 Leland Avenue, Bronx 72, New York.


That address has changed to Bronx NY, 10472.


It’s just not the same.


Like our area code which abruptly changed from 212 to 718 because of all the damn fax machines in Manhattan, our mailing address became more complicated for no apparent reason.

Of course, you couldn’t complain because of the “Postal” thing, but it really ticked me off.


It was just one more intrusion of modernity into our comfortable Bronx home, and we didn’t have any say in the matter.


The world was simpler when our addresses and phone numbers were consistent with our childhood.

There were so many other adaptations we succumbed to and new challenges that we had to meet; you think the least they could do was leave my damn address and phone number the hell alone?

\

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Duck And Cover

Sunday will be the sixtieth anniversary of the Cuban Missile Crisis.


Beginning on October 16, 1962, and keeping my family on its knees praying the Rosary until October 29, 1962, it’s hard to believe that we are still living in fear of the mad inhabitants of the Kremlin and all their nuclear bombs.


As the modern-day version of Khrushchev, Poutin Pootin unsuccessfully tries to destroy Ukraine, maybe our strategy in 1962 to survive the blast of Soviet nuclear bombs would have prevailed.


Maybe Duck and Cover was a damn good way to face Soviet annihilation? They probably would have failed as miserably in 1962 as in 2022.


I guess the whole Sputnik thing and rushing to successfully put a man in space made it seem that the Soviets had a thing for technology.


Now, not so much.


They can’t even seem to keep their Generals out of harm’s way, much less launch a successful military campaign.


By today’s standards, Duck and Cover was sheer genius

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What Are You Going To Do? Where Are You Going To Go?

I’ve gone through my share of hurricanes.

The earliest one I remember was Donna when I was a kid on Leland Avenue in The Bronx.

I don’t remember any others until Gloria when we first moved to East Quogue.

Then there was Bob.

And Irene, of course.

Sandy was the last one we went through while living on Long Island.

We lived in East Quogue for thirty-three years and experienced four hurricanes.

Not one severely impacted us save the loss of electricity for a week or so.

Given the destructive capacity of hurricanes, this was nothing to lament.

Five years ago, we moved to Florida and were immediately greeted by Irma, bless her heart.

We have heavy metal shutters, which, with the help of my nephew Nick, were installed, and we were safe from harm. Losing electricity, with which we are well experienced, was the worst of it.

We were spared Michael, but the panhandle of Florida was not.

Then along came Ian.

It was first aiming for Tampa, which is forty or so miles to our north, but then he changed his mind and veered off into Fort Myers.

You’ve seen the videos, you’ve read the reports, and it is uncertain still as to the number of fatalities.

It’s terrible to see the destruction of property and the loss of life, knowing you were only a few miles away from enduring the same.

It has me wondering what can we do?

We can eliminate all the carbon in the atmosphere, but I fear it is too late to turn back the geological clock.

So, should I move to higher ground?

Well, where exactly is that?

I left Long Island weary of the annual angst of the hurricane season.

If I leave Florida for the same reason, where do I go?

Give up the sun for the snow?

Blizzards can be just as devastating and deadly.

How about out west?

Arizona and Nevada are popular for retirees.

Oh yeah, no water and wildfires. Not ideal for your leisure years.

I can go back to The Bronx, but flooding and freezing are common phenomena there, too. I really don’t want to be a prisoner in my apartment for the entire winter.

I’ve been thinking about Ireland, but that’s a heck of a trip to see my kids. So, the answer to the questions, What will you do? Where are you going to go? have no good answers as far as I’m concerned.

It’s funny that we may all wind up being immigrants of a new variety…Climate immigrants.

Pray for those suffering the effects of Ian and all disasters, both natural and of human origin.

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Fall-ing For You

The autumnal Equinox will appear in just under three hours if you believe in such things.


This is another myth that has been perpetrated by those who insist on believing things.


For example, some still believe that Neil Armstrong took a giant step for mankind on the moon!


Then some defy flat-world logic and continue to accept that Christopher Columbus proved that the earth is round. As if!


This whole thing about equinoxes is ridiculous.


The only Equinox I believe in is the Chevy Equinox sitting patiently in my driveway waiting for the autumnal Equinox to arrive…yeah, right.


See, the thing is, the autumnal Equinox is supposed to usher in cooler weather when everyone here in Florida continues to wear white even after Labor Day because it is still ninety degrees. OOOOH, BRRR, I’m freezing.


So, go ahead and believe all that nonsense and savor your pumpkin latte.


I prefer to reside in a world where facts are for dreamers.

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I Want To Move To Stuckeyville

This entry might not make much sense if you don’t know about Stuckeyville.


In the early days of the twenty-first century, we were brought to Stuckyeville every Wednesday night on NBC.


For me, it began a perfect evening of television.


From Stuckyville, we were brought to the West Wing, and thereafter HBO gave us a taste of the mob as portrayed in The Sopranos.


Three different shows, but each is a special show in its own right.


You probably know more about the West Wing and the Sopranos than you do Stuckyville.


Stuckyville was a small town, probably in the midwest though it was never clear.
Ed Stevens was the lead character, and his name served as the show’s title.
But ED had several interesting and lovable characters, of which Ed Stevens was only one.


There is Ed’s childhood buddy, Mike, a local doctor. Mike’s wife Nancy, their friend Molly and then the love of Ed’s life, Miss Carol Vessey.


I don’t know how many seasons we waited for Ed and Carol to get together. But they finally did.


Stuckeyville appeared to be the small town that America wishes it still had.


There were no gerrymandered districts or failing infrastructures. The school provided a quality education, and there was no bullying, and of course, there were no social media to incite it. Thankfully, only flip phones existed in 2000.


There were teenagers with angst either because they were in love with the wrong girl and didn’t recognize the perfect mate right before their eyes.


There were heroes and villains, although the villains always appeared to be a love interest of Carol, who was not Ed. They were rightfully hissed whenever they slighted Ed.


It was a fun show that depicted a delightful town, and there don’t seem to be too many fun towns around anymore.


Ed was like a decaffeinated Seinfeld. The humor was there to be enjoyed, but it was soft and more functional than dysfunctional. It was like Cheers because, Stuckeyville, everyone did know your name.


But in the end, it was too good to stay on the airwaves for too long.


It was so nice to visit there even if it was for only one hour a week.

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What Time Is It?

Here we are at the waning days of summer and my biggest concern is time.

(It really isn’t but I’m trying to be entertaining this Saturday morning.)

So, I ask you, what time is it.

As I type it is 10:46 EDT but is it really?

Time is never a constant. It’s probably the one thing that started to divide our nation.

Some states, and even counties within states refuse Daylight Saving Time or is it Standard Time that they reject? Anyway, there is a movement, that I thought proved to be successful, which would do away with the biannual ritual of resetting all our clocks to conform either to daylight savings time or to revert back to standard time.

But, apparently, we are destined to once again fall behind on November 6th.

To be sure it has become a less arduous task as many of our devices automatically make the switch. iPhones, iPads, cable boxes and other devices will all make the task easy for us. Of course, I will have to change the time on our microwave and oven and the big clock that we have high up on a kitchen wall. So, I really shouldn’t be complaining.

But come on, this is a rather simple fix if we could all just agree to fix the time issue once and for all.

Who am I kidding?

There is absolutely nothing that we can agree on but so far no one appears to be willing to riot in support of one position or another.

I think we can agree that this, at least, is progress.

Well, maybe not.

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You Know Where You Were

You know where you were.

You know what you were doing.

You know who you were with.

You know how you felt.

You can’t help but remember.

You may have had one other event that lives in your psyche as real today as when it happened.

Twenty-one years has done nothing to alter your sense of that day.

And that is a very good thing.

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Last Of The Summer Ale

As we approach the last full week of summer, change is already in the air.


It’s been quite an eventful summer in which the world lost a beloved Queen ( I wonder what our so-called beloved Founding Fathers would say to America’s reaction to the death of Queen Elizabeth II?)


Then, of course, America has its own drama unfolding every few minutes on our HD televisions (Again, what would the Founding Fathers say to that?)


But I chose to ignore the drama of the day to dwell on the Last Of The Summer Ale.


The changing of the seasons is as much symbolized by the changing of the food that is available for which we are now ravenous to enjoy as the cooler weather and darker days.


The lure of the barbecue no longer appeals to us as the prospect of fall comfort foods admittedly too dense for our summer palates.

Of course, we can include our choice of beverages in this mix.


Light wines give way to hearty reds. Gin and tonics cannot compete with a whiskey on the rocks. So, too, is our taste regarding beer.


Lager and pilsners no longer intrigue us as much as a malty stout or hoppy IPA.


The summer ale that I so enjoy as early as Memorial Day (previously dubbed the official start of summer), I regrettably savor the coming of a cinnamony pumpkin ale at the expense of my beloved summer ale..


A delicious brew sipping right out of the bottle is even better in a glass rimmed with brown sugar and cinnamon.


Scrumptious.


Tale gating and pumpkin ale!

America’s favorite pastime, well, mine, even if the tale gating occurs in my den while watching the NFL Redzone.


Of course, the ebb of summer ale can only serve as a warning that the demise of the pumpkin ale is nigh.


Before I drain the first bottle of this fall libation, I will be thinking of Christmas and Winter Ales approach.


To think that people once drank the same beer all year long?


Interesting.

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Mamma’s Birthday

My siblings always referred to our Mother as Mamma. My father did, too, when he didn’t call her Bett.

Today Mamma would have been 115 years old.

She has been gone nearly forty years, but I can still hear her laugh and smell her peach pie and rice pudding.

But today, I will remember her 64th birthday.

September 3rd in, 1971, fell on a Friday. It was payday, so the guys from the mail room at Lorillard Corp gravitated to our Blarney Stone of choice for a roast beef sandwich and a cold draft…maybe more than one?


It also happened to be my last day working there as I would be entering my final year at St. John’s the day after Labor Day, which happened to be Monday.


So, the boys celebrated the upcoming three-day weekend and my forthcoming departure with a cherry-flavored Tiparillo. This was ironic because we worked for a tobacco company but elected to smoke another company’s brand.

It was a glorious September day in the City, which is often the case in the waning days of summer. On most Fridays, I took the express bus to The Bronx instead of the IRT. It was my weekly treat and well worth the buck it cost me to ride in air-conditioned splendor.

An overly packed and un-airconditioned subway car was no match to the cool comfort and luxury seating in a spanking new motor coach.

It was my Mother’s birthday, so I had to stop and pick her up something to mark the occasion. I opted for the traditional perfume and powder collection of one Estée Lauder. To be sure, it was my tradition and not necessarily my Mother’s.


When I arrived at 1261, dinner was ready to be served, as was a lovely birthday cake decorated with a politically correct number of candles. Just enough to offer a faint glow in our humble kitchen.

We sang Happy Birthday, but the real celebration would come tomorrow with my siblings and grandchildren to offer their congratulations.
(It’s hard to believe that I ever thought 64 was old!)

Knowing what was in store for tomorrow, I had no qualms about going out for the evening with my friends.

We met at Al’s Wine and Liquors which served as a pseudo clubhouse and a source of our desired beverages.

From there, a few of us decided to go to one of the local clubs along East Tremont Avenue. The Castle Keep was one of my favorites, but on this particular Friday night, the echo that its emptiness offered was deafening. We then moved down the avenue to The Hollow Leg. Previously known as the Bronx Irish Center, I was never a fan of the new rendition and thought seriously about giving up on the evening and going home.

It’s funny how life offers you a flashpoint that may decide your future, and you have no immediate sense that such a momentous decision awaits.

I decided to go in with the rest of the boys because I had already had a few and thought there was no point in going home so early.

Before I knew it, I was standing rather unsteadily by myself, perusing my surroundings.
I must have been quite the sight. Because as I bobbed when I wasn’t weaving, my eyes rested on a sight at the bar.

She was sitting on a bar stool, sipping a drink and smiling, if not fully guffawing, as our eyes met.

Momentous decision 101.

I made my way over to her to see her more closely and learn what was so funny about me.

I was awestruck by her beauty, and where I am usually glib and charming in such situations (I may be exaggerating just a smidge here), I was lost as to what I should say.

“I’ve been admiring you all night.”

It wasn’t Shakespeare, Browning, or even Edgar Allan Poe, but it did the trick.

Because fifty-one years later, Eileen patiently awaits my return to the lanai so that I can clean the glass slider in preparation for our Labor Day party tomorrow.

This tale began on my Mother’s birthday. All of my tales began on my Mother’s birthday.

How nice it would be if she could only read it and smile while saying, “Very nice, Luv.”

Happy Birthday, Mamma.

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Freakin Friday

Well, here we are on the last Friday of Summer. Of course, that’s not exactly true, but it will have to do for a nation that can’t tell the difference between truth and lies.


Labor Day has always been considered the end of the summer, much as Memorial Day is its’ beginning. Neither sentiment is supported by the Julian calendar or the Farmers Almanac, for that matter. But Labor Day unmistakably is the end of summer.


Of course, here in Florida, summer doesn’t end until Christmas Eve and arrives on St Patrick’s Day.


The days in between those sacred holidays are pure joy in Florida. We can wear jeans and socks and sometimes you even have to put the heat on.


One morning last year, I woke up, and the house temperature was 66 degrees! Oh, bliss!


Still, the end of summer awakens memories of past summers and Labor Days of yesteryear.


Traditionally, we would always go to Ponquogue Beach in the Hamptons, Hampton Bays to be precise, and enjoy one more day at the beach with family and friends. Eileen would make The Big Sandwich, and frisbees and footballs, as well as bubbles, would pierce the air under a bright blue sky.

The sky was so blue that it almost hurt your eyes to look at it.


Finally, the ocean water temperature reached a level of comfort, allowing extended boogie boarding for the kids. Unlike me, they were not filled with the angst of another summer coming to an end. They just enjoyed flying through the waves with no thought about the approaching first day of school.


We always did our best to extend the day and soak up the last of the summer rays that would be remembered on those approaching cold and rainy days of November.

We were sure to stay at least until 5 PM because that is when the lifeguards signaled the end of their watch for the year. At that moment, before the shrill of their whistles evaporated in the air, the entire party of beachgoers would stand and applaud their service provided all summer long.


Somehow that last gesture of ours was as much for our benefit as theirs.


Gratitude does have that effect on you.


It’s a bit ironic that a day devoted to labor and those that provide it delights more in the days free of work.


We may think that working is a noble experience that is good for the soul, but the truth is that one day at the beach, hands down, beats any day stuck in front of a computer.


Work, in fact, is the curse of the beach-going class.


Happy Days In Hampton Bays.

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Memories Of Pop

Today, my father would have been 115, just a few years older than Bilbo Baggins, but no less a joyful and inspirational man.


My father lived and worked for his family.

I always considered him a Man Of The Twentieth Century.


He was seven years old when World War I broke out.


He was 22 when the stock market crashed, and the Great Depression began.


He got his job with ConEd in 1930 and was soon going to be laid off. When told of this, he proceeded to the office of a Vice President and told him he couldn’t be laid off. My mother was pregnant with my sister Maureen, their first of five children.

The VP had a heart and called a supervisor and instructed him to put my father on the paint gang.

Pop painted everything in sight. He would paint these huge gas holders (you may remember the Elmhurst gas tanks) higher, hanging on a scaffold.

Pop saw Ruth and Gehrig, DiMaggio, Berra, Ford, and Mickey Mantle.


I even took him to his last game and the last season at the Babe Ruth Yankee Stadium before it was renovated.


I took him to see Joe Willie.

What a life!


But all of that meant nothing compared to the superstars that made up his family: his children, grandchildren, and most of all, our mother, Bett.


It was Mickey (or Mick) and Bett to all their adult friends and neighbors.


Pop loved to laugh and make other people laugh along with him. One Christmas, he put an inverted lampshade on his head, imitating a chef as he carried a huge platter of turkey to the dining table.


When I told him we were moving out to the Hamptons, he was visibly angry. I guess he thought I was abandoning him. He asked me what I would do for a job, and I told him I would commute on the Long Island Rail Road. He responded:


“Don’t think you’ll be staying with me!”


Little did he or I know that a short three years later, I would be doing just that as I started law school in 1986 and lived with him four days a week until I graduated in 1990.


The first night I stayed with him, I put a few sofa cushions on the floor, wrapped a sheet around them, and went to sleep.

When he woke me up the following day, I saw him shake his head.


I came home that night after class, and he told me that he had taken the subway down to Macy’s at Herald Square and bought a $900 sofa bed.

He was 79 years old.


He begged the salesman to expedite the order because “My son is sleeping on the floor.”

It was clear to all of us that my staying with him provided much joy and purpose to Pop. He was proud to help put me through law school.


He taught all his children what it meant to be a parent, and we have all tried to emulate him.


There isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t think about him and my mother.


I only wish he was here to have a slice of strawberry shortcake for his birthday.

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Dog Days Without A Dog

I am listening to Sirius XM as I type this here amid the Dog Days Of August, which gets its notoriety from the astrological world.

We are, in fact, in the dog days, not because it’s hot or the summer is getting long, but because of the rising of the star system Sirius, AKA The Dog Star.


Hot, sultry weather accompanies the arrival of Sirius, so the image of a hot, panting dog creates the imagery we have come to love.


It’s also a reminder that dog days will soon be replaced by snow days…well, not in Florida.


Nevertheless, signs of autumn have arrived in the Sunshine State. In addition to politicians talking smack, Halloween regalia have appeared in department stores. We are a month away from Labor Day, which is a month away from Columbus Day, which is three weeks away from Halloween, yet, it’s not too early to think about Halloween.


Well, I am sorry to object, but it is a wee bit too early to think about Halloween.


But you know we will soon see Pumpkin Latte and all sorts of autumnal beverages, including my favorite, Pumpkin Ale, in our shops and supermarkets.


Time flies after the Fourth of July.


Classic Vinyl Saturday.


As I listen to classic rock on Sirius, I am planning to pull a few of the old vinyls out of the box and spin a few old songs of my own.


I am not much of a fan of current pop music, which doesn’t help the cause at Trivia. Fortunately, our game rarely includes current trends in music.

So, I have selected Led Zeppelin’s first album, Revolver by the Beatles, and A Question Of Balance by the Moody Blues.

It’s not just about the music, of course. No, it’s more about the era it represents and, more importantly, who I was in that era.


I like to think that I am the same person I was fifty years ago, pounds, wrinkles, and a few distorted memories to the contrary.


Anyway, time to get the old music out and the new Halloween candy in.


Enjoy your Saturday, everyone.


Peace and Love are all around us.

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Everything Old Is New Again…If Only

When we were moving to Florida in January 2017, we went on a minimalist purge of our possessions. Of course, it was a temporary phenomenon as we would soon be on a consumer orgy of re-acquiring different versions of what we had so recently discarded.


Now, to be sure. We did throw out quite a bit. I finally gave up holding on to my notebooks and textbooks from law school even though I was planning to re-read them all someday.


But we did re-purpose (I’m using a lot of hyphens today.) much of what we owned.


We gave furniture away as well as tools and Christmas decorations. Housewares too numerous to mention since I forgot what we had and gave away.


But my record albums were the most cherished items I let go of.


I let my children sift through my collection, and they sorted through my items, if not by drawing lots, at least by identifying the classics.


My son Bryan was very interested not only in the vinyl lp experience versus the CD, but he also liked the music contained in my collection.


Beatles, Stones, Byrds, Dylan, CSNY, and a plethora of classic late 60s and early 70s music. All of them classics in their own right.


I often thought that listening today to a Beatles album or Stones from 1968 was something I took for granted. But I then think back to 1968 and ask, would I be listening to music produced in 1914?

Naturally, I have practiced good old-fashioned American consumerism and re-purchased (damn another hyphen) all the music I previously owned on vinyl. The newest versions came from iTunes, which actually replaced a previous iteration on CD.

Nevertheless, the sound of vinyl on an old stereo with bookshelf speakers cannot be compared with listening to music on a Bose player or external speaker. It sounds ok, but there is no separation at all. It was fun hearing John on one speaker being backed up by Paul and George on the other.


Oh well, progress.


Bryan has relocated from Arizona (thanks be to God) to Florida (one) and spent a few weeks with us in Bradenton. He had a fair amount of his possessions, including all the vinyl records I gave him. When he left, he suggested that I buy a record player to play my old music, which I have done.

The first album I played was Blind Faith because it was such a great one, and it was the first I grabbed from my old record holder.


Now, the Victrola I bought could never be mistaken for my Sansui 100 Watt receiver with a BIC turntable hooked up to a couple of Advent speakers, but, Blind Faith sounded pretty damn good.

I then went to eBay to shop for new old vinyl.

They must be laced with gold.

Whereas I used to get three albums at EJ Korvette’s for ten dollars, Dark Side of The Moon was going for $29.

It just goes to show you, Everything Old Costs a Hell of A Lot More Today.

Happy Saturday Everybody!

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I Say…You Say…Or My Night With A Knight

(I wrote the following eleven years ago this weekend. Eileen had just finished radiation therapy and spending Friday and Saturday night with Sir Paul was her coming out party as she liked saying.)

Late one night, a night that would soon change to early one morning, in the middle of November, 1963, I heard a song on my Dick Tracy transistor radio (a story for another time) that would change my life for ever. I heard it once around midnight and I couldn’t go to sleep until I heard it again. The song was I Want To Hold Your Hand by a group from England of all places.

Well, I wasn’t the only one who heard that song as the Beatles came roaring into our lives. You might say they saved our lives. I always thought that their first hit, my all time favorite song that I heard back on that November night in 1963 was exactly what the country needed just a few weeks after I first heard it.

In the Dark Days that followed when we were sucker punched by Lee Harvey Oswald we needed someone to hold our collective hands and the Beatles showed up just in the nick of time. The trouble was not everyone got the Beatles. Some ridiculed their look; others denied their harmony and musical talent. This was when I was introduced to the world that would become the 60’s and while it took a few years for it all to sink in, my worldview was altered forever.

All these emotions presented themselves to me last night as I sat in the upper deck of Yankee Stadium with my family. It was Eileen’s coming out party, as she liked to describe it. There I was, in the Bronx, where 48 years ago I heard I Want To Hold Your Hand back in my bed at 1261 Leland Avenue, waiting for Paul McCartney to take the stage. When he finally did I was overwhelmed. I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. Fortunately I did neither but I must have had a quizzical look on my face because Eileen kept asking me if I was alright.

So Paul or as I like to refer to him Sir Paul, just started singing around 8:30 and didn’t leave till around 11:20. Hello Goodbye; Eleanor Rigby; Jet; and perhaps the shocker of them all, A Day In A Life. I tried to take snippets of all the songs but every time he went to the piano I just knew he was going to sing Hey Jude. But, as luck would have it, that did not come till the end of the show and as I started my video that sick little twirling spiral indicating that my iPhone was shutting down appeared on my screen. Oh well, I’ll get it tonight at my second night with a Knight.

An Anglophile’s Delight

This has been some weekend. It began, as the best weekends often do, on Thursday night. Bryan and I went to see Deathly Hallows Part 2 and it was spectacular. It may not have included all of the back-stories we would have liked but it was terrific all the same. We certainly will be going back for another viewing.

I guess this desire for redundant experiences in English culture was again exhibited the following two nights as we set off to Yankee Stadium, not to see Derek Jeter add to his 3000 hits, but to hear the hits of another icon of Brit lit, Sir Paul, He’s still a Beatle, McCartney. Now some of you may not recognize the producer of self proclaimed silly love songs as nothing more than a rock icon. But Billy Shakespeare himself would have chucked his sonnets for the opportunity to hear Sir Paul sing A Day In A Life and Give Peace A Chance. Nor would you ever hear a Yankee Stadium crowd serenade the Bard as we did Sir Paul, recognizing him in the traditional Yankee Stadium Bleacher Creature Roll Call.

The show Friday evening was so spectacular and was matched by an equally spectacular show on Saturday that it will take several weeks for me to stop thinking about being 13 and listening to the Beatles on our Hi Fi back on Leland Avenue. Of course facing myself in the mirror while shaving should put an end to those time travels but only for a moment. 

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E Pluribus Unum?

There was a time in America when you could really believe in E Pluribus Unum.


Of course, most Americans in the days when I was a kid in The Bronx may not have shared the same experiences in growing up, and most believed in another form of religion than I.

Nevertheless, it was safe to assume that my American counterpart living in Boise was very much like myself.

He most certainly aspired to the American Dream even though he may have defined it differently than I.
I know back then, I didn’t focus on the differences between Americans. I understood there were Protestants and Jews as well as Catholics.


There were Irish, Italians, and Germans, and many of the older Jewish people were Holocaust Victims, but we were all living together on Leland Avenue. We may have gone to different schools and houses of worship, but E Pluribus Unum described us sufficiently as we were all true Americans.


In 1960, I didn’t focus on differences in nationality, religion, or even race. My Catholic school was racially diverse and integrated long before I knew what these words meant.


There were many more Hispanic kids in our class than African Americans, but that was more a function of religion than racism. More Hispanics seemed to be Catholic than African Americans.

Notwithstanding, we did have a significant African American enrolment.


Again, whatever the nationality or color, E Pluribus Unum applied and was understood to be a shared American Experience.


I know nostalgia is a deceitful mistress that pretends that the past was better than the present. Indeed, not everyone shares my experience of E Pluribus Unum. Perhaps for many, it was only a false truth that hid the same hate that divided a nation in 1860 and still permeated Main Street USA even if to a ten-year-old in 1960, America was in a Golden Age.

Have A Happy And Safe Fourth of July America!
E Pluribus Unum is a concept we should all hope to guide us through turbulent times. It applies to all of us, not just those who would use patriotism to divide.

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Memorial Day?

We say that Memorial Day is the unofficial start of summer.

We had already gotten into the summer spirit when I was a kid. Our baseball gloves were well oiled; our baseball bats were taped and ready for swinging for the fences in PS 125, where we played softball.

Sometimes we would sneak in a catch between lunch and returning to class at Blessed Sacrament School. It was always hot by the afternoon regardless of whether the windows were wide opened and the shades fully drawn to permit the modest breezes’ entry.

I remember always being thirsty at these times and staring at the vase on the bookcase next to my seat filled with flowers and water wondering if it would be ok to drink that water. Such was my thirst.

But then our teacher, Sister Margaret sensing our condition, would allow us to get a drink of water from the fountain outside our classroom. Ah, relief at last.

We had the summer spirit and eagerly scratched off the days in our mental calendar, marking our progress to summer vacation. Was there anything better than summer vacation?

Finally, the last day of school arrived, and then summer began.

It didn’t begin on Memorial Day.

It didn’t begin on the Summer Solstice.

It began on the last day of school.

Sadly, the children of Uvalde, Texas, will not experience the joy of the last day of school.

Far too many will never return to school again.

Far too many families will be reminded of their terrible loss every day of their lives, especially every time the last day of school approaches.

I have tried to be non-political on my blog for quite a while. I sought to be entertaining rather than confrontational. But yet another mass murder of our innocents has provoked my silence to be eschewed, and I will write what I feel.

I advise you to quit reading this and delete it from your browser if my attack on the WRONG will offend you.

Ted Cruz, the senator from Texas, is the leader of the WRONG.

His solution to ending school violence is to eliminate doors. And put guns on campus.

As I type, it appears that the guns on campus that this school had apparently waited for others to show before they confronted the assassin. But all the facts have not been learned or revealed.

Back in 2017, on the day after the Parkland massacre of our innocents, I was volunteering at a cancer organization. It was my first day doing so, and I was stuffing envelopes with another senior citizen, a woman.

In the course of completing our task, I merely observed that what happened yesterday in Parkland was a tragedy.

Her reply, I’ll never forget it because it sent shivers up my spine. “I just worry about the Second Amendment.”

The WRONG has been telling us for years that the Second Amendment guarantees that every American has the right to own automatic weapons with no restrictions. So, an 18-year-old can purchase two guns that each are 40 percent more deadly than the rifles carried by our soldiers in Viet Nam.

40 percent more lethal!

I get that the WRONG didn’t like that a black family inhabited the White House.

I know they couldn’t tolerate a woman living there as anything other than First Lady.

I get they don’t support any social programs that bailout individuals over banks and automakers.

But can the WRONG be so wrong about guns?

I guess we know they can.

It’s despicable that a PAC and its donors have that much control over Senators so that they ignore the cries of children and parents. We don’t want to politicize this tragic event, the WRONG proclaims even as they attack others for voicing their pleas for common-sense gun control and show up at the NRA convention three hundred miles away from the blood-stained classrooms of Uvalde.

Memorial Day used to be called Decoration Day and was initiated by several states that encouraged the decorating of cemeteries where our fallen heroes were laid to rest.

It then became Memorial Day, and we now celebrate and remember the sacrifice that our veterans have made for our freedom and way of life.

I don’t think their children should be put in harm’s way to protect the right of gun owners to own their guns.

The Democrats don’t have the stones to demand a ban on all guns. They are willing to compromise on banning some guns or at least restricting their ready availability. Sure, we’ll let you have your weapons of mass destruction, but you will have to submit to a background check.

But the WRONG won’t even accept that.

It’s a bit ironic that only last week, W made a gaff about illegally invading a country. He meant to say Ukraine but said Iraq.

W was looking for Weapons of Mass Destruction in Baghdad when they were in Texas all along.

When will the WRONG get it right?

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Summer Playlist Redux

It rarely isn’t summer in Florida. At least, in terms of New York weather, It rarely isn’t summer in Florida.

With that in mind, it’s not to issue my Summer Playlist 2022.

As indicated in a previous blog entry, this year, I will forego the listing of single songs that have long enkindled in me the thoughts, sounds, and even smells of summer. Instead, I will focus on the albums of my summer youth.

Particularly the late 60s and early 70s, as this was the era when so much great music was readily available, and I had the cash to buy it.

It should come as no surprise that my summer playlist should include a few soundtracks. The late 60s and early 70s provided quite a few seminal films containing exquisite music.

Therefore, the first album on my list is the Soundtrack to 2001 A Space Odyssey.

Containing only snippets of a few examples of classical music, this Soundtrack was an essential component of Stanley Kubrick’s masterpiece.

It was not unusual for a few friends and me to be found in our friend PJ’s basement, huddled around a black and white tv tuned to a station offering no television signal at all. The static we stared into resembled cosmic space and the billions of stars represented by the seemingly millions of flashing white dots. It was interesting to learn later that this static we were so enthralled to stare into was, in fact, actual cosmic noise. Perhaps a hint of the remnants of the Big Bang.

It was 1969, after all.

I always considered the Beatles to be classical musicians in that their music was not constrained by time. It was as relevant this year as it had been five or sixty years ago.

So, on my Summer Playlist, I have included Revolver and Let It Be. Additionally, I listened to Yesterday and Today, an album only issued in America.

Then there is The Byrds.

The first time I heard the opening to their version of Bob Dylan’s Mr. Tamborine Man, I was a fan. In fact, one of the first albums I bought when I finally had a stereo was The Byrds Greatest Hits. I then purchased all the albums in their catalog and still listen to their music today, summertime or not.

But each summer had Notorious Byrd Brothers, Turn Turn Turn, Fifth Dimension, and Younger Than Yesterday stacked on my To Listen To pile, ready for my auditory pleasure.

Blind Faith came out with Blind Faith, a classic album with no follow-up material. Combining Eric Clapton and Stevie Winwood Blind Faith mesmerized me in the summer of 69, but it had you yearning for more. Nevertheless, it is on my list.

But even before Blind Faith, Crosby Stills and Nash issued their first album. So many of us played this album on and on, it’s a wonder we didn’t damage our needle or wear a hole into the vinyl. If this album isn’t on your playlist, I think you have some explaining to do.

CSN and sometimes Y came out with a new album each successive summer, including DejaVu and Four Way Street.

Iron Butterfly gave us In-A-Gadda-Davida. The thing you have to remember was this era provided not only a deluge of music to select but also cheap music to select. It was not unusual to purchase an entire album because you liked one of the songs included.

There was only one song on this album that I ever listened to, In-A-Gadda-Davida. Remember that this song was over 17 minutes long, so I never felt that I hadn’t received good value for my purchase. Besides, it is one of the classic songs of a classic generation.

When I was in high school, I became a fan of the Grass Roots. So, I purchased Golden Grass, a greatest hits album that occupied much of my time in the summer of 69.

New Years Eve 1969 came, and I found myself ensconced in Times Square with my friends PJ and Lou. Gratefully, these were the days that did not require the wearing of adult diapers in order to take part in the festivities.

The only trepidation we had concerned the New York City Metropolitan Transit Authority, whose union members threatened a New Year’s Day strike.

We were able to get home by subway in, all things considered, pretty good shape for a New Years Eve. Waiting for our Pelham Bay connection for ten minutes gave us pause to worry, but worries were put aside as our subway approached the station.

So, 1970 brought in yet another year of fantastic, classical rock and roll music.

Another soundtrack made my list.

That summer, we went to see Easy Rider in the Circle Theatre in The Bronx on Hugh Grant Circle. The storyline was current for the day as it employed two necessary ingredients to hold our attention: anti Establishment behavior and great music.

Never before and probably never since have audiences been enthralled with two drug dealers. I believe it had something to do with hearing Born To Be Wild, Wasn’t Born To Follow, and If Six Were Nine.

If not the lifestyle, the music kept me tuned in (or was I tuned out?) the rest of that summer.

In addition to Easy Rider, the three-record set of Woodstock arrived at Sam Goodies and EJ Korvettes, and those of us, who had missed the event of the century, were at least able to re-live the experience sans the mud and porta-potties.

Neal Young had joined Crosby, Stills, and Nash and first appeared with them at Woodstock. Just around the same time that Woodstock arrived, so too did Deja Vu, the second album issued by CSN and now CSNY.

The Soundtrack of a generation continued.

I also was fond of an older Rolling Stones album. Issued in 1967 as a companion to the Beatles’ Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, the Stones, Their Satanic Majesties Request, offered their own sampling from the psychodelicatessan.

Time never seems to go that fast when you are young and in school. However, my junior year in college, which began in September of 1970, seemed to dispose of me abruptly into the summer of 1971 and the approaching of the end of my formal education.

Fortunately, I had some excellent music to soften the blow.

CSNY gave us a live two-disc album, Four Way Street.

Jethro Tull sprung Aqualung on us in all its midlevel splendor.

I was introduced to Procol Harem’s, A Salty Dog, on the evening we returned from our three-day stay on Hot Dog Beach in the Hamptons. The echo of “Three Days Man” from David Crosby’s admiration of the endurance of the Woodstock attendees still brings back a life-changing weekend.

Rod Steward rasped Every Picture Tells A Story, and, even without knowing her, we all fell in love with Maggie Mae.

Traffic had me listening to John Barleycorn Must die, Cat Stevens gave us Teaser, and The Firecat and Peace Train became one of my anthems.

Then there was Melanie.

Melanie was the Ethel Merman of folk.

She needed no sound system to deliver her lessons and commentary on the day. Candles In The Rain inspired me to see her perform in Central Park.

In those days, Schaeffer Beer sponsored fantastic concerts and ridiculously low prices. For a buck, you could sit in the cheap seats. A buck and a half got you right in front of the stage. If funds were low, you could sit outside the Wollman Rink and hear the concert for free.

When Melanie appeared, a building on the west side would have its top floors lighting arranged to form a big M. Melanie had a great publicist.

And so, the summers of my college years came to an end, but the music continued to mesmerize and delight.

The Moody Blues, Carly Simeon, James Taylor, Don Mclean, and others would continue to inspire and entertain me.

Listening to this music then and now is like reading a great book. Whether the words are sung or read, if they are artfully presented, they brush our souls much as they alter our minds.

It’s always summer in Florida, and it may not be too early where you are to start thinking about your summer playlist.

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Rants Ravings And The Occasional Pithy Observation

Another weekend has come, and so much has happened since I last shared a post…none of which I will write about today.

I continue to hope to amuse rather than hope to persuade.

There are so many persuasive opportunities, fake or true that you don’t need to rely on me.

I have stayed away from Twitter for over two weeks, just as I have avoided Facebook.

I still go on Facebook to check in with family pages from time to time, but I rarely look at anything else. My posts on The Newell Posts are automatically shared on Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr.

I also have a site on Ning that I rarely use, but I may be sending an invitation out to friends and family as a Facebook alternative.

But my active social media days are few and maybe coming to an end. It’s just evolving that way.

Nevertheless, I continue with the blog, if only for myself.

I was looking at Apple Watches today and will probably buy one. The technology is impressive, especially regarding health issues. You can see your blood oxygen level, and cardio information, and if you fall and don’t swipe your watch, a 911 call gets made on your behalf.

When I first started writing this blog nearly ten years ago, such things never were a concern, but here I am nearing 72 in 22 and fifty years out of college, and suddenly, falling is a big deal and something to worry about. And I don’t even drink that much anymore.

So, here I am, a budding septuagenarian, retired, living in Florida, flying back and forth to New York to see our children and grandson, worried about my blood oxygen levels and EKG and falling, and making sure I am taking all my medications at the day and time prescribed by my medical team and enduring all the side effects of each and damn happy about all of it.

So, in the immortal words of Alfred E. Newman, “What Me Worry?”

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Summer Playlist

The trouble with having all your music on your mobile is that you tend to create playlists.

Of course, the technology at our fingertips enables and promotes the freewheeling creation of a collection of songs that we wish to hear. We had to rely on the long-playing record or LP in the past.

An LP required us to listen to, say, side A all the way through, and then we would flip it over and listen to side B. 

There are no sides on a playlist, although you can shuffle the order just to add a little surprise to your listening pleasure.

But in listening to disjointed songs rather than Sides A and B, we sacrifice the one thing our playlists can provide.

Context.

Listening to With A Little Help From My Friends loses some of its power when listened to outside the continuity of the Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band album. A Day In A Life would merely be interesting outside the world view of Sgt. Pepper’s.

Imagine listening to Nights Of White Satin without reference to Days Of Future Passed?

The other thing that playlists and digital music in general also have taken from us is album art.

Their Satanic Majesties Request remains a great album even squeezed by the digitization of its songs, but what good is a picture of this album shrunken to unrecognizability without that little plastic plate that was inserted over the picture on the album that changes the images depending on how you hold the album,

Sadly, this no longer had been included on later distributions of the LP, but I have the original safely ensconced in a frame in my den.

The point is creating playlists, while enjoyable, is like taking your favorite verses from a poem or scenes from a movie and leaving the rest behind. 

So, this summer, I am once again going to create my summer playlist, but it will consist of albums that one day provided my summertime listening pleasure. (I will still listen to my old summer playlist consisting of singles as I never had albums for most of the entries.). 

Some of my selections may actually have been released before the summer in which I savored them, but that happens when you finally have the money to buy an album rather than a 45.

Of course, there will be many that were new releases the particular summer they caught my attention, but I never could be accused of being timely or ahead of the curve when it came to the arts. I did tend to catch up, though.

Here’s hoping you may think about your own summer album playlist.

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Saturday Morning Rant

In the fall of 1971, I took a course at St. John’s entitled Technology and Culture.

I never took a better course, either in grad school or law school.

It was a colloquium, which meant the class members took turns leading the discussion of the readings for that day.

There were a series of scholarly articles and books, both fiction and non-fiction.

Everything we read had to do with technology and the impact it has had on our culture.

Our professor began the class by stating that Americans’ response to technology has been both ambivalent and ambiguous. At the time, I don’t think I was alone in wondering what he meant and whether he was going to tell us.

He never did tell us but left it to us to discover.

One of the first books we read was Understanding Media by Marshall McLuhan.

This was published in 1964 and contained the hook phrase, “The medium is the message.”

Not wishing to explore McLuhan’s theory in total, I only want to point out one concept he popularised. That is the notion of the Global Village.

Basically, the world’s shrinking due to our technology in communications and travel would create a village atmosphere where we would know more about each other, thereby creating a world view for Earth’s inhabitants.

After an exhaustive discussion of this concept and the book in general, our professor summed up the thoughts expressed and asked, “Does it follow that because we can learn more about each other that we’ll actually like each other?”

Ambivalent and ambiguous indeed.

In 1971 (and indeed 1964), there was no internet, no personal computer, and no smartphone. The IBM 360 computer occupied an entire room in our data processing center in Lorrilard Corp, where I worked as a mail clerk.

The notion of a handheld computer was as futuristic a notion as a Dick Tracy wrist radio which later in the early 60s morphed into a wrist TV.

The only technology that was a daily experience for us was television and radio. Of course, there were movies which we frequented less often than these. In terms of the information, we relied on TV and radio news and the newspapers.

Despite political preferences for what newspaper you read, there was little concern with fake news either in print or electronic broadcast.

So, fast forward to the third decade of the twenty-first century ( almost typed “of the Rosary”), and it’s hard to rely on any of our technology.

Between spam emails and phone calls, and even texts, I spend as much time deleting and blocking as I do utilize my phone for its intended purpose.

Ambiguous and ambivalent still/

But of course, there is Wordle!

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When Facebook Was Fun

Before I joined Facebook, I was on Ning.

Like Facebook, I could share stories and pictures with the people I invited to my page; it never took off for me. I still have a Ning presence and sign in about as much as I now sign into Facebook. Which is to say, rarely.

I soon realized that many of my family and friends were already on Facebook, so I joined the club.

It was great. I communicated with family all over the country and even connected with cousins and friends in Ireland, England, and Germany.

When I posted an entry from my blog, I had readers in Asia, Europe, Australia, and Canada. In fact, one of my blogs was titled, They Read Me In Ukraine.

I wasn’t concerned with getting hacked or being sent fake news articles back then.

Facebook was still a friendly environment.

Then hatred and racism led me to limit who and what I allowed on my page.

Eventually, I would just give up, and while I still have a technical presence on Facebook, I rarely visit my page anymore.

The few times I go on Facebook, I visit a couple of family groups that we started a few years ago.

But the truth is I miss it.

Instead of being a benign form of global communication Facebook and the internet itself have become dangerous highways supporting hackers and those who would steal our identity and money. It seems every week a new scam appears on our screens.

When I was at universities that were implementing new information systems, I used to say that this would be known as the dark days of information technology. Back in the late 90s, as we struggled to prepare against Y2K, these cumbersome new systems were a challenge to set up and nearly impossible to retrieve valuable data once they were online.

Now we no longer just worry about the complexity of systems but more so about their vulnerability. They represent a portal not only to legitimate users but to scammers and cheaters, and thieves, not to mention terrorists.

I wish I could just go back to when I was gleefully checking Facebook on my phone twenty or so times a day to see if any of my FB friends were out there. It was an instantaneous and cheap form of global communication.

Facebook did, in fact, create the Global Village envisioned by Marshall McLuhan.

Unfortunately, many creeps were inhabiting our village.

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Living On The Edge In Lakewood Ranch

True Seinfeld fanatics are well familiar with the foibles of the Mohel.

Perhaps eccentricities would be a more accurate description than foibles? In any event, one of my favorite Seinfeld scenes is when Elaine has the temerity to place her wine glass precipitously close to the edge of a coffee table.

This prompts the Mohel to go into a rant about broken glass burrowing deep into the pile of the carpet only to rise up and kill someone months later.

I confess that I possess this same paranoia and frequently lecture any of my family members who dare to test gravity and my patience by placing any object, a glass, a phone an iPad. It doesn’t matter but I react by getting out of my chair (which often isn’t easy and, in truth, may. be more dangerous to me than a misplaced glass.) to rescue the phone, iPad or whatever before it crashes down to Earth.

When things are on the edge, so am I.

Of course, I am often guilty of playing free and loose with phones, iPads and the occasional glass of beer and have even gone over the edge at times. Nothing has crashed down but there have been times when my phone has pierced the seal of the coffee table edge and a portion of it was hanging freely in space with no visible means of support save the remaining part of the phone safely ensconced on the table.

Though no harm occurred to my phone, my psyche was frazzled for a moment and for the rest of the day, I was indeed…

Living On The Edge.

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Saturday Morning Rant

So far, 2022 has not inspired me to write.

So far, 2022 is indistinguishable from 2021, which was, in turn, indistinguishable from 2020.

I am tempted, therefore, to recycle some of my gems from the two preceding years. Ok, so you might say I didn’t really have too many gems worthy of recycling from the recent past.

That never stopped me before.

Throwing caution to the wind, I will try to be original this morning and write something new.

The NFL’s regular season ended last week, though if you are a New York fan, as I am, the season ended shortly after Labor Day.

Today begins Wild Card Weekend, which holds absolutely no interest for me. By now, I am usually so engrossed in counting the days to Pitchers and Catchers reporting to Spring Training. This year offers no such release from the grab of the NFL as millionaires and billionaires are pissing each other off rather than coming to an agreement as to cut the pie and divvy out the slices consisting of billions of fan-paid dollars.

So, I will be watching football today.

I will also be ranting (to myself in the loneliness of my Florida den while my children watch elsewhere.) about how gamblers have infiltrated the NFL (and every professional sport), which, ironically, makes me think that the MLB Players Association is correct. They should get every dollar they can from the money-grubbing owners who profit from the players’ bodies. There’s a word for that that I just can’t call to mind.

And so the rant begins.

I’ve been thinking a lot about the Founding Fathers.

We used to refer to the Constitution as a Bundle Of Compromises.

The most notable (and despicable) was the three-fifths compromise.

You see, the slave states wanted to count the slaves as residents to increase their representation in the House of Representatives. The free states didn’t want to count the slaves towards determining the number of representatives. Therefore, only three-fifths of a state’s slave population was factored into the representation formula.

But there was an even more critical compromise that has screwed us over for years. Small states, or states with a limited population, didn’t want to get dictated to by the bigger states. Therefore, the upper house AKA, the Senate, has equal representation consisting of two Senators from every state.

That is why Kentucky, West Virginia, and other states that have opted to buy into disinformation, anti-intellectualism, anti-Science can muck up the works preventing any serious progress.

Still, compromise is often the only remedy to stagnation.

But we may need help in the form of inspiration from Kentucky’s famous son, Henry Clay, AKA, The Great Compromiser.

Clay showed that compromise was not rocket science and that taking two steps forward and one step back is better than standing still.

Ah well, that was another century and another country.

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Epiphany II

Today is January 6th.

As Catholic kids growing up in the Broxn and attending Blessed Sacrament Catholic School, it was always referred to as the Feast of The Epiphany. It was sometimes called Little Christmas as a recognition of the Three Wisemen bringing gifts to the infant Jesus.

I never understood what that had to do with an Epiphany.

Later, I understood it to mean that on this day Magi or Three Kins recognised the manifestatation of Jesus being God and the Messiah.

The ultimate AHA moment.

We now speak of epiphanies as revelations of another sort.

I had an epiphany when I was finishing my second year in college that I had to read books and attend class. Epiphanies aren’t always timely.

My second epiphany just occurred as I was typing this post.

I was about to write about the insurection of last year and the threat to American Democracy but I deleted everything I wrote.

You don’t need me to remind you what happened.

You don’t need me to suggest a viewpoint that might differ with yours.

I had another AHA moment and simly deleted my polemic as a fruitless endeavor to prove a point.

The point is already there for the viewing so do with it as you will.

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The Long Way Back

We are at the peak of the nostalgia season.

We had our rendezvous with The Ghosts Of Christmas Past and will soon embark on our year-end Auld Lang Syne, reviewing where we’ve been and wondering where the new year will take us.

It’s incredible to think that 2021 is ending much as 2020 began.

Here we were not long before Thanksgiving, thinking that this holiday season would be a joyous return to a more familiar Christmas where our biggest challenge was deciding what to give the kids, what to give your spouse, and how many other gifts will you need.

Even then, when Covid was still in our rearview mirrors, we all knew Amazon was going to make our decisions easier than traipsing through a mall.

But then, all of a sudden, as the night before Christmas drew near, who should appear but another Greek variant to spread fear in lieu of cheer.

Vaccinated and boosted, we, nonetheless, altered our plans as friends and family members developed symptoms and when a positive attitude had to be avoided at all costs.

Oh Holy Night surrendered to Omicron.

This is where I wax nostalgic.

I want to go back.

I want to go back to Christmas 1960.

We didn’t have Amazon, but we did have Macy’s in Parkchester.

We didn’t have a color TV or YouTube, but we saw all the Christmas Specials that one day would be classics.

I got a set of Lionel Trains.

I got a Kodak Fiesta camera with a built-in flash and a roll of black and white film.

Bing sang White Christmas.

Johnny Mathis sang Sleigh Ride.

Nat sang The Christmas Song.

They were all played on our HiFi (Who had a stereo in 1960?)

Yeah, I was ten, and I remember what I want to remember, which means I probably am filtering out many unpleasant things. But, there is one thing to be sure, it was a simpler time where our only threat was dealt with by putting our head under our desk when the siren wailed as we practiced for H Bombs hitting The Bronx.

It’s easy wanting to turn the clock back to a simpler time, but the reality is we really don’t want to.

Reality is only a state of mind that we choose to ignore. We let other people tell us how bad things are even when they don’t know we exist. We were all inconvenienced by this new variant, and I pray that it remains only an inconvenience for us all.

When I think about Going Back, I always try to remember that the medicine of the late twentieth and twenty-first centuries has enabled me to remain to ponder the joys and mysteries of life and that my successful remission should not be wasted by any negativity that gets flung my way.

So, when the ball falls ushering in 2022, I will remain optimistic about the future even while I honor the past.

I’ll be watching the Honeymooners!

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Friday On My Mind

I love Fridays.


I always had.


Never have I ever wished that the work week or school week had even one more day to it.
I always felt that by Friday, I had had enough.


Thank God it’s Friday, indeed!


But now that I have been retired a few years, you would think that the mystique and aura of Friday would have long dissipated. In fact, the allure of Friday remains as strong as when I was a student or employee.


I still love Fridays.


When I first worked in the mailroom, Fridays (at least every other Friday) were also a payday. The guys in the mailroom would celebrate our good if not large fortune by going out to eat in a nearby Blarney Stone. To the uninitiated, Blarney Stones were bars that also served lunch, primarily consisting of roast beef or corned beef sandwiches served with a pickle and a pint.


Then, years later, when I was a teacher at St Vito’s, the faculty would celebrate Fridays by going out for an early dinner or just an afternoon cocktail at the nearby Ground Round, which was like an Applebees. Hamburgers, beer, and free peanuts. It also had one of the early big-screen TVs where we watched General Hospital and The Edge Of Night.


Soaps always went better with beer and peanuts.


It wasn’t the alcohol that provided our joy; it was the elation of Fridays on its own.
You would think we were prisoners of war getting released for the weekend.


As time went on, Fridays made up for the angst of Sundays.

If you have to go to work on Monday, you know what I am writing about.
Fridays are great. Saturdays are even better because you can sleep in, or even if you get up early, you can lounge about and have a second or third cup of coffee without worrying about traffic or a late train.

But then Sunday comes, and you can still sleep in and maybe even watch a game or two depending on the season, but there is a cloud on the horizon.


It is the Ed Sullivan factor.


For those of you old enough to remember, you may have experienced the sudden realization while watching Ed talk to Topo Gigio that you had homework due tomorrow yet to be completed.


I still get a chill just thinking about it.


I guess being retired has taken this Sunday malaise and has left me only with another New York Jet loss to lament.

Still, Happy Friday Everyone!

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New York State Of Mine

I left New York nearly five years ago. The experience of leaving New York has taught me one thing. You can leave New York, but New York never, ever really leaves you.

It was like that for The Bronx as well.

I left The Bronx for Flushing when Eileen and I were first married. Then we moved to New Rochelle and on to East Quogue on the east end of Long Island.

All through the last forty-five years, when I have lived elsewhere, I considered myself a Bronx Boy. The Bronx was where I grew up, and I think many people share the sentiment regarding the home of their formative years.

I continue to feel that way, and I may live in Florida but remain a New Yorker and a Bronx Boy.

Every year I reconstruct and reconfigure my Lionel train layout.

Back in East Quogue, it was easier to decide how to do this. I would have three 4×8 sheets of plywood on each of which a different diorama would be erected.

One would be dedicated to classical Lionel postwar accessories. A log loader; several types of coal loaders; operating bridges; and other Lionel operating switches and lights. The trains operated on this layout would be classic postwar items, including Santafe and New York Central diesels from 1950.

A second would consist of more recent Lionel creations, including a nuclear power plant, and would have trains produced in this century.

The third layout was my favorite.

It was my Ode To New York.

From Yankee Stadium to the South Ferry with stops at the Automat and Chrysler Building and Rockefeller Center and the Times Building for New Year’s Eve, as well as the Empire State Building and the Flat Iron Building, this layout was a sight to behold.

The only thing missing was the Subway.

Oh, wait! We had two subways represented/

The IRT 6 train and the BMT Coney Island Train.

On this layout, The Bronx was up, and the Battery Down and the people did ride in a hole in the ground.

It was glorious.

So, here I am in Florida with only one board, a 5×9, on which to create my Lionel universe. In recent iterations, I have built layouts utilizing bridges and accessories. It has been a long time since NYC was represented.

Well, this year is going to be different.

Yankee Stadium will have a subway encircling it, albeit the 6 train and not the 4.

The rest of my New York Skyline will be south of the Stadium, and the trains servicing the city will be the traditional New York Central and New Haven Lines.

I have even created an appropriate playlist.

Of course, Sinatra will be singing New York, New York

Billy Joel will be enchanting us with A New York State Of Mind.

And last but not least, Sinatra and Gene Kelly will be singing New York New York’s a Helluva Town.

I may be living in Florida, but my toys tell me I am still a New Yorker.

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Pardon Me If I’M Not Paying Attention

I have a daily subscription to the New York Times.

It’s the print version, but I also have digital access.

Newspapers aren’t cheap today, and Reading All The News That’s Fit To Print is pretty expensive, especially when I remember getting it for a buck not too long ago, and I thought that was expensive.

I get the print version because I do the crossword every day, and doing it on a computer is just not the same as doing it on page three of the Arts section and making a colossal mess of it all because I do it in ink.

Hubris.

My daily routine had been to read the main section first. The first page and then the oped depending on who is featured and then follow up on some of the lead stories. I would peruse the special daily section, sports on Monday, science on Tuesday, etc., etc., etc. Then I would turn to the Arts, read what I thought was interesting, and then start the puzzle.

However, I no longer follow this routine.

I go right for the puzzle.

It’s gotten so that reading the newspaper offers the same dread and angst as provided by cable news. The guy or gal (can I still use gal, or am I showing my misogyny?) who coined the phrase, “No news is good news,” really hit the nail on the head if I can resort to an idiom.

I read no news.

I watch no news.

I listen to no news.

The mantra of a happy and healthy mind.

I do resort to Twitter but only to learn about what is going on with the Yankees.

I have all but given up on Facebook, which is a shame because it was so nice to keep in touch with friends and family and to re-connect with friends long lost but not forgotten. I still check in once a week or so, but I don’t LIKE anything and never read anything other than a note from family or friends.

There has been much talk about getting off the grid and giving your phone a rest from the internet and social media. I have added newspapers and news shows to the list.

Try it for a while. Maybe even a day. I confess that I will check in on the odd morning or late night only to learn that nothing new has transpired since my last visit. Stories are churned up and subject to intense scrutiny and review, and after a week’s absence,  there was nothing more to be learned.

Speculation and opinion have replaced news.

If I want to get myself worked up and filled with angst, all I have to do is spend a few more seconds in front of the mirror as I shave and brush my teeth. The state of my hair has become a metaphor for the state of the union.

It’s unruly.

It’s a reminder of the devolution of my physical being.

It’s just another reason to wear a mask.

Well, have a great weekend and watch Ted Lasso instead of the news.
Ted Lasso is another story coming soon.

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Nowhere to Hide On A Saturday Morning

As I opened my WordPress account this morning, the first thing I saw was that my last entry had three readers in China. Now, don’t get me wrong, I have no illusions that my blog was so great that even the people behind the great wall enjoyed my musing.


In fact, someone closer to home, specifically in my house, advised me that this particular blog was a dud.


Therefore, it’s doubtful that the faithful followers of Mao would have thought anything positive about my work. Oh well.


The fact that someone (or something, i.e., a bot) from Ecuador, Ukraine, Russia, and China read my blog is more than a little concerning, given the propensity of some countries to hack and otherwise spy on our data.


I have been more and more fearful of Facebook (I have an Instagram account but never use it) and rarely go there except to see my family groups. The rest I leave to the Russians.


But this is the modern age we dreamt about when we were kids.


On to happier topics.


The Yankees lost the Wild Card game against the Boston Red Sox. What Joy!
Yeah, I’m being sarcastic, but only a little.


Baseball is a lot like love. Better to have played and lost, but it is sweeter to win.


Nevertheless, I enjoyed a great baseball season despite the ups and downs of any sport one follows. Fortunately, there were more ups for the Yankees, but, sadly, it would have been great for just a few more.


Some Yankee fans will focus on the fact that they have not won a World Series since 2009. I like to focus on the fact that they have not had a losing season since 1992.


That means that for twenty-nine seasons, I have been mostly happy watching the Yankees.


The Jets, on the other hand?


This same philosophy, focusing on the wins rather than the losses, might be better applied to America in the twenty-first century.


Or, as I like to think of this philosophy, Ted Lasso Comes Home.


I was so sad to come to the end of season two of Ted Lasso. It is the best thing on TV, the best thing that has come along in years.


I only wish I was still teaching seventh and eighth grades at St.Vito’s.


Ted provides so many lesson plans that would benefit us all, especially young people coming of age.


Ted epitomizes sacrifice, goodwill, and more than anything, forgiveness.


He’s not a sap.


He’s not a wimp.


He is just a man living a life.


He doesn’t preach, but he does teach.


He doesn’t always win, but he never loses.


He lights up a room when he enters, but the light is always shone on others.
He stands up for his friends and disarms his enemies.


The only thing he doesn’t take seriously is Ted Lasso.


Watching Ted Lasso has reminded me that if we only stopped watching the news, we would realize that we all have a little Ted Lasso in us if we only let it out.


Now, we have to wait another year before we get another season of parables, just like I have to wait another four months till Yankee baseball comes back.


To Yankee fans, I advise you to watch Ted Lasso in the meantime. Maybe you’ll appreciate the Yankees players, coaches, and froth office a little bit more.

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Tuesday Afternoon

Tuesday Afternoon

Today is the first Tuesday of October.

Old FM radio stations always referred to OCTOBER as ROCKTOBER.

A clever promotion from their sales departments, I suppose.

Of course, I always try to listen to the Moody Blues iconic hit, Tuesday Afternoon on Tuesday afternoons, but I guess that gets tiresome in the end.

On this particular First Tuesday Of October, I am celebrating by planning a pumpkin coffee but probably not a pumpkin ale though I have both ready and available. I don’t often drink during the week.

Getting old if not mature.

Florida doesn’t offer the fall foliage season the New York and Long Island enjoy, but I did encounter a tree yesterday on my morning walk that did look like its leaves were changing. One can only hope.

The days are shorter, to be sure, but the chill of autumn has not yet arrived in Bradenton. Nevertheless, before we know it, I will be putting jeans on and socks as well as a sweatshirt! Oh, how I look forward to those days!

The thin blood that seems to be coursing through my veins since relocating to the south allows me a chill at fifty degrees, whereas in East Quogue, we would still be taking outdoor showers.

Well, better to be thin in blood than thin-skinned.

To be honest, I have become thin-skinned as well, and I have taken to avoiding all news, not about the Yankees, Jets, and the weather (still on the lookout for hurricanes).

All that other stuff I ” avoid like the plague,” a simile that used to mean something in the days when we actually tried to avoid plagues and cases of flu and other diseases by any means possible and practical.

Well, enjoy your Tuesday afternoon and embrace the change of season wherever you are.

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Saturday Morning Musings

Well, autumn is upon us.

I can tell because, down here in Florida, the heat of summer has given way to the chill of autumn. Now, I have re-defined “chill” since moving to Florida. My use of the word chill now applies to any temperature below ninety degrees.

If I were, to be honest, we haven’t gotten there yet as it reached ninety-four yesterday. Still, autumn, like summer, is a state of mind. As the end of the baseball season ushers in the beginning of the football season and as summer ale makes way for pumpkin ale, summer in Florida is evolving into autumn, however, slow it may be.

Meteorologists will tell us that autumn began on September 1st. Rather than on the 21st (or 22nd for this year), the seasons seem to change at different times for our weathermen. 

I would suppose if you talked to most relocated New Yorkers down here, they would say that they miss autumn in New York. It always seemed a delightful time (or I choose to remember it as such). In addition to getting my pumpkin ale, I would arrange with my wood guy (I used to have a wood guy!) to have a half chord of his finest delivered for the upcoming season.

Still, I would rarely put on a fire before mid to late October.

Our outdoor shower had not yet been winterized, and there was nothing like coming home around 8 PM and taking a hot shower on a chilly night with nothing but the stars to above. We miss our outdoor shower, but even if we were allowed to install one here in the land of NO (wait till you have to deal with an HOA, and you will understand), we would not opt to do so. It simply is too hot and humid, and you would need another shower or a quick dip in the pool to chill down afterward. So, what would be the point?

The one autumnal change that has arrived is the waning light of the sun. It is pitch dark at 7:AM and gets dark well before 8 PM closer to 7, but darkness will continue to arrive earlier as the sun’s travel (really earth’s) progresses.

This is all by way of saying that observing and enjoying the changing seasons is immensely more enjoyable than watching or reading the news. 

Another change for me relative to the seasons is the music I now enjoy. 

My summer playlist has been relegated to review and renovation for summer 2022. I have an easier time identifying “summer” music than autumn music. It’s way too early for Christmas music. Still, the Nutcracker is waiting for Thanksgiving when I will usher my celebration with the annual airing of Tchaikovsky’s best, usually as early as 7 AM Thanksgiving morning.

This is one of those annoyances that made my children groan every year that has now morphed into a treasured tradition that my three children carry on in their own homes.

But as far as “autumn music,” I have always (without realizing why) turned to classical music at this time of year. I remember going to graduate school and later law school driving in my Chevy equipped with only an AM radio listening to WQXR, the classical radio station in NY owned by the New York Times.

Classical music always seemed to fit the light of late afternoon and early evening.

So, while I miss my fireplace and the chill of an autumn evening, I do still listen to classical music on a steamy Florid autumn afternoon.

Then, of course, I have my trains!

Have a great weekend, and wherever you are, treasure the change of the season.

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Two Score Plus Five: A Bronx Boy’s Tale Epilogue

 

I was initially going to entitle this entry FORTY-FIVE, but I thought too many of you would think it’s about Him.

So I came up with something else.

Today is Eileen and my forty-fifth anniversary, and I wanted to write something to commemorate this achievement.

When I wrote A Bronx Boy’s Tale, I intended to chronicle my life from the day of the Kennedy assassination when I was in the eighth grade until Eileen, and I got married.

My story ended much as it had begun with me leaving 1261 Leland Avenue and taking in the glory that was The Bronx. When in 1963 I was on my way to Blessed Sacrament School, I was now on my way to Blessed Sacrament Church to get married.

Aside from a conclusion about our kids, that is how A Bronx Boy’s Tale ended.

Today, I am writing an Epilogue detailing the day Eileen and I got married.

EPILOGUE

Well, I finally got to Blessed Sacrament, and the place was mobbed. It seemed everyone in the neighborhood was there. All my family was there, brothers and sisters and all the nephews and nieces. Mom and Dad were there decked out in their Sunday best. Eileen’s family was equally represented by brothers and her sister as well as in-laws and nieces.

My brother Mike was already at the front of the church, and I went to him right away as I waved at the rest of the church. Mike was my best man. Thank God I didn’t have to worry about the rings.

It was all I could do to hire the limos and find an apartment…both of which were accomplished only a few days before.

I still had a nagging concern about the band for the reception.

We went to see them when they played for another wedding in Brooklyn, and they were terrific. They agreed to do our wedding, and we shook on it.

That’s it! We shook on it. No contract. No letter of attention.

I had a nagging concern about the band.

Eileen had taken care of everything else to do with the wedding ceremony, including writing our vows and getting a folk group to play the music at the service.

Before I knew it, Mike was poking me and brought me back to the moment at hand as the Wedding March blared from the organ perched in the choir loft.

Eileen came down the aisle.

She must have been with other people, but I only saw her.

We joined at the head of the altar, but instead of Father Rafferty officiating as had been the play, Father Pat Carrol was there smiling and welcoming us.

I made a quizzical look at Eileen, and all she said was, “Don’t ask and read this when the time comes.”

I looked in my hands where there were now three index cards.

I didn’t see or hear the folk group yet, but I was so relieved that we weren’t having the usual Ave Maria sung by our old music teacher.

The service went off like clockwork. Well, almost.

As we rose to exchange our vows, Eileen again told me to read the card when it was my turn.

She spoke her vows beautifully, and it was a magical moment…for a minute.

Now, it was my turn, and I began Reading, “Grant us O Lord THREE wishes.”

It was like I was talking to a genie hoping for fame and wealth.

Father Pat had to put his hand over the microphone because he laughed so hard and loudly.

In reality, I was supposed to say, “Grant us O Lord THESE wishes.”

Oh well.

Then came the candle lighting ceremony, where we both had a long lit stick and joined our flames to light one candle—a symbol of our union as a married couple.

Then we sat down and meditated to the glorious AVE MARIA sung by our old music teacher.

I looked at Eileen, and she said, “Don’t ask.”

A few minutes later, we were kissing and picking rice out of our hair.

Then the wedding party was off in the gray limos that I had arranged for. I didn’t ask for gray, but they were there waiting for us outside the church, so gray was okay with me.

Our reception was going to be in a catering hall in Queens. We would be going to the photographer’s studio for pictures and then to the hall. But first, we had to stop at the bodega down the block from Eileen’s house.

You see, in 1976, limos did not come stocked with beer, so we had to get our own.

Oh well.

The rest of the day is a blur.

When we got to the hall after the photoshoot, we were encouraged to shake a leg as people were dying for the bride and groom. I actually believed him.

We had an open bar, and there was food, but more than anything else, there was MUSIC by the most terrific band you ever heard at a wedding.

I could finally relax.

Pop, my father, sang his compulsory rendition of Five Foot Two Eyes Of Blue… and the band loved him.

Then there was dancing, and before you knew it, the final minute arrived…not so fast.

I had a quick talk to the caterer and checked with the band, and we announced that there would be an extra hour of merriment if not out and out mayhem.

You would have thought that would have been enough for any newly married couple.

You would, of course, be wrong.

Eileen made arrangements to get us a ride from our good friends Pat and Paul to take us home to Eileen’s and then to a bar owned by her brother’s friend.

Now, I was very relaxed by this time and thought I should close my eyes for a second, so I laid in Eileen’s driveway still wearing my tux, and waited for Eileen, who I thought was changing.

No, she got our suitcases because Pat and Paul would be taking us down to the Plaza where we would be spending two nights before we flew off to Bermuda.

So, we are now off to the bar, having what probably was a drink well over the suggested daily amount for a newlywed couple.

It seemed like a good part of the wedding crowd was joining us and making merry. But finally, it was time to go, and Pat and Paul drove us down to the beautiful Plaza Hotel.

I was not so relaxed that I missed the magic of entering the Plaza. It was just magnificent.

I went up to the room with the bell cap, who carried our bags, and then came down to get Eileen and our friends.

“Paul, you have to come up! The room is magnificent. The bed is like an aircraft carrier, and there is a phone in the bathroom.”

I guess Pat and Paul thought that joining us on our wedding night was something they could do without.

The next day having the hangover to end all hangovers, Eileen and I struggled signing all the checks that our wonderful family and friends bestowed on us. We then crossed the street on Fifth Avenue to Schrafts and had the best cheeseburger to cure our hangovers.

It was a fitting beginning to our life together.

Anyway, we had a glorious time forty-five years ago today as well as for the last forty-five years.

 

 

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TWENTY

 

I suppose the first memory that we share of September 11, 2001, was that it was an absolutely gorgeous day.

I always felt that September, especially in New York, was the best month of the year weather-wise.

Of course, as a child, September always represented the end of summer and the beginning of the school year. But in terms of the weather, it always seemed to contain beautiful summer days with a twist of autumn in the air.

Other memories that we share of this date are not so joyful but extremely memorable.

We remember where we were.

We remember whom we were with.

We remember when we heard that a plane flew into one of the towers of the World Trade Center, and many of us thought (Hoped? Prayed?) that it was a small plane whose pilot had lost consciousness, etc.

The thing that I remember most is watching the news on a small television in one of my Associate Director’s office and seeing the plumes of smoke and bronze flames coming out of both towers, as by now the second tower had been struck and all delusions that we were not under attack were finally put to rest.

I remember as the entire office watched, and I said, “One thing you have to say is that the engineers who built them knew what they were doing because the towers are still standing.”

A few seconds later, the first tower fell, and I stopped watching for a while.

In the days that followed, the entire nation seemed to be united.

We weren’t thinking of hanging chads or the 2000 election that was so close and that Al Gore reluctantly conceded out of a concern for national unity.

We appeared on September 11, 2001, to be living up to E Pluribus Unum.

We were behind our President, and even the Mayor of New York became America’s Mayor as his calm demeanor in delivering updates seemed to serve as a balm on the open wounds of the terrorist attack.

The feeling of oneness didn’t last long, and twenty years later, it seems hard to imagine that so many feel so alienated and despised that the nation that saved the world and ushered in the era of exploring new worlds can no longer save itself.

Twenty years ago, acts of terror brought us together, while today, a vaccine and a mask threaten to divide us.

Remember what you were doing on 9/11 and pray for the survivors and the families of the fallen.

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Before He Was Captain

Twenty-five years ago this month I took my children to see the Yankees play the Red Sox.

We sat in Row X in the grandstands of the old Yankee Stadium.

It was a Saturday afternoon September 21, 1996.

Like most Yankee-Red Sox games this was a nail biter and actually went into extra innings.

In those day there was on Ghost Runner on second base to start the extra innings but there were plenty of ghosts there nonetheless.

In the bottom of the 10th inning Jeter came up to bat with two out and bases loaded.

Jeter got a single and Boggs scored from third and the Yankees won the game.

Jeter was a rookie but all of the nearly fifty-five thousand baseball fans in attendance probably new that there would be a day when Derek Jeter would be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame.

Today is that day.

Fortunately, that day in 1996 was only one of many days that we got to see Derek Jeter earn his way into the Hall.

It wasn’t just what he did in the playoffs and World Series that mattered. He played the same way on a cold Monday night in April as he did on a cold early Thursday morning in November.

He played like a champion.

He always played like a champion.

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Fifty Years To Forever

There are times in our lives when momentous things occur for which we rarely are prepared.

It’s as if we are acting in a play, and we walk onto the stage only to find we are in a production, unlike the one for which we knew our lines.

I faced such an event fifty years ago today, and I have never recovered from the shock of that feeling of not knowing my lines.

Thank God for that.

It was September 3, 1971, and I finished my last day as a mail clerk at Lorillard Corp. It was the best job I ever had. I learned so much, not just about mailing parcels or postage meters but more about people.

We were a typical group of guys from New York City.

We could have easily met at a Yankee game, sipping a beer in the bleachers as we had sipping coffee in the mailroom.

It was a Friday.

It was payday.

As we often did, we went to our local Blarney Stone for lunch, where we dined on a fine roast beef sandwich and a few cold beers.

The meal was topped off on the way back to the office with a Tiparillo Cigars.

I was entering my senior year at St. John’s after the Labor Day weekend, which is why it was my last day at Lorillard. I wanted to enjoy my last year of college and opted not to work after school that year.

It so happened that it was my mother’s 64th birthday (How young that seems to me now!), so I couldn’t go out for a drink after work as I wanted to be home for a birthday cake celebration for mom.

I also had to pick up something for her, which I did at the Parkchester Pharmacy on Hugh Grant Circle when I got off the six train.

We had a nice dinner (which my mother made, of course) and sang Happy Birthday, and I gave her my gift of perfume and other cosmetic items included in the boxed set I purchased at the drug store.

After dinner, I went out with my friends as usual on a Friday night.

We met at Al’s Wine and Liquors, where Freddy was working, and PJ was already endeavoring to cut out the middle man by sipping Bali Hai before we went bar hopping.

Actually, I don’t think we called it bar hopping in 1971, and anyway I was intent to stay at the first place we visited, a bistro on East Tremont Avenue known as The Castle Keep.

Others in our group wanted to go to the Hollow Leg, formerly known as the BIC or Bronx Irish Center. I did not want to go there having traumatic memories of the place from my high school days.

But as luck would have it, the Castle Keep was dead.

We were the only people in the bar, and it appeared that the castle might have had a moat keeping others out, especially feminine people.

So, we made our way down Tremont Avenue to the Hollow Leg.

Now to be fair, I was already on my way to a full night if you will allow me my euphemism.

I was well into a bob and weave as my friends left me stranded as they pursued other interests.

Then, the lights came on.

The curtain rose.

I was in the middle of the stage, but it was not the drama that I anticipated.

It must have been a comedy.

Because as I looked over to the bar, I saw a beautiful redhead. A very young gorgeous redhead.

She was laughing at me.

I approached her but had no clue as to what my lines were. And there was no director to cue me or coach me or save me from falling on my face.

I may have stammered, but I did say something coherent if nonsensical.

“I’ve been admiring you all night.”

She almost fell off the barstool. Her fits of laughter were so explosive.

That was it.

That was the mother of all momentous moments from which I never recovered.

For some reason, we connected that night back in 1971, and before we left each other’s company that fateful Friday (now Saturday), we somehow knew that I’d be writing about that moment fifty years in the future.

We didn’t know that there would be three children and a grandson who might be interested in how this all came about.

So much has happened in these fifty years, not all of which has been pleasant, but I don’t think either of us would have done anything differently.

Thinking back to that Friday night, I had no idea as I left apartment six at 1261 Leland Avenue that Friday evening that when I returned, my life would have changed forever.

You just never know when that’s going to happen.

It has left me in awe every time I think back to that night.

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Hey Could You Give Me A Boost AKA Hit Me With Your Best Shot

I am only home a week after spending a beautiful three weeks in the Beautiful Bronx with my children and my gorgeous grandson.

Traveling back to Florida went as well as traveling anywhere by air can go. Which is to say no criminal passengers were fighting with crew members or other passengers or who made an uproar over wearing THE MASK!

Of course, the one thing that did worry my wife Eileen and me was returning to the Delta Variant Sunshine State.

While the discussions about booster vaccines and who should get one persisted, Eileen and I set off to get ours this past Wednesday.

Similar to the second shot, our reaction consisted of a slow progressing journey towards aches, pains, and exhaustion.

Wednesday was not such a bad day, but we knew what was coming, so we learned to take it easy and do what we can. No over-taxing ourselves.

Thursday, the Mack truck arrived. (I don’t use that analogy often ever since I was T-boned by a Mack truck.)

All I could think was that Friday would be better.

However, I had to endure Thursday first.

Let me just say that if what I experienced was what Covid patients endured, then stop reading this and go out and get the vaccine or booster if you have already been vaccinated.

I didn’t have any respiratory problems, just aches in every joint of my body and fatigue. That was it, but that was enough.

I suppose due to my compromised immune system thanks to CLL, I never get a fever. My temperature always hovers around 97.4. However, Friday morning around 4:00 AM, it seemed that the “fever” had broken.

I woke up in a sweat, and I actually felt terrific. I was able to walk with absolutely no discomfort, and my body aches all but disappeared. (Except the usual pain I live with.)

Here it is Saturday morning, and I am thinking seriously of going into the pool and maybe even have the first pumpkin ale of the season.

It’s hard to think that Autumn is coming when it is still in the nineties down here. Still, baseball has entered the critical part of the season, and football is upon us, so before you know, we will be cooling down into the high eighties, the perfect time for a crisp pumpkin ale.

I tell you all this because this was the furthest thing from my mind on Thursday, but here I am Saturday morning, and I can get off the mat and get back to living the life.

So, the message is: Get the Vaccine; Get the Booster if you can.

Don’t fear the vaccine.

Fear the virus.

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When Harry Sang

On July 16th it will be forty years since the world lost Harry Chapin. For those too young to know who he was, simply search on iTunes and download an album or two.

At a time when singer-songwriters monopolized the airwaves of the better rock stations, Harry was the best. He was so good he even got radio stations to air seven minute songs. Now, while they may have seemed long to station managers and advertising executives, to those of us who loved a good story, those songs were Shakespeare on vinyl.

Whether listening to Harry sing in the comfort of your living room or while sitting outside on the rock at Wollman Skating Rink in Central Park you were transported to Frisco on a rainy night or a steep hill in Scranton, Pennsylvania. You could care less who was President or what party controlled Congress. You were listening to Harry tell stories and that’s all that mattered.

Harry sang about people, ordinary people. A tailor who dreamed about singing at Town Hall; a waitress who could recognize her own loneliness in others; a cabbie who fell short of his dreams. Harry sang about us. We saw ourselves in his cast of characters and, somehow, we were made better people because of it.

It’s useful to remember that the seventies weren’t exactly the golden age of America. Cities were burning down; we had hostages in Iran; we could only buy gasoline on certain days; and double digit inflation was the norm.

No matter.

When Harry sang it was really a better place to be.

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Freaky Saturday

My Saturdays used to bring me to a park.

I would either find myself amidst the park-goers of Central Park or among the Bleacher Creatures of Yankee Stadium.

I have yet to discover my Florida park.

Instead, my park-option has been to walk around Sarasota and take in a farmers’ market.

This is probably closer to walking in Central Park than watching a ballgame in Yankee Stadium. Pre-pandemic, the Sarasota experience was like walking through a Woodstock reunion. People of that age milling about, some in tie-dye apparel, others accompanied by their pets.

Booths erected to encourage buying and selling, primarily items like coffee, vegetables, and the like. Then there are the shops of a more permanent nature like book stores. It’s nice to wander through a book store and to find something you weren’t even looking for or even thinking about before you snatched it off the shelf to purchase.

Amazon is easier but not nearly as much fun.

I have to remind myself to buy a stereo system.

My new Mac desktop doesn’t accommodate loading a CD onto iTunes, and I have grown desirous of re-purchasing the vinyl records I gave away before moving to Florida.

Bluetoothing my iTunes saved music on to my Bose is easier, but I long to flip an album to the other side and marvel at the album art and liner notes.

I haven’t yet decided what kind of system I will buy or, more importantly, where to put it when I do.

I know the next thing I will be looking for is a used SLR camera that uses film instead of digits and doesn’t know squat about pixels. I have my son’s enlarger in the garage, so maybe I will go back to the days I developed my own prints?

That’s a nice thought, but digital is too easy for me to create a darkroom in the Sunshine State.

Maybe I should just get a tune-up kit for my 1973 Vega and call it a day?

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Rebel Rebel

Happy Fourth of July Everybody.


Today is a good day to remember who we are and maybe who we want to be.


We are the heirs of a noble experiment. A few men, yes, they were men and they were white, set off to create a nation.


These men weren’t perfect, and there was enough partisanship to go around to keep them from being perfect and from creating a perfect country.


Still, it is what it is, and we are who we are.


While we celebrate the joys of liberty and prosperity, we can still acknowledge that there is a great deal of work to be done to bring liberty and prosperity to all.


We are all tired of pointing fingers and being pointed at as the enemy of the nation. We have enemies for sure. Some are foreign, and some are domestic. But we have a system of laws that binds us all together as one nation, and I do believe, under God.


So when I watch the fireworks tonight, I will be thinking of our glorious past that has not been without its flaws and imperfections, as well as the glorious future that is surely ours to behold.


Don’t forget to have a hot dog and a cold beer.


Now, that’s an American tradition!

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Summer In The City

If you are reading this in the northern latitudes, you might be wondering why I am writing anything at all with the word summer in it?

April in New York was always a confusing month for me. It could be downright frigid in the morning when I was heading to the train, but by the time I got off the subway in Brooklyn, it was already getting quite warm.

For some reason, I always felt the cold more intensely in April than in February. I reasoned that you expect to be cold in February, but by April, I knew you were close to summer with baseball starting and trees budding. But then you really weren’t, and those thirty and forty-degree days seemed to go right through me.

I have no such confusion in Florida.

It’s freakin hot already, and I can only feel that summer has arrived. So, that is why I am writing about Sumer In The City.

Of course, many of you will remember that Summer In The City is a song that the Lovin Spoonful put out in the summer of 1966. You might not remember that the summer of 1966 was one of the hottest in New York City history, at least on Leland Avenue in the Bronx. On Sunday, the temperature reached 106 degrees, and so every time I hear Summer In The City, I can feel the heat of that particular day.

But it is not the heat that I wish to write about in summer in the city but rather the joy of summer in the city.

I used to love New York in the summer. I got to walk around the city quite a lot when working as a mail clerk for Lorillard Corp. Walking on Fifth Avenue on a steamy hot summer’s day with thousands of New Yorkers walking with and against you like the surf at Jones Beach or Hot Dog Beach. I can still see the heads of my fellow travelers bobbing up and down in uniform precision like the Rockettes leg kicking at Radio City.

It was exciting just to be there walking with everyone.

I never understood how people didn’t love New York City.

These were the days of Woodstock and Goin To The Country when all the hippies wanted to live on a farm or commune far, far away from the hustle and bustle of city life.

Not me. I wanted to be in New York.

Despite working a whole week in the city, every Saturday morning would see me board another Pelham Bay local downtown. Heading to my summer haven, Central Park, I had no disdain for yet another subway ride on a hot, un-airconditioned train. After all, the subways were always empty on the weekend, so it was a pleasure, and even the fans overhead, which, on any weekday were but mere feeble attempts at comfort, actually served a refreshing breezed making your journey tolerable.

Going to Central Park on a Saturday was at once Goin To The Country and urbanization at its best. I got to enjoy a stroll through the park and stop at the baseball fields to catch a few innings of a softball game. Then I would make my way to the Bethesda Fountain, where on its plaza frisbees were zooming overhead in a never-ending display of ultimate faith in your fellow human as you were sure to get your frisbee back at the end of the day. (Perhaps this was the origin of Ultimate Frisbee?)

Having enjoyed the beauty of the frisbee toss and the splash of the fountain’s waters, I continued my walk.

I aimed to reach Literary Walk to welcome the coolness of the shade provided by the umbrella of trees lining the walkway. Maybe I would read a bit from my book? But it wouldn’t be long until I sought out the several folk groups that provided afternoon entertainment for all to enjoy.

On Saturday, I continued up the walk to the Band Shell, where Pete Seeger gave a free concert. As I said, it was like going to the country…without leaving the city.

What made these Saturday meandering even more enjoyable was the freedom that summer always represented. School was out, and even though I had actually learned to love learning, not having five or six-term papers to do was liberating. I could finally read what I wanted to read.

I always thought of these summers as times for reading and listening to music. Since then, I try to have a summer reading list and an accompanying music list.

I guess the Pandemic has put all of these memories in stark comparison to days when it was ok to find and live joy. It seems we have to be grateful for what we have and never mind what we have been unable to enjoy.

During a storm, whether a hurricane or blizzard, Lockdown is always a challenge but one that is short-lived. The Pandemic doesn’t seem to want to go away. We have vaccines, but it still seems to be spreading and mutating so that even the hope we have that normality is coming to a place near you may be only a dream.

Nevertheless, I will be going up again to be with my children in the Bronx, and I will be making a reading list and checking it twice and re-doing my summer playlist, both of which will be the subject of a forthcoming Newell Post.

It’s going to be a glorious summer. I still have faith in that.

I

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I Watched The News Today…Oh Boy….Or Lies Lies And More Lies

All America is divided into two parts.

Julius Caesar crafted a similar sentence much more capably than I when he was describing Gaul, but I thought I would steal from him today, even it is only by allusion.

While Gaul may have been divided into three parts in Caesar’s day, he was writing in the geographical sense. Whereas America consists (with apologies to Hawaii and Alaska) of one part geographically, politically, we are split in half.

I won’t try to discern if the two parts are of equal size.

I have taken it upon myself to identify these two constituencies MSNBC and Fox News.

If any certainties have survived the last four-plus years, it is that a FOX viewer firmly believes that everything said on MSNBC is a lie.

Similarly, MSNBC viewers condemn FOX for spreading lies and disinformation.

Which one is right?

The answer hardly matters.

We used to watch the news for information; now it’s just a Neo-reality show put on each night for our entertainment.

Stories are presented in a particular bias that may or may not have vestiges of truth. So long as we are fans of the NJ (News Jockey), we will believe it.

No matter what the truth is, we have decided only to believe those we trust and never take it upon ourselves to question this allegiance.

It was bad enough when people were divided over a particular issue because they had honest differences of opinions. They had their own view on a specific problem and how w should solve it.

A runner on first in the bottom of the ninth with no out?

A reasonable baseball fan would urge his team to bunt the runner over into scoring position.

Another reasonable fan would rather have them try for a hit and run.

Another reasonable fan would say let the batter hit without any distractions.

These reasonable fans all had a difference of opinion, and each had their solution to the problem at hand.

They were fans of the same team.

They wanted their team to win.

They only had different views as to how that could be best accomplished.

They didn’t hate each other.

If the team won utilizing one of the fans’ plans, the other two fans would rejoice in the team’s victory, nevertheless.

If that could only work in politics, Susan.

Compared to the real issues that divide us, what to do in the ninth inning with a runner on first and no out is child’s play.

I know what the truth is on many of the issues that divide us, and I have solutions for each.

The trouble is that many people feel the same way and vehemently disagree with my take on the issues.

There doesn’t seem to be any wiggle room to allow any kind of compromise.

Truth trumps truth in a world where everything is true and nothing is true.

The sad thing is someone is lying but damned if I know who.

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