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.
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.
(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.
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.
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.
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.
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?”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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…
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
When Harry sang it was really a better place to be.
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?
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.
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.
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.
I was still working at St. Vito’s as a seventh and eighth-grade teacher. Eileen had just recently moved to New Rochelle.
We had made a tradition of going to see the tree lighting ceremony at Rockefeller Center and had done so for several years. Back then, it was a simple ceremony that lasted less than a half-hour.
While carols were sung, it had not yet been the big production that you will see tonight. Nevertheless, a big crowd had always shown up for the lighting.
It was December 3, 1979, and Eileen and I were accompanied by our friend Bob with whom I worked at St.Vito’s.
We took the train to the city from Larchmont and got down to Rockefeller Center in plenty of time. The crowd seemed much bigger than in past years, and we had to struggle to stay close together.
As the time for the lighting approached, it got a little hairy being in such tight quarters with so many people. We were only a matter of feet apart from each other, but I felt a bit out of control. There was a mother with a child in a stroller right next to us, and the people around made sure not to get too close to her, but it was scary.
Finally, the moment of truth arrived, and the countdown began. The tree was lit, and it was a joyous moment we would always remember. (Bob and I would still laugh and wonder if we actually had seen it go from dark to lit or had we blinked at an inopportune time?)
So, with the tree lit, we started to make our way home…but it wasn’t easy to that.
As I mentioned, the three of us were no more than a foot apart from each other. Nevertheless, it took us a full hour to find each other afterward. We were stuck in a whirlpool of people and were taken hither and yon in many different directions.
It was frightening.
This was a time before cell phones, so being out of contact for so long during a frightening experience took the joy of the moment right out of us. Finally, we caught up with each other and made our way to Grand Central Station to ride back to Larchmont.
When we got home, we got ready for the next workday and then settled down to watch the 11 O’clock news.
The first story was about a rock concert by The Who in Cincinnati.
Evidently, general admission tickets were sold, and no one was assigned a seat. So, people just ran to get the best seats available.
A stampede resulted, and 11 people were killed.
Having just experienced an out of control situation where we were tossed around and unable to determine which way we would walk, this was a frightening thing to see. A time of joy turned into a time of tremendous tragedy.
I vowed I would never put myself or Eileen through something like that again.
In fact, a year later, in September 1980, we were on the train heading to the city to see Elton John in Central Park. No doubt, a large crowd would be in attendance.
As we approached the city, Eileen mentioned that she might be pregnant. After I got over my excitement and joy, I thought about where we were going and immediately decided against going to the concert.
Instead, we went down to the Village and walked around and had a burger at Mr. William Shakespeare’s, a lovely pub in the Village. On the way home, we stopped at a pharmacy, and Eileen got a pregnancy test.
Sean Patrick was born in May.
So, tonight we will be watching the tree lighting ceremony from the comfort of our home.
Come play another round, Donald; that’s all you can do
For Rudy has proven he’s not savin you.
And start packin now because the UHaul is due.
If you have anything worth you’ll be taken.
Then you better start packin Melania’s already leavin.
For His Address It Will be Changin.
Come, lawyers and poll watchers, you let your man down.
You promised that he would still wear his crown.
But the judges you faced shot all your claims down.
And you know who they should be blamin
It’s that orange skin man who made you look like a clown.
For His Address It Will Be Changin
Come all you republicans who cackle like hens.
And defend troubled Donny, who’ll be off to the pen.
Your oath and your office never once did defend.
In the face of this Putin defender.
You cowered to the Commander Tweet-Master.
For His Address It Will Be Changin
Come, Hannity and Ingram, watch your ratings dip.
As Trumpers look for a new place to flip
And don’t be surprised if you choose to jump ship.
‘Cause Trump Network will soon be airin
And when Trump is in charge, sycophants go right in.
For His Address It Will Be Changin
The election is over; Joe Biden has won.
The recounts and recounts and recounts are done.
And there’s no more votes for Trump that are comin
He’s a loser; you’re suckers.
And America comes back in twenty twenty-one.
For His Address It Will Be Changin
Bless me, Father, it has been an extremely long time since my last confession. In fact, the Catholic Church was still calling the sacrament Confession. Now, I hear, it is called the Rite of Reconciliation.
It seems that America needs a Right Of Reconciliation if American Exceptionalism is to be restored.
For a country that has served as a beacon of hope and opportunity for so many years and countless numbers of refugees drawn to our shores, there’s just too much hate and division keeping us from being the country so many have given their lives to preserve.
Clearly, 2020 has been a year when so many of us are at odds with one another. The Viet Nam War divided us but never like what we have witnessed these last ten years or so. Race relations have always challenged our ability to be a united country but never have we faced such challenges as we do today.
Then there’s COVID.
Who would have thought Pole, Cancer, Typhoid, or Small Pox would have caused such a nation’s polarization as has COVID?
It’s a disease! Not a belief system.
Still, that is what I profess to believe.
We know that at least seventy million voters think otherwise.
The question is, why do so many people differ on matters of science?
Well, let’s look at the other side for a moment.
Back in the early 1970s, Archie Bunker was the symbol of the Old Order.
He was deemed a bigot. He was a World War II veteran who didn’t understand how young people could protest against their country and President.
His world was changing in so many ways, and he had no way of adapting to the new world order as his world was being replaced.
There is so much about the people who support Trump that I don’t understand. There is so much about me that Trump supporters don’t know about me. It’s time to try to understand each other even if we will never agree with each other.
The trouble is so much of what we believe is rife with inconsistencies.
Many Americans support a woman’s right to choose but refuse to consider…just consider, what other people believe.
Then you have the Pro-Life people who look the other way when babies are ripped out of their mothers’ arms.
Can we just think about the other point of view for a second?
I am so sick of the Constitution.
It’s ambiguous at best. It was written at a time when women didn’t vote, and blacks weren’t even considered citizens and had no rights. Nevertheless, let’s continue to look at the Original Intent of the Constitution for guidance!
We profess to be a people of faith, but that only seems to apply on the Sabbath.
We talk about the separation of Church and State, which may be a fine concept to apply to government, but it is an inconsistent policy to apply to one’s life. We should not separate our religious beliefs from our daily actions.
Jesus, for one, wouldn’t like that.
The sad thing is that this election has shown us all that nothing will change unless we change. We don’t need a President to change for us. We are reasonable people who know what needs to be done.
So before you cast that first stone at the other side, consider if you are without fault.
Twenty years ago, as we had survived the IT Terror of Y2K, I was diagnosed with leukemia.
The word leukemia was enough to scare most people back then and still is a deadly disease today.
I was able to survive because I had an indolent variety that was not as aggressive as the disease often can be. I also survived because I had excellent health care and excellent health insurance.
Although America at the dawn of the twenty-first century was lagging behind other industrialized nations in various categories affecting the quality of life, including education and health care, both were accessible to you and your family if you had money.
Today, while I still receive daily and monthly leukemia treatments, a more significant threat confronts me and the rest of the world.
COVID 19 cares nothing about national rankings in any category. It holds no bias in favor of any degree you may possess or health insurance policy to which you may subscribe. However, the lesser-educated, uninsured, and economically disadvantaged of our population are incredibly susceptible to its ravages.
In the days when our nation was able to put a man on the moon seemingly at will, I would have written, “We can put a man on the moon, but we cannot effectively deal with a pandemic.”
The sad reality is that today we are no longer able to put a man on the moon, and we have failed miserably in dealing with COVID 19.
Along with this sad reality, we are bombarded every day with the absurdity and maniacal incompetence of our national government that has been unable to protect its citizens. Politicians cry out about preserving the Constitution! The hell with the Constitution, protect US!
An outdated piece of parchment that is incapable of protecting itself from daily violations surely isn’t doing We The People any good at all.
While the Republicans and Democrats toss spitballs at each other, Nero is fiddling with history and truth while the west coast burns, the southeast drowns, and the northeast hunkers down for a COVID 19 second wave.
It’s time we wake up and take our country back from the losers who would destroy it.
It’s just startling that a country that helped save civilization and helped to re-build Europe can fail so miserably in addressing its citizens’ needs. America First? Oh, no one believes that.
If America were first in our leaders’ minds and hearts, we wouldn’t have to ask Why 200K?
I wrote the following for Thanksgiving 2019. Reading it again made me laugh and cry just thinking about what a simple time it was just one year ago.
Well, here we are again soon to be assembled round a turkey with all the fixins.
I am assuming this will be my seventieth Thanksgiving celebration, but I am guessing that not too much turkey was consumed in my earlier commemorations. Commenting that I soon made up for that is not a kind thought to have as we enter the holiday season.
I had a bit more turkey angst this morning than I have had in some time, or ever had. My wife, Eileen, called our local Publix supermarket to order a fresh-killed turkey. She made this call this past Friday and was advised to have it picked up on Wednesday, the day before Thanksgiving.
This in itself was reason enough for me to break out into a cold sweat if such a thing can actually occur in Florida. I mean, waiting until the day before Thanksgiving to get your turkey was something our parents would never have permitted. So, this morning, I called the supermarket to see if our turkey was available for pickup.
After waiting a few minutes, I was advised that no such turkey was being held in our name. Okay, not to worry as we had several Publix in our immediate area, so I made some calls.
Each call added to my sense of dread.
No fresh turkey in my name. A frozen turkey would not do as there is no way it would thaw in time for Thursday’s dinner. I began to ponder a Chinese food dinner. Chicken Chow Mein? Well, it did have poultry in it. General Tsao’s Chicken? Again, poultry but not really something the Pilgrims would have had feasted on.
Frantically, I set out on a mission to find a turkey fit to be roasted on Thanksgiving Day.
I need not have worried as they were in abundant supply…at Publix.
I guess I should have asked if they had any available when I was told I had none on reserve. But of course, Publix could have informed me of that fact too, but I have a turkey, and that’s all that matters.
It wasn’t so much worrying about having to face Thanksgiving turkeyless, it was what the turkey always represents in my mind.
The turkey was always cooked by my mother, carved by my father, and devoured by my siblings and in-laws.
Somehow eating turkey on Thanksgiving and Christmas is like having it with my family. It has always been like that and will remain so. It is even like that with our children and other relatives who will be having their own meal in distant locations. Yet, no matter how far geographically apart we may be, we will be together.
It’s just that it would be so nice if for only one day to have everyone that we will be missing sitting alongside us as we pile on the yams and the stuffing and drizzle gravy over the turkey.
So, here is to all our dear friends and family, Happy Thanksgiving!
Friday, September 3, 1971, was a memorable day. Life-changing events are almost always memorable, and I experienced a life-changing event on September 3, 1971.
The date also happened to be my mother’s 64th birthday. That is especially amusing as I am six years older than that as I type this story. I guess she really wasn’t all that old back then, nor was Pop who was the same age.
Anyway, as I do every year at this time, I commemorate the day that Eileen and I met. We met forty-nine years ago today, but we met on a Friday night of Labor Day weekend.
She was seventeen and for the first time in all the years reminiscing about that moment I am brought back to the Beatles’ I Saw Her Standing There.
After all, she was just seventeen, and I was twenty-one, so you already have a good idea as to what I mean.
She wasn’t really standing there, however, but perched upon a bar stool grinning from ear to ear as if, when she first laid eyes on me, she knew that forty-nine years later there would be a story to tell. How could she have known? And, having known, what a miracle that she stayed seated and grinning as I made my way over to her.
But she did stay, and soon we both realized that we would be staying for good. We didn’t know then about Sean, Jeannine, or Bryan but the idea of “our” children would not have been a surprise as we began our future, making our way home from the Hollow Leg.
Saturday came, and we ventured to Central Park and its environs. The picture that adorns my Facebook page on this date was taken on this trip downtown. The picture is of Eileen smiling into the lens with me holding the camera right next to her. A mirror in the Sherry Netherland Hotel served our reflection onto the film. It’s my favorite picture of Eileen because she looks so happy to be standing next to me.