It’s (Still) A Wonderful Life

Last week I was going to write a blog entitled Meltdown In The Sunshine State. I thought the better of it and opted not to dwell on my meltdown.

I have tried to be funny and sometimes uplifting during this challenging time, but I have strayed into the morose and the enduing world of rant. But you don’t need me to remind you of all that.

I have gotten political on a few occasions, probably more than I should have, but I never promised to be a saint, and I have definitely lived up to that aspiration.

But today, I am going to try to redeem myself for whatever mood transgressions I may have proffered during the last year.

On New Years Eve last year, I wrote a blog Vision 2020. I retold a story of New Year’s Eve 1969 when my friends PJ and Lou went to Times Square for my first and only time of reveling in the cold. It is the closing paragraph that I wrote last year that I wish to share with you now.

So, tonight at the first strike of 10 (for I have long ago given up staying up till midnight and DVR the ball drop), I will once again rejoice at the dawning of a new year if not a new age of peace, love, and understanding….but hope always remains.

Well, no one on December 31, 2019, had any idea what 2020 would bring to us, but I am sure that I was not the only one who had tremendous hope for the new year.

So, fighting back the urge to make 2020 even grimmer by telling the tale of my meltdown, I decided to keep it to myself. After all, we all have our reasons for the 2020 meltdown.

But then the other night, something occurred to me that brought me out of my particular meltdown.

Eileen and I decided to watch It’s A Wonderful Life.

I hadn’t seen it start to finish in a while, and it was nice to do so, maybe because of 2020.

It seemed quaint that George Bailey had a more significant meltdown than I because Uncle Billy lost $8,000. He’s ready to jump off a bridge rather than live with the disgrace of the failure of the Bailey Building and Loan. (What if Donald Trump dealt with business failure in this way? OK, that’s the last mention of Trump.)

George Bailey thinks he is a failure not just because he hasn’t got the eight grand to keep himself out of jail but because he has failed to achieve any of his dreams.

He never went on that cattle boat.

He never went to Europe.

He never went to college.

He never got out of Bedford Falls.

So, Clarence comes along and shows him his real failure.

Clarence grants George his wish and shows him what would have happened if George had never been born.

His brother Harry drowned when he was ten because George wasn’t there to save him. Because Harry died, he never saved the hundreds of soldiers on the transport ship during World War II.

Uncle Billy goes insane because he lost the Bailey Building and Loan.

George’s Mother becomes a cranky old hag instead of the beautiful Mother George still remembered.

Mary Hatch becomes an old maid who works in the library, and, of course, their four adorable kids were never born.

So, George’s failure was not that he didn’t go to Europe or college or get out of Bedford Falls but that he didn’t realize, until Clarence showed him, that he had indeed gotten everything that he ever really wanted.

So, yeah, I, like all of you, had reasons to have a glorious meltdown until Clarence came along.

I know that I will be the resurrected George Bailey (just as you will be) in a matter of time.

I will be able to travel to New York and see my children.

I will be able to see my friends and family in three dimensions.

I will be able to play Trivia with my friends, situated in our living room.

I will be able to go to a Yankee game.

I will be able to go to London and Sligo.

But, most importantly, I will be able to hold my grandson and maybe even stealing his nose once or twice.

I still believe in the miracle of the divine. So whether you celebrate Hanukah or Christmas, Santa is real and will visit us all with the gifts we really need.

Happy Hanukah.

Merry Christmas.

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Forty? Something!

Only seven years ago, we commemorated the fiftieth anniversary of the Kennedy Assassination.

Although it was hard to believe that fifty years had transpired, considering that I was thirteen on that Friday in November 1963, fifty years felt just about right.

Somehow, today is different.

Forty years ago today, John Lennon was gunned down in his beloved New York City. Another deranged lunatic with a gun robbed us of a life, a life that mattered to so many. Forty years? For me, this is hard to believe.

I was thirty years old. I was teaching seventh and eighth grade at St. Vito’s. Eileen and I had no children, and we lived in New Rochelle. Eileen had just found out that she was pregnant with our first child, and we were anticipating the joys of parenthood.

It was a Monday night. It was the Catholic Hold Day of Obligation of The Immaculate Conception (by the way, it was Mary’s feast day honoring her as being born without Original Sin, not Jesus being conceived without sex getting in the way.)

I was taking a couple of graduate classes, and I had a class that night.

I got home around ten, and it had been a long day. I didn’t watch any TV, including the Monday Night Football game, which provided the news of Lennon’s murder to so many. I didn’t find out until that morning while listening to WNEW FM as I was getting dressed.

The news was unthinkable. Who would want to kill John Lennon and why?

Forty years later, it still doesn’t make sense.

But a few months later, it didn’t make sense that President Reagan and the Pope got shot either. Guns and lunatics can destroy civilization. Fortunately, the President and the Pope survived their injuries.

Why couldn’t, John?

How much music would he have produced in these last forty years?

Would the Beatles have finally gotten together?

So many unanswered questions and unfulfilled dreams were gone in the flash of a gun.

At the time, I was reminded of Buddy Holly.

Like John Lennon, Buddy Holly was taken from us much too early. He still had a lot of music left to create and share. While Buddy Holly died in a plane crash, his loss was still so tragic and painful to endure.

But for Lennon to be murdered like that right in front of his apartment seemed to cut the heart out of the City and all of us who grew up singing his songs.

Music has survived the loss of these two iconic songwriters and singers because they impacted the artists who followed them.

We still have John Lennon’s music to remember his talent and rekindle the joy he brought to us in the dark days after the Kennedy Assassination. I always thought it ironic that just when America needs a helping hand trying to get out from under the dark cloud of depression brought on by the Assassination, the Beatles released I Want To Hold Your Hand in America.

We needed a hand to hold in 1963, and we could certainly use one in 2020.

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Infamy At 79

If we still remembered History, we would know the poignancy of the word infamy.


Those of us who are boomers cannot hear or read the word without thinking of FDR’s speech following the sneak attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941.

Nearly thirty-four years later, I was sitting in the endzone of Shea Stadium for a game between the Jets and the Patriots. Joe Namath would throw three touchdowns en route to a 36-7 rout of the Patriots, but this is not what I remember of that day.

During halftime, all those in attendance were asked to honor the Emperor of Japan, Hirohito, and give a rousing Jet welcome. I’m not sure if we were asked to give a rousing Jet welcome or not, but we did clap and cheer somewhat.

Hirohito was Emperor of Japan during World War II and, of course, on December 7, 1941.

At the time, I was in the middle of my graduate degree in American History, and I could not help but think at the time that there were probably a few people in the stands who had fought in World War II or lost loved ones during the war, perhaps even in the Pacific Theater of Operations.

Nevertheless, we cheered out of respect for an ally.

How far we had come in our forgiveness and understanding of a man who had once been our enemy.


It was a fascinating lesson in global politics and something I have always remembered. It is something we should never lose sight of when we determine any nation is our enemy.

Certainly, it is a lesson that we should all ponder in our age of polarization and division. People who disagree with us are not our enemy. People who disagree with us may hold opinions for which we hold no tolerance but that doesn’t mean we should be intolerant to the people who hold such ideas.

Hate the idea, perhaps, but not the person. Leave a little doubt in the absolute righteousness of your own opinions and try to understand the opinion you despise.

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The Last Time We Attended The Tree Lighting

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.

Merry Christmas, everyone.

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His Address It Will Be Changin (With Apologies To Bob Dylan)

His Address It Will Be Changin

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

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Thankful More Than Ever

2020 will not be a year we soon forget despite every effort we may make to do just that.

Nevertheless, as we approach Thanksgiving and the holiday season, there is so much for which I am thankful.

I will create a list, maybe a top ten ala David Letterman but first a few acknowledgments.

COVID is still with us and has accounted for the death of nearly 260,000 Americans.

We can all blame our politicians and call them incompetent cowards, and we can all fight among ourselves, challenging how you supported a traitor or a socialist or a racist, etc., etc., etc. This ability to disagree so vociferously is something for which we can all be thankful. But, at least for Thanksgiving, let’s promise to be genuinely grateful for living in a beautiful country that struggles at times but not enough for us to want to be anywhere else.

Ok, now to my:

TOP TEN THINGS FOR WHICH I AM THANKFUL

10. The Jet’s season is almost over.

 9. It’s finally in the 70s in Florida.

 8. I never got jet lag because my trip to England and Ireland was canceled.

 7. I got my Starbucks Holiday Blend.

 6. I have enough Christmas Ale to get me through St. Patrick’s Day.

 5. Eileen and I will be wintering in The Bronx…not sure of the dates as yet.

 4. Love has conquered sheltering in place and COVID fatigue and paranoia.

 3. All my friends and family have remained healthy.

 2. We will be celebrating the holidays with our kids in March. A little delay is all.

 1. Eileen and I will be grandparents in a couple of weeks, so in the end, 2020 will be remembered as a great year. 

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!  

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Trump Means Never To Have To Say I’m Sorry…Or I Lost

Trump finally has completed his long-promised wall. Unfortunately, the wall is around the White House and not at our southern border. Only white republicans who are fighting the fake election are admitted.

In another development, the New York Daily News just published a pitcher illustrating that the only thing fake about the 2020 election is Rudy Giuliani’s hair color as America’s Mayor was sweating so profusely while railing against our new President that his hair dye was running down his face.

Not a face you want to show.

It is sad to see Rudy, who was so inspirational in the aftermath of 911, especially to New Yorkers. But let’s not forget. He really didn’t do much back then either.

Yeah, he was reassuring. He was calm at a time when the nation was on the brink of a meltdown.

But here are a few things he didn’t do:

He didn’t ground the nation’s airlines.

He didn’t order jet plane surveillance of the eastern seaboard. ( I remember waking up in East Quogue to the sound of those jets.)

He didn’t form the Department of Homeland Security.

There were a countless number of actions Rudy didn’t take and you know why?

IT WASN’T HIS JOB!

IT WAS THE RESPONSIBILITY OF THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES ALONG WITH THE OTHER BRANCHES OF THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT TO PROTECT OUR NATION FROM ANOTHER ATTACK.

Say what you want about George W. Bush, but he never proclaimed himself to be a wartime president and proceeded to the golf course.

Trump left it to the Governors to fend for themselves and then criticized the Democrats.

We are a mere nine months into this pandemic, and the death totals 251,756. This number is probably a little lower than reality as it is felt that there were quite of few who died at home or were misdiagnosed as to the cause of death in the early days of the outbreak.

Nevertheless, 251,756 is a staggering number that is growing every day.

To put this into perspective, the US lost 405,399 in the four years of World War II.

We are likely to reach this total unless something happens.

During the Great Depression (Herbert Hoover’s, not Trump’s), the 20th Amendment was proposed and ratified in January 1933. The amendment changed the inauguration date for the President and Vice President. This was done so that the time between the election and the assumption of power would be reduced.

The inauguration date used to be March 4th.

It has been called the Lame Duch Amendment.

I would welcome a lame duck as opposed to a recalcitrant loser who puts his own ambition and, perhaps freedom, ahead of the nation he has sworn to preserve and protect.

The Grand Old Party died in November 2016 when it sold its soul to a con artist and a bankrupt.

For so long many wondered what would happen if Trump had to deal with a real crisis.

Sadly, we have found out.

I hope it was worth whatever you saved in taxes and that it will get you through the next few months when our economy will take another hit. I will take a snapshot of my 401K because that’s not going to last too long either.

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Dis-Information Age

I was working at a college when Y2K was the biggest fear we had.

It’s funny to think about that now, given what the last twenty years have been like.

In 1999 I was part of a team of administrators working on implementing a new comprehensive and integrated computer system. It was a disaster in the making.

I soon realized (when we couldn’t run any reports or get any information out of the system) that this was going to be known as the Age of Dis-Information.

How prophetic those words would become.

We are all on multiple grids and platforms from which we get our data and information and draw conclusions and make decisions. Nevermind that hackers are out there right now, even reading this blog, working vigorously at gaining an edge the truth.

Maybe they want access to the sites to which we have access?

Maybe they want our personal data or yours? Thinking they can get that when you read this.

I get a summary of where my blog is read. As you might guess, most readers come from the US. However, I do have a few UK and Ireland readers, family, and friends.

Invariably, I have a number from China though my Ukraine readership has declined.

Now it’s entirely possible that readers in these countries have a keen interest in what I have to write. Maybe they gain great insight into American life or culture?

Or, maybe, they are trying to rig me?

I am beginning to think that I did better in college and on the SATs than my academic records indicate. I definitely what an audit and a re-calibration of my GPA. Also, I must have certainly gone to Harvard, so I want the record to indicate that as well.

My next target to have audited is the scale at my doctor’s office.

Talk about scams!

The point is, we are all vulnerable to information manipulation. Between Deep Fake videos and pundits who refuse to consider fairness in reporting and just our inner desire to believe what we want to believe, it will be crucial for us all to separate fact from fiction.

Lying has never been easier when you can make up your name and post on any number of sites whatever you want to stir the pot.

Oh well, no more time to preach; I have to get onto Twitter and Reddit!

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Right Of Reconciliation

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.

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When The Team You Love Doesn’t Love You Back

I have been a Yankee fan for as long as I can remember. My earliest recollection of being a fan was my birthday in 1956 when I was six years old. My Uncle Al worked for Railway Express and had Yankee Stadium on his route.
He frequently went into the locker room with a delivery, and as my birthday neared, he asked for an autographed hat for his nephew and God Child. Being 1956, he got Mickey to sign a hat.

Anyway, for over sixty years, I have been a die-hard Yankee fan. During those sixty-plus years, the Yankees have been a source of great joy, and I have cherished every moment, even the losing seasons.

But then, in 1965, when I was fifteen, I went to my first professional football game.

My brother had just gotten season tickets for the American Football League New York Jets, and he took me to a game. Now, you must know my brother and I were die-hard New York Giant fans and loved all of their stars. Tittle and Gifford and Huff were some of our favorites, but you could never get a ticket to a Giant game, and you only saw them on TV when they were playing an away game.
Thank God for Marty Glickman and Al DeRogatis, who expertly described the games on the radio.

So, in 1965 I attended my first football game and watched Joe Namath throw a football like no one I had ever seen.

It was love at first sight.

Eventually, my friend Mike and I got our own season tickets in 1968, and we won the AFL Championship Game, which we attended at Shea Stadium, and then the Jets won the Super Bowl.

The Jets did a lot to earn our love, and through the years, we have been loyal fans.
Lately, however, the Jets have not done much to sustain our love. They haven’t loved us back. They have taken our love for granted and have broken our hearts on a seasonal basis.

But, when you are trapped in a relationship, it is tough to walk away. You believe them when they hire a new coach who promises to be a winner. You believe them when they draft a new quarterback who will restore the team to greatness. You believe them that things will get better.

To be sure, there have been times when we had every reason to believe that the Jets were sincere about their love for us. We had some very satisfying years. I am not talking about winning a Super Bowl but a season where the Jets are still relevant at Thanksgiving.

Lately, the Jets haven’t been relevant on Columbus Day.

Love hurts when you are taken for granted, and when your feelings aren’t acknowledged by your beloved. But you disdain the concept of loving another. You refuse to move on. You still think there is hope for this relationship.
It’s hard to believe that you are still stuck in this quagmire, but you always wear your Green proudly even as people look at you in dismay.

So it’s still J E T S Jets! Jets! Jets!

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