Today’s Birthday! (Reading between the lines edition)

You are extremely clever, (as opposed to being smart . . which requires you to use your brain more than twice a day) and oftentimes mischievous (hell, this week alone you scored a cashier at Whole Foods . . a real estate agent with a foot fetish and a waitress who loves all things tantric) – a trait that keeps you youthful in spirit throughout life! (bourbon helps. lots. and that tantric shit doesn’t hurt one bit. combine the two and you might very well have discovered the secret to life) As intelligent and talented as you are, (according to you) you see so many possible paths to take that it can be challenging to focus on only one. (no . . this doesn’t mean a three-way. that shit has more complications than the iPhone SE. focus!) Fortunately, you are versatile enough to make more than one life path successful. (no. shit.) You tend to attract non-traditional relationship set-ups. (so make sure the dead bolts are locked and loaded and the back door is clear when you get an early morning visit from a pissed off husband).

John the Baptist

The memories are sketchy. I was maybe seven years old and the teachers had arranged an Easter egg hunt for the class. We filed down the stairs to the yard in the back of the school, lined up against a wall that was bleeding paint chips. The structural integrity of the school left a lot to be desired. It was decades removed from any kind of worthwhile maintenance. The yards however, they were quite lovely from what I remember. We were told it was because the yard was tended to by local parishioners of the church that bordered us, not that we really cared.

All that mattered were the monkey bars, the swings and the see saw which sat in a lonely corner of the yard, away from the plush gardens; almost as if an afterthought in spite of the utility of recess.

The only part of the hunt I remember was finding an Easter egg tucked at the base of a tree. I pretended I didn’t see it, in spite of the bright infusion it threw inside the pale dirt. I was waiting for Patty, who in spite of my best judgment, had become my school girlfriend. Truth be told, outside of the thunder claps of blonde hair that sprouted from her pigtails, we shared no kismet. She thought me a ‘bad boy’ for cursing all the time, and I found it repugnant that she couldn’t do a better job of wiping her nose. Yet somehow, we had forged a strange alliance. We looked out for each other, as if we knew there were struggles we had endured far beyond the walls of a school.

So when I found that Easter egg nestled inside the veins of a big old tree, I waited for her. She hadn’t found an egg to that point, and I felt badly for my gal pal. I remember just standing guard, waiting for her to arrive when a teacher came up to me, bent down and picked up the egg and said something to the effect of,

“Oh for God’s sakes! It’s right here!”

I don’t remember the teacher, but I do remember hating her for killing my moment. And I remember carrying that hate with me for the rest of the day. The world was full of adults who wanted to steal your dreams before they got started.

After school, I was ushered back to the yard with the other kids whose parents schedules conflicted with the end of the school day. For the span of an hour or more, we would entertain ourselves with war games and marbles and school gossip.

Me? I usually just wanted to run, until I got to anywhere else. This entailed scaling a tall, chain link fence that surrounded the yard. After which one of the Baptist kids who volunteered to watch us would have to give chase. My legs were filled with rocket fuel on this particular day, and if memory serves me right, I made it a couple city blocks before being caught.

The kid’s name was John. A tall and lanky, clean cut high school student who never lost his cool. No matter how hard I tried. He must’ve chased me down dozens of times, and never once did he utter a bad word or flash me a disjointed look. He would simply walk me back to the school yard, every single time.

There we were, sitting in exhausted heaps on the cool concrete sidewalk, not saying a word to each other; simply trying to get back to even before returning to the yard. I was a kid who hated adults and Jesus and anything that ever tried to tell me the what’s what, but try as I might? I couldn’t hate John. We walked back to the school in silence as I tried to find a reason to believe in the world.

It was years before I realized I’d already found one.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Heroes Of The Week!

This week’s Heroes entry is slightly more hushed than previous episodes. Maybe it’s the season, I don’t know. I was tossing with doing an abbreviated version but then the stories took the wheel and before I knew it . . I had myself a traditional five spot. And so it is . . .

Like Father, Like Son: When Aric Tegtmeier took the stage today at his graduation ceremony, it was the culmination of a lifelong dream. For him, and for his father too. Aric officially entered the brotherhood of the FDNY at the age of twenty four. He will be assigned to the West Farms section of the Bronx, a short distance from Ladder 46 where his father served. Paul Tegtmeier was thirty nine years old when he joined the department- just under the age cutoff for new hires.

Paul was forty one when his company was called to the World Trade Center in 2001. He was one of 343 FDNY first responders who answered the call, and never came home. Aric was six when his father was lost and he says his dream of wanting to follow in his footsteps only grew stronger after  September 11th.

Now Aric will take the place of his old man, almost eighteen years removed from the day when his life and the lives of so many were changed forever. When all those bumper sticker proclamations of never forgetting began getting lost in the rear view, there were plenty of sons and daughters just like him who were abiding. They never forgot the one true thing, and they never will.

Mueller Report, Schmueller Report: Much ado about bupkis, and I’m not surprised. Seeing as how the report contained more redactions than an Applebee’s menu, what were we supposed to gain from this? Will the calls for a ‘free range’ report ever be taken seriously? Or will our children’s children have to wait to find out the what’s what on Trump and his bed mates?

Oh, and having Attorney General James Barr dish up sonnets in the lead up to the release of the report is some extra crispy bullshit right there. But once again, it’s a matter of being told our eyes and ears are deceiving us. That we are the ones in the wrong if we don’t go along with the party line.

Columbus Day!: I do understand that to celebrate the Columbus Blue Jackets‘ victory over the Tampa Bay Lightning is mostly counterproductive. Both teams are more of the same as per the expansion era Americanization of a Canadian sport. But . . . at least Ohio gets four seasons. That’s a rule of mine. If the city gets snow, it can get hockey. Florida should stick to trying to get football right, because it’s doing a shit job of it right now.

A Disney Cruz: Remember how Ted Cruz was supposed to take the reins from the crumbling GOP after Trump laid waste to the other front runners during the primaries? And remember how that never happened? You know why?

Because Ted Cruz is a schmuck.

I guess old Ted was sick and tired of having been rendered a Trivial Pursuit question. And really, in today’s politics? Making the news is all that really counts, so mission accomplished. Cruz decided to throw some shade at Disney after the company announced it was donating $5 million dollars to help rebuild Notre Dame Cathedral. Proving that no good deed goes unpunished, Cruz sent out a tweet that would’ve had Mickey throwing down both middle fingers.

“Wonderful! Will we see Disney princesses in the new stained glass?

Of course, Ted would have had to read up on the fire which ravaged this sacred cathedral in order to learn that the stained glass windows were saved. But hey . . why do your homework when making machine gun bacon gets you elected?

It’s a good thing we carry with us the hope that the good days will outweigh the bad ones, and that loss will be served with rebirth. When the horrible truths of the world bring us to our knees, it’s important to have faith in something . . in someone.

Father Jean-Marc Fournier is the chaplain of the Paris Fire Brigade. As fire laid waste to the roof of Notre Dame Cathedral, Fournier insisted on re-entering the structure in an attempt to retrieve some of the priceless artifacts housed within.

He was joined by a group of rescue workers who formed a human chain in order to save the Crown of Thorns- believed to have been worn by Jesus during the crucifixion- and the tunic of Saint Louis which was worn by King Louis IV when he brought the crown to Paris.

Fournier has a resume of doing this kind of thing. He served as a military chaplain in Afghanistan before joining the Fire Brigade. In the aftermath of the 2015 Bataclan terrorist attacks, he helped to evacuate the victims. He also gave absolution to those lost in the attacks.

Holy Week always feels quiet to me, but never more so than after this trying week. That hush of appreciation for the mysteries that might hold answers, it speaks to me this time of year. And I do hold to the idea that all is never lost.

Only misplaced.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ashes To Ashes

FRANCE-FIRE-NOTRE DAME

Robert Louis Stevenson once said that mankind is never so happily inspired as when it made a cathedral.

And so it was that in 1163, more than a hundred and fifty years before the world would come into full bloom with the dawn of the Renaissance, hope was risen with the first bricks of a timeless symbol that would come to define a city, a nation and the world it would grow up inside of.

The name possessed a gravitas and evoked reverence the world over. It was a symbol which transcended religion. The underpinnings of this wondrous creation of man was a muse to pilgrims and painters and poets and the dreams they had in common.

Deep within the womb of this timeless place, history was birthed countless times. Henry VI was made King of France here, and later, Napoleon was named Emperor inside its confines. And in the early 20th century, Joan of Arc was beatified inside the cathedral by Pope Pius X.

Our Lady of Paris survived the French Revolution as well as two World Wars. And when its health was failing in the nineteenth century, Victor Hugo’s book “The Hunchback of Notre Dame” helped usher in a revitalization effort. The medieval spire, which had been removed a century earlier, was rebuilt.

The significance of that spire is testimony to the efforts of a group of people who ventured back inside as the fire was laying waste to the roof of the cathedral. A group of public servants and firemen formed a human chain and retrieved several priceless artifacts, including the Crown of Thorns- believed to have been worn by Jesus on the cross- and the Blessed Sacrament. The roof, constructed from 5,000 oak trees by more than a thousand men, could not be saved.

It was sometime around 8 p.m. when the spire was taken from the world in a heap of ash. A symbol of hope and faith, stolen away by the flames forever. And as the sun set on the city, our Lady of Paris said goodbye to the world.

And Jesus wept.

The Zen of Katharine Hepburn, Dragons and Tigers and Canada’s Best

I was watching Bringing Up Baby earlier today and thinking to myself that Katharine Hepburn possessed the rare ability to play opposite any leading man. No matter how aloof (Cary Grant), scene stealing (Jimmy Stewart) intense (Bogart) or intimidating (Spencer Tracy) the personality, Kate made ’em look like pups once the director yelled ‘Action!’ and the match got lit.

For some . . it be that way.

It got me thinking about how damned comfortable some people can be in their own skin, while others spend a lifetime searching for that precious real estate. We’re adaptations whose chapters are constantly being written and re-written. Here on solid ground, we’re graded on the shit. But I like to think the cosmic plan is a tad bit more understanding. As I watched her nail the landing in scene after scene, chasing her pet leopard as well as the man of her dreams, it felt as if Kate and the Universe were on a first name basis. Handling her lines the way Ted Williams used to hug a curve ball. Smiling in a way that made you wish you were the reason for it. As if the secret to life truly was black and white.

Those thoughts of mine begat more thoughts . . .

  • Like, I plum forgot what last season’s Game of Thrones was all about, so it was a good thing I watched the two minute catch-up before tonight’s season premiere.
  • It was an ayt first inning, with plenty of table setting shit happening. And even still, I was literally gawking as I watched the first few minutes with the gang all there. It was like a class re-union, if my class was full of really cool ass kids whose drug of choice was Valyrian steel.
  • The best part is, I didn’t even need my special edition Oreos to enjoy it.

GOT Oreos

  • Just a couple, three fingers of Knob Creek and cold Sams on demand.
  • Oh . . what? Like you don’t treat a season premiere as if it’s a sporting event too? Puhleeze!

Sansa Stark: What do dragons eat anyway? 

Daenerys Targaryen: Whatever they want . . .

  • Yup . . they still got it.
  • Hey, Tiger won a major for the first time since Trump was bossing around interns and not an entire country.
  • I don’t watch much golf, but when my son texted me that Tiger had won the Masters, my official reply was Holy fucking shit!! I missed it??? I mean, I behaved as if I had a set of golf clubs. Imagine that.
  • Oh, and do yourself a favor? Don’t be like me and go chasing Gypsy Blanchard documentaries with Chris Watts documentaries on YouTube. Lest you find yourself watching Rob Zombie’s The Lords of Salem at one o’clock in the morning whilst taking communion with an Italian sub. I do not recommend it . . .
  • Of course, that YouTube spell also introduced me to Billie Eilish, whose wicked hatchet of a voice sings songs of death. Gloriously.
  • And Pluto TV should be called Satan Woo. Which is my way of saying I likey.
  • Every time I see someone vaping, I feel as if I should tell them to donate their lungs while they still got ’em.
  • So the lesson for all the kids out there is to stay in school, and if you’re gonna smoke . . go with nicotine. At least you know how that’s going to work on your insides.
  • I’m not gonna lie, I didn’t know that vines were a big deal until they were no longer a big deal.
  • I had a sausage McGriddle sammy for breakfast last week, and as far as best inventions of all time go . . it’s right up there with the wheel and the light bulb in my book.
  • As you can probably tell, I’m not a tough grader.
  • My new running playlist includes Grandmaster Flash, Salt ‘N Pepa, Public Enemy, Queen Latifah, the Sugarhill Gang, N.W.A, Dr. Dre, and MC Lyte. Its like I’m pumping morphine into my dogs whilst French kissing a turbine. Chill fixed, plunge ready . . coo.

And last but most certainly not least, is a shout out to my blog pal Dale Rogerson over at A Dalectable Life. I call her Q, and she calls me all sorts of names. But I leave her to that, because she’s usually spot on in the doing. And while she doesn’t have maple syrup running through her veins- that’s an urban legend- she is still plenty sweet. And totally real.

She happens to think Les Habitants will one day rule the hockey world again (I hope she’s right), and that George Ezra can sing the daylights out of a full moon and that every kitchen has a soul and that the Universe believes in her, most days. Which gives me a leg up on the great big forever, because I believe in her . . like, all the time.

Today marks the birthday of our Queen to the North. Who celebrates her life, one cup of Joe at a time. With a smile that lingers, and a laugh that prospers and a heart that beats to a rhythm that is contagious and true.

Here’s to Canada.