Heroes Of The Week

The way things are going, I could devote every single Friday to another mass shooting story. And every single Friday would be filled with stories of the dead and promises by our elected officials to dishonor their memories by sticking with the status quo. So this week, no snarky intro and no superhero images leading us into the next episode and no tune to send us into the weekend. The void seems an apt one, all things considered.

And so it goes . . .

NBA fines Kevin Durant $50,000 over language he used to Michael Rapaport

I’ve got a double dose of knuckleheadedness (Merriam Webster won’t accept this word, so I tucked it into my Fridays). This one is made possible by NBA superstar Kevin Durant and actor Michael Rappaport. The Brooklyn Nets small forward has a penchant for being overly sensitive to criticism, which is a seriously weak trait for a high profile athlete. Enter Rapaport, who tossed some trash in KD’s direction which resulted in an unfortunate return on this wasted investment. So the actor decided to dish up Durant’s reply for public consumption and yeah, these are grown ass men we’re talking about here. They’re a double play combination of dumb meeting dumber. Grow up fellas!

Shaq Pays Off Man's Engagement Ring Debt In Generous Act Caught On Video

If I was providing a title to this next story, it would be Brother Can You Spare A Diamond?. Because that’s what Shaquille O’ Neal did recently for a young man in a jewelry store in McDonough, Georgia. The customer was inquiring as to how much he still owed on a ring purchase and when O’Neal overheard the conversation, he pulled out his credit card and settled up. Shaq’s take is he’s just looking to help people out in any way he can. All he really cares about is making people smile, and the big guy does it on a regular basis. The dude brings a whole new meaning to the term ‘World Champion’.

Batgirl gets her revenge on The Joker in 'Injustice: Gods Among Us'

Speaking of growing up, Matt Gaetz doesn’t get the nod this week either. Fuck that guy . . let him stew in our green room for at least another week. After the last story, three would most definitely be a clown. I mean, a crowd. Both!

Instead, Imma turn this ride around and hit the Up button. Tom Cornish, a 96 year old WWII veteran, has never stopped giving back to the country he loves. The former Navy man and native Minnesotan has devoted his life to volunteerism, which is something he shared with his wife Marvel until her passing. Last year, Tom’s daughter gifted him a hat knitting kit and it might as well have been a light bulb sent courtesy of the universe. Because Cornish, he hatched a plan right from the get. Knitting has been a long time hobby, and so he took the kit and re-gifted it . . in the very best way. Last year he donated 400 handmade hats, and he’s still going.  Cornish says he takes pride in the fact “other people are getting something out of my labor. It’s better than playing cards or looking out the window.”

His window is open, to the whole wide world.

I’ve already made it known LaVar Burton is my answer to the question as to who should replace Alex Trebek as host of Jeopardy!. That said, I gotta admit, Green Bay Packer QB Aaron Rodgers is a natural in his own right. But this is ALL about the response a contestant gave in the final round last week. Scott Shewfelt was at a loss for the answer so he decided to troll Rodgers by writing “Who wanted to kick that field goal?”, which referred to the Packers ill fated decision to put Rodgers on the sideline and settle for three points in a season ending loss. The quarterback has been openly critical of the decision ever since, but he took the jab in stride on this night. It was fun to watch.

News, Living Water Lawn And Garden, Las Vegas, Nevada, NV

This understated episode finds its way home by way of Las Vegas. The Las Vegas Community Healing Garden was grown on the site of one of the worst mass shootings in the history of this country. On October 1st, 2017, a gunman opened fire on a crowd of concert goers during the Route 91 Harvest Festival, killing 58 and injuring 489 more.

A beautiful place to reflect': Memorial garden springs up downtown to honor victims - Las Vegas Sun Newspaper

The next day, a sketch on a cocktail napkin became the blueprint for an idea. To make a garden out of the site in honor of the lost. By late afternoon, the plan was set in place and by the end of the week, the project was completed. So the next time someone tells you nothing can be done about the gun crisis in this country, take note of what was accomplished inside of basically four days time.

Healing Las Vegas | News Center | University of Nevada, Las Vegas

Community organizations, small business owners and volunteers of all ages came together and brought life back to a place that had lost so much of it. A “Tree of Life” was donated by Siegfried and Roy. 58 more trees were donated in honor of each life that had been stolen on that October night. There is a Remembrance Wall, painted rocks with the names of the lost, flowers, pictures and other mementoes placed on the grounds in their memory.

The Las vegas Community Healing Garden - 2021 All You Need to Know BEFORE You Go (with Photos) - Tripadvisor

There’s a garden in Las Vegas where the lost have a name, and it’s testament to what can be done when people come together for the greater good. Because nothing will change until we recognize that so much has to change. We owe it to the countless thousands of souls whose voices have been lost to the madness and we owe it to our children.

We have to give tomorrow a chance.

Photo of Las Vegas Community Healing Garden - Las Vegas, NV, United States

 

 

 

 

History’s Uppercut

Baylor Falls to Gonzaga 83-71 - Our Daily Bears

This happens to be more times than I figured on writing anything about college basketball, and it’s entirely the fault of the Gonzaga Bulldogs. And maybe I’ll never write another word about a sport I have no investment in, excepting for a signed basketball by the 1991 Duke team that won a national title. And that’s okay with me, because Gonzaga made me pay attention on Monday night.

Watch? Well . . no. I was tired and so I napped away the first half before waking to a Baylor rout in the making. And so I figured it was a good bet that the 1976 Indiana Hoosiers would remain the last undefeated champion in the sport. I didn’t feel the need to watch history take its best shot, because I know how that usually turns out.

The Zags had a great season at 31-1, even if that one loss looks bigger than the thirty one wins that came before it. That’s how it works in sports. History doesn’t play nice when it comes to matters of perfection. I’m not sure how many college basketball teams have gotten close to a perfect season. I remember UNLV losing their chance to that Duke team in the ’91 National Semis. And I think Kentucky had a chance a while back. Gonzaga got further than either of these teams, but still . . falling forty minutes short only feels worse.

The New England Patriots had the worst 18-1 record in NFL history back in 2007, seeing as how the one loss came in the last game of the season with a chance at perfection in their grasp. Since the Hoosiers perfecto of a season, many have tried but none have succeeded. Because the only sure thing about sports is that, more often than not, it flips the script on you when you least expect it.

To set a course for perfection is a brilliant sounding plan, but as former New York Giant Michael Strahan once remarked “Everybody has a plan until they get punched in the face”. And while he was talking about how his Giants took it to those perfect Pats, he might as well have been talking about history’s uppercut. It’s a keeper.

It doesn’t change the narrative, not for me it doesn’t. Because the Gonzaga kids earned the right to be immortalized by getting to the final game of the season with nary a pimple on their season’s resume. Inside the forty minutes they played last night, it wasn’t about wins or losses as much as it was about the chance to deliver an outcome whose echo will keep paying it forward for decades on end.

And in the end, the echo will carry. Sure, the ending is going to look a lot different than they were planning on. But they’ll be remembered nonetheless, and for a good long while. Until some other college team makes it through a season unscathed, at which time it will become their turn to figure out how to win the gauntlet with history breathing down their necks.

I’d have to believe the Gonzaga kids will be pulling for them.

 

Heroes Of The Week!

Zack Snyder's Justice League: New Clip Teases Black-and-White Version

Another week and another slew of forgettable and worse stories making headlines From the 100 fully vaccinated peeps getting COVID in Washington State to Florida Representative Matt Gaetz being investigated for sex trafficking to yet another mass shooting, this one in Southern California.

This week’s episode isn’t perfect, but hey . . I learned it from watching news. So what do you say we get to it? . . .

Deflategate victory leaves Roger Goodell all powerful in kingdom of NFL | Sporting News

Raja could be here for his latest money grab, in the form of a 17th game. But the NFLPA and the owners were more than happy to go along with it as they move towards an eventual 18 game season so whatever. But no more PSA’s about injuries and early retirements after this, fellas, because y’all signed off on it.

No, the Boss of all Sports Bosses is here because of his silence on the Deshaun Watson front. The Houston Texans star currently faces twenty-one sexual assault allegations. Not that long ago, Watson trade talk was all the rage, and while it has been muted since these charges went public, it’s incumbent on Goodell to freeze any trade talk. Immediately. The idea that teams called Houston after the allegations began multiplying is sickening, and I hope those teams are identified so their people are called to answer for it.

Fox, OAN Shoot Down Matt Gaetz's Dream of Becoming a Right-Wing Media Star | Vanity Fair

A new first on Heroes and it’s happening because I don’t feel like talking about Matt Gaetz this week. But a coming attraction for when I break out a can of whoop-ass on this friend of Trump? Oh hell yeah. Stay tuned . . .

Alright, enough of that nonsense. Next up, I have a double dose of delightful served up by Dale. You dig?

Max with Joe's sleeping bag 1.JPG

First up is an 11 year old by the name of Max Woosey who went on a 365 day (or in this case, night) winning streak when the lockdown began last March. His team? The North Devon Hospice in England. It all began when little Max was gifted a sleeping bag by his neighbor, who later died of cancer. The kid decided to camp out in his backyard with the sleeping bag when he learned all hospice fund raising events had been canceled due to COVID-19. Thanks to his sponsors, one year later, Max had collected more than half a million pounds. He went through several tents as a result of the weather; one gifted to him by the family of a soldier who died while serving in Afghanistan. Thanks to Max’s efforts, the hospice has been able to provide care for the people who need it most. Gives a whole new meaning to good night’s sleep, doesn’t it?

Peak Vista vaccinates 200 local homeless people | News | csindy.com

Speaking of people in need, the homeless population has been overlooked in too many cities as the mad rush for vaccinations continues. Colorado Springs ain’t one of those places, thanks to the Peak Vista Community Health Centers and Springs Rescue Mission. This dynamic duo got together to provide two hundred doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine to the homeless in Colorado Springs.

“This is a turning point for the community,” says Jack Briggs, president and CEO of Springs Rescue Mission. “If you think about homelessness, there are three things you’re trying to address: The first is health, the second is their housing, and the third is work. You can’t get to housing or work if they’re not healthy. The COVID virus has had impact in a lot of communities, but particularly in the homeless community — it’s isolated them even more than before. By getting them vaccinated and prepared to re-enter society, whether it’s in housing or work, having this in their portfolio of health is going to be very important.”

This is how a civilized society conducts its business. Bravo to these good people.

To say I’m not a fan of kids is an understatement. I mean, it’s not like I’m the Child Catcher from Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. That guy went looking for the little buggers, after all. So it’s entirely the fault of the peeps at CNN that I watched an entire two minute video where little kids offered up solutions on how to extricate the cargo ship Ever Given from the Suez Canal. And I probably ain’t gonna have to dare you to watch it either.

Imma put a bow-tie on this week’s episode with a story that puts Grubhub and DoorDash to shame . . . .

Editor’s Note: The author of this post made light of your online businesses, but he wants you to know he truly appreciates your services. So concerning any future orders he might place, no hard feelings . . . coo? 

While Chef Steve Chu is familiar with take-out orders at his Asian-Fusion restaurant in Baltimore, Maryland, he probably never envisioned fulfilling one like this. But when the owner/operator of Ekiben learned that one of his long time patrons was losing her battle with cancer, he decided to cook up her favorite meal for her one last time. Personally.

Chu, along with his business partner and a restaurant worker loaded up his pickup truck and made way for the parking lot of her condominium where they fired up the grill and cooked up some tempura broccoli. Oh yeah . . did I forget to mention that his long time patron lives in Vermont now? Yeah . . . six hours . . . over five hundred miles . . . and the best damn dish of tempura broccoli. Ever.

The offer to stay for dinner was politely refused, and no payment was taken for the good deed. For Chu, it was about doing right by a customer who had become so much more than a number. It was his way of saying thank you to her for all the times she chose his place to visit. It was his way of giving back to the people who kept him afloat through some pretty tough times. Because sometimes it’s about the journey and sometimes it’s about the destination and sometimes, well . . yeah.

It’s about both.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Partly Interesting With A Chance Of Greatness

Beavers bound for Elite Eight with 65-58 win over Loyola | Ncaa Basketball  | hastingstribune.com

In lieu of common sense and because I don’t drink the way I used to, Imma dish yet again on the world of college basketball. Or more specifically, “March Madness”. For those of you unfamiliar with the college basketball tournament, congratulations! It means you have a life.

For the rest of the population, this month long carnival validates our belief in the underdog. It’s a time when fans can rejoice in the accomplishments of student athletes while paying homage to sacred programs run by coaches who value teaching above wins and losses . . . okay, that’s not it at all. Nope, March Madness is when fans blow their vacation money on schools they never heard of. It’s also a convenient excuse to drink too much beer and eat too many hot wings . . and call off work.

In spite of the much hyped moniker, there’s precious little madness to it all. It’s a tournament that involves sixty-four teams, although by now it might be sixty-eight . . or a hundred . . rest assured it’s a shitload of teams. They all have one thing in common, they’re all unpaid amateurs . . tall, lanky pups who’ve been seeded based on the opinions of a committee made up of . . you guessed it, NCAA suits. But it doesn’t matter what the suits say because these are kids we’re talking about here. And if the star player for a “prohibitive favorite” ends up getting dumped by his high school sweetheart? Well, you can use your bracket for toilet paper.

Tournament seedings are based on qualifiers such as conference strength, conference records, ranked vs unranked teams and other important sounding bullshit. But it’s all conjecture. You’re better off wagering a thousand bucks that you’ll run into your doctor in a grocery store checkout today than pluck it down on a group of young men who have little idea what their lives are going to look like next month.

The selling point of “Madness” is that there are upsets aplenty, but a quick look at three of the most talked about finals upsets tells a different story.

1983- North Carolina State defeats Houston: The late Jim Valvano was every bit the crooked recruiter as Houston, he was simply more charming.

1985- Villanova defeats Georgetown: Villanova is a big time basketball program, always has been. No upset there.

1991- Duke defeats UNLV: This was considered an upset because Duke’s roster was full of kids who went to class.

A couple years back, a sixteen seed (the lowest a bracket has to offer) beat the number one seed Virginia Cavaliers. But to go and call it a “monumental upset” is to conveniently forget that Bob Barker is older than the combined age of the Virginia roster. So there’s that.

Which brings us to this year’s darlings of the dance, the undefeated Gonzaga Bulldogs. They are now two wins shy of the title game, and it’s a tilt I would tune in to watch. Not because I believe they’re a mortal lock, but rather, because I know it’s never that easy when you’re talking about kids. Hell, the 2007 New England Patriots were a bunch of grown ass men with rings on their resumes and they got their asses handed to them in a one game winner take all contest.

Of course, there’s still time for some club to knock off the Bulldogs before they get there. After which paid shills journalists and broadcasters will exclaim that “Cinderella” crashed the dance, even if it’s just not true. And what’s even dumber is that these talking pinheads can’t shut up long enough to let the games just be. To let the kids just . . be kids. In all their bluster, they miss the point of it all. Entirely.

The only thing that really has to be true is the chance.

Our National Seal

10 killed in Boulder shooting: Victims identified, suspect charged - ABC News

It’s been a little more than a year since the life we once knew went missing to the vacuous stratagems of measured spaces and protective equipment. Inside this collective time gap, our lives have been made to feel like the chapters of a Richard Preston page turner; witnesses to the terrors of nature, whose shadow remains.

And then the last week reminded us once again, what normal used to look like before we went inside.

When a gunman opened fire with an assault-style rifle at a King Soopers grocery store in Colorado on Monday afternoon, it was the culmination of a week long series of mass shootings across the nation. From Georgia to Oregon. From California to Houston to Dallas to Pennsylvania to a supermarket located just a couple miles off the campus of Colorado University.

America is waking up to the reality of what we had become as a society, and what we still are. And now we get to read about the latest failures of our local, state and federal agencies. We get to listen to the mind numbingly tone deaf rants of elected officials who use the tragic occasions to spew their rhetoric. We get to hear first hand accounts of the war that’s been taking place right here at home for far too long a time.

Colorado shooting at supermarket leaves 10 dead in latest mass tragedy; suspect in custody | Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Ryan Borowski provided one of those first hand accounts from the front lines; a survivor of the Boulder shootings, he’ll never look at Monday afternoons or grocery stores the same way again.

“This feels like the safest spot in America, and I just nearly got killed for getting a soda . .”

It’s too simplistic to call Borowski and all the others who survive these rampages the ‘lucky ones’. Its too neat, since we do not know what they dream about, we do not know all the memories they carry with them in their waking hours. And we pray like hell that we never do.

These Are the Victims of the Atlanta Spa Shootings

The murderous lurk of seven shootings in seven days kept right on going this week. From Ohio to Alabama to Georgia. More lost souls to bury, more first hand accounts to read about and not a whit of hope to cling to inside all the madness.

So here we are, riders on the storm of a battle we can’t pawn off on 2020. And we’re left to wonder why it was that we yearned for a return to business as usual without considering what that used to mean. Because just as we struggle to loose ourselves from the entanglement of one terror, we step right back into the clutches of another.

It feels so damned naïve, to think about how we wanted to go back to the way things were before.

Sadly, we got it.

On a COVID Beach Walk

So Frank has decided to commandeer my blog for a beach walk, like in those cop shows when the dude waves his badge in the middle of the street and rides off with some poor schlep’s Mid-size?

Okay maybe not. Instead Imma call this a friendly visit from Frank “Beaches” Angle, who is going to try his damndest to class up the joint for a spell with one of his beach walks. I warned him that I’m beyond help, but he’s just not having it, so there’s that.

Anyways, enjoy the walk!

Click the video above for 2 minutes of background waves while reading.

I like to walk on the beach. It is good for the mind, body, and soul – and refreshing on my feet.

Today, I walk with a heavy heart. I think about one year ago – late February 2020 –  a time when we were entering our final week as snowbirds at the beach – doing things for the last time before returning to our northern home. COVID had entered the USA, but life for my relatives in Italy had already ground to a halt.

Photo by Anna Shvets on Pexels.com

A year ago was a time when some proclaimed the virus contained in the USA; passing through like the wind, therefore limiting cases to a handful of 20-25. A year ago was a time when some dismissed COVID cases compared to the flu.

A year ago, we saw reports of overwhelmed Italian hospitals and the beginning of the assault on New York City. We were preparing for our two-day journey home where my wife would have a few days to reorganize before departing on her annual cruise with her friends – leaving the husbands behind to fend for themselves.

During her week away when Ohio and other states went into lockdown – a time when people ravaged grocery stores and stocked up on paper and cleaning products. After seeing televised reports, my wife would call from a port to ask what was going on. Her ship made it back and hasn’t had passengers since she disembarked. She told me of the ship’s precautions and the crazed behaviors she observed at the airport.

As I draft this one year later, the death toll in the USA just passed 500,000. Yes, the USA – a country that is 4% of the world’s population having over 20% of the world’s pandemic deaths. 

I think about my time here at the beach one year later – fewer snowbird renters, restaurants are not busy, and fewer people in stores. The great music venue only 300 steps away is a regular place for us, but a place we never entered this year.

I think about my cousins in Italy who spent months in their apartment; and only allowed to leave for necessities. Only one of them going to a market where they may have to wait in line to enter; and then have a limited time to shop.

Photo by Josh Hild on Pexels.com

I think about how a democracy can be messy. Too many Americans declaring a violation of rights based on Constitutional principles they misinterpret. People with countless reasons to justify a position – reasons that may be valid or invalid. Elected officials politicizing human health and general welfare – something that is still difficult for me to grasp.

I think about those who said they are living in a Communistic state. I wonder if the Czechs in the 1940s would agree when the Allies handled their democracy to the Nazis on a silver platter. What would the same Czechs say after the Soviet occupation took hold after the war – a control lasting over 40 years. 

I think about those who provided simple solutions as, “We have to learn to live with this virus.” Isn’t that what masking does? Is that the role of social distancing? Isn’t that getting a vaccine to everyone as quickly as possible? Isn’t that choosing to take the vaccine?

Over 500,000 Americans, gone in a year. Yes, a small percentage of our total population – but still, a half a million with tens of thousands more on the near horizon – and so many died alone.

I think about how the past year has ripped away something for everyone – yet, I laughed when American late-night host Jimmy Kimmel said at the beginning of Lent – (I paraphrase) – What is left to give up for Lent?

Over 500,000 people – gone – family members, friends, neighbors, co-workers to someone. Advocates, givers, and jokesters – the athletic, the artistic, the organizers, and the doers – the rich and the poor – the famous and the ordinary – the empathetic and the selfish – the nice and the mean – the positive and the negative – the young and the old – the humble and the egotistic – gone.

Photo by Laura James on Pexels.com

Over 500,000 people –  more than the cumulative USA battlefield casualties of major wars. People with quiet integrity and huge hearts. People whom we’ve never met. People that we would be proud to know.  Gone – and most with a limited funeral at best. 

I think about a higher number – those losing their job during the pandemic – some of those jobs never to return. Food banks, present to help the needy, but with new demands stressing their supply. Cheers to the many who stepped forward to help the supply – but the demand continues. 

In a conversation last summer, I asked this question: What have we learned? But, I wonder if people can answer that question beyond their political bias. One year later, after turning life in the world upside down – after a year of many losses – I occasionally still ask that one question, but seldom get a thoughtful answer.  

On the plus side, it’s been a year of celebrating health care workers, although we may not understand their stress. We celebrate that science works – although many still don’t understand it. We celebrate that kindness still works – even something as simple as checking on someone. 

I think about how every one of us lost numerous opportunities and precious time. Some of us have handled it better than others. Then again, the selfish are seldom happy.

Yes, my heart is heavy today. Like many others, I reminisce of better times and hope for better days ahead. On the other hand, I’m still standing on the upward side of the grass; healthy and walking on the beach – which is good for the mind, body, and soul – and refreshing on my feet.

To Thine Own Self, Be Mellow

If there’s one thing that flips my script, it’s someone harshing my mellow. In my last love thing, it happened just like that. She wrote a blog post in which she used the phrase (Harsh my mellow) in a curiously sardonic fashion. Curious because she knew it was my Zen place and yet she found it necessary to peddle the shit in an impudent middle finger to me. Sure, the gesture was little more than a passive/aggressive jab, but to me it was kryptonite on a platter. It wasn’t the reason for our Waterloo, just a sign that we had already set sail for the place.

So when I complain about the Block editor, it’s because the thing harshes a mellow I struggle to hold onto every single day. I understand this makes me cranky and temperamental and maybe even unreasonable to the dynamics of a relationship, in this case, writing. Thing is, why is it wrong to hold to such a thing? Why should I feel like I’m the one at fault for simply crushing on a method and wanting to keep it status quo?

The status quo is a vastly underrated neighborhood. It gets the shit beaten out of it by progress only because technology is changing the world every couple months. Adapting means you either get down with the next gen sexy or you find yourself staying home on Saturday night. And that’s cool, to a point.

But to paraphrase a Billy Joel standard, as it pertains to Block Editor, don’t go changing to try and fleece me, When the website mavens from San Fran felt like it was time to banish the old in favor of a brand spanking new ride, they shouldn’t make peeps feel old in the process. That shit harshes my mellow, man!

The search for peace of mind comes from a less simple time in my life, made less simple by yours truly. It was a low down dirty existence of a past, inside of which the only thing that mattered when push began shoving me off the edge was that indefinable construct that my brain could nestle inside of. There had to be something that mattered. I mean . . really mattered. 

The mellow is a conduit for me, the intersection of creativity and peace of mind, the latter of which is a priceless commodity. It’s just one of those things that I consider sacred, in a world where sacred things would get turned down if they applied for a loan.

Personally, I think the plushest flowers grow best when the garden is arcane.