Heroes Of The Week! (Old School Edition)

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Today Imma take the way-back machine© to the not so way back of times, when the good and the not so good shared this patch of WP grass. Interestingly, none of the plus sides are mine . . which is probably the universe telling me I need to incorporate more fiber into my diet, I’m not sure. All I know is you peeps keep on keeping on with the good stuff, so I ain’t complaining one bit.

And now to this week’s episode . . .

Cardboard cut-outs with portraits of Borussia Moenchegladbach's supporters are seen at the Borussia Park stadium.

We’re starting things off with the beautiful game, and it’s a beautiful story that Peter from over at Cheers, Govanhill brings to us this week. Borussia Monchengladbac (say that one time fast) is a club in the Bundesliga football league, and they got back to work last month inside a new reality: No fans in the stands. So the club went about the task of filling the stands with cardboard cut-outs. The upside is that these faux fans don’t drink copious amounts of alcohol and scream all manner of artful particulars in the doing. This just so happens to he the downside as well, because yanno . . that’s part of what gives the game its soul. So the boys at Borussia came up with a soulful solution by selling the cut-outs to their fans for twenty bucks a pop, with the profits earmarked for local causes.

“When you first come into the stadium, for three or four seconds you don’t realize that it’s not real people,” Borussia player Marcus Thuram says.

And while the stands may not bring the noise, the spirit is alive and kicking. Which makes this idea a game winner.

Image credit: YouTube

Who among us hasn’t crafted a four lettered rebuttal when muscle car owners decide to let everyone hear what’s going on under the hood? But there is such a thing as context, and a Texas woman learned that lesson the hard way recently when she decided to play Sheriff to a caravan of cars in her neighborhood. They had arranged this “cruise” to help celebrate a ten year’s old boy’s birthday, revving their engines in unison as they passed his house. And that’s where the nosy neighbor stepped in to put a stop to the festivities. Which ended up backfiring when word got out that she had stalled the parade and more cars showed up later on, at the request of other neighbors.

Cutting to the chase, the woman’s complaints fell on deaf ears with the local police and now she’s listing her house. So you could say this squeaky wheel got . . replaced?

And speaking of cruising, that’s what Marcus Harvey and Tre’ Jones of Marion, Indiana were doing when they came upon a shroud of smoke. The kids pulled over to find where the source of the smoke was coming from and that’s when they were told that a neighbor’s house was on fire and that a man was still inside. So they went all Superman, breaking down the door and retrieving Guy Tarlton, who was laying unconscious in his living room. Tarlton suffered first and third degree burns and is currently in a medically induced coma, but his chances of survival are entirely the result of Harvey and Jones, who put their lives on the line without a second thought. These young men put the first in responder.

Robert Williams

This next story is what George Orwell warned us about more than three quarters of a century ago. It involves the use of facial recognition in criminal investigation and it speaks to a flawed technology that is more dangerous than it is useful. Forty two year old Robert Williams of Detroit found this out the hard way when police arrested him outside of his home recently. Seems that his drivers license photo matched that of a suspect who stole more than $3,800 worth of watches from a department store.

Williams ended up spending a night in jail before the investigating officers figured out they had made a terrible mistake. Which prompted the ACLU to get involved, claiming “the facts of Mr. Williams’ case prove both that the technology is flawed and that investigators are not competent in making use of such technology.” No. Kidding!

Remember that old saying about being careful what you wish for? We’re there . . .

Malala Yousafzai Celebrates Graduating From Oxford 10 Years After ...

(Thank you to the lovely Dale for providing the capper to her twin bill for this episode).

Most of you know the story of Malala Yousafzai. At fifteen, she was shot in the head by a member of the Taliban. Her crime? Pursuing an education, which is obviously a dangerous proposition in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province of Pakistan. The group perceived Malala as a threat, since she defied their archaic rule at every turn; first in writing a blog for the BBC and later for being featured in a New York Times documentary. She was an inspiration to young women in a region of the world where the idea of getting an education is often met with threats of violence and worse.

Malala didn’t leave the world on that horrible day. Instead, she has flourished, bringing light to the darkest corners of the world while spreading her message of hope and empowerment. She spoke before the UN a year after the shooting. She’s met with the Queen of England as well as President Barack Obama. And at 17, she became the youngest recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize.

Almost eight years since being shot in the head and left for dead by the Taliban, she graduated from Oxford with a degree in Philosophy, Politics and Economics. And so, what do you give the girl who has done so much for so many? A cake bath, of course. She can have the summer too. To sleep in, binge watch some TV shows and to think back on how far she has come in such a young life. Before her journey begins anew.

“It’s like we have done our activism; we have done enough to raise our voice. And I think the next step is now let’s make the change, let’s be the change-makers, let’s get more involved in this”

And to anyone who has a problem with this sentiment? Let ’em eat cake.

 

 

Sorryless Letters

Dear Sorryless,

I used to be the life of the party until this virus changed everything. Now, nobody seems to want anything to do with me. What gives?

Signed,

Depressed in D.C.

Mr Trump, just do what you always do. Inflate the numbers and conveniently ignore the facts. 

 

Dear Sorryless, 

Am I really as perfect as I think I am? 

Signed, 

Little Miss (Yes!) Perfect

Dear Miss Ripa, 

I’m not sure what world you’re living in, but umm . . . you probably want to stay there. 

 

Dear Sorryless, 

I can’t seem to do anything right! My bosses pull me in one direction while my employees pull me in the other, and everyone else just thinks I’m a talking head. And my dog isn’t even talking to me right now . . .

Signed,

Unsafe at Home

Dear Mr Manfred,

Being the MLB Commish means never having to say you’re sorry. You followed a guy in Bud Selig who pretended that sluggers were getting stronger on fairy dust. And then he followed that up with that “gift for the fans” that keeps on giving in inter-league play. Which is really a gift to the owners, since they get to charge premium prices for regular season games. If you ask me, you’re simply following in his dubious footsteps . . overlooking the pinball game that MLB has become whilst never minding the fans who ain’t getting refunds for the games that were never played. And now you’re pushing through a sixty game season, which would make Joe Dimaggio crap in his dead pants. Yanno what? Give yourself a raise. 

 

Dear Sorryless, 

I feel as if I am trapped inside the Rockwell song “Somebody’s Watching Me”, and when I tell anyone about it, they just shrug it off and tell me it’s all in my head. I know I’m not paranoid, but how can I prove it to everyone else? 

Signed,

Holed up in the Hills

Dear Mr Phoenix, 

Are you aware that some of the most brilliant minds in the history of the world were . . how do I put this gently? Bat shit crazy? Also, not for nothing but you really shouldn’t be eating mayo sandwiches at three in the morning. 

 

Dear Sorryless, 

What in the blessed fuck is up with people? Is it a lot to ask that you wear a fucking mask when you go out in public? For fuck’s sake, I have to wear a glorified house dress all the time . . and you don’t hear ME bitching about it!

Signed, 

Riled up in Rome

Dear Pope Francis, 

I know, right? I guess they really don’t think there’s gonna be a second wave (Already happening) and a third . . . and who knows what after that. But on the positive side of the equation, I don’t have to fake a smile these days.

Hey, it’s something!

 

 

 

 

Heroes Of The Week! (Lampoon Edition)

Top 10 Funniest Superheroes and Villains | WatchMojo.com

This has been the year of living dangerously, and we’re only at halftime. So I thought you kids might appreciate a variant on the tried and true Friday episode. So Imma kick it up with satire, because it’s my middle name. Maybe not my mama given one, but hey . . it still counts.

And now for our . . . umm . . . heroes?

Workers repair the cracked glass panel on Gatlinburg's SkyBridge on Tuesday morning.

Clueless Joe- As I mentioned in my last post, I’m not missing sports all that much. It would be nice to catch an occasional game or have something to talk about . . but the diversion was answered with a Johnny Come Lately of new kid in town alternatives. And besides, you know what I really don’t miss? Fans. Because more often than not, they’re doing stupid shit. And so of course we had an example come to us from Gatlinburg, Tennessee this week . . and he’s a baseball fan.

I’m guessing he’s a baseball fan by the slide he attempted into home plate. Which may or may not have been Soto, but for the fact he wasn’t on a baseball diamond when he did it . . . he was on a glass sky-bridge. Because I don’t know about you but I always wanted to throw my body onto a piece of glass that sits a hundred and fifty feet above the ground. So of course the slide cracked a glass panel and the bridge was closed for repairs as a result.

If this schmo had been a football fan, the Darwin Awards would have been crowning another champion right about now.

Mannequins are placed in spectator seats to cheer South Korea's football club FC Seoul team during a match against Gwangju FC, which is held without fans due to the coronavirus disease

Take me out to the Doll Game- The next story is a month old, but it’s the gift that keeps on, uh . . . giving.

The South Korean soccer team- FC Seoul- was issued a red card in the form of an $81,000 fine for filling their fan-less stadium with sex dolls rather than mannequins. Sex doll , social media users noticed the substitutions, after which the team claimed it was all a “big mix up”. The team’s soccer league responded by claiming the team “could have easily recognized their use using common sense and experience”. And I really wish the team would have responded to the league’s statement but I guess it would have been too easy.

Reports that thousands of single guys converged on the stadium upon hearing about the fans in attendance could not be confirmed . . .

Cruz engages in flame war with 'Hellboy,' in tweetstorm that ...

Ted and Hellboy’s Excellent Adventure- Remember the good old days when the idea of Ted Cruz in the Oval Office was the most frightening prospect imaginable? Yeah, I know the current occupant makes it difficult to remember much of anything, but rest assured that Ted is always happy to remind us.

Senator Seuss decided he was going to chirp in on a Twitter battle between a Florida congressman and actor Ron Perlman. Predictably, the shit got stupid

“Listen Hellboy,” Cruz wrote, “You talk good game when you’ve got Hollywood makeup & stuntmen. But I’ll bet $10k – to the nonpolitical charity of your choice – that you couldn’t last 5 min in the wrestling ring w/@Jim_Jordan w/o getting pinned. You up for it? Or does your publicist say too risky?”

That would be the same Jim Jordan who has been accused of covering up sexual misconduct allegations against Ohio State wrestling team physician Richard Strauss while serving as the assistant wrestling coach for the Buckeyes back in the nineties. The fact that Jordan is a U.S. Representative for Ohio’s 4th congressional district these days is not a shocker. Neither is the idea that Cruz would tag team Perlman by referencing a guy who was involved in a scandal involving sexual misconduct.

The two went back and forth before the former Beauty and the Beast star pinned Cruz down by telling him to leave Jordan home and include McConnell in the steel cage match instead. “All we need is a time, place and a few EMT’s standing by . . .” He tweeted.

Hey, what’s Perlman doing in November?

(If you’ve got a minute, read this piece by Gene Collier of the Pittsburgh Post Gazette.)

Two things about the video above, and I’m really kinda serious. For one, why isn’t this a sport? I would definitely watch it on TV for a good three to five minutes. And for another thing . . . the world record is sixteen ping pong balls bounced into a pint glass in one minute. I think I could do this.

Hell, it’s as close as I’m ever going to get to challenging a world record, so there’s that.

Conversely, here’s a world record I have absolutely no chance of breaking . . .

Daniel Thorson outside the cabin where he just finished a 75-day silent meditation retreat at the Monastic Academy in Lowell, Vt.

In my best for last, Daniel Thorson gets the Capo di tutti Capper slot this week for doing absolutely nothing and being oblivious to what is going on in the world. And no, he ain’t running for office . . .

Thorson decided to go all Walden Pond on the world back in March by venturing up to a remote Cabin in Vermont for seventy five days. During which time the world was placed under house arrest, toilet paper replaced gold and platinum and face coverings became haute stuff.

When he made his way back to civilization on May 23rd, he took to Twitter with a query that has become a charmingly inimitable punchline for his friends and family.

“Did I miss anything?”

I know there are those among us (yours truly) who envy his blissful ignorance of our COVID-19 encrusted world. Because it speaks to the peace of mind that was ripped away from us all the way back there. After which the universe got busy reminding us that the the simplest conclusions are oftentimes turned into monolithic equations. And so yanno, taking a deep breath and just being? It’s a priceless commodity.

To borrow from the rock band Sublime, I don’t practice Buddhism and I ain’t got no crystal ball, but if I had a million dollars, I might just spend it all on the rent up at Thorson’s cabin. Tucked into the deep embrace of a Vermont landscape where the amenities possess that thing we need most of all right now.

Peace.

 

The Struggle is Teal, Duct Tape Politics and The Coolest Cat in the Room

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If you Google the color teal, you’ll find that it dovetails nicely with such peaceful propositions as clarity, inspiration, communication and perhaps most importantly of all, healing.

Inside a year where we have lost so much, Imma go with peaceful propositions for the much needed return they’ll supply on the investment. I mean, you really don’t even have to walk out your front door to get sushi rolled. All you have to do is turn on your laptop, log into WordPress and boom . . .

“The New WordPress Editor is Coming” . .

To which my reply is always a succinct Fuck you

I like to think Herman Melville would smile at such a response as that. After which he’d reel in a couple dozen words that say it so much prettier. He was brilliant like that.

I’m simply singing off the sheet of music 2020 handed out. It’s a song sheet that, to borrow from the treasure trove of Yogi (as in Berra) Isms, got late pretty early on. What with the one hundred and one Democratic candidates for President that led things off by punching holes in their own ship. To casualties of a novel virus that held the world hostage. To protests and politicization and a country so polar opposite in its opinions and beliefs that we may just have to get a big old roll of duct tape and pluck it right down the middle of the country.

All you have to do is fire up your electronic device in order to get questions to all the many answers. But wait! There’s more . . .

  • Like, does the MLB understand how repulsive it looks? A multi-billion dollar industry is once again at a loss as to how it seasons its stake while millions of people worry about how to make ends meet. And if there ends up not being a baseball season after all this? Well, let’s just say that if they thought the fan revolt was bad after their impasse canceled the World Series in ’94. Oh . . just wait.
  • And uh . . I don’t miss sports nearly as much as I thought I would. There, I said it.
  • I do miss eating out, which I did for the first time in months last Friday with my kids. Outdoor seating, retrofitted engagements . . but still. I liked not having to think up my dinner for the first time since March happened.
  • Don’t tell anybody, but there’s a Presidential election five months from now.
  • I’m on the fence about starting a food blog. On the fence because it would mostly be me re-blogging real food blog posts. I would contribute my own dishes from time to time as well. And it would all take place off my old blog, Drinks Well With Others.
  • As for my exercise regimen, that’s what I focused on over the last few months. When you suffer from depression and are plenty fine with not being around people . . . but you’re not so fine being told you can’t be around people . . . well, I needed a strategy. So six times a week, I’m going strong with some form of exercise- stationary bike, running, weights, Rob Zombie workouts . . . and it’s gotten me to a better place. Physically, sure. But even more importantly, my brain is being fed some positive chow.
  • Which means that junk food has become that player at the end of the bench. I summon it on “Cheat Day” but otherwise it ain’t got a regular spot in my daily lineup.

And then there’s this. Because 2020 has been the rainy season that keeps on taking. We lost our beloved black cat Mr Speaker a few weeks ago. And for most of the time since then, I thought about all the parts of me that he took with him to the great beyond. His little life was so much more to us. It was big and bold and it spoke countless millions of words in the language of purr. And this magnificent beast will always be the coolest cat in the room to me.

So to this, I had to figure out a way to shake the yesterdays we left behind. And then these two brilliant little messes showed up. My daughter is in Wyoming through July visiting her mother. I plan on surprising her with the dynamic duo in a video call this week. I’ve named the boy Jack, an homage to Mr Speaker. She gets to name the girl.

And as Vonnegut used to say, so it goes. That we move forward. Carrying the things we used to know and love inside this good long while of a life. These things that make us laugh and cry, and think and pray and dream to the stars up in the sky whose lives we used to share.

Good night, sweet prince.

 

 

Heroes Of The Week

George Floyd protesters embrace 'taking a knee' for race awareness ...

Yeah, it’s been a minute. I haven’t penned a Friday episode in several weeks, what with my platinum club guest hosts providing their sublime takes . . and then last week. When the world wasn’t making any sense. Again. And it didn’t feel right, to celebrate inside moments that possessed all the subtlety of a powder keg.

But Heroes is a keeping on kind of groove, and when I looked up from my trance I discovered a few stories that got me feeling hopeful all over again. Because as with any journey, you can always find a new beginning.

Imma dedicate this week to my friend Martin.

Texas Residents Defend Their Local Mall After Looting is ...

Peaceful protests across the country have been marred by acts of violence and looting that have coincided with the marches. And as proof that one has nothing to do with the other, a group of Killeen, Texas residents banded together recently to protect their local mall. After organizing a local protest march over the weekend, Reshard Hicks and Jonathan Hildner mobilized seventy five neighbors to stand guard outside Killeen Mall in order to guard against a possible incident.

“We showed everybody that Killeen can do something positive and not be destructive,” Hicks said. “To have somebody come in and ruin all that for us would have been very counter-intuitive to what we are trying to accomplish”

They’ve accomplished so very much already.

All David York and David North are saying is, give peace a chance. No . . check that. They aren’t just uttering those words, they are busy living the best life those words have to offer. This interracial Maryland couple doesn’t stand on convention, because to do such a thing is to remain in place. And for thirty years, these two have been much too busy building a life together to worry about rear view mirror concepts and designs. And during the pandemic, North even took to building a doorway he called the Doorway to Imagination. 

And it had his niece Kimberly Adams so smitten, that she just had to share it in a tweet for all the world to see. Adams is a correspondent for the public radio show Marketplace, and so you can imagine there was some big love going on in the Twitterverse after she did so.

This piece is symbolic of the union that York and North have forged, out of love and respect for one another. Because when they speak on matters of race, their perspective is all about the person rather than the color of their skin. Hate calls for sides to be drawn but love? Well . . love is love.

“And it’s not an argument,” North says. “It’s things that we can discuss because we love one another. And love has a way of dispelling fear. The work of love is more than just the people that we know, but even the people that we don’t know — that we all deserve love. We all deserve respect.”

I choose that door.

(Thank you to the lovely Dale for this beautiful story)

'They saved me': How protesters protected a lone cop, a moment captured in powerful photos

Officer Galen Hinshaw of Louisville, Kentucky found himself in the middle of an angry mob during a protest march recently. The thirty two year old was responding to a call when he removed himself from his cruiser in order to survey the scene. Within moments, he found himself surrounded. His baton, vest, helmet and body armor would be no match considering the fact that he was all alone. So he moved in front of a pizzeria, making sure to keep his back to the wall.

And then help arrived. Not his fellow officers, but rather a small band of protesters who came together and formed a human shield in order to protect Hinshaw. This band of five men consisted of three who were black, one white and one Dominican. Showing up when Hinshaw- who is half Pakistani- needed someone to be there for him. Because it didn’t matter to these five men whether Hinshaw was black or white or chartreuse. All that mattered was that he was a human being.

It’s all that should ever matter.

Chief of Department of the New York City Police, Terence Monahan, hugs an activist.

Us. It’s the hope, the unifying factor that can build bridges if we just took a moment to unplug from all the loudness. It requires that we take a deep breath, and drop any and all preconceived notions, and then just listen. And learn.

Police officers have joined this national movement, and the image I posted above shows Chief of Department of the New York City Police Terence Monahan hugging a protester in NYC. And while a picture is worth a thousand words, it possesses even more possibilities in this instance.

View image on Twitter

And there’s Jeri Williams, the Phoenix Police Chief marching in solidarity with protesters to police headquarters. Because she didn’t content herself with simply hearing the calls for change, she is intent on listening. And learning.

TOPSHOT-US-POLITICS-POLICE-JUSTICE-RACISM

And there you have police officers in Coral Gables, Florida kneeling during a rally in response to the murder of George Floyd . . .

police join protests

And there’s Camden County Police Chief Joseph Wysocki joining protests in Camden, New Jersey . . .

UPDATED:

And the officers who kneeled in front of the Spokane County Courthouse in Spokane, Washington . . .

There is a path forward from here. And it consists of swallowing some inconvenient truths. Because there is little comfort in changing the way things are, but the cost of not taking these steps and making these changes is too high a price to pay any longer. We need to be mindful of that dream my friend Martin had all those many years ago.

A dream deferred, but the hope is still very much alive.

I Ain’t Down With This Block Party

ROCK 'EM SOCK 'EM ROBOTS Game $14.97! - AddictedToSaving.comThe more things change, the more expensive they become. As a creature of ritual habitual, I insist on the ‘Lemme Be’ style of writing/bitching/editing/moaning for my WordPress posts. Which means to say, don’t call me with a change . . . Imma call you. All I ask of this place is to not fuck with my shit, which is all I ask of my government, come to think of it. On both counts, I’m usually getting value subtracted ‘bargains’ that I didn’t ask for and most definitely do not need in my life. It’s like loading up on clearance tchotchke at Target, only without the opportunity to unload it on an e-commerce site.

So when WordPress started talking up their new Block Editor last year? I did what any responsible blogger would’ve done with the information. I completely ignored it. And so for the past six months, the home office has been marching to this idea that a full scale, highly customizable change is coming . . whether we like it or not.

Not wanting to be uprooted from my humble blog abode, I did some research. I sat through three and a half minutes of a fifteen minute instructional video on the Block Editor (Or Gutenberg- an homage to the Renaissance era inventor of the printing press) and I was proud of myself for having made it that far. For one thing, the video feels as if it was made in a subterranean business suite sharing space with a dark web massage parlor. For another, it speaks to the curious state of our existence that there are a proliferation of videos on the topic that run even longer than the one I watched. For perspective, the soldiers who landed on the beaches of Normandy were given a couple minutes worth of do’s and don’ts before their introduction to hell.

If you go on the official WordPress site, this is the starched jingle to their forced mingle.

We call the new editor Gutenberg. The entire editing experience has been rebuilt for media rich pages and posts. Experience the flexibility that blocks will bring, whether you are building your first site, or write code for a living.

As a veteran of WordPress, I’ve seen the platform go through more wardrobe changes than Elton John doing Rio. As a writer, this Block Editor doesn’t feel like a match . . in the least. Not unless I was planning on doing shit other than writing. And it’s not like I have a problem with any of it . . . unless they insist on me switching. Which is where my angst comes in, because it’s obvious that the universal theme to their newest scheme is that yeah . . at some point we’re going to have to drink the not so cool aid.

Which means Imma have to get to my bunker and fetch the old school admin page once this happens. And I really ain’t digging the fact that WordPress is going all Sheryl Crow on my ass by insisting that a change will do me good. But okay . . fine, let them think they have my best interests in mind. So long as my annual subscription doesn’t ask for a Congressional raise this fall in order to offset the small fortune they’ve spent on their ad campaign.

Hey, I’m no blockhead.

And Martin Wept

This is where Heroes comes to play. Every Friday but for this one.

I tried to put a compilation together, I really did. And its not like there aren’t plenty of heroes to be had. Because there are always the good places in this world, and the good people who make them so. It’s what makes heroism such a special thing, the fact that it never asks for attention. And so Heroes is one of the many places in the online world where they are brought to light, so that we may see the best in all of us.

Only this week, I ain’t feeling it. That whole best in all of us business is what I’m talking about. I realize I could have mustered a favorite five from the online hive and culled honey out of the hopelessness that seems stuck to this latest bad news week in a year that’s given us far too many of them already. But it seemed absurd to run an exclamatory banner heralding heroes. And the idea of planting a superhero’s image in my prelude ran counter to the images we’ve all seen. And figuring out a song with which to cap things off? No. None of it felt right, not after a couple weeks worth of reminders that race is still a chasm and discord its relentless weed.

So this post is just me, catching my breath and trying to shake this feeling that things will never change. Even if I have been feeling that way ever since a cop pinned George Floyd to the ground for the last nine minutes of his life. And then everything that has come of it, happened. Again. And now it feels like that speech that Martin Luther King gave on the National Mall almost fifty seven years ago was some ancient psalm. As if the world has forgotten its most erstwhile minister.

And I’m so angry and sad and confused, because Mr King deserved so much more than this. Because we are the progeny he was talking about in that iconic speech of his, where black and white constructed a much more profitable conclusion that involved not some of us, but all of us.

The Us hasn’t happened. And neither could this Heroes post, because there’s a time to celebrate and then there are times such as these. When I call upon a holy spirit and I provide him with the humblest remark I can summon for a world that still hasn’t figured this whole thing out.

I’m sorry.

Bless The Echoes Of Those Boys

Eisenhower National Historic Site

The following is a story I penned for some local newspapers back in the fall of 2009. It’s the story of Harry Adams, an Army Veteran who served in World War 2. Harry passed in 2016, but his life, and the difference he made, will never be forgotten by this humble writer.

Thank you, Harry.

It has been more than sixty four years since the ultimate sacrifice of the Allied forces helped to forge a nation’s new mandate while ridding the world of a ruthless tyrant. Harry Adams doesn’t have much use for rhetorical definitions though, being that he lived the most expansive war in the history of the world from the front lines.

The eighty seven year old Adams owns a much more human perspective,
speaking the moments of that time with his eyes and bringing it into clear focus as we sit at his dining room table. The Lititz High School graduate had worked his way into a plum job at Armstrong while at the same time preparing for a possible call to duty. “I started out working in a shoe factory, a summer job . . . I made twenty five cents an hour. And then I doubled that when I went to work at the chocolate factory. So when I got a job with Armstrong making sixty nine cents an hour? I had it made!”

This good life was interrupted when Adams was called into the war by President Roosevelt. There were no draft numbers to pull for a twenty year old, according to Adams. “We just reported for duty when we were told.” So he did. He began his training as an army medic in Hot Springs, Arkansas. He then moved across Texas before finally being stationed at Fort Hood. It has been seven decades worth of calendar since he shipped out across the Atlantic via French ocean liner with ten thousand troops strong and landed in Glasgow.

His recall is lockstep in nature. “We were told not to worry, that the ship would be able to outrun u-boats,” He laughs. “We were under General Hodges’ command when we got to Europe, and it wasn’t until we arrived in England that we found out we were going to be fighting under General Patton. “I remember him coming out to speak to us when we arrived (in England). He told us we were going to keep the German army on the run. He said they couldn’t shoot if they had their backs to us . . . and he was right about that.”

As a medic in Patton’s Third Army, Adams quickly learned the relentless pace of the legendary commander as they devoured targets before their bombers could even arrive to provide cover. They moved at a breakneck pace that would earn Adams a Silver Star for having marched and fought through five campaigns- From Normandy through the Rhineland and up through the mountains of Ardennes into Central Europe. The march into the Bulge was hard and unforgiving. The troops lived on K Rations which Adams refers to as “Cracker Jack Boxes” which consisted of canned meats, cheeses, hard biscuits and cigarettes. They couldn’t build fires since this carried the risk of giving away their position to the Germans so they borrowed invention through necessity by heating their food on the manifolds of their Jeeps. Showers were an infrequent luxury, as was a good night’s sleep.

Winter was a grim odyssey of hard snows and excruciating cold snaps where frostbite and hypothermia accompanied the troops across the rugged, unforgiving terrain. Adams says the survival skills they adopted helped to borrow a modicum of comfort. “You couldn’t get warm, it was impossible. We had our uniforms and a blanket and that was all we had. So we made something out of anything we found. We became good at scavenging. And let me tell you, those silk parachutes . . . they were warm.”

There were close calls, such as the time his Captain tabbed him for a reconnaissance mission of a nearby village. The thought was to bring along a medic in the event the small group of men found any wounded soldiers. He decided against the need for Adams before walking into a nest of gunners. Adams met them later on at a hospital. The driver had been taken out. The Captain was shot in the back and the Colonel had lost his forearm in the firefight. “Another time we were moving through a town that hadn’t been liberated. We had no idea until a Colonel told us we had to get out of there, fast.”

And then there were the sober testaments to the mission they had each undertaken. He will never forget coming upon a camp with no idea as to what awaited him on the other side. He presents me with the pictures he brought back; grainy black and white photos out of hell. They are pictures from the Dachau concentration camp. One picture shows a couple of skeletal survivors standing next to a wooden cart piled high with the dead. There is one picture I can’t figure out. It appears to be a huge mound of sawdust, several feet high. I learn they are cremated remains. “I know there are people who say the Holocaust never happened, I say look at these pictures and then tell me it never happened.”

There is one other picture I have to ask him about. It is of the twenty two year old Adams being flanked by Generals Patton and Dwight D. Eisenhower. He tells me it was taken at the tail end of the war when his company was marching through Luxembourg. “I remember telling one of the fellas I was going to get my picture taken with them and he didn’t think I had the nerve to ask.” Adams says. “As it turned out, Patton was in a good mood. He told Eisenhower to ‘let the kid stand in the middle’. Later on when I was in Germany I sent that picture to General Eisenhower’s headquarters, requesting his signature and I received a letter from his secretary.” It is a typewritten response from Lt. Kay Summersby dated September 20, 1945 and it includes the autographed photos from the future President of the United States. Adams would later procure Patton’s signature for his photograph after meeting his niece, who worked for the Red Cross.

His voice still cracks at the thought of those bombers overhead. He can still smell the death of those prison camps. His eyes still tear when he recalls the long days and endless nights. His selfless dedication across thirty eight months in Europe leaves its impression on each and every American who puts him or herself in harms way. But Harry Adams doesn’t consider himself special. “I’m no hero . . .” He says simply. There is a proper reply to this statement, and it would lean to the contrary. Because he is most certainly just that; a hero. They all are. Not in the past tense, but in the strongest sense of our best hopes. The better understanding of our national identity comes from the link these voices of a greater generation have gifted us with. But I figure that a retort would sound contrived, and there is no time for clichés as we sit in his dining room surrounded by the memories of the men he stood with and the time he stood within. Adams repeats his belief as the sun sets on a late fall afternoon, and as with everything else, he does so firmly and with little hesitation.

I owe him the silence of this moment. I owe him a lot more than that, actually.

We all do.

We’re All In This . . .

I forget why I came here in the first place.

Which is what I think WordPress should really be called, because it’s a modern day version of Rousseau’s theory as far as social contracts go. The sort of place where you plate your propers in whatever kind of gratin you so desire. And for me, it’s been the gamut for the last how many years? Many.

So what have I learned in all that time? Well, I can’t think of anything off the top of my head but I’ll get back to you on that . . .

As you can infer, it’s a fluid list with palenty of hits and misses and even the occasional bruising. But to my way of thinking, if something serves a purpose? That means it has one. And so it goes with our current state of residential purgatory. Where it seems there is a constant onslaught of “We’re all in this together” reminders.

Well, what if we’re really not? What if that bumper sticker sentiment belies the fact that we have myriad ways of looking at this most unique of times? Would it really be so bad to say, you know . . we’re really not in this together but that’s okay. Because that fact is actually a strength and uh, not a weakness. 

Yeah.

It’s kitschy to fuse ourselves to a hypothetical common ground but it’s important to note we are, in essence, divergent beings whose push always resorts to shoving matches when it’s a matter of us versus someone else. When dealing with any sort of collective embrace, it’s best to wear sneakers rather than concrete boots is what I’m saying. Be a part of the team, by all means. But understand the most implicit of obligations is to yourself, which doesn’t mean to say that your stomach and your ass need to be full and wiped over all other considerations. Because looking out for number one means so much more than that.

And guess what? That’s more than just okay. It’s healthy, in fact. Because to marry yourself to a creed without an out clause is like saying Joe Paterno was innocent because you happen to be a Penn State grad. Abject deference to creeds and totems are built on quicksand.

So I tend to treat this time the same way I consider WordPress. We’re all individuals, whose journeys are wholly separate ones. All I know is that we’re all in this and that there was a reason to here and from here. Bumper sticker sentiments aren’t going to get me or anybody else through this time. There’s only one commonality that really gives me the warm and fuzzy feeling of togetherness. And so what if it involves adult beverages.

It still counts.

 

 

 

Heroes Of The Week

Today's Real Heroes - Focus Financial Advisors

I must start things off by thanking Frank for sitting in for me last week. His take on the week’s heroes was a masterful gem, delivered by the Cincinnati Kid himself. If only his home town Reds could bring it with such aplomb, but that’s another post for another time.

As for this week’s heroes? Welp, I have a serendipitous stew of classics. All good ones, because we need to keep mining for memorable conclusions inside our sheltered existences. A reminder that the great big world outside is still humming a worthwhile tune, delivered up by peeps who understand what matters most of all.

And now for our heroes . . .

Yankees' Giancarlo Stanton donating face shields in wake of family ...First things, Bronx. And while the Yankees haven’t played a game this season, their pinstriped slugger Giancarlo Stanton is still hitting home runs. So far, Stanton has delivered up more than 12,000 face shields to medical professionals in New York and Southern California. He has been working with his agents Joel Wolfe and Brittany Peiffer and Voodoo Manufacturing to get the job done for those individuals on the front lines. Plans for more are currently in the on deck circle, to the tune of 3,000 more face shields. So maybe the MLB gets a season, and maybe they don’t. But Stanton? He’s already getting MVP votes from this writer.

Random act of kindness: Man caught on camera mowing lawn for blind ...

Ann Darby is throwing up her hands and saying to hell with this whole social distancing business. But it’s okay, because her hands ain’t balled up into fists, ready to punch someone’s lights out for taking the last twelve pack of TP. No, Darby is looking for the culprit who did right by a family member recently. It seems a mystery man took to mowing the lawn of Darby’s blind mother, Rebecca. And while the random act of kindness was captured by their Ring doorbell, the good Samaritan is still at large. Because he did this good deed? Just to do this good deed. And maybe Darby ends up finding him through her social media hunt, but maybe this case grows cold. But really, who am I kidding? This story leaves us all with a warm feeling inside. Where it counts most of all.

Police called to Maryland Popeyes 3 times since Sunday, including ...

Don’t get me started on which fast foodie franchise serves up the tastiest chicken sammie, because I’m going with Popeyes every day of the week and twice on Sundays (Since that other chicken sandwicheria doesn’t do Sundays). But there’s so much more to love about Popeyes than their spicy dishes. The restaurant recently announced it will be offering struggling musicians a stage to call their own: In their ads. Those with the time and the rhyme can apply their method to the Popeye’s jingle. And if it’s booms, Popeyes will use it in their national ad campaign. THAT is maximum flavor right there. (Thank you to Screen Chow for the righteous get).

And we have our late inning rally brought to us by the lovely Dale over at A Dalectable Life. Who supplies with not one . . not two . . but three (Yeah, count em) stories that round up this week’s gallery. These three beauties in one help to provide us with the necessary propers inside a pandemic whose uppercut would make the legendary Joe Louis shudder.

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Laurent Duvernay-Tardif reached the top of the sports mountain back in February when the right guard won the Super Bowl with the Kansas City Chiefs. It will be a good story for his grand-kids, to be sure. But it’s not going to be the story of his life, because Laurent is a medical doctor; just the fourth such doctor to ply his wares in the league. And while he hasn’t completed his residency yet, he was given the opportunity to man the front lines when Quebec lifted restrictions on medical students and recent graduates. The dude stepped right up, no questions asked.

“I had already wanted to, but when it’s real, it hits you, the gravity involved. Now, the discussion shifts from ‘I want to go back’ to ‘how am I going to go back?’” he wrote. “I discussed with my girlfriend whether we will continue to sleep in the same bed or live in the same apartment. These conversations made me realize even more the sacrifices that people in health care, on the front line, are making.”

Joannie Rochette: from figure skating to med school – RCI | English

And then there’s Joannie Rochette, a former world class skater whose trophy case includes an Olympic Bronze, a World Silver and six Canadian World Championships. Her mother never got to see her win that bronze medal in Vancouver in 2010, having died of a heart attack a few days prior. But Rochette prevailed on that night, thanks to the lessons her mama taught her. And she just recently graduated from medical school and is off to the front lines to make her difference . . inspired by those very same lessons.

“I always wanted to do this, and that’s why I applied to health sciences when I went to CEGEP. My mom was a nurse’s aide and I went with her to care homes when she went to feed residents,” Rochette says. “The way she saw medicine, and doctors, is really what brought me here.”

Hayley Wickenheiser poses for a photograph with volunteers during a donation drive for personal protective...

And finally, we have Hayley Wickenheiser, a four time Olympic gold medalist in hockey for the Canadian national team. She’s widely considered the greatest female hockey player in her country’s history, but it’s what she has accomplished away from the ice that lands her in this spot.

Wickenheiser is a dynamo, having worked as an assistant director of player personnel for the Toronto Maple Leafs since 2018. And oh yeah . . she just so happens to be graduating from medical school this summer. She was working on an ER rotation in Toronto when COVID-19 hit, and has been digging in her skates ever since; coordinating PPE supply drives across Canada.

“It has forced us all, I think, to reevaluate what’s important moving forward. Also just how important being prepared is. I think it just highlights all the areas we forget about in life. But you’re grateful, also, for not having to live on the street or struggle through. Just an overall feeling of gratitude.”

Three kids, whose dreams got put to work inside this wickedly mysterious time. Their steps are simple, precious things, far removed from the roar of those sporting arenas that made them household names. But it’s inside the quiet of their future lives that their most impactful differences are happening. And maybe there’s no box-scores or trophies or trips to Disney World that come with these brave new worlds. But the answers to the questions, those are more abundant than ever. And they’ll push forward in relative anonymity, in spite of the very real dangers. And they’ll do so for the most beautiful reason of all.

Because they can.