Clowns To The Left Of Us, Danger To The Right

Is it possible to have too much information at your fingertips?

The question came to me as I was watching two sports analysts go at it on a debate show recently. The topic of conversation had to do with the best NBA player of all time. This isn’t something the vast majority of the population gives a flying Wallenda about, to be honest. But these guys deliberated until they had created a dually believable narrative, whittling it into a potent mash. Of course, well enough wasn’t left alone for very long, and as often happens inside this time of nonsense and instability, the shit went south. Further south than a Lynyrd Skynyrd Key West tour.

The succinct nature of their respective points soon gave way to a volatility whose pitch was a bitch, on wheels. And so the evaporative nature of modern discourse held sway until I stopped trying to figure out whose opinion was most valid and started wondering who was going to break out a “Yo mama!” first.

Of course, I recognize that information doesn’t fool people . . people fool people. But armed with enough information, anyone with half a brain can paint their argument into Van Gogh. And half the room will toast the bold and dramatic brushstrokes while the other half of the room reaches for a carving knife with which to cut off their ears.

The touchstone, regrettably, has been bastardized. As if Rob Zombie got hold of the Constitution and turned our fundamental principles into a kill count. Educated opinions have given way to a zealotry that seeks to deify even the most corrupt of men. Meaningful dialogue has been relegated to the ash heap thanks to dissociative politics that attempts to guilt us into confessing to crimes we didn’t commit.

What good is having all this information at our fingertips if we’re going to dis- it and mis- it into an interpretation?

During this sports debate, as the decibel levels increased, so to, did the tells; those easy to miss points of entry that had been glossed over initially were now much easier to hear. Both sides, using their information not as a map, but as a boxing glove with which to punch out their opponent. Much the same way a peaceful transfer of power might stage a coup, or a state might flout the concerns of a pandemic, or a city council might consider me the enemy because I’m an aging white dude.

I don’t know how we can possibly achieve a middle ground, because to quote Buffalo Springfield, nobody’s right if everybody’s wrong. And I have not a blessed answer residing under my cap, except for one.

Michael Jordan . . . duh.

 

 

 

There Is No F In Accountability

When I was an old man, I thought I was a kid.

That’s how ass backwards the world feels to me sometimes. Because whenever I opine on how things used to be, it makes me feel as if I Benjamin Buttoned myself into the here and now. Where once I was lost to the thankless mysteries of the world, now I’m finding myself in this vapid little pill that keeps its insanity on retainer.

As with most things that fruit my loop, these changes whittled themselves into a monolithic curiosity with the wicked patience of a well done knuckleball. In the process, they turned yesterday into a bell jar full of pennies, which is about as yesterday as you’re gonna get.

This particular assessment came about as I was telling my daughter what school used to look like. Yanno . . back in the day. She’s a teacher, and as such, she’s taken to wearing steel toe boots whenever she has occasion to conference with those hard pipe hitting advocates known as parents. Because we’re living in an age where an unhealthy percentage of the parent population has gone and shoved accountability out of a speeding car. Why pass the buck when you can burn the fucker to a crisp?

I could never be a teacher, because for one thing . . I don’t like kids. And for another, I don’t like parents. My days would be spent drinking heavily and chasing it with painkillers and anti-depressants. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

“Most parents get that their kid can do better and that it’s a shared responsibility. But every once in a while you get a parent who isn’t having it . . ” My daughter said. Calmly, I might add. Which is why she’s going to be a great teacher, because that kind of thing doesn’t piss her off.

As for yours truly? Hell, nawh.

“When I got a bad grade on a report card, or I failed a test . . I caught hell for it. In waves. First it was my teacher giving me shit and then I got home and I had to hear it from my mother. And if the offense was serious enough, it went into the evening when the old man got home. I earned that shit and I remembered that shit. Because it was incredibly unpleasant shit,” I ranted, rather un-sweetly.

“Yeah . . it’s different now,” She laughed.

No shit.

I tell you what, even in a deliciously vegetative state of insobriety, I wouldn’t be able to stem my Cobra Kai when a parent gave their kid the look-away pass and followed that up by delivering a few misplaced adjectives in my direction. Nope. I would be teaching a very different kind of lesson at that point.

The kind I learned, a long time ago.

 

When Faith Makes The Scene

My relationship with God has always been awkward, because I was never really certain as to what I was supposed to be looking for. It’s a signature of the human condition that compels us to define relationships, even those that can prove least definable. And as humans, we want something out of the deal.

When I was young and impressionable, I was seeking answers to the biggest questions the same way most young people of my generation did: By watching movies and listening to music. I had it figured that George Burns was God, John Denver was an Apostle and Ozzy Osbourne was the Antichrist. Looking back now I wish I’d been right. Shit, a God who smoked cigars and had a great sense of humor, an Apostle who sang folk songs and a devil who penned Ironman, one of the greatest rock songs ever? Sold!

When I was a teenager, I negotiated all manner of adversity by by dialing up the high and mighty hotline. It was more about kitsch than catechism. Mix too many adult beverages . . . put in a call. Bend a rule . . or maybe even a law . . put in a call. Get myself in a bind with a girlfriend’s girlfriend . . put in a call. Find out girlfriend or girlfriend’s girlfriend was late . . . put in a series of calls.

Adulthood is where I stopped calling on God because I didn’t feel like dealing with a busy signal. This is how adults survive. When we ain’t listened to in a way we deem appropriate, we look elsewhere: Financial advisors, general practitioners, insurance agents, mechanics, bookies, bartenders and therapists. Mediation comes at a price that we’re more than willing to pay because we’re assured that someone is listening.

Getting married meant churching, for a while, but the arrangement was never a fit for me because I was never much for country clubs. And that’s what church felt like, with all the networking and gossip mongering. I knew I could get more religion out of a bottle of wine or a baseball diamond than a Sunday morning in church.

Of course, it all comes down to faith. And faith is one of those things that isn’t found in a book or a house or a hymn. No doubt, these things can serve to inspire you, but they’ll never make you believe. No, that kind of thing usually makes the scene when we least expect it.

It’s been twenty years since I woke up in a hospital bed after having undergone a thyroidectomy to remove two separate cancerous growths. I remember feeling super groovy, as if Jimi Hendrix had just supplied me with some magical feel goods and chased it with a song. Needless to say, I didn’t give a flip about the tubes that were sticking out of me or the fact that I was sharing a room with a guy who was hacking up a lung. Before I could start doing the math on what came next, I passed out again.

Waking up at night in a hospital room is some truly creepy shit. For most people. But I guess I always had a morbid streak and a genuine curiosity for that kind of thing because I felt nothing but peace. And yes, the primo stock that was running through my veins helped. But it was more than that, because now my brain was working plenty well enough to remember back to that morning. The pastor at the church I’d stop attending had come by before my surgery to talk with me. He was a good man and I was genuine in my warm greeting. We talked for a while, about baseball and kids and steak houses. But I remember one simple exchange.

“Are you scared?”

“No, I’m not. Everything’s cool, it’s really cool,”

“Good, that’s good,” He examined my face as if searching for the lie, and not finding it.

It was as if I had waited all my life to feel the kind of peace I did on that morning. Uncertain as to what came next, and remarkably okay with that. I chatted with the nurses as they rolled me through the corridors until we arrived at a frosty operating room and I was introduced to all the players. And then they were serving me up a tonic to help me sleep and then I cracked a few jokes just to let them know it was paying off handsomely.

Something mystical was riding shotgun with me as I began to tiptoe through the tulips, because that’s when David Gilmour and Roger Waters started doing their thing. As my eyes grew heavy, I could feel the dumbest smile taking hold of my face as I muttered sleepily “Great fucking song . . .”

If there’s more to faith than that? I don’t need it.

 

 

 

Magic Dance

Howard Beach, 1983: Liz fumbled across the night table until her index finger was strumming the snooze option on the alarm clock radio. She lay still as the dead, as if by doing so she might stave off the day that was dripping into her brain like tiny beads of water from a faucet. She rose when the morning news broke through the darkness and switched off the alarm clock before moving into the bathroom.

“Fuck . . ” She said, examining the tiny shadow of a curl on her face. A virgin wrinkle. Her mother had taught her the value of pretty faces and gin martinis; a disharmonious combination that would end up stealing the elasticity of Mary Austin’s youth until she concluded that life was no longer worth living, and promptly moved to Long Island.

The chime of the rotary phone in the living room brought Liz back to present day. She ran to its bleating hum like a lovesick Lizzy Borden, craving that melodic timbre that was silk to her senses, even if she wanted to murder the sweet talking sonofabitch.

“Hey funny face,” Danny said. He lifted the moniker from an Audrey Hepburn flick they’d taken in at the Regent Theater in Soho on the day they fell in love.

“A Saturday, Danny? The fuck . . ”

“Half a day, and then we have a hot date at Don Peppe,”

“I wanted a hot date this morning and I got the fucking cat, okay?”

“Okay, forget Don Peppe. Makeup sex, pizza and beer,”

“Uh, no . . you don’t get to cheap out after standing me up. And morning sex beats makeup sex, every day of the week,”

“Debatable,”

“No, what’s debatable is whether you’re getting any tonight,”

“That’s harsh,”

“It’s why you love me. Get me some cheesecake from Eileen’s on your way home,”

“Done. I’ll be home by three,”

“That’s a half day?”

“Yanno, some day when we’re summering in the Hamptons and you’re drinking gin martinis at noon and having sex on a king sized hammock, you’re going to look back on this time and wonder what all the bitching was about,”

“Well now, that depends on the gardener . . .”

“Cheesecake as per your wish good looking,” Danny said.

“I hate you,” Liz replied.

“Hate you more, see you at three,”

Liz turned to find her black cat, Thin Lizzy, tossing daggers at her.

“I don’t need your shit right now sister, so you go tell it to the old man when he gets home,”

She moved to the kitchen and cranked up her coffee maker before delivering up some Al Green on her turntable as the intercom came to life.

“Yeah?!”

“Buzz me in! Buzz me in!” It was her best friend Maria. Liz unlocked the door and poured two cups of coffee, fixing hers up the way the old Cubans did, with enough sugar to send her into a diabetic coma.

“I hate my fucking life! More later . . I gotta piss!”

Maria was what happened when sound got pregnant with fury’s baby. The two of them had been friends since grade school, and Liz was thankful for the fact every single day. To know there was someone in the world more fucked up than her, it was a priceless thing.

“Coffee . .”

“Kitchen, I didn’t add anything to it since I don’t know what your mood is,”

“Bitch knows me!”

“So why does life suck today?”

“Never mind, but okay. Remember Richie Mancuso from high school?”

“Probably not,”

“Sweet black Riv? We went double dating after ditching the prom? You passed out in the front seat and he banged me in the back seat?”

“Oh shit, the guy I thought was too good looking to be straight!”

“Him. Well, we went out last night. He’s a used car salesman now,”

“God, I am so proud of you for moving on,”

“So we’ve gone out twice, he’s banged me twice,”

“When’s the wedding?”

“That’s just it, the fucking guy’s married!”

“It’s just so strange, Mar. A used car salesman . . . who lies,”

“I know! How did you get so lucky, meeting a handsome guy with money?”

“Easy. His childhood was as messed up as mine, Get this, his mother confessed to me that Danny’s father? Ain’t his father,”

“Get the fuck out!”

“Yeah, she pulled me aside at her birthday party last week to tell me this. She was totally wasted so of course I had to confirm it by calling her a couple days later. Turns out, she was messing with a family friend and the next thing she knew . .”

“Danny,”

“Yep. And it makes sense. They’re blonds, can’t grow facial hair to save their lives. I saw pictures of this guy . . has a Robert Redford thing going on. So no complaints on my end,”

“Do you have any weed?”

“Utensils drawer in the kitchen . . .”

“How’s the painting going by the way?”

“Eh, I sold a couple pieces last month at that art gallery in Brooklyn,”

“That’s awesome!”

“Maybe. But it was to the same guy, and I think he only bought them because he wants to sleep with me, so there’s that,”

“Does he look like Robert Redford?”

“More like Robert Redford’s accountant. Toke, por favor,” Liz said.

“Does Danny know? About his old men?”

“Are you nuts? He still thinks his mom was a virgin when she met his . . . when she met Carl,”

“Well when I have kids, they’re gonna know their mother had a good time when she was younger. Lying about your past bites you in the ass, always,” Maria said.

“I’ll make sure to remind you of this when you’re boring the shit out of them with stories of your time in the convent,” Liz smiled.

“Why does love have to suck so much Liz?”

“Because it knows we’ll keep coming back for more . . .”

The News From Someplace Else

The Paisley Park Cafe was that spot every town has. The place where faces got fixed to the names and all manner of business was conducted. Liz Austin was the proprietor of the bookstore/coffee shop/city hall. A runaway bride from New York City who skipped out on her adulterous stockbroker husband for the wide open road. She left the only city she’d ever known with thirty grand in a savings account, a suitcase and a New York Yankees baseball cap. After retrieving her ’66 midnight blue Mustang convertible out of storage, she left behind a Dear John note in the form of divorce papers and went Sally Ride.

She settled in Vegas, working as a dealer at the Bellagio and almost getting married more times than she was comfortable admitting. She made a small fortune by investing in Apple stock and then doubled down on Microsoft. With her first million in the bank, she went looking for peace of mind and found it in the kitschy little town of Magic Dance, Arizona. It had been ten years to the day that she’d bought a two story brick home in the center of town and converted it into a retail space on the first floor with a living area upstairs.

Every bit as frugal as the college girl who’d dined nightly on Ramen, she was cursing herself for it now as she slapped her Goldstar upside its faux wood paneling and muttered her most crude Japanese when the 13″ inch color television didn’t respond positively.

“Kuso . . .”

“What kind of nonsense you fixing that pretty little head on now?”

It was Chantal Du Bois, the comely middle aged widower whose reputation in Magic Dance was the stuff of legend. She’d made the scene five years earlier, circa a small town in St. Anne Jamaica by the name of Moneague. The forty fifth official resident of the town was also the first black resident in its fifty seven year history. No sooner had her heels touched down than she was rumored to be canoodling with the unhappily married Sheriff, making short work of the failing marriage and thus becoming the unofficial deputy.

“Queen Bee!” Liz smiled. Everyone called Chantal by this sugary royal moniker which spoke to her matronly presence.

“I’m trying to wake up this lazy ass thing,” Liz complained.

“Maybe it’s time to upgrade. What year is that old thing anyways?” Asked David Rockfield, between sips of his Cafe con Leche.

“1983 . . . first thing I bought when I moved away. After which I ignored it while collecting broken hearts,”

“Yours or theirs?”

“It was a close call,” Liz replied.

“Well, age doesn’t do us many favors and I’m fairly certain TV sets share this regrettable shortcoming,” David opined.

“You would think it could accommodate me when there’s news being made someplace else, yanno?”

“What does that mean? Kuso?”

“It means shit in Japanese,”

“Excuse you very much, girlfriend. Ya gonna cut ya mouth on all those sharp words,” Chantal said.

“I know mama, but it’s my home remedy for when the fates conspire to go pee pee on my Oui Oui,”

“Pretty young thing like you cursing? It’s like taking a crayon to da Mona Lisa,”

“Uh, what part of Liz have you been willing to overlook all these years?” David laughed.

“She’s too beautiful for that kinda language . . .” Chantal winked.

“Liz, the goddamned paper!” David whined, pointing to the September 10th date on The Arizona Republic.

“Excuse me, young man?” Chantal frowned.

“Sorry baby, but I like my news to be served up with an umbilical cord, thank you very much,” David said before leaning in for a kiss.

“Oh Sheriff, ya make my knees do the crazy little thing . .”

Chantal’s laugh filled the room with music. Liz often joked that having Chantal as a regular did more for her business than advertising ever could.

“Alright ladies, I’m off to see the Wizard,”

“When you see him, ask him for a new television set for me, will you?” Liz asked.

“So what is this business about something going on someplace else? Honey, there’s a whole lot of something going on someplace else, no mattah where you standing,”

“It was a plane crash in New York, what a horrible thing. It got me thinking about how long it’s been since I left. Eighteen years . . .”

“Well then, you might have to find ya way back. Don’t let dat man be an excuse for not going back,”

“I don’t think he mattered to me. When I left it was kinda like Thomas Wolfe was riding shotgun in my head. I never looked back.” Liz explained.

“You nevah mind that news from someplace else for now okay?” Chantal said as she turned the set off. “And could you bring me some of that magic nectar of yours, sweetness?”

“On it!”

“Darlin, you are a direct line to the stars,”

“You’re my spiritual poetess, you know that?”

Liz shook off the ominous feeling that was working its way into her bones. She delivered a righteous spill to Chantal, fired up the turntable and laid the needle onto some Queen as the morning sun meandered up the walls. She stepped outside for a smoke, her eyes venturing into the cloudless sky above as her mind wandered back home as if by divined by cosmic wings. She closed her eyes and prayed that the day wasn’t as irretrievable as it seemed. And maybe it was the coffee tap dancing on her synapses and maybe it was the nicotine surfing through her blood stream, but her eyes were carrying her now. She flew across that cloudless sky, shouting at the world below to stop running away from her even though she knew it was hopeless. It was gone from her, the world she once knew.

Stolen by the news from someplace else.

 

The Meaning Of Substance

Hank Aaron's Greatness, by the Numbers - The Ringer

From the first time I cradled a Louisville Slugger, I was hooked. There was something immensely captivating about gripping the barrel of that perfectly crafted stick. It was a portal whose ability to transform a gangly eleven year old into one of his heroes was the reason I fell in love with the national pastime across one baseball summer.

Batting stances, they were my thing. I loved collecting them, like so many trading cards. There were scores of funky batting stances going on in the MLB, and each one facilitated a wholly different experience when you tried it on for size . From Doug DeCinces’ back to the pitcher pose to Brian Downing doing just the opposite. There was Don Baylor’s “Royal Guard” and Mickey Rivers hunched over pose which was always followed with a baton flip of his bat on a swing and miss. And of course, there was the imitable Rod Carew. The legendary batsman didn’t swing a bat so much as wave a magic wand when he stepped into the box. His was the maestro serve to the pitcher’s volley and his talent for readjusting the spin of a pitcher’s meanest choice was nothing short of mystical.

Hank Aaron had retired by the time I started following the game in the spring of 1978. All I had to go on when referencing his mighty swing were black and white photos of his time with the Milwaukee Braves and of course, his record breaking smack against Al Downing of the Los Angeles Dodgers; the night when Vin Scully tucked the great man’s opus into the record books for posterity. The night when Babe Ruth doffed his cap and ceded his crown to a black man from the deep south.

Of course, it was never that easy for Aaron. I didn’t know of the struggles he endured as he made his way through the Negro Leagues and into the minor league system of professional baseball. I had no idea as to the scathing hatred he faced on a daily basis, both in the stands and in his own dugout. And I hadn’t yet learned about the nightmarish proposition he faced in the time before and after breaking the all time MLB home-run record: The letters threatening his life and the lives of his family if he dared break Ruth’s record.

All I knew was that Hank Aaron’s swing was a forever kind of deal, with the way he turned a baseball bat into a hammer sent down from the baseball Gods. His swing was crisp and lean, no fat. It was workmanlike in nature until the barrel hit the gas pedal and formed a chemical compound with that fiery pill, blasting it into the deep blue sky. It could be said that Hank Aaron recruited more astronauts than NASA, because every single fan who watched his orbit was transported to the stars.

Hank Aaron and that mighty swing passed in to the ether last week. It was a swing borne of a great American dream, hard earned and complicated. A swing whose brilliance served as a master’s course for baseball fans everywhere. And it was the swing that produced 755 career home runs, which was the MLB record when he retired from the game.

In my eyes, it still is.

 

Six Feet

I’m in line at the grocery store, its the 20 Items or Less lane that makes me wonder “Didn’t there used to be a 10 Items or Less lane?”. And I mean, there probably still is one but I’ve just gotten so used to the self-service lanes that I wouldn’t really know.

Anyways, I’m committed now since I have people in front of me and more importantly, behind me. What’s more, I’m giving myself away because there I am, counting items. As if anybody gives a flip whether I’m over the legal limit in this instance. Because it’s not egregious looking, my shopping cart. It’s ballpark fine and yet I go on counting, which feels like such a quaint gesture in this day and age now that I’m thinking about it. As I’m counting it occurs to me that management didn’t make the rules for carts like mine. They made them for the shoppers who look like they just spent an afternoon in Costco.

Me? I’m working a plus/minus situation that would require a recount if this were an election, but still I count. And when the counting’s done, I’m exactly one item over. It’s the bag of sourdough pretzels I picked up when I was cruising the Lays million and one flavors of potato chips. Going with pretzels instead was a sensible choice, and for my bonus points, I don’t have any nacho cheese at home to dip the pretzels in; which would’ve effectively defeated the sensible choice I was making.

Of course, I’m not moving out of line over one item. But it feels good to get lost in a meaningless intrigue, what with all the shit that’s happening in the world. Letting my brain get stuck on something that doesn’t mean a fig in the grand scheme of things, it helps to soften the edges and I like the feeling. A lot. And then I look back and see that the girl in back of me is carrying a basket. I’m guessing she’s got no more than five or six items in it, so I tell her to cut ahead of me. She’s thankful, but so am I. More so, in fact. Because the simple things feel like a winning hand from right here. And six feet apart is where it’s at inside this simple moment. It’s the whole world. And I don’t have to wonder where all the kindness and good feelings ran away to.

They never left.

Searching For Pablo Neruda

His tiny lungs greedily swallowed up as much oxygen as his wiry frame could handle before disappearing under the froth and steam of the mighty ocean that was bearing down on the toes of sleepless shoreline. His legs struggled to maintain a foothold as spent seashells pricked at his toes like miniature soldiers with bayonets and fine sand burned coldly at his heels. He found a steady rhythm with the gaping sway, opening his eyes now to ruminate on the world under his feet, a world stolen by water.

A clench of seaweed danced back and forth like a milksop scarecrow, its roots tethered to a foreign planet that lived a million miles beneath every lonesome foot of separation with the floor of a deep, blue sky. Stones the color of vermillion and smoke, eburnean, peat and umber pocked the roam of invisible footprints whose songs were forged in the calamity of romance and death.

He lay his eyes upon the shimmering platinum sky above and wished never to return to the world of sound, preferring the embrace of silence instead. He prayed that Jules Verne’s restless imagination might write him onto a page of fiction from which he could breathe in this foreign language until the sun lost its way. And that the sea might fetch his mortal bones and remand him to the mighty Gods of the deep. And that his soul might venture like a wild butterfly, feasting sweetly on the mysteries while hurtling through all those less traveled places made famous by rock star poets.

To nowhere and to everything. He prayed.

 

A Brave New World

Remember the good old days?

Neither do I, but from what Billy Joel once wrote, they weren’t always good and tomorrow ain’t as bad as it seems. It’s the kind of perspective we need now more than ever, if only to keep our boots on solid ground while the stars tease us with promises we know they’ll never be able to keep.

The Millennium just turned twenty one, which means it can get its drink on. And I know what you’re probably thinking. Do we really want to meet another calendar year that’s low on inhibitions and high on unpredictability? I mean, doesn’t Tinder provide enough of that shit as it is? But I’d like to think the new year will have a better sense of humor as a result.

54 Funny 2020 Memes To Keep You Laughing Till 2021 - Funny Gallery

For a year that was supposed to be spot on when it came to vision and hindsight, 2020 was more Carter Hayes than Isaac Hayes; as in . . more fool than cool; a delinquent tenant whose ass has finally been evicted by Father Time. But not before it unleashed a voracious predator whose genomic weaponry put humankind in its place.

Within this prosaic mosaic of a tormented tapestry, humanity coped by baking bread and singing windowsill songs with neighbors. Our everlasting will became testament to that truth Aldous Huxley once wrote about in A Brave New World when he said that pain was a fascinating horror. To our credit, we prevailed when civilization became uncivil to our senses. Sometimes in spite of ourselves, but hey, it still counts.

We learned yet again that the world is forged in laws that are graceless and thieving. It fumbles the ball on mercy because it’s too busy swimming through the dredge that delivers us from ashes to ashes and dust to dust. As temporary acquaintances, we might not like to believe that the world is just doing its job the best it can, but it’s true. The details may seem extraordinarily brutal, but that’s only because we believed in the lies of poetry and wine when they told us we could live forever.

Thing is, Huxley ain’t walking through that door. And if he was, he would damn us for ever having been happy in the first place. Because he knew that happiness possessed the fleeting quality of that leftover penny in your pocket. That it’s only here to be gone, it only lives to disappear. And beneath that deceptive surface lies the truth. We make tomorrow happen not with sugary propositions but on the salt of our steps.

So, in the now, maybe happiness is not worth striving for when peace of mind will keep us steady inside the worst of storms. And maybe we have a tougher chin than we ever dreamt possible. And maybe we stop looking for the light to guide us through this dark echo chamber of tumbling madness, because maybe . . just maybe, we possess that light our damn selves. No, check that.

I know we do.

 

The Sky Just Got Another Star

Regis Philbin dies — TV host was 88 - Chicago Sun-Times

As if this year hasn’t proven hard enough on our collective psyche, now the angels steal Regis Philbin from us. And yes, he lived a long, good life and he leaves behind a legacy that would be the envy of the most heralded of Popes. But still, his passing makes for one less thing that’s good with the world.

Regis was one big deal, a Bronx born kid who made good on the biggest stage after breaking into show business as a page on the Johnny Carson show. But his story speaks to the value in holding onto your dreams. Because his road to stardom sure as hell wasn’t paved in gold, and the signs, at least early on, were telling him to get lost.

He moved into Steve Allen’s time slot with a talk show of his own in the early sixties, and tanked. And when it looked as if a national brand was not in the offing, he never stopped being Regis. In the seventies, he did a variety show in St Louis and he also hosted a morning talk show out of Los Angeles. In 1981 he hosted a variety show on NBC with Mary Hart that lasted all of four months. It would take four more years for him to catch some much deserved lightning in a bottle when he paired with Kathie Lee Gifford for a morning show, after which things would never be the same for Reeg.

Or for us either.

Thing about Regis, he never took the ebbs personally. He knew that nothing was given and he considered it a privilege to simply be in the game. So when he got busy making all sorts of history on the flip side of syndication for his show Live, he never considered himself a big deal. Even though he was. In an industry where he won awards and produced big ratings, to setting a Guinness world record for most hours on camera in 2004 to hosting Who Wants to Be a Millionaire– helping to usher in a new age of game shows in the process.

To his lasting credit, the guy never changed. And it’s what we came to love about him most of all. Let’s face it, when you can make Kelly Ripa bearable, you’re doing something right. Regis did that, he made friends . . with everyone. From Presidents to soccer moms, from rappers to writers to Howard Stern. He made everyone believe the world was a better place. And as a fan of the Miami Hurricanes, I couldn’t even hold it against Regis for waving the flag of the Fighting Irish. Yeah, he was that good.

So now the mystic gets him, and I bet he showed up in one of those fantastic suits of his, sporting that signature smile. I sure hope that St Peter gives his people a couple weeks paid vacation for landing Regis.

They deserve it.