The Green Screen Side Of The Moon

One minute I was pondering how we got here from there, and the next I was arriving at the intersection of Jesus and Caramba. The someplace else I dialed back to was 1980. Okay . . maybe it wasn’t the age of innocence. It was inside a time where disco was on life support. We staggered over the edge of a decade replete with post-moon landing meh, and life without torch song heroes named King and Kennedy and life with Nixon. Before Watergate sent him away in a helicopter. And Vietnam. And Kent State and the hostage crisis and inflation and race riots . . .

But if you were to fix 1980 into a lineup of comparables, welp . . 2020 would be the El Chapo to their Sonny and Cher. We took their Paradise Lost and we doubled down into a Full House of Horrors. Their dearth of heroes became our reality television. Their Watergate became our daily trend, where “gate” gets caboosed to the latest scandal as if it were a wicked smart ensemble piece. Their Vietnam became our patriotic mission to spread truth, justice and the American way by co-opting the best laid plans of our Founding Fathers into a drive through dominion where branding is our inalienable right. Kent State became Columbine and Flint, Sandy Hook, Marjorie Stoneman and Las Vegas, and then things got worse when those days no longer shocked us. Their hostage crisis became our Oklahoma City and September 11th, and Boston. Their inflation became our great big heist. Their race riots, well . .we kept that tradition going.

There was plenty of promise to the way things started off, with a bunch of college kids beating the Russians in ice hockey. We couldn’t have imagined that our sports would morph from that quaint little Norman Rockwell moment into a bread and circuses cinema. And then Reagan lied to us about a shining city upon a hill. And George H. had us focusing on a thousand points of light instead of the stupid economy. Or is that the economy stupid? We got lost in the shroud of the cigar smoke from the Clintonian Era, and while we were busy trying not to inhale, an election went into overtime with the Supreme Court serving as referee. And then W became a four letter word before stepping up inside the darkest days . . before turning back into a four letter word.

The rear view tells me it’s been a hot minute since those days were busy happening. And here we are, the numb OG’s of a feckless age where the modern day proverb- Shit Happens- is mired in the muck of our everyday existence. And this isn’t to say that our mast is hurtling to the edge of the world and that all hope is lost. But . . . . damn!

So this is where the voices in my head make their money. Because yanno . . the questions I get to cooking up possess the kind of riptide that circumnavigates all the logical conclusions we’ve been taught to abide to since grade school. And either I’m Randall McMurphy on a stick or there is something happening here, even if what it is ain’t exactly clear.

Because I really don’t know what to make of this place we currently reside inside of. Are we a miserable scrum of beastly conclusions to which there is no honest to goodness fix, outside of a runaway meteor? Is the global script we’ve been reading from ever since fire led to the invention of the cheeseburger one big lie?  Is this nothing more than one great big romantic tragedy in which the lovers (that’s us) are destined to lose in the end?

When Higgs met boson inside that celestial tryst and then mass showed up nine months later, was Trump destined to be President from that very moment? Was race supposed to be the great divider in perpetuity? Was Joe Exotic supposed to be the elixir to a global pandemic? And is it too late to call for a cosmic rewrite?

Hunter S. Thompson called.

He wants his fever dream back.

Heroes Of The Week! (Old School Edition)

Pop Art

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.

 

 

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.

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.

Image

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.

 

 

 

Heroes Of The Week

Nurses are understaffed and frustrated as they battle coronavirus ...

In this week’s episode, Tyler Perry shows why you shouldn’t judge him based on his movies. The Patriots owner becomes (gasp!) King of New York. And a Captain shows us all why standing up for what’s right matters now, more than ever.

Now, to the heroes . . .

Tyler Perry pays for seniors' groceries in Atlanta and New Orleans ...

Tyler Perry movies are like British humor. You either get it or you don’t. And while I definitely fall into the latter category, this dude won me over a long time ago for all the love he spreads when he’s not making movies I refuse to watch. And he was at it again recently when he covered the bill for senior hour shoppers at forty four Kroger’s markets in Atlanta and twenty nine Winn-Dixies in New Orleans. So when it comes to writing the perfect script for humanity? This guy is pure gold.

Rachael Is Donating $4 Million To Covid-19 Relief Through Her 2 ...

Rachael Ray is a brand unto herself, and again . . not a fan. But so what? I have used a few of her recipes and I do admire her tenacious ways, and hey . . she’s big into animal rights. I don’t have to be a fan of an individual to dig that kind of righteous mindset.. And so Ray has made these pages before and she makes it this week following the announcement that she will be donating $4 million bucks to COVID-19 relief efforts. Ray said she thinks it’s important to offset the decline in charitable contributions during these tough financial times, and that she hopes to make a positive difference in the lives of people and their pets. Now that is a recipe I can appreciate.

The lovely Q over at A Dalectable Life chimed in with another beauty this week. Bauer is hockey’s answer to Nike, with more than seventy five percent of the NHL suiting up with their blades. When the league shut down, the company didn’t stop moving. Instead, they turned their attention to the manufacture of face shields– designed to keep medical workers on the front lines safe. Bauer sells them at cost, with any profits made going to charity. Moving forward, making a difference and giving back . . it’s the ultimate human hat trick.

Capt. Brett E. Crozier, who was removed last week from command of the aircraft carrier Theodore Roosevelt, addressing the crew in San Diego in January.

Susannah is another lovely who dishes up her New York stories on the regular over at athingirldotcom. She shared with me the story of now former Navy Capt. Brett E. Crozier, who was removed from command of the aircraft carrier Theodore Roosevelt. His crime? Pushing back on the administration’s claims that they have been doing everything they can for those on board his ship. Crozier refuted those claims and he butted heads with his superiors, and he did it because he knew his men were directly in the cross hairs of a relentless pandemic. As it turns out, the lack of urgency Crozier was concerned about has indeed landed him in quarantine after he became infected. There have been calls to reinstate Crozier once he recovers, but I kind of hope he tells the Navy thanks but no thanks. He deserves better.

Front-page news: Post thanks Patriots for delivering masks ...

This unprecedented moment in our world’s history has created some mind bending moments. Perhaps one of the strangest comes to us courtesy of Bob Kraft, owner of the Evil Empire, uh . . I mean the New England Patriots. The 78 year old Kraft was so inspired by the leadership shown by New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, that he purchased 300,000 protective masks for NYC. A tractor trailer dressed in Patriots colors drove them into New York City last week. And when football comes back, we will return to that sporting blood feud of New York vs Boston. But Kraft? Well, he’s exempt.

Mario Salerno, who cancelled the rental payments in April for tenants in all 18 of his apartment buildings, at one of his properties in Brooklyn, April 2, 2020. (Victor J. Blue/The New York Times)

The world has changed, and basically everything that makes up the lives of the eight billion inhabitants on this runaway marble has become an adaptation as a result. And while it’s easy to feel as if Orwell is humming an ominous tune in the green room, I prefer Shakespeare myself. Because while the spring was getting lost in the dark, to ever more dubious numbers and questions and concerns, there lives a song deep inside this thicket of fear and loss.

Mario Salerno of Brooklyn, New York is one of those larger than life individuals who changes the day you’re walking inside of for the better. He’s a neighborhood guy whose presence juts out over the landscape of Williamsburg as if the granite chin of Lincoln over the Black Hills of South Dakota. Salerno is the owner of eighty rental units and when the lock down crept into April, he decided to cancel the rent.

His tenants say it’s just like him to go above and beyond for the people he calls neighbors inside the place he calls home. For his part, Salerno says it’s just about everybody getting through this together.

“My concern is everyone’s health,” He says. “I told them (his tenants) just to look out for your neighbor and make sure that everyone has food on their table.”

I don’t know about you, but this guy incites my inner Shakespeare and brings to mind a favorite Bard quote in which he opines on the mystical construction of life itself. And how we lose our exquisite nature as soon as we are born, only to reclaim it in the tongues of trees, the books in running brooks, the sermons in stones and the good. In everything. He settles the matter by saying that, even inside the worst case scenarios of our best laid plans, we find the stars that brought us here in the first place. And so, when you say your prayers tonight, look deep inside those stars and please, call them by their rightful name.

The great big everything.

The World’s Largest Poker Game

Please Follow the Beatles' Example for Social Distancing During ...

It’s the end of the world as we know it and I feel sorry for the close talkers.

And the high fivers, them too. They were fringe players before COVID-19, so you can hand them their walking papers now. Just make sure you’re wearing gloves. Oh wait . . . maybe not.

I’m not taking this pandemic personally. I really don’t think it’s a matter of God smiting us or Ozzy Osbourne haunting us. I kinda see it more as a byproduct of eight billion tenants in a residence not built for such high volume usage. Bad shit starts happening when resources and personal choices camp together. The shit is combustible.

As a true introvert and not a poser who chooses to label themselves as such in order to make friends (a self defeating purpose for the true introvert), I’m okay with the rules. I am miffed at the peeps who rail on about their freedoms being usurped. And I am pissed at the clueless vagabonds who still go to Target to piss around on their phone for an hour and pick up Red Bull. And I would love to send the knuckleheads who want to party like it’s 2019 to a remote island, along with all those genius investors who think the one with the most toilet paper wins. We can send along the 2nd amendment impulse buyers so’s they can play referee.

10 COVID-19 Memes that will Bring a Smile to Your Face ...

As for the COVID-19 Dictionary, it’s chugging right along, and here are a few of my . . . umm . . favorites?

Self Isolation– Shut the front fucking door with this term, please. It’s redundant, and incorrect. If you live alone, then of course your self is isolating. And if you don’t, then you’re simply isolating from others.

Social Distancing– The term is downright Orwellian in its bold font gravitas. Because this is something that guy would’ve gotten drunk on. It’s a term I use, even though I find it incredibly creepy.

Flattening the Curve- It’s like laying down spike strips on a speeding virus in order to lessen the impact on hospitals and infrastructure. It sounds like a show you’d find on Bravo.

Shelter in place- Another redundant term, unless your ‘place’ happens to be a boat. In which case, congratulations. When you shelter in place, it means you’re keeping your ass at home excepting for essential trips such as liquor/grocery/liquor store shopping. If you abide by the two parts liquor store to one part grocery store, you’ll make it through just fine. Ask Ina, she knows.

Viral Shedding- Nope.

Essential Government Functions- That’s a meme . . . right?

Drive Through Testing- You don’t get fries with it.

As for predicting COVID-19, contrary to popular belief, the Simpsons did not call it. And neither did Dean Koontz. In the case of the latter, he got Wuhan and he got 2020 but everything else? Not so much. And sorry movie fans, but the Steven Soderbergh flick Contagion was based on the H1N1 “swine flu” of 2009.

You want a prediction? I’ll give you a few . . .

  • Sports may not come back at all this year. Okay, this is more of a hedge/guess than a prediction. But that’s only because too many peeps still take sports too seriously. We should be concerned for all the working Joes and Janes whose jobs have been lost instead of whining about not having sports.
  • Joe Biden’s Vice Presidential choice? Barack Obama.
  • This adaptation of our everyday lives will have ripple effects. Many consumers will stop buying in to big league sports because it (finally) occurs to them that this stuff isn’t essential . . . and they’re getting fleeced. Masks will become a fashion staple for some. Streaming PPV concerts will become more popular. The Anti-Vaxers Movement has met its end. The Survivalists Guide to stockpiling is just getting started.
  • Health care will become more streamlined thanks to budget cuts. This will not be a good thing.

The system has been upended and the idea that our behaviors will not be influenced as a result is not just foolish, it’s dangerous. Our politics is already building cabins on the mountainous terrain of this time. Corporations will pimp their brands in caridad, but profits will become more important than ever. Which means sharper corners to cut in the form of more low wage jobs, an increased reliance on AI and the environment? Fuck that place!

It stands to reason the most important work force will involve humanistic enterprises. So if you’re one of those peeps who insists on being a brand? Stop. Go back to being a human being while there’s still time. Because if we keep whittling humanity down like this, pretty soon it’s going to turn into a spear.

I’m of the opinion that this time in our world’s history has been a warning. We either heed this clarion call or we suffer the consequences when the next strain of ungodly comes calling and decides it’s time to wipe the slate clean. And of course there are going to be plenty of peeps who snicker at such a thought, insisting it could never happen to us.

Uh . . . weren’t we just saying that a few months ago?

 

 

Heroes Of The Week

Yeah . . . I know.

That’s why we have heroes . . . .

Image result for Kevin Love and arena workers

Kevin Love has made our Friday list a time or two, so it’s no surprise to see him back for another win this week. He recently donated $100,000 through the Kevin Love Fund to arena and support staff employees of the Cleveland Cavaliers. With the NBA season on hold and the future uncertain, Love is doing his part to ease some of the burden on the folks who make game nights happen. His gesture has inspired some of his baller compadres as well as several team owners to do the same. K Love says it’s all about “paying it forward”. I say he’s a champion on and off the court.

Image result for Anthony Fauci

With the COVID-19 virus affecting the way all of us go about our daily lives, Dr. Anthony Fauci has been a much needed voice of reason and calm. He’s a member of the White House Coronavirus Task Force, and unlike Mr Trump, Fauci has had both of his boots on the ground since this virus came to light. Fauci has been making the rounds- from morning talk shows to blogger podcasts. Calm, informative and insightful, he’s been a genuine voice of reason inside these uncertain times and it’s nice to know we have the good doctor on our side.

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Be afraid and be very afraid if you’re a person of a certain age, because COVID-19 is coming for you and (fill in the horrible blanks from there). Thing is, Handoko Gunawan has never been daunted by this virus, not for one minute. The eighty year old lung specialist remained on the front lines in West Jakarta, Indonesia; treating patients at risk as well as those affected. He recently became ill and reports coming out of West Jakarta are sketchy at best. But remember what I was saying this past week about saying a prayer for people who really need it right now? Let’s do that.

Right about now, Coaches Bar and Grill in Columbus Ohio should be raising the roof thanks to a sports slate that was supposed to include March Madness, NFL free agency and the start of the baseball season. And then everything changed; sports went away and people were told to stay out of public venues, and Coaches had to close up shop for the foreseeable future as a result. But on their way out, a regular at the sports bar decided to leave the workers a tip to ease the financial crunch in the form of a $2,500 tip.

Patrick “Benny” Leonard is the owner of Coaches, and he said it would be nice if people stopped fighting over toilet paper and adopted the mindset of this anonymous tipper. In other words, let’s remember the biggest team sport of them all. Humanity.

The capper on my Heroes isn’t about a hero at all. It’s about where us humans go from here. The photograph you’re looking at is one of the many canals in Venice and the story grab is courtesy of the lovely Dale over at A Dalectable Life. And yeah, those are fish you see swimming it up inside waters you can actually see through. For now. Until the new normal goes back to the old way of doing things.

And I know what you’re saying . . . But Marc! Things will never go back to the way they were before! The world has changed! Forever!

Well, we’ve felt this kind of thing and said this kind of thing and believed this kind of thing before. And then the world returned itself to us and we behaved very much like the entitled stewards that had been playing up the A side as if it had infinite thread on its musical wheels.

The rules of nature are speaking to us through that canal in Venice. They’re reminding us that we are tenants to this place, and that all the high and mighty we can muster isn’t going to save our asses from losing the keys if we’re not careful. It’s up to us to not simply learn the lessons inside this time in our history, but to live them. It’s not asking for us to stop doing the things we did before, it’s simply asking us do the one thing we tend to get away from when times are good.

Listen.

 

 

 

Best Of Heroes Of The Week!

As per an idea suggested by Susannah B, I’m offering up a “Best Of” episode. And not a moment too soon, since Heroes turned a year old . . . in December. That’s right, I only missed the first anniversary of Heroes by . . . four months.

Heroes first debuted on December 7, 2018 and it was titled “Top Five Heroes Of The Week”, which was soon abbreviated to “Top 5 Heroes Of The Week” and finally “Heroes Of The Week”. If you’ve been reading since those days, you know I dished these puppies up in equal amounts of likes and yikes back then. I even posted a “Villains of the Week” episode last August. Alas, it was the only such venture and the good guys bought the joint for good on December 5 when Heroes became Zero-Free.

So this is how it’s going to work. I ain’t utilized brevity on this post, because I’ll be damned if I’m going to cut to the music before it’s time. Besides, you peeps who know the what’s what on Heroes will spot those stories that hit you in the feels back when you read them the first time. So just sidle up to them and get reunited with that spell. And for those of you who may be new to this stretch of moment? Just pick a story, any story. Find the something that allows you to learn the world for all its winning and losing of a crazy beautiful chance.

Just go with it.

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(March 1, 2019) This story was courtesy of the lovely Dale at A Dalectable Life

Carey Price is a goaltender for the Montreal Canadiens, and if you’ve never heard of him before, you’re probably an American. And that’s alright, because Price is doing his thing without our help. He’ll never be the owner of the Patriots, or an NBA mogul. But he’s writing checks to a constellation that never minds all that jazz, so it’s all good.

Thanks to Montreal Canadien officials and the family of a boy named Anderson, dreams came true during the team’s morning skate recently. The boy’s mother lost her battle with cancer last year, but her echoes reverberate still. Because within these echoes, a promise was made from mother to son; a promise that she would arrange a meeting with him and Carey Price. The fact that she was taken from the world much too soon didn’t silence the heartbeat of that promise.

And so it was that Anderson met his boyhood idol, and in so doing they shined a light into that darkness. Price signed Anderson’s hockey sticks and hockey pucks and his hockey jersey and he gave the kid a hug. And if there is a sporting event known to man that feels as good and as compelling and as worth it as this minute and a half video of a kid and his hero? I want tickets . . front row.

To promises kept.

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(April 12, 2019)Jay Singh is a 7-Eleven store owner in Toledo Ohio who’s just trying to make ends meet. Running a convenience store ain’t the easiest gig, what with small margins and long hours and peeps trying to dig into those profits by taking your inventory free of charge.

Which is exactly what happened recently when an employee at the store informed Singh that a teenager was shoplifting. Singh went back and checked the cameras and sure enough, the kid in question had a serious case of the hot pockets. And so at this point, you wouldn’t have blamed the guy for dialing up 911. Because, yanno . . he’s got a business to run? And he’s not related to the Paisleys.

Singh did no such thing. Instead he asked the young shoplifter a simple question. Why? To which the kid replied that he was hungry, and that he was stealing food for himself and his kid brother. It was all Singh needed to hear.

The store owner went on a mini-shopping spree- collecting sausage rolls and sandwiches, chips and pizza and a 2 liter soda for the young man. Because he thought it a better idea to give him something rather than take something away by having him arrested. Because Singh’s bottom line doesn’t begin and end with cash money. Because sometimes, it really is better to give than to receive. Singh’s gesture inspired one of his customers- Cedric Bishop- to give the kid a ten spot. I mean, can you imagine being inside that moment with these people? It must have felt as if God was watering the lawn.

I like that idea just fine.

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(April 18, 2019)- Father Jean-Marc Fournier is the chaplain of the Paris Fire Brigade. As fire laid waste to the roof of Notre Dame Cathedral, Fournier insisted on re-entering the structure in an attempt to retrieve some of the priceless artifacts housed within.

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

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

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

Only misplaced.

(July 19, 2019)- The Seattle Sounders football club played more than just a game the other night when they started Bheem Goyal in goal. The eight year old is battling Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia, and so the Sounders- in conjunction with the Make-A-Wish Foundation- made Goyal’s dream of being a goalkeeper come true. They signed him to a contract, after which he opened things up by standing in goal for Seattle and gobbling up a shot on goal. He then exited the game between the Sounders and Dortmund to a standing ovation, receiving high fives from both sides. They don’t call it the beautiful game for nothing.

Abigail Arias — that's Officer Arias 758 to you — was sworn in by Freetown Police Chief Raymond Garivey in February.

(August 9 2019)- 7 year old Abigail Arias got to live out a dream job on Tuesday night, thanks to the peeps at the Blue Lives Matter Foundation. They organized a trip to New York City for Arias and her family so she could don the uniform of an MTA police officer. Abigail and her family also met with the NYPD Police Commissioner James O’Neill, and they visited other units across the city.

Arias has an incurable form of kidney cancer and so time is no longer something she or her family take for granted. Instead, they are grateful to borrow as much of the stuff as they can get their hands on. This little girl was sworn in as an honorary police officer in her hometown of Freeport, Texas back in February. And now this. And tomorrow, they’ll get to stepping on something else. Because in Abigail’s world, there is no time for hate or divisiveness and all the ugliness that comes with it.

There’s only time enough to dream.

(Abigail lost her battle in November. In a Facebook post, Chief Raymond Garivey said it would be his duty and privilege to heed the lessons taught to him by Officer Arias 758. He ended the post by saying “I love you Abigail”).

Hero Kid

(August 29, 2019)- Eight year old Christian Moore didn’t think twice when he saw his classmate Connor Crites struggling on his first day of school. He didn’t laugh, shake his head or judge Connor for having a meltdown right in front of their whole class.

Moore didn’t know Crites has autism or that he finds it extremely difficult to fit in with other kids. All Christian saw was a friend in need. So he did what any good friend would do. He sat with Connor as he cried, and then he held his hand and walked with him into school. No shaming, no blaming. Just love, in a not so random act of kindness that made all the difference in the world to one little boy.

That’s the problem with us adults. We tend to forget the power of compassion, and that it is every bit as much of a currency as all that dope we peddle to make us smarter and richer and stronger and younger. The difference with compassion is that the stuff has no expiration date. It will never leave us broke. Or empty. Or alone. And it is full of the kinds of nutrients that do a body and soul the most good. Lessons.

That picture is worth a thousand of ’em.

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September 19, 2019 Appreciating the good guys shouldn’t be a sometimes thing, reserved for national holidays or somber occasions. Because duty isn’t a sometimes thing for the men and women who put on a uniform every day. It doesn’t mean they’re infallible and it doesn’t mean their actions cannot be questioned. But to slant our opinions on every uniform is to miss out on cops like Bobby White, who became known as “the basketball cop” after video of him responding to a noise complaint in Gainesville, Florida went viral a few years back.

A white cop makes the scene where black kids are hanging out, things can go sideways in a hurry. Bobby White defused the situation by letting them know he had no problem with some kids balling. He even joined in. It wasn’t a “look at me” moment, but rather, a “look at us” moment, as in . . look at all the better outcomes we might achieve with just a little bit of understanding and some dialogue.

So the other day, The Meritorious Q sent me the “rematch” of that pickup game that happened three years ago but is still scoring all this time later. White brought Shaquille O’Neal out with him for another round, and it was such a brilliant spin move on what had already proven to be a wonderful story. Of hope. Because Shaq provides the kind of soul hug that doesn’t just light up the room he enters, it provides electricity for the entire neighborhood.

It was a valuable reminder that we don’t have to let anyone tell us what the world is supposed to look like. Because the better can happen from our rolled up sleeves to the tips of our fingers. In the quiet of our daily breaths to the pulse of a great big world that isn’t so frightfully hopeless when you let the ball bounce, and you let the kids play. Imagine the places we might find when the noise ceases to be a complaint, and becomes something else entirely.

An embrace.

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October 4, 2019 When I write these posts up, I’m always on the lookout for something I’ve never felt before. And Chloe Dorsey paid me in full with her superwoman exploits at a state park. The Georgia woman was out for a run when she spotted a deer that was stuck in a metal fence. So she bent the bars to release it . . because of course she can! After running a few hundred feet, the deer got stuck in another fence. And Imma include the video, because it speaks to the fight we need to keep on pushing and the love that fuels the try.

The kids in Wilmette, Illinois, appreciate Alec Childress.

(October 18, 2009)- Alec Childress is the great grandson of a slave. When he was fourteen years old, his father left their Mississippi cotton farm to look for work up North, leaving his son in charge. Later on, when his family joined his father, Alec had to go to work as a dishwasher in order to pay for his schooling.

Alec learned the value of hard work and a positive attitude from an early age; a mindset that served him well in his thirty six years of working construction. And just twenty eight days into his retirement, Alec decided he didn’t feel like sitting around at home so he took a job as a crossing guard in Wilmette, Illinois

For the last fourteen years, Childress has been dealing up stories and smiles to go along with his trademark “Peace, I gotcha!”. He has come to own the corner of 9th Street and Lake Avenue, turning an intersection into the heart and soul of a neighborhood.

And so for his eightieth birthday, the neighborhood said thank you by throwing him a surprise party. Yard signs greeted him with “Peace, we gotcha!” and students who had moved on to middle school and high school returned to take part in the festivities. One girl who was off to London for college made it a point to stop by to wish her favorite crossing guard a happy birthday as well. In all, more than a hundred people showed up with cookies and gifts, and plenty of hugs.

“For me to be able to experience that kind of love tells me we have more good in the world than the bad,” Childress said. “It reaffirms my knowledge and belief in people.”

Well, he started it.

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(October 25, 2019)- Milwaukee police officer Kevin Zimmerman brings more than a badge and his service issued particulars to the job every day. He also happens to bring a heart and soul whose perspective gleans best case scenarios from trying situations. As he did during a traffic stop recently when he came through for a young mother and her three children. Zimmerman had pulled over Andrella Jackson for driving with an improper registration, after which he saw that her young children were not in car seats. Jackson explained that she’d just bought the car at auction, but could not afford car seats for the kids. Zimmerman decided not to issue her a citation . . and then he bought the kids some car seats. That’s called a good day’s work, and then some.

Evoni Williams

(November 8, 2019)- And finally, we wrap things up with a Waffle House story that doesn’t involve armed robbery. It’s a story that involves doing the right thing, and a social media storm that actually worked out to everybody’s benefit. Imagine that!

Evoni Williams has this dream of going to college. She’s eighteen years old and a waitress at Waffle House, so you know she’s serious about it since the hours are unkind and the work exhausting. Dreams are circuitous in nature, and hers requires an apron and a fifth gear, to which she abides. So when an elderly gentleman came in and asked for assistance cutting his food because his hands weren’t functioning so well, Williams was on it. And so was Laura Wolf, who snapped a pic of the moment and posted it to Facebook. Because not every snapshot that goes viral is a gotcha moment. Sometimes a person just gets all wrapped up in the human effort and has to share it with the world.

“It was so busy in here, and she actually took the time to stop and hear what he had to say instead of walking past him. That just meant something to me,” Wolf told KHOU-TV.

The world noticed.

The City of La Marque, Texas awarded Williams with her own day . . .

Bonus News Item! . . . Now that is a holiday worth celebrating.

Williams was then rewarded with a $16,000 scholarship donated by Texas Southern University. And this dream of hers was coming into focus because of a human moment and a snapshot and a collective embrace that refuted the notion that nothing worthwhile ever happens inside the quiet moments.

This special gal happens to be of the opinion that she did nothing special and she said so herself. “It’s something I would do any other day,” Williams said.

Told ya.

And while I have no doubt that it’s something she would do on any other day, I’m really glad she did it on this particular day. When a bystander decided to break into the regularly scheduled life Williams was busy living, and let the world decide as to just how special a thing this was. And when the vote was in, the results were unanimous.

We won.

(November 25, 2019)- This last story is the best case scenario to an epidemic that’s had this country in a choke hold for more than two decades. It’s yet another story about a kid living on the fringe, until his feelings of isolation become too much. It’s yet another story about guns. But this story, which happened all the way back in May, has a much different ending than so many others.

Keanon Lowe was busy living the life he had imagined in January of 2017. The Gresham Oregon native was working as an offensive analyst for the San Francisco 49ers when he got a phone call that would change his life forever. Taylor Martinek, his best friend since their days at Jesuit High School, had died of an overdose after taking a lethal dose of fentanyl.

Shattered by the news, Lowe picked up the pieces by moving forward. He returned home and took a job at Parkrose High School coaching football and track and field. Last year, he became the school’s security guard as well. He was a living legend in his home state, having played wide receiver for the Oregon Ducks, but that’s not what brought him home.

Lowe saw a community in need, and this mattered more than a peach NFL gig ever could. To him. Because with some people, status is all about living right.

And so it was that Lowe was preparing his team for a district track meet when Angel Granados-Diaz walked into a fourth period government class; wearing a trench coat and carrying a shotgun. Lowe never missed a beat as he brought the student into a clench while wrestling the shot gun away from him. And then he hugged the kid, who is getting the help he needs now, instead of being immortalized as a monster.

“I told him I was there to save him . . I was there for a reason . . and that this is a life worth living . .”

It’s easy to lose our better angels to the hopeless depths of indifference and division. And then the fates bring us someone like Keanon Lowe, who turned a tragic ending into a lifetime of new beginnings. The right person in the right place so that the wrong time would never have a chance. And for one blessed day, flowers were given to the living instead of to the dead.

When faced with the prospect of just another day happening all over again, that hug was busy speaking a different language altogether. It spoke kindly to the wicked fates, two simple words uttered in the silence of a heroic embrace.

Not today.

 

 

 

Heroes Of The Week!

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Unlike most politicians and political pundits, I’m not gonna lie. I never saw Joe Biden happening to the scene the way he has over the past week. I wanted Bloomberg, I feared Bernie and I gained some respect for Buttigieg, even if he had no chance in hell of winning the nomination. See, the thing is, you can’t be civil these days. There has to be some controversy attached to your ass in order to be a viable political commodity.

Thank God for heroes, huh?

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Me Too- Aly Raisman is my hero. I follow one athlete on Twitter . . her. And with good reason, because this young woman is the voice of a movement. A human movement. The three time Olympic gold medal winner condemned the proposed settlement reached between USA Gymnastics and the survivors of Larry Nassar’s reign of horror as USA Gymnastics team doctor. Raisman says the move is a transparent attempt by the organization to push the decades long abuses “under the rug . . . hoping people will forget about it when they watch the Olympics this summer,” She calls for full disclosure by USA Gymnastics and the USOC and I stand with her on this. Her latest interview shows me why I look up to Raisman the way I do. Because she refuses to play the role of victim when tough minded, straight forward advocacy is needed.

It’s why she’s my hero. Every single day.

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I’ll take “Heroes” For 100,000, Alex- Jeopardy game show host Alex Trebek is waging the battle of his life. Stage four pancreatic cancer doesn’t make for very good odds when it comes to survival rates, yet Trebek isn’t throwing back punches for every one that lands on him. He admitted recently that his fight has thrown him into a massive depression most days, to the point where he has questioned whether it’s worth it to go on. But go on he does, and with the kind of spirit and selflessness that has defined his philanthropic efforts for decades.

Trebek recently donated $100,000 to Hope of the Valley Rescue Mission; a non-profit organization that provides food, shelter and hope to those in need. He doesn’t advertise his charitable ways but I’m glad someone divulged his latest contribution. Because the world needs to feel good about itself and the people it houses. Now more than ever. And Alex, he’s doing his part. For the win.

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Brave Hearts- When you think of biker gangs, the idea of intimidation comes to mind. And this is exactly how the non-profit organization BACA wants it, sort of. Lemme ‘splain.

BACA stands for Bikers Against Child Abuse and their goal is to serve and protect the most vulnerable among us. John Paul Lily, known simply as “Chief”, created this group more than twenty years ago with the express intent of being there for abused kids. They’ll convene a meeting with the abused at which time they present them with a biker jacket complete with a BACA patch sewn onto it. Once the child is a member, this entitles them to round the clock protection from their abusers; everything from rides to and from school to showing up in court to provide a supportive presence (If the judge allows). The group does its business by the motto that “No child deserves to live in fear”. Lily and his merry band of saviors is working on it. (Thank you to the lovely Dale for this get).

The Strength in our Stars- Avey Cox has dreams that are so much bigger than her eight year old self. But one of the simplest and most cherished of these dreams was taken from her over the holidays when her father passed away. All those future moments went missing, one of which was the Daddy Daughter Dance held at Van Buren Elementary. Without that most special man in her life, the second grader would not be in attendance.

That’s when the school resource officer Nick Harvey stepped in. Once he learned of the girl’s heartbreaking tale, he reached out to her mother for permission to take little Avey to the dance. The invitation provided a much needed smile for a girl in need of just that, and the color coordinated duo danced the night away. Harvey has offered to be there for any future dances should Avey need a partner. I truly believe every star in the sky is a good deed, shone to us inside the darkest of nights. Harvey’s star shines brightly.

Murfee, a 3-year-old Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, won the 2020 Fair Haven mayoral race on March 3.

This last story is dedicated to Sam, who wrote books worth of blog posts on his experiences as a therapy dog over the years. His passing last week leaves a void in the lives of his family and friends and us; all the readers who came to know and love his efforts and exploits. Monika, thank you for shining his light for us to follow. And to Elsa and Stormin Norman . . we love you.

The mayoral results are in for a small Vermont town and voters are raising the (wait for it . . . ) woof. Because the new mayor of Fair Haven is a three year old Cavalier King Charles Spaniel named Murfee. This distinguished gentleman is a certified therapy dog who visits nursing homes, grade schools and hospitals as a member of Caring Canines Therapy Dogs of Southern Vermont.

This tradition of electing a four legged animal to office is two years strong. The idea being to use the position in order to raise money for the needs of the community. What a novel concept, huh? So Murfee will lead all the fund raising campaigns with complete transparency, since he won’t be in the back pocket of any special interest groups. The dude raised almost $600 with a bake sale last year so he knows what he’s doing.

My superhero-meter was stoked to find this story, because it involves all the qualities I look for in my Friday vignettes. It’s got spirit and smarts, joy and hope. Because this seemingly innocuous tradition is all about inclusion rather than division. Indeed, according to Fair Haven’s Town Manager Joe Gunter, it appeals to people of all ages; teaching the kids about civics and reminding the older folks that liars don’t run the system unless we let them.

So to all those peeps who insist that the system has gone to the dogs?

We wish.

 

 

 

 

 

Heroes Of The Week!

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Another week, another less than satisfying noodle salad of empty calories when it comes to the trend-mill news cycle. In sports, football insists more games will mean less injuries! In politics, Bernie Sanders trashed his Fidel Castro screensaver. And Harvey Weinstein goes on a long (Rikers) Island vacation.

Well then, let’s ditch all that traffic and get to our heroes . . . .

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Selfless Savior- Here’s yet another story in which a kid is more grown up than the adult table. And this little man’s name is Robbie Gay. The eight year old resident of Palm Coast Florida is giving old dogs a new leash (I just had to) on life by adopting as many of them as his adoptive parents will allow (which is six and counting because he just had to).

Robbie spent the first six years of his life in the foster system and he relates to their plight. “He knows what it feels like not to be loved and cared for. He’s the most hopeful, optimistic, and genuinely caring kid who has absolutely no reason to be that way,” says adoptive mom, Maria.

Thanks to this incredibly resilient kid, every dog is getting its day. (Thank you to the lovely Dale for this get).

See the future for the trees- I’d like to think that incarceration has come a long way from the days of locking em up and throwing away the keys. And in some places, it really has. Lawrence Jaramillo and Joshua Melendrez served in a state-run forestry program while inmates at the Central New Mexico Correctional Facility. The two learned about fire prevention and fire fighting, and are now putting there knowledge to work. They opened their own forestry company, All Around Forestry, in the fall of 2019 and currently have six employees. They’re encouraging other former inmates to apply in the hopes of providing a bridge to a brand new life. Imagine a world where redemption possesses such a brilliant nobility? These guys are doing just that.

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Where everybody knows your name- Every neighborhood has that place, and for forty years Mac and Bob’s restaurant was it. And then 2018 brought hard times when two waitresses sued the company regarding its shared tips policy, which had become illegal under a federal labor law. While there had been no ill intent by the owners, the cost of the lawsuits was prohibitive and the Salem, Virginia institution announced that it would have to close its doors. Until the locals got wind of the story and decided to step up, in the form of donations, GoFundMe pages and fundraisers. Two years later, business is booming and the regulars are calling it their own personal “It’s a Wonderful Life”. Jimmy Stewart would be proud.

Gimme Shelter- Nine years ago, Dr. Kwane Stewart brought his veterinary supplies to a soup kitchen event in Modesto, California. According to the good doctor, a quarter of the homeless population owns a pet and he felt the need for treatment was evident. Ever since then, he has taken to the streets, making sure the pets he comes across are provided with checkups and vaccinations.

Stewart has treated more than 400 animals and last year he created a GoFundMe campaign to help raise money for his great good work. To date, he has raised $29,000 and he was even named the GoFundMe Hero for the month of February. The coolest part of this story is that nobody was calling for this level of outreach until Stewart showed up to provide it.

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This last story takes the cake. Literally speaking.

One minute Holly Grimet was walking into a Kroger to purchase a birthday cake for her daughter and the next? She was taking home a story that will stay with her for the rest of her life. Because when she went to pay for the cake, she was told that it had already been covered. And then she discovered that a note had been left behind:

“My son Nehemiah would be 8 years old today. I wanted to remember my son by doing good to others. I hope you enjoy your child’s cake and I hope your day is special. Hold your baby a little tighter today, watch them as they play, be patient with them, kiss their sweet little hand and tell them how much you love them. Our children are such special gifts! Hope your day is beautiful. Much love from me and my angel in heaven to your family.”

Of course, this left everybody in the bakery as well as Grimet in tears. The idea that someone could lose everything and somehow find it in their heart to make the day special for a complete stranger was humbling. The mother of two was in the right place at the right time, and the advice she was given seems to have been gifted by a real life angel, seeing as how her daughter happened to be celebrating her eighth birthday.

When the universe speaks, you listen.