On a Sign of the Times

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(The following situation is real, but I changed the names)

I first met Lee in 1972 – probably somewhere between January and April of my freshman year in college. Lee was visiting my dorm neighbor and friend, Rob from his hometown. Lee, a year older than Rob and me, was about to finish his Associate Degree at a community college, so he was looking for a place to continue his education and earn his Bachelor’s Degree. He joined us in September 1972, which would start a long friendship between us.

Upon graduation, he returned to northeast Ohio, and I landed in southwest Ohio – but we stayed in touch. Not many years later, he came to the Cincinnati area looking for a new job. We lived on opposite sides of the metropolitan area, but we stayed in contact by phone with frequent conversations.

Lee is a kind man – not one to get in trouble. Describing him as “straight-laced” may be an understatement – family-man, religious, no alcohol, a non-smoker, empathetic in his way, and willing to help others in his circle. He’s stubborn and opinionated. His voice resonates with confidence and being knowledgeable, which also means he provides ample opportunities to discover that if bullshit was music, he would be a one-man symphony orchestra.

Besides personal character, interest in sports and politics served as a bonding agent. Both of us love baseball and its rich history. Who knows how many trivia questions about the national pastime we’ve bounced off each other – or the countless conversations about recent great plays we saw on ESPN Sportscenter.

On the other hand, we have sports-related differences. Through good times and bad times, I am loyal to my teams – whereas Lee switches allegiances based on his conveniences. He’s also quite the homer. Every autumn he would ask who I wanted to win baseball’s World Series, and I would always answer, the Reds. He would remind me the Reds aren’t in the series, so I would remind him then I didn’t care. In time, he stopped asking.

Sports, politics, and no matter the topic, his opinionated nature allows him to make ridiculous statements. Sharing them here is not the point. Lee makes so many predictions that even one of his family members refers to him as a “Shotgun Nostadamas” who hopes one comes true so he can boast.

Almost 50 years of friendship is odd for us because of our differences. I grew up in a rural area – he, in a metropolitan suburb. I grew up in a multi-national family – he, in a traditional white American family.

I, a traveler – he, a homebody. I, a doer of a variety of entertainment activities and interests outside the home – he, still a homebody. He has two kids – I have none.

I raised a Catholic now a Lutheran – he, a Southern Baptist. I, with a science background and one who understands what science is and how it works – he, a cafeteria scientist who picks and chooses what he believes primarily based on his religious and political views.

We have had our share of good discussions about current events through the years. Politically, sometimes we were on the same side of issues – other times not. There is no question in my mind that every person’s view evolves. When we met in college, we were both Democrats – but of different forms. Today, neither one of us identifies with the Dems, but we are far apart. I, an authentic moderate independent – he, a consumer of the party Kool-Aid and a Trump apologist. I call him a political hack.

I, a believer in the potential of oneness that humanity can be and that the majority of people in the world are good – he, unquestionably the most racist person I know regarding skin color, religion, nationality, and sexual orientation.

Being a reflective type, I will also point the finger at myself for part of the blame for my current feeling. While I would challenge him on sports and political issues, I very seldom challenged him on his prejudices regarding people. Looking back, I regret that choice.

With head-on issues such as President Trump’s actions and divisive nature, George Floyd and social justice, COVID-19’s multitude of impacts, an election year, and more, life today is challenging.

I haven’t talked to Lee in several months and a future conversation is not on my radar. I’ve deleted his name from my Contacts list – but I know his number – and no, I haven’t blocked him.

He texted me recently, but I ignored/did not answer because I saw it as one of his stupid sports statements. But what will I do if he calls or texts again? Time will tell.

The bottom line is simple. Is he a person that I want to associate with these days? Is the situation worth ending a 48-year friendship? For me, the answers are simple because they revolve around the fact that Lee is a science-denying self-proclaimed know-it-all who is a Trump apologist and arrogant bigot. Besides, I have enough divisiveness in my life because we live in challenging times – but challenging times require challenging decisions to do the right thing.

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.

 

Trust in God . . But Verify Everything Else

For the first time since I was too single to really give a blessed fuck, it happened to me again recently. It was the kind of awkward query that had me referencing my inner Rolodex of on the spot excuses, before I realized I had been asked via text . . which gave me enough time to make some shit up.

I was asked to church.

The last time I was asked to attend church, she was a thirty something looker who needed me to attend service with her. And I know this gets me no points with the guy upstairs, but the church thing became a deal breaker. This time around, a little different and much sadder.

I’ll call the person doing the inquiring Barry, since that’s his name. I’ve mentioned this dude before. We’re friends, kind of. He usually delivers up a text, unsolicited, about some stupid shit or other. I’ll respond with the requisite “LOL” or “How goes things?”. The average response time ranges from five and a half seconds to a couple weeks, which is why we’re just ‘kind of’ when it comes to friends.

The church thing caught me off guard, which isn’t an easy thing to do. Barry’s an ex cop, so I’m prepared for all manner of crazy shit to come down the pike. For all I know, he’s been leading a Walter White-like double life and he needs help getting across the border. And really, I would be more than happy to help him with that expedition in exchange for oh . . say a million in cash and a pair of those terribly overpriced AirPods.

If he called to tell me he’d just killed his pain in the ass next door neighbor, I’d bring the shovels and the lime. In exchange for say . . a case of bourbon. And if he got his girlfriend pregnant, I’d drive him to Mexico for ten grand and a taco dinner. Which is wholesale in comparison to the Walter White scenario.

In the event the authorities were to discover this post at some future date, let it be known I wrote this in jest. If I happened to follow through with any of these scenarios in the commission of a crime, I was most likely under duress. So you have my permission to shoot Barry on sight.

So the church inquiry. That was way more awkward a predicament for me than any of the above situations, and the fact that I ain’t kidding about it tells me that Imma have lots of ‘splaining to do when my ticket gets punched to the great beyond. But that’s another awkward conversation for another day . . .

As for this question, I could have taken it to mean the guy was being compassionate. So of course I looked at motive. Did he want some cover for the car ride to and from church, when he’s usually engaged in a steel cage match argument with his lady friend? Was he vying for a “Congregation Member of the Month” prize if he brought in some new recruits? And what did the winner get? Does this church offer sin passes? Maybe he’d get the pastor’s parking space for a month . . . or a psalm named after him. Or maybe . . . I should stop because that lightning I’m hearing as I type this, it’s getting too close for comfort . . .

That’s not my scene, but I’m honored you would think of me. 

That was my reply. Which is lame in comparison to what I might have used for a comeback. A top five? Sure, why not . . .

5- I don’t let Jesus take the wheel because I can’t afford his deductible
4- Church? Isn’t that where you vote?
3- I’ll go, but only if you promise not to wake me up until the service is over
2- I watch Filipino death match rugby on Sundays
1- Is it “Water Into Wine” Sunday? Because if so, I’m in . . .

I kept it high road given the subject matter. Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate the sentiment, because it means that Barry probably feels like my soul needs saving. And I like to think that I come across as being interesting like that. And it’s why I had to turn him down. Because I can’t let my personal relationship with God mess with the reputation I’ve been cultivating, basically my entire adult life.

God forbid.

 

 

For When The World Stops Standing Still

EVENTS — Creatively Lancaster

Let’s be real. We have no blessed idea what happens from here, I mean, once the lights go back on. Because to believe there will ever be a normal kind of normal, well . . that went away with September 11th. Everything and every day since has been a differently textured sense of normalcy, to which we held because there is something called the everyday to attend to, after all.

Now this, and now the world . . the whole entirety of it, holds its breath in anticipation of light at the end of a tunnel we never saw coming.

Things will change, because that’s how any kind of abrupt intermezzi works on the human psyche. We change, if only in miniature. But still, the things we hold to will have their aesthetic pulp to which we can still be quenched. Just this morning, I was thinking about certain of these items to which my pulse expands. And I knew that no matter what the world ends up looking like on the B side of things, these things will hold me to.

Always.

  • Walking into a baseball stadium and looking out over the field of play and just marveling at the heavenly construction. Wondering how it was possible that someone conceived this mystical design: the idea that fielders could master the vast expanse and pitchers would be able to make a small white pill speak foreign languages whilst hitters could turn on one in the time it takes to blink? And the dimensions of that diamond will seem the most fantastical endeavor of them all. As legendary columnist Red Smith once opined, “Ninety feet between bases is perhaps as close as man has ever come to perfection”.
  • The hush that comes over a movie theater when the crackle of the featured attraction starts to pop across the screen.
  • That buzz, the gloriously definable buzz that washes over a restaurant as dozens of loose conversations weave themselves together. Accompanied by mysterious noises from an unseen kitchen, the clink of glasses. And laughter, ransoming its way across the walls as if you could pick it up and take some for yourself.
  • Standing in front of a piece of art and letting time fall away, like so many leaves on a mysterious tree. Wondering what captured the imagination of the artist to figure out that kind of magic.
  • Running in the park on a spring morning as I pass by a fellow who’s having better luck with his smokes than with dinner. Dogs run across the emerald sweep as their owners toss them a ball. While kids and their parents negotiate the parameters of their afternoon and kites break the sky into small and wondrous pieces.
  • Hugging
  • The sound of a jet overhead as it navigates the muffled crease of a moonlit night. And for a moment, you wonder where that plane is going to and where it came from. And how the world is just this: A collection of fragmented stories, pieced into billions of pieces we will never get to know. And yet, we somehow understand.
  • High fives
  • Book stores, whose perimeters are lined with pilgrims of the written word and java junkies and festering brush fires of idle conversations.
  • City traffic that gets captured by a photographers lens and immortalized in a million different ways that we somehow take for granted.
  • A stranger’s smile
  • Holding hands

For now I lay my head on the pillow and think about a world that caught fire. And perchance there is a dream to be had, and if so I want to dream about some quiet, normal day when all of this will be relegated to hushed whispers.

And nothing more than that.

You Can’t Make This Stuff Up

There’s a reason why time machines are a really bad idea. Oh sure, it’s kitchy to imagine yourself as a modern day Marty McFly. But have you ever stopped to consider how ridiculous the future looks? Just for a moment, imagine telling someone in 2000 what history would look like in 2020. Here are ten items off the top of my head . . . .

  • Liam Neeson will be known as an action movie star
  • The Twin Towers will have been gone almost twenty years
  • Phones go mobile and people can literally do everything on them
  • Movie theaters are still a thing. Blockbuster is not
  • Tom Brady (who?) and the New England Patriots (what?) were the greatest dynasty in the history of American sports
  • A pandemic will thrust the entire world into lock down
  • The Boston Red Sox and Chicago Cubs are no longer title punchlines
  • Donald Trump will be President
  • Social media addiction is a thing
  • No one gets lost thanks to GPS, no one goes on a ‘blind date’ thanks to Tinder and everyone remembers your birthday thanks to Facebook

The moral of the story is to remain in the present, because the future is much too crazy a thing to contemplate.

 

 

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 Every Week

Photo of health care workers flying to help NY gets love

This is a picture of health care workers from Georgia on-board a Southwest flight bound for New York. A loving army whose mission is to provide the shelter in the face of an unyielding storm. They are the front lines in this battle against a relentless enemy, and they fight not for a particular flag or country or political party. The battle they wage is for humankind. And if this global pandemic has taught us anything, it’s to understand ourselves as citizens not of one place but of all places. A lesson brought home by our health care workers.

New Orleans Saints QB Drew Brees, wife donate $5M for coronavirus ...

I’ve been an outspoken critic of the New Orleans Saints for quite some time, but then perspective happened. Their head coach, Sean Payton, tested positive for COVID-19. And all of a sudden I couldn’t remember why any of that other stuff mattered as much as hoping he got better. And then of course there is Drew Brees and his wife Brittany, who do great things on the regular. This week came the announcement they will be donating $5 million dollars to various charities throughout Louisiana- one of the hardest hit states. These two make up one hell of a championship team.

Shin-Soo Choo giving $1,000 to every player in Rangers' farm system

With no sports on the calendar, this doesn’t mean the athletes who entertain us aren’t getting things done. Shin-Soo Choo provides us with yet another example of this. The Texas Rangers outfielder is donating $1,000 dollars to every minor leaguer in his organization. The dude doesn’t hide behind his big major league contract when giving back to those in need is a much better idea.

Frank over at the now retired A Frank Angle chimed in this week with a beautiful story about a man and his never ending quest to find the good in this world. I’ll let Frank tell it from here.

Beloved TV Reporter Broadcasts From Home to Help Children With Mr ...

Steve Hartman isn’t an everyday Joe – he’s a reporter for CBS News who captures good stories. Because Coronavirus has taken him off the road, he did an online course for kids about kindness … Kindness 101. I had seen various reports through the week about his project, but here’s the final one that I saw this evening.

A Minnesota trooper pulled over a doctor for speeding and gave her ...

When Dr. Sarosh Janjua was pulled over for speeding on a Minnesota highway recently, she figured there was a debit to her bank account on her horizon. The cardiologist from Massachusetts travels to the North Star State once a month for work and on this particular day, she met the wrong end of state trooper Brian Schwartz‘s radar gun. But instead of a fine, Schwartz gave her a heartfelt reprimand to keep it safe and then handed her five N95 masks. The gesture left Janjua in tears, that for one beautiful moment in time, were joyous ones.

Dale over at A Dalectable Life has chimed in with a couple of winners this week. And yes, Imma keep using sporting terms since there ain’t no sports in sight . .

Susan Ryan and Wynn.

Her first get involves a service dog in training named Wynn who is already earning her stripes and then some as she provides respite to medical staff who find themselves in the midst of a frightening battle in Denver, Colorado. Wynn is being trained to become an assistance dog for Canine Companions for Independence -an organization that provides assistance dogs free of charges to those in need.

“Seeing stuff and hearing stuff that you can’t unsee has an impact on you,” Says Susan Ryan, an emergency physician at Rose Medical Center “That’s where the dogs come in. When you are in the presence of the dog and petting them you are taking a moment to ground yourself at that present time.”

The one year old yellow lab gives the staff something that is in seriously short supply these days: Peace of mind.

Chris Waba came over to Rylee Anderson's house to give her a face-to-face lesson while social distancing.

Like millions of students across the country, twelve year old Rylee Anderson is continuing her education in a virtual classroom this spring. So when the middle schooler from Madison, South Dakota struggled to get a grasp on her algebra work, her teacher took it upon himself to give her some much appreciated one on one instruction. So Chris Waba showed up on her front porch with a whiteboard and his marker.

They spent the next ten minutes working it out from different sides of her front porch door. Because as Waba puts it, he’s always communicated best when face to face with his students. And this current state of the world we live in wasn’t going to change the way Waba has been doing his thing for the past twenty seven years. Because that’s how we make it through this time. By understanding that the little things? Can be a really big deal.

My last story is about an exchange I had with a nurse whilst in line at the grocery store the other day. It was a simple conversation inside this most complex of times, as we adhered to the necessary commandment of a social distance. She was frazzled and scared, even if she never admitted as much. Fear is the kind of desperate knell those in the field of health care dare not ring. But I could tell her stiff upper lip was a trembling mess when there was nobody around to keep score.

I wanted to hug her and tell her that everything was going to be alright. But I knew that was against the rules, and it almost made me cry to think that we really don’t know when things get back to being alright again. And thank God for her, and for all the other people whose job it is to stand in front of a tsunami and maintain that stiff upper lip.

Before she left, she thanked me for the conversation and I thanked her for everything she is doing. She gave me a tired laugh, her face worn down with all the worst case scenarios she must somehow accept in order to do her job.

“I just want to go home,”

 

Heroes Of The Week- You Edition

This week is yours. When all the reading and the love you give to this spot comes hurtling back at you in the form of a well deserved hug. Pick up this hug, and know that you made it possible. Gracias.

Now for the Heroes you brought to Friday . . .

Image result for La La Land Kind Cafe hires foster kids

Mark over at markpaxson.com decided that Rand Paul probably isn’t going to be worthy of any humanitarian awards in the near or distant future, and he’s probably spot on in this assessment. So when I was doing my casting call, he left a comment in which he said he would get back to me. Erudite chap that he is, he got back to me in no time flat with, as he put it, “Somebody doing something about a frequently forgotten segment of our society…”

It’s a story about the La La Land Kind Cafe in Dallas Texas. The owner, Francois Reihani, hires young people who have aged out of the foster care system. So far, he’s employed nine of these kids. Because Reihani believes it’s about kindness every bit as much as it’s about coffee.

Those are some cool beans they’re brewing.

Monika at Tails Around The Ranch contributed a beauty from her neck of the woods. It’s about some local distillers (She’s quick to point out other states are doing it as well). who have retrofitted their equipment in order to . . . get this all you hand sanitizer hoarders and price gougers . . give the stuff away to firefighters and other first responders. And since I totally plagiarized her comment, I’ll let her tell you why it matters, because she does a wonderful job of bringing it all home.

The state fast tracked approval to make the switch on the equipment. This story really touched me since a few years ago the Town of Lyons flooded and resulting in being completely cut off from in-or-out access to any surrounding areas/towns. They lost their water/sewer plant. It took months for the state to rebuild roads in to repair/replace damaged homes/buildings. To be able to come back and give to their community makes them big-time heros in my book.

Could not have said it better myself, Monika.

Image result for cuban doctors go to Italy

Dale over at A Dalectable Life ain’t just a lovely connoisseur of photography and great eats. She dresses up the written word in sunshine on the regular as well. And she is a voracious hunter and gatherer of feel good news pieces, as evidenced by her many contributions to this Friday edition over the last year and change.

She chimed in with this story about how Cuba recently sent a 52 doctor brigade to Italy in response to the devastating wake of the virus. The communist country has already done the same in a half dozen other countries, as its emergency preparedness is proving to be a model of effectiveness- at home and abroad. According to Graciliano Díaz, the Cuban contingent is committed to this ‘honorable task, based on the principle of solidarity.

It would be nice if every country put its politics aside and followed suit.

John at Fiction Favorites sent me a video to share with you for this Friday edition. It’s Matthew McConaughey dishing up some much needed love for Austin, Texas . . and for all of us. It’s only a couple minutes long, but it’s a virtual hug and “We Got This” that is much appreciated inside these trying times. The dude is quirky, and you know that? That’s plenty fine with me, because underneath all that quirkiness resides a heart the size of the place he calls home.

Alls I gotta say is Alright! Alright! Alright!

Image result for Bay View Wisconsin Dino Parade

And for my last story, I paid a virtual visit to Bay View Wisconsin. It’s a throwback neighborhood sewn into the shores of Lake Michigan. The ancestral lineage of this town speaks to laborers and the community they dreamed for their children inside lifetimes so long removed from here.

That future love paradise came calling recently when the residents of Bay View got together for a parade. But not just any parade, since we’re . .  yanno, living inside the operative social precepts of a moment in time where keeping your distance has taken on a literal form.

So this parade, it took all of these things into consideration in a most prehistoric fashion sense. Their solution was to dress up like dinosaurs and march together, at six foot intervals, through the place they call home. As a way of saying that it’s okay not to be okay with all of this. But it’s never going to be okay to lose our sense of humor, or our ability to figure a way back.

Imma finish this episode off by saying thank you to all my contributors, and to let you know that this idea will become yet another new feature going forward. Because you guys are always telling me how much you look forward to this Friday post, and I ain’t gonna lie. I never saw it coming.

You did.

 

Casting Call For Heroes Fans

Image result for ted williams

If you’re a regular to this joint, then you’ve probably happened upon the Heroes episodes we dish up every Friday for your viewing feel good. You kept things going when I thought maybe it was just a phase. And by you, I mean anyone who looks forward to this little corner of the world when the end of the week comes calling.

You made Heroes a place worth coming to. I simply captained the thing into harbor thanks to your earnest chimes, which behave very much like gold on the dollar when it comes to the keeping on. So . . I don’t do this kind of thing but I figured maybe one or two or three of you might be down with it.

Send me a story that hits you in the feel good and I’ll post it on Friday. You can simply provide the link in your comment and I’ll make sure it gets pub love. Worst case scenario is nobody contributes and Heroes still shows up in the regularly scheduled programming. Best case scenario is I get all the stories I need through you for this week, and if it’s more than five? Well . . I ain’t presumptuous like that, but a boy is allowed to dream.

As for writing, I was practicing my short game this morning. I hope you like.

He remembered back to those nights inside the dusty wings of a very forgettable March. Back into the hopeless design of bad news gone caterwaul in episodic bonfires that left Caesar’s ghost to hemorrhage in its eternal playpen.  The days painted themselves in a haphazard chaste whose vicious prongs were sinking empires across the globe. And so he peddled elixirs in the recitations of Angelou, Wilde, Cummings, Morrison and his personal favorite, Kinsella.

The spoken verses were akin to candles in a church, sacred vows left behind by masters and mistresses of the written word for the sake of prayer. Each syllable a testimonial to the peaceful resistance of words inside a chaotic world. The stories were plush to his fractured brain, and the sound of each word tasted like fruit as it trespassed his lips. And he went on like this, plucking a snippet here and a paragraph there and joining them together in a brilliant quilt whose song redeemed the shadowy fates.

It went like this from March into April and then with May came the first idea that life would begin to take its traditional place setting back. Only now, he had ashes to confer to the winds of change. The world, his world, would prove to be extraordinarily different with each step into whatever came next. Oh sure, it was easy to promise such a thing when the end of the world had seemed an abject patent. All the same, he was aligned to a different star from here on out. And he knew it was impossibly difficult to comprehend, but he had seen the beginning inside the merciless clench of the end.

So it was that a June day found him tucked into a box seat along the third base line, holding to a foot long as his beer lost its froth. The sun shone down like a promise from Jay Gatsby, full of a million different promises. The field was a stained glass portrait of emerald fusing with ivory and caramel. How could he have ever taken such a beautiful thing as an early summer day at the ballpark for granted?

He cried at the thought.

In The Darkness Came A Light

Kim Kardashian called. She wants her first world problems back.

Okay, maybe it’s not quite as dreadful or hopeless as Vladimir Putin was hoping it might turn out. Unless you hang out on the Twitter or Reddit sites, which I do not recommend you do unless dystopian soap opera plots are your jam. And just so you know, I’m not saying Vlad the Impaler of Hope had anything to do with this virus. His powers are limited to horse back riding without a shirt, eating cinnamon encrusted beef jerky without need for water and fucking with our elections.

Europe currently has a “Do Not Disturb” sign up as it has been hit especially hard. Tom Hanks and his lovely wife Rita are literally castaways as we speak. The Utah Jazz have gotten more pub than if they would have won the NBA title simply by having a couple of players test positive. Americans of all stations and status from coast to coast are providing an ever expanding face to this virus.

You know things have gotten serious when sports get shut down, because nothing gets in the way of our sports. Not two World Wars. Not the assassination of a President. Not even September 11th. But the dominoes which began with the cancellation of March Madness has crept into the NBA and NHL suspending play while the MLB has scrapped spring training and is moving back opening day.

Without benefit of games, ESPN has had to rely on journalism. Which is another way of saying that ratings have plummeted. Casinos are closing. Retailers are posting limits on toilet paper and hand sanitizer purchases. Web MD is currently a more popular site than Porn Hub.

If you’re young, consider this a vacation from the every day. Your immune systems are assembly line peach in comparison to us folks of a certain age. I’m in that notoriously provocative middle earth population of peeps who consider sneezing a four letter word. And if this tunnel doesn’t start giving us a little sunlight, we may have to resort to punching anyone who coughs inside our bubble. Nothing personal, of course.

And really, that’s the whole thing right there, isn’t it? This isn’t personal, unless we really want to make it so. Because right now, as a species, we still have the ability to stoke that fledgling spirit inside us that believes humanity is a pretty okay place to be. Even on its shittiest days, the world usually gives us something to latch onto. Hope really is riding shotgun, idiomatically speaking. And now more than ever, this is happening if we extricate ourselves from dark web searches for toilet paper and hand sanitizers. If we just let ourselves consider that human beings have been through a hell of a lot worse than this. Hell, we somehow survived the election of 2016, after all.

Let’s just sit back and take a deep breath, and let’s consider someone who has tested positive. Let’s think about what their families and friends are going through right now before we whine about not having picked up extra beer and chips in the event we’re holed up for a couple weeks time. Let’s just put ourselves in someone else’s head for a simple moment, and do something novel inside a time when looking out for yourself has become status. Let’s pray for them. That they make it through this thing with nothing more than a lousy t-shirt. Humanity is the only inventory we should be concerned with right now. Because to my way of thinking, the darkest of times is when the light is needed most. So it’s okay if our grocery list consists of a little humility, a little compassion and a whole lot of gratitude.

There’s a town called Siena, tucked inside a hilly region of Tuscany between the valleys and the clouds. Italy has been hit especially hard by COVID-19 and so the residents of this charming little medieval arrangement of castles and cathedrals have been relegated to their homes as a result. But rather than bemoan this solitary existence fraught with ever more daunting scenarios, the people of Siena fixed themselves on a different approach. On the night of March 13th, one of the quarantined residents let loose with a song that floated from one window to another to another . . until the entire street was draped in music.

So this one little song from this one little town, I gotta think maybe it was telling us something. Maybe it was telling us that to dwell on the bold font headlines of gloom and doom is to miss the point. Maybe instead of focusing on what we are inside these moments, maybe we should focus on something much more powerful.

What we can be.