Saturday, July 5, 2014

Death and the 4th of July

He may be a beast to his bosses, but Keith Olbermann keeps working because he is one of our great broadcast journalists.  Keith loves baseball and he loves the Yankees.  He poured that love into his piece commemorating the 75th anniversary of Lou Gehrig's farewwell "I am the luckiest man alive" speech on the 4th of July at Yankee Stadium.  Remember, Gehrig was known as the "iron man",  but as ALS ravaged his young and vital body, Lou was able to find gratitude.

Earlier in the day, I read the riveting article in the New Yorker about the crushingly uncertain days of the Chilian miners.  The 33 trapped and starving men agreed to completely share the minuscle amounts of food on hand.  They were able to find solidarity.

In the evening, I went to my friend Lail's for her annual party.  She has a big, old house with a great screened porch, just perfect for the 4th of July.  My friend Jim said it best: "Everyone who comes to the party is someone you want to talk to or listen to."  We always have fun.

When an ambulance pulled up in front, we all said: "I wonder what's happening across the street."  But, it wasn't out there, it was right in Lail's living room that one of her guests had suffered enough heart trouble that the 911 call had been made.

This was a gathering of oldsters, with a keen sense of savoring the idea of "annual."

 Gratitude and solidarity indeed.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014


The last few days in rehab, I was able to get around on my walker and join the other oldsters on our beautiful patio.  When I mentioned that we should all be grateful to FDR (social security) and LBJ (medicare) for our lovely surroundings, many of them muttered that their children wouldn't be so lucky and their grandchildren probably won't even remember these benefits.

"Well, they have to fight for them", I said.  "None of this came easy."  The worst thing people can do is think that things are in place to stay.

I thought of this again as I am watching the programs on "Freedom Summer" remembering the 50th anniversary of the bus riders and others who fought for civil rights.  And now, to see the voting rights laws falling in those same southern states one by one.

I am feeling very grateful right now for my daughter and my friends who have stepped up to help me, keep me company, and let me know in so many ways that they care.  And, I am grateful to FDR and LBJ and the more compassionate country they made possible.  I would not be here at all without them.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

What the Spurs Can Teach America

The NBA Championship Series helped me through rehab after hip surgery.  I was rooting for the Spurs because I like the title to change hands as often as possible.  The Heat was a favorite with some, but many sports people thought San Antonio was certainly capable of winning.  What stunned everyone was the way they won.  After they lost to the Heat by just two points in game two, they blew them away in every game to win in five.

The Heat are the team of the "big three."  These are the mega watt stars who get all of the publicity and LeBron is King.  The Spurs have their own "big three."  Can you name them?

With so many players being identified as having talent when they are in high school, then being promoted like crazy during their (usually) one year of college, the cult of the individual star hangs over the game.

The Spurs are the exception.  They play as a team.  They communicate. They collaborate.  Rather than go for the dunk, they pass, then they pass again until they set up the "best shot."  They spread the points evenly.  Some of their best players are from other countries.  Dare I call them immigrants?

I hope when President Obama welcomes the Spurs to the White House, Washington will pay attention.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

The Times They Are A (Not) Changin'

It's going to take a Vietnam era level of disruption, confrontation, coalitions and citizen action to turn around the culture of gun violence in the U.S.  It's going to take another "counter culture" of students, performers, clergy, minorities, and those beleagured "liberals."  The government will not be moved until it is upended.

I believe the cold war idology that produced the Vietnam War  was even more entrenched than the "second amendment" ideology is today.  Washington supported the war even when they knew, as historians now tell us, that it was futile.  Washington sucumbs to the lobbying power of the NRA even as we know they will eventually regret their cowardice.

I don't know when the tipping point will come.  I don't know who the leaders will be.  I know the effort will have to be "revolutionary."  I say bring it on.

Friday, May 23, 2014


My friend Camille sent me this photo from Barcelona.  Isn't it fun?  I wish I did have a house there.  I was in Barcelona many, many years ago with Len.  We were strolling through a fancy section of the city when I admired a ring in a shop window.  Len said: "Too bad our plane leaves before the shop opens."

When we got to the airport we found out that our plane was delayed by several hours so we went back into town.  Yes, I got the ring.  But, a few years later, in one of the mysteries of my lifetime, the ring disappeared, never to be found.

So, I guess I wasn't meant to have it after all.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

A Time for Marianne?

Marianne Williamson is running as an independent for the Congressional seat being vacated by the retiring Henry Waxman.  Pundits are having fun calling this the "Hollywood" seat,  With "Arnold" and "Ronnie" still in our memories, I guess we can allow the pundits some snickers.  But, make no mistake, there was nothing trivial about the great career of Henry Waxman.

I knew Marianne when I was connected to the "Human Potential Movement."  It was the time of est, Esalon, "I'm OK You're OK", and in Chicago, Oasis, where I worked.  Back then, Williamson was teaching the book "A Course in Miracles."  Believe me, people were into it. As an aside,
Bill's college roommate and friend Tammy Cohen was attached to the book because her mother published it.

Some call Marianne a minister, others a guru, and still others a spiritual leader.  I'm going to borrow from Howard Dean and call her the leader of the "Imagine" wing of politics.  One of her 10 books (four of which were No. 1 best sellers) is "Imagine What America Could Be . . ."

Did you know that she has spearheaded the effort to establish a Department of Peace?  Did you know that checking the box "spiritual but not religious" is an extremely popular thing to do?

I'm rooting for Marianne Williamson for Congress.

 Imagine it.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Let's Get Real

Michael Sam, the gay football player,  is going to be the star of a reality show produced by Oprah for her OWN TV network.  The show will follow Sam's experiences as a late round draft pick for the St. Louis Rams NFL team.  NFL/Oprah.  Now there's a combo I never expected to see in the same sentence.

So far, the official word from Sam has been that he just wants to keep his head down, work hard and concentrate on making the team.  He is not guaranteed a spot.  I don't know how much access Oprah's people will have to the practices, but, in my opinion, none of this amounts to concentrating on football.

And choosing Oprah?  Not ESPN?  Maybe I'm missing something here.

Bill Russell, the iconic basketball star, who is now 80, likens Sam's situation to what black athletes faced in the '60's during the civil rights battles.  Integration didn't come easy.  My all time sports movie "Remember the Titans" is testimony to that.

I think Russell and the others who integrated major sports had it a lot harder than Sam.  I don't remember huge outpourings of support for Russell and his contemporaries.  Not until many years later when their courage was acknowledged and applauded.