Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Too much, too soon

The sportswriters are right.  The pressure on the young boys of the Jackie Robinson West team poured on them by the relentless media coverage is unfair.  It's unfair . . . and totally understandable.  Here we are in Chicago, reeling from news of young black boys and girls being cut down every week by gun violence. It doesn't change and it doesn't stop.

Then, along comes this team.  Bright black faces sporting bright yellow uniforms. Home runs.  Parents in the stands.  And it comes just at the same time as the stories from Ferguson, MO.  They are about as bad as any we've had in awhile. It's no wonder that we want these boys to win.  Win the game?  Or, win something good to take away some of the frustration and pain.

I love sports because it is the ultimate reality show.  As in life, the outcome unfolds and surprises.  So, reality will determine how far these Jackie Robinsons go.  It's a moment.  Let's enjoy it.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Let's Cheer for Them

Surprise!  There's a Chicago baseball team that is going to the World Series!  (Take that you lowly Sox and Cubs.)

Meet the Jackie Robinson West Little League team who are Illinois Champions.

With participation by African-American baseball players in the big leagues at an all time low, this is special . . . for now and for the future.

So let's get behind them.  It's about time we won something around here!

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.