A Bronx Fail

In case you missed it (and I don’t know how you could if you’re a News Hound like your beloved ThoughtMarauder)

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but in June of last month, a 28 year old bartender named Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (no relation to Hernan Cortez, explorer and destroyer of the Aztec civilization – or is she..hmmm)

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narrowly defeated incumbent Joe Crowley to win the Democratic Party Primary nomination in New York’s 14th Congressional District – primarily representing the Bronx. She will be running against Republican Alex Pappas in November, although most expect that election to be a Dog and Pony Show

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given the fact that registered Democrats outnumber Republicans 6 to 1. Mr. Pappas’ candidacy appears to be in theory only, since he has not yet filed any paperwork with the Federal Election Committee which would allow him to raise funds. Nor has he created a campaign website or associated social media pages.

Comrade Ocasio-Cortez’ election in November seems assured.

Oh, I’m sorry  🙁  Did I neglect to mention she is a member of the Democratic Socialists of America? Shame on me.

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Ms. Ocasio-Cortez endorses the following policies:

Abolish ICE (Open Borders)

Assault Weapons Ban (Repeal of the 2nd Amendment / Gun Confiscation)

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Universal Government Employment (Nationalize Industry, destroy Capitalism and re-distribute Wealth)

A $15 an hour Minimum Wage (The laws of labor supply and demand dictate wages –         not Big Government fiat)

Medicare for All (Everyone hates Medicare – especially those already on it. Universal        Medical Misery for all)

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The Bronx district she is poised to represent has experienced radical demographic changes since career politician Joe Crowley was first elected there 20 years ago – it used to be a predominantly White district ( think Archie Bunker) – now it’s over 46% Hispanic, many of whom are not even legal US citizens ( think Chico and the Man).

These are some of the poor and downtrodden she hopes to elevate via her above-mentioned policies:

and who can forget these fine young citizens of New York’s 14th Congressional District:

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The Bernie Bro’s and the Mainstream Media are casting her upset victory as the future trajectory of American politics, neglecting to mention that she beat incumbent Joe Crowley by slightly more than 4,000 votes. The total voter turnout in the Primary was 27,658 – she collected 15,897 votes to his 11,761 votes. There are 691,715 residents in New York’s 14th Congressional District. The total voter turnout represents less than 5% of the residents of that district.

This is hardly a mandate for fundamentally transforming a Free Nation of over 320 million people into a Democratic Socialist / Communist paradise. What her election represents is a girl on the ball who saw a political weakness in her opponent and exploited it.

Nothing more.

How did she do it?

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The Look of the Dead Fish: A Nick Alwaes Detective Novel by [Fountain, Jamie N]

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By touching people, that’s how. She knocked on doors, chatted people up on the street, went to local events and shook hands with the voters. Incumbent Joe Crowley was so assured of victory that he neglected to even visit his own district during the run-up to the Primary vote. In fact, he sent a surrogate to represent him in a debate with Ms. Ocasio-Cortez because he was too “busy” in Washington to speak with his own constituents.

The ThoughtMarauder abhors her politics, but admires her drive. She proved once again that “all politics is local.”

So what happens now?

Well, it turns out that although Mr. Crowley lost the Democratic Primary, he’ll still appear on the ballot in November as the representative of the Working Families Party – a group not ideologically far removed from the Democratic Socialists of America. New York has a byzantine Primary process that I won’t even attempt to explain, but you can read about it here if you’re a political junkie like the ThoughtMarauder. (I know it’s a CNN article, but they only report Fake News when it applies to their political opposition). Anyway, it’s entirely possible that the constituents of the 14th District – who are accustomed to voting for Mr. Crowley – will show up on Election Day and cast their vote for him, rather than Ms. Ocasio-Cortez, feeling they were as blind-sided by her Primary win as Mr. Crowley was. It will be very interesting to see if the voters of the 14th District elect a change-agent like Ms. Ocasio-Cortez, or opt for the comfort of Mr. Crowley’s continued representation.

If Ms. Ocasio-Cortez wins, expect the Media to hoist her upon their shoulders and parade her around as the “future of American Politics” despite the fact she’s dumber than a box of rocks. She graduated with a BA in Economics and International Relations from Boston College, although you wouldn’t know it by watching this interview (no, not this parody video) and listening to her 10th grade level understanding of Economics, International Policy and basic human nature. If the Democratic Party, or the Democratic Socialist Party think their barely disguised Communist Manifesto is gonna fly in Flyover Country, they’ve got another thing comin’

However, if Mr. Crowley wins the Primary as the candidate of the Working Families Party (where he’ll undoubtedly caucus with the Democrats) expect a total Progressive Civil War for the philosophical soul of the Party, the likes of which haven’t been seen since..

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The ThoughtMarauder will address what he thinks will happen next in the Great Progressive schism in a future Post..

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The Ghost of Albert Henkelstam by [Fountain, Jamie N]

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Wax On, Wax Off

Athletes are renowned for their athletic prowess – throwing the Ball

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catching the Ball, running with the Ball, hitting the Ball

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kicking the Ball – but regrettably they are also well-known for their lack of financial acumen.

The ThoughtMarauder read this story today about yet another athlete holding out for more money. As you well know I am a total Capitalist and have no issue with the salaries Athletes earn. In a free market system everyone gets as much money as their talents will command.

What troubles me about these never-ending “holdouts” is the selfishness and un-professionalism. Again, everyone should get paid what their worth. But when an athlete conducts their business this way it’s a big “Fuck You” to your teammates, coaches and owners. By “holding out” of training camp and the first few games of the season you deprive the team of its ability to create the timing necessary for on-field success. That success can only be forged through the kind of multiple repetitions gained in training camp and the pre-season.

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The Look of the Dead Fish: A Nick Alwaes Detective Novel by [Fountain, Jamie N]

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An athlete can attend these camps and pre-season events and STILL be in negotiations with Team Management regarding his salary. I think it actually enhances the athletes case by providing visual evidence of his ability AND making a statement about his commitment to the team and his professionalism.

Basically, “holding out” screams “I care more about me than I do about the success of the team.” Other players notice this attitude and I imagine some of them wonder why they should go the extra mile to help this guy succeed when he cares more about himself than the success of the team.

Can you say “Goodbye team chemistry!”?

It’s this kind of “Sports Mercenary” attitude that has, in the ThoughtMarauder’s less than humble opinion, contributed to the overall decline of Professional Team Sports in America.

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“Why should I, as a Fan, root for this guys success when he doesn’t give a shit about “my” team? He’s only here for the money, and his holdout caused us to lose two games at the start of the season which resulted in our missing the playoffs this year!”

Additionally, it’s often the guys who spend more time doing “the money grab” who end up bankrupt and destitute not long after their playing careers are over. Consider this list (and remember this is just a tiny fraction of a huge total).

With that in mind, look at this article I found while combing through FUTURE headlines this morning:

Report: Le’Veon Bell to skip Cleaning camp again..

July 18 2028:

Car Wash employee Le’Veon Bell didn’t get the long-term wash-and-wax deal he was hoping for, and he apparently isn’t going to put in any extra time.

According to Vince Young of WorkingAtTheCarWash.com, Bell’s plan at the moment is to skip cleaning camp “but be ready for the regular car washing season.”

There’s also no plan to skip regular car washing weeks, likely because doing so would be forfeiting $85.20 a week and his quest for more money isn’t furthered by leaving wet piles of it on the carwash floor.

There’s also the question of how ready for the regular car washing season he’ll be without cleaning camp.

Last year, he cleaned 52 cars for 180 dollars in his first three days after staying away from cleaning camp and the carwash preseason, looking like a guy who needed a month to get his cleaning game up to league speed.

 

He can listen to this badass funky groove from Rose Royce while he’s “Workin’ at the Car Wash.” Dig that wicked Bass thump!

Wax On..Wax Off..

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The Ghost of Albert Henkelstam by [Fountain, Jamie N]

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Stoplight Zombies of the Digital Age

No..No..No..That’s not the name of a new Alternative Band

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Stoplight Zombies are an A.D.D-saturated, digitally re-mastered, new form of 21st century Life found everywhere on Earth (except perhaps the Australian Outback and the jungles of Africa).

Oops.

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These Digital Zombies have mutated to adapt to their environments – witness the Bar Zombies

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the Bro Zombies

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the Bra Zombies

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The Walking Zombies

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etc..etc..etc..

I could go on and on and on describing the many different adaptations of this new digitohominid, but there are way too many to list. I am limited to 100,000 words in this blog format.

Most of these mutants are relatively harmless. Sometimes they’ll spill a drink on themselves or walk face-first into a utility pole, but no one else suffers for their obliviosity.

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The Look of the Dead Fish: A Nick Alwaes Detective Novel by [Fountain, Jamie N]

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Not so with this digital dolt however. You know the one.

The STOPLIGHT ZOMBIE!!!

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Of course I don’t have to tell you about the Stoplight Zombies, because surprise surprise…………

YOU are one of THEM!!!

How do I know?

Easy..I was behind you at that stoplight this morning, so don’t try to deny it.

I saw your face in the reflection of your cellphone while you were power-scrolling through your Facebook and taking duckface selfies.

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You thought you could get away with it because you know this stoplight like the back of your hand. It’s a long one – almost two minutes. You always hope you don’t make this light because it gives you one more chance to get a good hit from that hand-held digital crackpipe..

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It felt good to escape from the world for just a minute or two, didn’t it?

You laughed at the pictures of Cats sitting in funny positions

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wondered whether you could pull off this recipe

then secretly hated yourself because you knew you couldn’t – and even if you did – it wouldn’t look anything like the video.

You quickly forgot about it because you read a very inspirational “You Go Grrrll!!” meme

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Then, just as you were preparing to see how many Likes you got from the selfie you took at the gym last night..HONKHONKHONKHONK..the guy behind you – it was ME – honks his horn and drags you right out of the Facebook vortex and back to reality.

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You dropped your phone in your lap, looked up and saw the light was green, wondered for a second how long it had been green, looked quickly in the rear view mirror to see if the person behind you was gonna go all road-rage on you and then hauled ass through the light.

You didn’t even care how many people didn’t make the light because of your inaction.

So thoughtless..

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I cursed you long after you were gone, even while I was stopped at the next stoplight checking my Instagram. My feed was packed with great content.

I had a total Phoner!

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..at least until the person in the car behind me honked their horn and killed my mojo.

I dropped my phone in my lap, looked up and saw the light was green, wondered for a second how long it had been green, looked quickly in the rear view mirror to see if the person behind me was gonna go all road-rage on me and then hauled ass through the light.

I didn’t even care how many people didn’t make the light because of my inaction.

I’m so thoughtless..

Because….

I’m a STOPLIGHT ZOMBIE TOO!!!

 

Here’s a fun little song parody for you to sing while you’re stuck at the next traffic light. Think Eleanor Rigby (righteous props to The Beatles) –

 

Ah, look at all the Stoplight Zombies

Ah, look at all the Stoplight Zombies

 

Digital Zombies, stare at their phones

while their stopped at the light

They know its not right

Checking their Facebook, until they hear

the loud sound of a horn

Were they watching Porn?

 

All the Stoplight Zombies

Where do they all come from?

All the Stoplight Zombies

Why can’t they move along?

 

Digital Zombies, tap out the words

Of dull Posts that no one will read

On their NewsFeed

Oh Shit it’s green now, you better wake up

And put your foot on the gas

You oblivious Ass!

 

All the Stoplight Zombies

Where do they all come from?

All the Stoplight Zombies

Why can’t they move along?

 

Ah, look at all the Stoplight Zombies

Ah, look at all the Stoplight Zombies

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The Ghost of Albert Henkelstam by [Fountain, Jamie N]

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..After the Thrill

“Oh Yeah, Life goes on,

Long after the thrill of livin’ is gone”

I was 17 in 1982 when this song came out – the lines meant nothing to me then – and there’s no reason why they should have. They were just a clever rhyme – nothing more.

But they weren’t intended to have meaning to a kid.

The words were written for those who’ve lived long enough to look back and see more of Life’s road behind them than in front of them.

When you’re young, life is exciting and full of promise (and promises).

What’s more thrilling than your first kiss, your first love affair,

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your first apartment and your first adult job?

All of Life is in front of you. You’re certain you’ll travel across Europe, backpack slung over shoulder, collecting adventures.

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Fame and Fortune aren’t probabilities or possibilities – they are inevitable. How you’ll attain them may be uncertain – but they WILL come.

How do you know?

Because you have TIME..and with TIME all things are possible.

The funny – and sad – thing about TIME, though, is it’s relentless nature. It steals from you – constantly. Not in large denominations of $20 or $50 or $100 dollars like a bank robber.

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The Look of the Dead Fish: A Nick Alwaes Detective Novel by [Fountain, Jamie N]

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No.

TIME is a nickel and dime thief. TIME picks your pocket, imperceptibly, and before you realize what TIME has taken you discover you’re 50-something years old.

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After 50 (please don’t misinterpret what I’m about to write) the Thrill of Living is Gone – that doesn’t mean Life is over – it just means activities that once were Thrilling are replaced by something more meaningful..

Simple pleasures..

The first cup of coffee in the morning, a cigar and a drink shared with an old friend

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the smiles of children, the wrinkles on your wife’s face that mirror your own, the first scent of fresh-cut grass in April that reminds you of younger days.

Today’s Post was inspired by the recent Deaths of Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain by their own hand.

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May they both find the Peace in death they were unable to find in Life..

The living can never know with certainty what profound sadness possesses a Person of Years to take their own Life. We can only speculate.

I wonder if there isn’t an element of Boredom married to Nihilism involved in that final, Fatal decision. A kind of “I’ve been there, done that, I don’t have that many years left anyway and it’s too late in my life to recover from this failed marriage or relationship or financial loss etc..so who cares.”

Perhaps, for them, the Simple Pleasures were not enough to sustain them when the Thrill of Living was gone..

**If you – or someone you Love – are struggling with depression and having thoughts of suicide, please, please, please consider contacting the National Suicide Prevention Hotline**

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The Ghost of Albert Henkelstam by [Fountain, Jamie N]

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How We’ve Lost Our Grip

Moral Authority isn’t easy to come by. It requires a lifetime of selflessness, kindness, charity and goodwill to others before it can be accorded to someone.

It isn’t hard to find such people scattered throughout religious history – Moses, Martin Luther

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Gandhi, Mother Theresa

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Pope Paul II, the reverend Billy Graham, Martin Luther King

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etc..It get’s even tougher when you venture into the world of politics – George Washington and Abraham Lincoln

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come to my mind – but none others (perhaps you can help fill in the blanks).

In the world of entertainment you can practically forget about it – Harvey Weinstein, Kevin Spacey, R Kelly, Bill Cosby – I certainly would have – until this name popped up today.

Wynton Marsalis

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Mr. Marsalis is one of those people who go quietly about their lives doing what they love without much fanfare, while, unbeknownst to themselves, acquiring the kind of Moral Authority that gives them license to speak Truth to Power.

Hear the power of these words, that if spoken by most other men, would be brushed aside with a dismissive “F… Him!’

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The Look of the Dead Fish: A Nick Alwaes Detective Novel by [Fountain, Jamie N]

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Specifically, he said that hip-hop is indicative of “how we’ve lost our grip on our morality in the black community… using pornography and profanity and addressing ourselves in the lowest, most disrespectful form.”

and this:

He continued by comparing the popularization of rap to minstrel shows. “You can’t have a pipeline of filth be your default position, and it’s free. Now, the nation is entertained by that. It’s not free,” he remarked. “Just like the toll the minstrel show took on black folks and on white folks. Now all this ‘nigga’ this, ‘bitch’ that, ‘ho’ that, it’s just a fact at this point.”

As I’ve mentioned in earlier posts – For Sale: Child’s Soul Price: 30 Pieces of Silver and The Great Disconnect and Goodbye Hollywood.. the moral decay of our Great country has much to do with the abdication of many Americans of their role as the keepers of Decency and Innocence. When are the grown-ups going to stand together with one voice and say “Enough is Enough.” When will we as a people – regardless of gender, race, religion – join together and push back against the normalization of filthy, gratuitous rap, violent video games, 24 hour a day sexualized television content etc..etc..

As an interesting aside, Mr. Marsalis won a Pulitzer Prize for this:

 

while Kendrick Lamar won a Pulitzer Prize for this:

 

You be the judge of which artist elevates the spirit and which does not.

Also from Mr. Lamar, this:

Apparently he invited a young female fan onstage (a white fan) to sing? one of his lyrical miracles but then became offended when she used the exact same N-Word he uses about a thousand times a day. Perhaps if Mr. Lamar didn’t use the N-Word with such prolificosity he wouldn’t hear others using it so much, thus avoiding offense to his delicate sensibilities.

Hmmm..perhaps that’s Mr. Marsalis’ point?

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The Ghost of Albert Henkelstam by [Fountain, Jamie N]

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The Patron Saint of Love

Being a Christian in the Age of Rome was a dangerous proposition..

In the 3rd Century A.D. Emperor Claudius the Second issued an edict directing that young people were not to be married. He reasoned that married men might be reluctant to risk their lives in battle if they had a wife (and presumably children) to live for.

Bishop Valentinus

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firm in his belief that everyone who wished to be joined in holy (and monogamous matrimony – polygamy was not uncommon in his time) in a ceremony sanctified by God should have the right to do so – even if it directly contradicted the Roman Law.

The Bishop secretly married many couples until he was eventually found out and sentenced to death in the year 269 A.D. His death was administered in not one, or even two, phases – but three. He was beaten, then stoned, and finally decapitated.

A little over 200 years later, in 496 A.D., his dedication – and sacrifice – to his faith was formally recognized by Pope Gelasius 1.

As you enjoy reading your Valentine’s Day cards and nibbling on chocolates from a heart-shaped box, take a moment or two to remember a man who sacrificed his life on the Altar of Principles in accordance with his Christian faith.

How many of us are as stalwart in our faith?

**Originally Posted on 14 Feb 2018**

Happy New Year 2018

Happy New Year

This New Year I’m gonna…

……stride like a colossus

Over streets littered with last years dreams

And yesterdays thoughts that I would be Different

– better

A real go-getter

A man of letters

Full of disdain for the chase of numbers

– unencumbered

By things remembered
thru this cold
December

This New Year I’m gonna…

……smash old paradigms under my boot

And craft new dreams of steel

Clay no more

– solid

Friend and Lover

Not undercover

Acclaim for all who labor sans consolation

– dedication

Wed to perspiration
My New Year
Declaration

ThoughtMarauder wishes everyone a Safe and Fun and Happy and Prosperous NEW YEAR!!

Champagne

**Originally Posted 31 Dec 2017**

Rare Bird

So I’m sitting on the front stoop this morning having a cigarette and a cup of coffee

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surrounded by so much misty grey gloom that I felt like I’d been swallowed up by a cloud and thinking about how bland-and-cold-and-dull everything is, when something completely unexpected happened.

A bird, swooping in from above me and to the right, raced across my field of vision and landed in the Crabapple tree directly in front of me.

Crabapple Tree in Winter

Ordinarily, I wouldn’t give such an occurrence a second thought – birds are everywhere around here – but the one thing they all have in common is the common-ness of their colors: brown Robins, brown Titmice, grey pigeons, black crows.

Boring Birds

Boring. Boring. Boring.

On Winter mornings like this – when there’s no snow on the ground – everything blends into either one of two colors: a shade of Brown or a shade of Grey.

But not this Bird!

It comes flying in with flaming red hair, bold black and white striped wings and a gleaming white belly that shocks the Hell out of all of us.

The Rare Bird

Us being me and the three dozen or so miscellaneous plain birds gathered around the base of the tree kicking and poking around for something to eat – none of us knows what to make of this rare flier.

I’ve lived in this area for a long time and never in my life have I seen one like this.

But I’m glad I did today.

He didn’t stay but maybe 30 seconds or so – just long enough to poke his long, pointy beak into the trunk of the tree in a few spots, swivel his head to the left and right a few times (checking for cats, I figured) – then he darted away as quickly and unexpectedly as he’d arrived.

I savored every second it spent in front of my eyes.

It was such a pleasure to see an unexpected shock of color against an otherwise dreary canvas – particularly when you have an acute sense the experience will be short-lived.

It didn’t occur to me until later in the morning that sometimes people blaze across our paths too – colorful, bold, one-of-a-kind – and then fly away from us as quickly as they came, leaving long lingering memories in their wake – the kind of memories that a thousand dull birds never can.

**Originally Posted on 22 Dec 2017**

 

Little Big Tom and the Librarian

We all sat together – apart – in our slippery plastic chairs, isolated from one another by the dull grey walls of our computer cubicles beneath an artificial sky of white, popcorn style ceiling tiles and high-octane LED lights, each of us a castaway on our private Facebook island, getting fat on information entirely devoid of any nutritional value – and none of us feeling the least bit guilty about it.

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I was stuffing my face with Memes featuring The Most Interesting Man in the World, Gene Wilder as Willy Wonka, Sam Elliott from The Big Lebowski and Leonardo DiCaprio hoisting a glass of Champagne as The Great Gatsby. My mouth was watering at the prospect of enjoying the taste of recipes I knew I’d never make (but maybe my next wife or girlfriend would): Bacon Brie Crescent Wreaths, Polar Bear Claws, Pineapple Upside Down Cheesecake and Keto Pesto Chicken with Feta Cheese. MMM!

Of course I had to tread lightly through the Facebook minefield – political bombs were everywhere – I knew if I wasn’t vigilant, one could easily blow up in my face. Left-Wing Obama bombs, Right-Wing Trump Molotov cocktails – I could be wiped out at any time. Fortunately, thanks to my Prior Service experience, I was able to navigate the ideological battlefield with my sense of proportion intact.

More or less.

At some point, while I was deliciously deepdeepdeep into the time-sucking bowels of The Great Facebook Vortex, a voice – a big one – crashed, asteroid-like, into my private ZuckerBurgh just as I was about to finally find out how to remove myself from one of those Facebook Groups you join as a kindness to a Friend (even though you don’t really want to) and then your phone Dings endlessly as 3 people in the Group of 187 chat endlessly about mediocrities you couldn’t care less about. I was just about to unlock The Great Mystery when –

“Hey Mary! Hey Mary!” boomed over my cubicle.

“Good grief,” I immediately thought. “Doesn’t this guy know we’re in the library.”

I wasn’t the only one who noticed.

The three teenage girls sharing a cubicle behind me and three stations down – they were maybe Thirteen or Fourteen years old – stopped giggling about the cute boys in their class long enough to peek over their cubicle to have a look-see at who was responsible for over-talking their conversation.

Four old men noticed too. They were scattered about, with their bad knees, bad hips and bad backs (but great memories – they’d all remembered to bring their Nose Whistles which they played with incredible Symphonic gusto – one Bass, two Tenors and a Soprano (who occasionally reached for – and found – the Falsetto). There’s was a rhythmic Nasal assault on the auditory senses – a Pig snort here, a wheeze or two there mingled with the occasional snit-snit-snit and the rare, but unforgettable, high-pitched Horse whinny. Each groaned as they stood to look over the tops of their cubicles to identify the loud talker.

The young executive in the cubicle in front of me in the fashionable suit didn’t look up. He seemed deeply immersed in actual work, which none of us could claim to be doing.

“Look at my new car, Mary! Look at it! Isn’t it cool!” the voice practically shouted.

I didn’t have to stand to look over my cubicle since I was parked on the end – I only had to lean about 40 degrees to my right.

I was full of righteous indignation, as were the others. “Who is this thoughtless man taking a wrecking ball to the rules of library etiquette?”

With the exception of Suitman, the rest of us were preparing, with our angry eyes, to launch spears of disapprobation at the careless obliviot.

The nerve!

As quickly as our anger was aroused, however, it dissolved – into One Part Shame and Four Parts Understanding.

The voice was that of a man-child. He was easily 6’2”, 250 lbs and, I reckoned, between 50 and 55 years old in body – but 7 years-old otherwise.

Atop his head was an Ohio State Buckeyes Scarlet and Gray winter hat, the kind with the big knit ball dangling from the top. He was wearing a pair of clean, light-blue jeans with an elastic waistband that clung to his behind at a distance higher than your common sixteen year-old street punk, but lower than your standard Plumber. His white Fruit-Of-The-Looms were plain to see as he bent over to show his new prized possession to the librarian.

His sneakers were Scarlet and Gray too – I imagined his caretaker was either a rabid fan or an alumni – or both.

The coattails of a white and blue pinstripe Oxford were visible underneath his Red, down-filled winter coat.

“Isn’t it awesome!” he said, holding the tiny Red car out to the librarian for her to admire. “It’s beautiful, Tom,” she replied in a muted tone directly in opposition to his.

“I know, I know! My mommy bought it for me today at the store!”

I laughed a little at myself, then glanced over at the three girls. They returned to what they were doing prior to the interruption without a second thought
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One of the old men, in the station two down from me, looked at me and I looked at him. We tossed knowing looks at one another, then smiled – each of us knowing that any man who could harbor continued hostility toward a human being like Tom, was no man at all. We understood how the Challenged – whether in Body or in Mind (or both) – are Gifts from God – bestowed upon us to measure the depths of our devotion to one another.

“Tom,” she said and took his big hand with the Red car in it into both of hers, “I want you to do something for me, okay?”

“Okay, Okay!” he said excitedly – and loudly.

“I want you to use the library voice we talked about last week. Do you remember that?” she asked, in a voice that if it were a color would be pastel blue – if it were a fabric would be soft cotton. Her voice had the timbre of a woman who’d spent more of her life within the walls of a library than without.

The Librarian

Big Tom thought about it real hard for more than a moment, smiled, then whispered, “Like this?”

The librarian smiled and said, even more quietly, “Yes Tom, just like that.”

Big Tom beamed proudly, thrilled that he’d remembered what they’d talked about – and happy that he’d made his friend Mary happy.

I allowed my eyes to linger on this touching real-world scene for a short spell longer before returning – faith in Humanity restored – to the surrealities of ZuckerBurgh.

PS: That’s a sweet Red car by the way, Big Tom.

Red Toy Car

**Originally Posted on 21 Dec 2017**

The King of West Fifth Avenue

The King glides in slow measured strides along alabaster sidewalks beneath his very own diamond-studded 3am sky. His treasure chest overflows with jewels – traffic lights at night – brilliant emerald greens, shining yellow golds and shimmering ruby reds.

Traffic Light at Night

Beholden to no one, he scoops up old cans – the currency of his Realm – and upon their redemption buries the coins deep into the pockets of his soiled, greasy jeans – now colored more black than long-ago blue – and hoards them until he can buy a pack of American Eagle cigarettes from the exotic man who purveys tobacco products and such at the corner store. Until then, he’ll make do with the butted remains he plucks off the ground, “tiny tributes offered up to me by my loyal subjects,” he knows.

Cigarette Butt on the Ground

His Regal cape is an old grey Tuxedo jacket that fits just right – almost. He’d granted this unfortunate garment a royal reprieve after discovering it – only somewhat tattered – in the garbage can behind the Men’s Used Clothing store. His crown – a long, grey, crocheted sock hat stuffed with locks of matted curly hair – bounces to and fro in tune to the rhythm of his gait.

Each day the King arises from one of his many secret palaces – a thicket of bushes by the river perhaps, or a sleeping bag tucked behind a secluded dumpster – and makes his Royal rounds.

Dumpster

A cheerful, “Good Morning,” to the apartment owner or manager who stuffs a five-spot in his hand in trade for hauling out some trash or trimming a hedge.

With a wave of the hand he greets the merchants who line the streets of his Kingdom (always from the alley, never the street). They proffer him various wares, a coffee here, a bagel there, whatever they can spare. The King’s heart is always warmed by these gestures of kindness. As a measure of his gratitude he might take out the trash, sweep around the back door or just repay them with his absence (this is the method most preferred by both parties).

Come rain or come shine, some pain or he’s fine, the King keeps moving along. He’ll seem to disappear for days, only to show up in the corner of your eye passing between two buildings or shrinking from your view as he drifts away down a twilight alley.

Twilight Alley

And so the days and nights go for the free’est man I know – His Most Royal Highness, the King of West Fifth Avenue.

W 5th Avenue Sign

**Originally Posted on 15 Dec 2017**