Monday, November 30, 2015

sound and fury

In Act V, Scene V, of Shakespeare's "Macbeth," the title character waxes philosophical about life. These days the metaphor strikes me as an apt description of U.S. presidential candidate Donald Trump.

                                       ...a poor player
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage
And then is heard no more: it is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Signifying nothing.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

A Lord of Barmbeck

I got Johannes Brahms in the earbuds. 

I am listening to Ein Deutsches Requiem in honor of the passing of another famous son of Brahms’ own Hansa City Hamburg, former German chancellor Helmut Schmidt, who died at his home there yesterday.

Schmidt, who graduated from the University of Hamburg, where I studied in 1975, will be laid to rest at his family grave in Ohlsdorf Friedhof, a sprawling cemetery in a northern burb of that great city, steps from the college dorm where I lived for one semester, and where the little girls would periodically accost strangers on the sidewalks in front of those great cemetery gates shaking tin coffers and requesting donations for the upkeep of soldiers’ graves therein. 

Each side has its veterans. As a young man, it struck me as grotesque that such cute, innocent blonde children should be begging in the name of dead Nazis. I was a Germanophile who harbored a deep hatred of nazism. I had no qualms in refusing to donate, even waxing chauvinistic. 

Of course, Schmidt fought in WWII on the side of the Nazis. Late in life he minced no words, describing the war as shit – Scheisse – conceding only that the experience taught one not to panic.

Schmidt turned to Social Democracy postwar and came to West German national prominence when, as a senator in the Hamburg government, he coped efficiently with the disastrous flooding of that Elbe River city-state 1962.

Schmidt led West Germany during much of the era when I lived  in Europe. Generously, he used to tutor our President Ford in economics. 

In the 1980s, Schmidt joined Die Zeit as a co-publisher, the great weekly intellectual newspaper published in Hamburg. For a brief moment in the mid-80s – a cup of coffee, in MLB terms – I struggled to contribute journalism to that publication. It made me exceedingly proud to have even the most tenuous common cause with Schmidt.

I may just light up a cigarette in honor of Helmut Schmidt today. Hummel Hummel!

Monday, November 2, 2015

Your Head is Full of Clay

Elegy for an angry old  woman

Your hatred’s source, Mary Lee,
is, of course, a mystery to me.
You demand the champ's given name
 forever remain the same.
In your hate-filled world,
is it the racist flag you unfurl?
“Cassius Clay,” you say,
must forever stay.
You would strip “Ali” of all validity.
Or is it Islam you would deny,
when Mohammed you decry?

I say a person has the right to name their name.
Deny this, and you deny the freedom to become.
You would enslave, according to your lights.
But men and women will always fight those fights.
Anyway your lights are dim.

Since you cannot enslave, you choose to ooze hatred,
and ultimately must be frustrated.
Across the bar, perhaps in your cups,
you shout at me rapid-fire,
“fuck you fuck you fuck you fuck you.”
Your rationality has reached its premature end.

Know this, mean Miss Mary Lee,
denier of Mohammed Ali,
that Louisville slugger is a real champeen,
Finally, a koan for thee:
By what name would you call
his daughter, Laila Ali?

Friday, October 30, 2015

Ya Gotta Believe

If my prediction is to come true (see post below), the NY Mets need to start getting W's tonight. As for Yoenis, he needs to live up to his nickname La Potencia.
In general, I hope young Syndergaard can hold his own versus these KC brutes and thus avoid the headlines that tabloid editors are just waiting to splash on their backpage:

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Let's Go Mets!

"Ya gotta believe." Tug McGraw said it and fans of the New York Metropolitans have taken it to heart ever since.
This year the Orange and Blue have a starting rotation of young arms that makes fans truly believe the world championship is attainable.
The starting pitching is reminiscent of the last time the Mets won a World Series: 1986. And if you remember that back-in-the-day drama v. Boston, I'm sure you're getting ready for a wild ride.
Prediction: Mets win in 6. Cespedes is MVP.
Good luck all.


Saturday, October 17, 2015

Perfect World

In a perfect world,
my feet 
would not hang
over the edge 
of the bed
like the head 
of a man
in the guillotine,
my toes 
pointing downward
like his face 
to outrace 
the blade
into the basket.

Monday, October 12, 2015

Perfect World 2

By day
guillotines slice
at the speed
of inertia.
With the grace
of gravity,
heads thud
into baskets.

At night,
the blades rest
above splintered grooves,
edges intact.

Saturday, September 19, 2015


It's easy to see how Trump steals the campaign show.
When it comes to TV genius, he's a seasoned pro.
He brags in sound-bytes,
preens before Klieg lights,
but as prez the Donald would be far from simpatico.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

End of Summer Blues

The call of a jay rings plaintive in late August.
Has the fight gone out of that blue scrapper?
And where are its brethren of a feather?
Why don’t they echo the attack?
How to put back the prickly fight
into those brash wardens of the garden,
and chase cool tranquility from the yard?

Cicadas and crickets pick up the slack
in the soundtrack of shorter days.
A dog does its part with distant barks.
Yes, the creatures of summer’s idyll recede.
There sounds a chirp still, and a tweet,
but the birds are no longer at hand.

Come back, my mad blue angels.
Stay a while, summer.

Friday, September 11, 2015

Ad hominem

Donald Trump is known for his unrelenting sass
as well as for that amorphous, orange mass
that bestrides his scheming dome,
poised to fend off any comb,
ever above the bray of a rich jackass.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

We win! (Yawn)

Trump promises, "We will win, win, win."
He claims, "Your heads will spin, spin, spin."
The Donald makes many guarantees that,
if honored, are nothing to sneeze at,
but if hollow, are akin to a deadly sin.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Bible Belt backlash

She's paid 80 grand a year, that Kentucky clerk
who cites god's authority and got an unearned perk
when bible thumpers
rushed to lump her
in with the likes of true hero Rosa Parks.

Game Day

Enjoy football updates, never done in a lame way.
Let Herbie, Des, Pollack and Ponder have their famed say,
Saturdays prior to kickoff.
You may agree with Coach or scoff,
but you are sure to have fun watching College Game Day.

Monday, September 7, 2015

Namaste it ain't

There is a wrongheaded Revlon commercial running these days. Wrongheaded because the voiceover advises listeners, "Don't be envious, be envied."
No, no, no.
Poor makeup company, why do you have to do the wrong thing in the name of selling your products?
Sure, advise consumers against envy, that is a sentiment we can get behind. But the ad, by creative agency AR New York, goes on to urge consumers to "be envied," thus rejecting humility and embracing arrogance.
Poor Revlon, were you so enamored of the facile word play that you green-lighted this ad? If so, dull wit compounds your mistake. Even cloaked in childish wordplay, it remains a mean message.

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Hot licks and rhetoric don't count much for nothin' *

You watching that comical New York tycoon,
the GOP blowhard who acts the buffoon?
With each insult he lobs,
he attracts bigger mobs;
you see, they believe him when he promises the moon.

*Steely Dan lyric from "Throw Back the Little Ones"

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Bland ambition

"Bland" Paul can run for re-election in Kaintuck,
while also seeking the White House -- how's that for luck.
You see the state GOP created a special caucus
to enable his bases-covering ambition and maybe also to mock us.
Of course, Rand could lose both races, now wouldn't that suck.

Monday, August 31, 2015

With a Gun

The father of slain TV reporter Alison Parker has vowed to work to change the nation's gun laws. Perhaps a joint effort will emerge, including bereft Newtown parents and the loved ones of other mass shooting victims.
The numbers of those slain are increasing by the same sick calculus being decried by opponents of lax gun laws. Perhaps we may soon reach a tipping point...
Until that much-needed moment in our nation's history, consider the Steely Dan lyric:

When you're born to play the fool
And you've seen all the western movies
Woe to the one who does you wrong
You hide in the bushes
Murder the man
With Luger in hand
... ...
Don't try to call me when they finally run you down
Just give fair warning any time you come around
With a gun
With a gun

Official portrait of Gabrielle Giffords by United States Congress. 

In 2011, Gabrielle Giffords was shot in the head, one of 19 victims in a mass shooting. While Giffords survived, eight persons were killed. Giffords resigned from Congress in 2012 to concentrate on her recovery.

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Billionaire brags about it

Donny's power of "positive self-delusion"
gave us a summer of Trumpian effusion.
Copter rides, put-downs and riches
displayed for the poor sons of bitches
who confuse braggadocio with solutions.

Saturday, August 29, 2015

That Donald

The big lead in the polls belongs to Trump,
the tycoon who is ever controversial on the stump.
Always winning, he says, (think: Charlie Sheen),
he tosses insults like the Queen of Mean.
Might the Donald be cruising for a kick in the rump?

Monday, August 24, 2015

Holier than Huckabee

The Christian right never heckles Mike Huckabee,
he is their rock star, selling brimstone, chuckle-free,
A troubadour in the good fight,
he will tell you how to live right,
while dismissing groupies who might scream, "Fuck-a me!"

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Wretched refuse?

Republican candidates don't kiss anchor babies.
They'd rather be bitten by a banker with rabies.
"Get all illegals out,"
they shout and they shout.
No ifs, ands, buts or, frankly, maybes.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Donny demagogue

You're flirting with the candidate known as "The Donald."
But don't quickly swallow his brand of lightning bottled.
He's a typical billionaire tycoon,
who sees the world through a silver spoon.
President Trump & co.'s plans would put progress on hold.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Jeb sez

According to Jeb, climate change is "convoluted."
Such thinking could derive from a mind that's polluted,
or maybe this Bush just doesn't get science
and reacts with a knee-jerk voice of defiance;
regardless, it's a 'tude major dudes have booted.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Border wall is possible - but do we want one?

Donald Trump, who continues to dominate all other Republican presidential hopefuls in the polls, has big plans for the Mexican border. Trump says, as president, he would build a wall to stop illegal immigration.

But this week CNN's Gary Tuchmann reported it would be impossible to build an impenetrable wall along the nearly 2,000-mile U.S.-Mexico frontier. Tuchmann basically mocked the idea in his on-site video reportage.

That is a shockingly defeatist attitude and an utterly unrealistic claim. Of course the United States, who put men on the moon more than 40 years ago, could build such a wall. You need a template? I give you the Iron Curtain.

If you build it, they will no longer come

I traversed the Iron Curtain a handful of times back in the 1970s and I assure you that such a fearsome barrier along our border with Mexico would put an end to illegal crossings (and drastically slow lawful passage as well).

The question is whether we Americans want or believe we need a southern border that is on a permanent war footing. The Iron Curtain, perhaps a mile wide in places, was patrolled by the Red Army, including drafted Russian teens with Kalishnikovs and German shepherds. People were killed along the Iron Curtain attempting to escape communism and reach freedom. I lived half of the 1970s in Europe and I hated the Iron Curtain and its little cousin the Berlin Wall. I rejoiced when those instruments of repression were destroyed. Their demise marked a milestone of progress for Europe.

But the question remains: Do we need a modern-day Iron Curtain along our southern border? If Americans want a border wall, trust me CNN, it can be built.

Monday, August 17, 2015

"Humans" -- We can love

"Humanity isn't a condition, it is a quality" This is another poignant line of dialog in the very cool AMC original series "Humans," written by Sam Vincent and Jonathan Brackley.

And ain't it the truth? Sadly, there are far too many human beings in our world today who clearly lack or have lost their humanity. (Think: terrorists, racists, or just run of the mill bastards.) No doubt this has always been the case throughout history.

Still, most of us can empathize, can show compassion, can put the well-being of others ahead of our own needs and desires. In short, most of us can love.

Is it enough to ensure the survival of our species? That is the question. Culture accrues and civilizations come and go, but mankind has yet to achieve a communion of saints on earth, as 20th century British historian Arnold Toynbee famously noted, arguing that absent such an improbable achievement, we are likely to engender our own demise.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Clinton's 2016 camp pain?

Hillary sure figured she’d be the first female sent 
to be anointed prez, that's before her emails went
to the Feebs for a big inquiry.
Now we don't need to hack  her diary
to know Clinton is fearing a career derailment.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

"Humans" -- think about it

In the AMC cable network’s original series “Humans,” one particular soulful synthetic person or “synth,” by the name of Anita (a riveting Gemma Chan), who has developed human-like consciousness, bemoans that the world will never accept her kind. To this her “owner” counters, “We are accepting you.”

Score one for diversity. It is a poignant moment in the episode. But what are the chances viewers and fans, moved as they might be by that scene, ever accept outsiders in their own lives? It would appear that synth Anita has inherited a healthy dose of skepticism when it comes to homo sapiens embracing “foreigners.” Her human owner may not be quite as astute.

“Humans” is set in Great Britain. The more prosperous nations in the European Union are experiencing an historic uptick of migrants and refugees thanks to a number of global factors, including the war in Syria, standard of living disparities between certain former Soviet bloc member nations and the rest of the E.U., and a worldwide upswing of Chinese nationals seeking education and job opportunities abroad.

Of course, in America undocumented immigrants are a major issue in America. Today, the world’s disadvantaged populations increasingly know what they are missing and they know where they have to move to in order to get it.

Kudos to the creators of “Humans” for giving us food for thought about the actual state of our society wrapped in cool science fiction in the best tradition of the genre. “Humans” is thought-provoking, but also can be safely enjoyed by those who have yet to develop human-like cerebration.

Saturday, May 2, 2015

Beaucoup bourbon and a horse race

Where Dan’l and Davey historically blazed and stood,
a nation’s upper crust invades the blue grass backwoods.
That “whisky gentry,” with fashionable headgear in place,
indulges in the sport of kings and ODs on the navel-gaze.

Meanwhile, a diaspora of the down and out (include me)
with little but last-minute racing form clout,
are clamoring to conjure out of a crash course
in handicapping a quick score on a fast horse.

A seedy savant eavesdrops in the betting parlor.
He chews on a pencil in the nicotine-free squalor.
An amateur, he will attempt, based on hustled tips,
the lottery of the post and divined significance
of equine noms de guerre, his own tentative trifecta.
But will he ever win? He doesn’t really expect to.