Wednesday, January 20, 2021

We'll remember always, Inauguration Day

 Knowing of the wide-ranging disdain I have for the "man" who departs our White House today at noon, many friends, acquaintances, passing strangers, and bill collectors have asked me if I plan to write some scathing, scalding, denunciation of the short-fingered vulgarian "with curly eyes and laughing hair."

The answer is no. A man who stares into the sun during a solar eclipse, redraws the path of a hurricane to reflect where he wanted it to land vis-a-vis where nature placed it, who autographs copies of the Holy Bible as if one the chapters was written about him, salutes North Korean generals, and tosses paper towels at Puerto Ricans is not interested in my opinion, nor yours, to be frank.

The White House is undergoing a thorough disinfection and cleaning out, in every sense of the word. We're moving on.

Tuesday, January 19, 2021

We've had our Phil

Heaven and Hell, that was Phil Spector, the record producer who died on Saturday night. He had an ability to produce great music - Wagnerian operas for the 1960s, or "little symphonies for the kids, as he called them - and at the same time, the most-used word in descriptions of him from those who knew, worked with, and married him was "vile." And the list continued with "nasty" and "psychotic" and so on down the line.

Yes, he produced hit records for The Teddy Bears, The Crystals, Bob B. Soxx and the Blue Jeans, The Ronettes, Darlene Love, Ike & Tina Turner, The Righteous Brothers,The Beatles, George Harrison's first solo album, John Lennon and the Plastic Ono Band, and The Concert for Bangladesh. 

He married Ronnie Spector of The Ronettes and tormented her, waving guns in her direction and making her a prisoner in his mansion until she escaped barefoot one day. He was said to brandish handguns regularly, probably as compensation for his small size and nerdish persona. He made a practice of cheating people in business, even his own musicians and singers. They were the backbone of what he was selling, but he saw them only as tools to be used in the fulfillment of his artistry as producer and hitmaker.

He was convicted of murdering actress Lana Clarkson at his mansion. At first he admitted that he had shot her, but later claimed she shot herself, wresting a gun out of his hands. He was sentenced to 19 years in California prison and lived there until he died on Saturday, apparently from COVID-19.

In glory days and in prison days

What to say about a man who had such a musical gift and yet possessed the demonic soul that did such damage? I have puzzled over this for years, because, as much as I love Phil's music (and you just heard the songs on his Christmas album a gazillion times last month and they still sound terrific) it was with a certain hesitation, like finding out that the painting of a pastoral Indiana farm scene was done by John Dillinger, or that the author of a great how-to manual on car repair was Timothy McVeigh. 

And all day Sunday, as news of his death competed with football playoffs and presidential comings and goings, I tried to understand the contrast, but then I was stopped in my tracks by a woman named Beth, the younger sister of friend named Ben. She said this: "Good riddance, he was vile human..a genius with music but you can tell music never touched his soul."

So like a great chef who never enjoys his food, a painter who never looks at his finished products, or an athlete who only plays for money and not for the enjoyment of the sport, Phil made soul-stirring music, and yet somehow he did not come close enough to let that music stir his soul.

Which means that, when he produced "Today I Met The Boy I'm Gonna Marry" by Darlene Love, he was already married and would marry twice more and never let the love of another person get ahead, or even next to, his love for himself.

Some say that when some of us die, there is a period of time spent in the hereafter to allow for expiation - to atone for our sins and see the errors. I imagine Phil Spector has some things to work out up there. 

Sunday, January 17, 2021

Sunday Rerun: What Matters Most

 As so often happens, it was just a flash of one of those TV news headlines that caught my attention. It was on Good Morning America, and the promo for an upcoming story said


It wasn't until we saw that story that most of us even knew the Federal B of I was hiring 14-year-olds as agents, because anyone over 15 (except Plaxico Burress) knows better than to stick a gun in one's pants and go to a go-go. 

They should have been playing that "Disco Duck" song at that club in Denver. "Disco! DUCK!"

My point, and thanks for waiting around long enough to hear it, is that armed law enforcement agents ought to take themselves a little more seriously. Only a fool does backflips with a gun in his pants. And you'll notice, I said "his" pants. I can't remember the last time I saw a story where a woman acted similarly foolishly.

And then the Kate Spade story. I know she was enormously popular in the field of purses and women's clothing and had sold her line for 2.2 Billion With a B dollars, and yet did not find either happiness or a way out of the gloom of depression. Gee, maybe it is true that money is not the ticket to happiness, and what is also true is that when someone we love is fighting mental illness, we have to get closer to them and send unceasing love and support. These things need to be taken seriously.

I guess what's on my mind today is that some things need to be taken more seriously, such as gun safety and emotional disturbances, and we can find the way to do that by taking some of the things we take soooo darn seriously a little less so.

Like a little mess in the corner, or an untucked shirttail, or the need to attend every single "important" social event. "Life is far too important a thing ever to talk seriously about it," said the wise Oscar Wilde, who knew a thing or two about everything, and only lived to be 46.

Image result for bono
The worldwide king of taking oneself too seriously.
Bono's real name is Paul Hewson, but he calls himself
"Bono Vox" because that is Latin for "good voice."

So that's my goal: pay more attention to what matters, and let the rest sort itself out. Not shooting other people, for instance, matters. Never hearing another U2 song in my remaining years does not matter one whit to me.

Oscar Wilde also said, "What a pity that in life we only get our lessons when they are of no use to us."  I'm going to try to use what I learn more and more.

Saturday, January 16, 2021

The Saturday Picture Show, January 16, 2021


Threading a needle is very easy if you have a large magnifying glass. Otherwise, I need that little wire thing or I'll spend an entire day poking at it.
The big cats- tigers, lions, pumas, what-have-you - sleep as many as 20 hours a day. They have to make sure they are protected, and what better than this for a quick 40-hour nap?
I will make it my life's work to find this kid and award him/her the Presidential Medal of Freedom that Bill Belichick turned down.
Sunrise over Baltimore's Inner Harbor. So serene. All hell breaks loose after lunch.
Our Deanna the cat has a way of propping her elbows on the arm of the sofa to look into the kitchen and observe the merry goings-on in there. Perhaps the cactus got the idea from her.
Lots of nature pictures this morning. I'll never egret doing that.
"Honey, we're leaving for the weekend and this IS the Namibian Desert, so are you sure you closed the windows? They're calling for wind."
The dates for 1897 work the same for 2021. I couldn't find one that covers the entire year, so after March 31, just keep going.

Friday, January 15, 2021

Another baseball legend gone

"I believe managing is like holding a dove in your hand. If you hold it too tightly you kill it, but if you hold it too loosely, you lose it."

That's a quote from Tommy LaSorda, the former Dodger manager who died the other day at 93. I don't know when he said it, or if he had heard .38 Special sing "Hold On Loosely" right before he said it, or if this thought occurred to him spontaneously, but he was right. It's a valuable piece of advice for anyone in any situation with others. Hold onto your relationships, but don't squeeze them too much. It's a knack, to know just how tightly.

By the way, if you've a mind to, while you're at YouTube listening to that Southern Rock classic, check out LaSorda in his moments with the press after games. Now, I have been around people who can curse adroitly. Construction guys, firefighters, dockworkers, people who just dropped an anvil on their right foot, a couple of women I worked with...all would gather and stand enraptured as the epithets flowed from the mouth of LaSorda.  Truly a master of the art.

Don't get me wrong. Tommy was not a perfect man. He denied that his late gay son was gay, and kept their relationship in a tightly closed closet, but he's clearly not the only such person.

But there was a tape of a speech he used to deliver to Dodger rookies at spring training that Larry King used to play on the radio, and as LaSorda encouraged his new players to go out and give their all for Dodger blue, he gave this nugget that I have shared often: 

Always THINK you're the best ballplayer ever born. Just don't TELL anyone about it!

If I could give a young person a bit of wisdom, it would be that, or possibly this, from Woody Allen:  "Exactly what do we mean when we say, man is mortal? Obviously it's not a compliment."

Tommy LaSorda, like the rest of us, was mortal, yet his words, even the profane ones, live on.

Thursday, January 14, 2021

The hole truth

Over in Italy, they had a significant COVID-19 spread this past spring, and then they locked down and things got better, and then, of course, they let up and the virus came back with what they call a vengeance. So they're deep in it again, and they needed this like they needed a giant hole in the parking lot of a major hospital.

They had to go on backup power over the weekend at the Hospital Of The Sea in Naples because a giant sinkhole opened in the parking lot, forcing the closure of a residence for recovering COVID-19 patients. It was fortunate that backup systems kept water and electricity working well enough, and no injuries were reported. Regional governor Vincenzo De Luca said the residence would be open again once utilities were fully restored.

The hole is 66 feet deep, 21,527 square-feet on the surface swallowed three cars on the visitors' parking lot. There would have been many more cars there, but visitors are currently restricted.

“Frankly, we were also worried about the collapse of all utilities and that the activity of the hospital could be jeopardized,” De Luca said. “Thank God, this did not happen. We had a power break, but electricity was restored and now we don’t have any problem in providing care.”

Chief firefighter Cmdr. Ennio Aquilino told an local television channel called SkyTG 24  that it all might have been caused by a huge infiltration of underground water underground after heavy rains there recently.

The U.S. Geological Survey says sinkholes are most often natural events that can take place in a huge area suddenly, or happen slowly over time. Mankind can create them inadvertently, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. Sinkholes can be dramatically fast, or happen over time. They can also be "human-induced" through construction and pumping groundwater.

Impressive as it seems, a 66-foot-deep sinkhole is nothing, compared to the world's largest, a 2,100-foot echo maker found in China in 1994.

And we thought 2020 was over with.