Friday, September 4, 2015

Joined at the Hip for All Eternity

When I think of dynamic duos, Brady and Goodell, Tom Terrific and Roger the Artful Dodger, aren’t the names that leap from my lips but today, and hopefully only for today (but that’s not gonna happen I know) those are the names on everyone’s lips.  One could be Juris and the other Prudence except that is even too much to hope for.

In the future, suggested Andy Warhol, everyone will be famous for 15 minutes.
If you’re Jimmy Garoppolo, he never even had the chance to get the watch band adjusted, much less set the timer. Welcome to Footnote City, population: you.

I’m sorry Deflategate wasn’t decided on one of the TV courtroom shows; it deserved to be. And yet, perhaps I’m just being a grumpy, old Jets’ fan (last rooted for them when Joe Willie led them over the Colts in III; what a long strange trip, for all of us, it has been since then).

So now, I’m thinking we can go back to watching the political horse races, and keep up with the Kardashians while conspicuously consuming everything and everyone in sight. The Romans had their bread and circuses. We’ve got delivery and the NFL. Who would dare to NOT be happy?

-bill kenny   

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Far Between Sundown's Finish

If graphic visuals bother or upset you, me too.

Think of it as the Information Age’s equivalent to ‘if a tree falls in the forest and there’s no one around to hear it, does it make a sound?’ If the news reports of the catastrophes and calamities befalling migrants from North Africa and the Middle East fleeing death and destruction sink farther and farther down into your social media newsfeeds, is it still news? 

Dozens and more drowning in various locations across the Mediterranean, trapped below decks by unscrupulous human traffickers, not to be confused (I suppose) with scrupulous ones? Meanwhile, nearly too many to count, but sadly not to bury, smothered in the trailer part of a tractor-trailer after perhaps the vehicle breaking down and the driver/operator fleeing. The hand may be quicker than the eye, but is it faster than the heart?

Can you watch the stories on a plethora of media platforms and not feel compassion, outrage, anything at all for those who were guilty of trying to save their lives and those of their families from murderous maniacs intent on committing mass mayhem?

His Holiness Pope Francis I who, pardon my bias as one who abandoned the faith of his fathers, seems to have more humanity in his little finger than all the world leaders gathered at some fancy watering hole around the globe where they go to discuss everything and do nothing, is trying as hard as he can to get our attention but I worry we may be suffering from compassion fatigue.

I read postings from friends and acquaintances on various social media platforms who lament that there seems to be nothing they can do when there is plenty we can each, and all, do. Whatever you do, spare me the hand-wringing! Use your sleeve to wipe your crying eyes and if you do nothing else today, do this: write a check for The United Nations Refugee Agency and shut up about how you feel about the UN.

Our house is on fire and you’d like to have a discussion about what kind of bottled water we might use to battle the blaze? Put a sock in it and help in any way you can.  No one deserves to live like this much less die like this. And because you’re tired of looking at it doesn’t mean it’s going to go away, soon or ever. If anything, doing nothing will make all of this infinitely worse because the rat bastards doing this will be emboldened to do more, not less, to many, not fewer.

This isn’t about ethnicity or religion or what direction you face to pray to whatever you call your Deity (and what kind of a God allows creatures made in Her/His image and likeness to do the horrible things that are being done to other creatures purportedly in Her/His likeness?), it’s about basic humanity and the right each of us has to a place on this planet where we live on our feet rather than die on our knees.

Actually, you can call it anything you’d like to include Freedom; that’s fine by me. And those warning bells sounding everywhere for everyone are the Chimes of Freedom Flashing.
-bill kenny         

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Take Back the City

It's possible because this is the absolute latest we'll have had a Labor Day holiday weekend in a number of years that you might have thought I'd write today about yet another too-short summer, the one that's passed us by again.

You know the one I mean. Right around Memorial Day, the unofficial start of summer, when we start to plan for all the trips, the beach outings, the week at the lake and the family gatherings we were going to do this summer. The calendar in the kitchen sure filled up fast, didn't it?

And here we are, staring at that same calendar, with the kids already back in school and that summer to-do list basically untouched. Just me, or do they go by faster and faster each year. I'm reaching a point where I almost hate looking forward to them because they're gone before I know it.

I don't mind the Halloween stuff on the store shelves though I will admit to being annoyed last week coming over the Laurel Hill Bridge on my way to Groton to see a lawn sign sticking up near the sidewalk encouraging me to place my order now for a Christmas tree. Talk about a sign of our times.

We live lives in the future and in the past. It's the here and the now, where we are at the moment that we seem to have the most problems. Someone last week, saw it in the pages of this newspaper, wondered about a Norwich version of the Providence Waterfire, Riverfire, event and across a dozen different social media sites were reactions ranging from cool to caustic.

Perhaps that's just a collective visceral reaction, what I call the Eeyore response, which seems so often to be the first impression we have on new ideas, no matter what they are and no matter who offers them.

I'd like to think, and to hope, once we catch our breath and get the patio furniture back in the shed after the last barbecue on Monday we can be a bit more measured and mature on a whole raft of ideas and challenges before us.

In the case of Riverfire, we seem to forget that not that long ago no one had ever thought of a Norwich Saint Patrick's Day Parade and yet on a weekend close to Saint Patrick's Day, we wear green, march a little bit and have ourselves a time. Who'd have thunk it, right?

My point? Not much really, except maybe we need to think again about how do we make Norwich, again, a place for all of us to come home to? The politics and personal agenda of the past are how we got here. Where to next, and how we go is up to us. November elections are knocking on the door. 

We need to believe we can do better we deserve better and to seek out those with innovative ideas and a desire to serve and work for all of us. We need to be One City, proud of its past and confident in its future
-bill kenny

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Unabashed Commercial Endorsement

I remember as a child watching my father shave. He had a mug, with a disc of shaving soap, and an ivory-handled long-haired brush that after he'd added just a bit of hot water to the mug, he'd use with a swirling motion to make a foam which he'd then use the brush hairs to dab to his face. He had double-edged blades that could cut through steel or seemed to look like it.

When I was old enough to shave, I was terrified of those sharp blades and tried an electric razor that never felt close enough or left my face feeling smooth enough when I was done. Razor manufacturers were cranking out variations and variants of blades and I hopped from one type to the other.

I've never been fond of shaving. It's like haircuts-no matter how marvellous one is, you know it doesn't last and you'll need to get another. In that sense, both personal grooming routines are like lawn mowing. And I really hate lawn mowing.

I don't always shave, but when I don't shave I drink Dos Equus. Stay lathered, my friends. Just Kidding. That would be just about all I would need to do, go back to drinking and then shave. Actually, aside from when I was in the Air Force, and they were a little picky about shaving and haircuts come to think of it, I've had a full beard, a goatee, a Van Dyke beard and/or a moustache in addition to being clean-shaven. And no one has seemed to care (except my wife).

My full beard begins as a day I skip shaving and tell myself 'this will look good, finally!' and for three days or so, it does. But too soon I look like a runner-up in a Ted Kaczynski lookalike contest. After that, it gets grey and scraggly and all I'm missing is a squeegee, a street corner and a cup full of quarters, so I shave it, but not off. I trim it, sometimes as a goatee and sometimes as a Van Dyke beard.

And then I'll whittle away on that until there's just a moustache and eventually that gets shaved off as well. And then, only after all that, someone at work will look at me and go, did you shave? Yeah, now go pound sand

I never trim it like that guy in Motley Crue, I think, who shaves the under his nose part of the moustache off and leaves the ends so he looks to me like they sound (and if you think that is "cool" or "crap", either or both might be correct).

The part in recent years I've hated about shaving, aside from the monotony of the routine, is the cost. One company makes the ProGlide blade I liked to use and despite the years (decade) they've made them and the huge quantities they've manufactured, the blades are as stupidly expensive as the day they were first introduced and no amount of magical math TV commercials can make that make sense as you can see for yourself.

I switched to these guys and love every aspect of the experience. To say I 'recommend' them and am not expecting a boxcar's worth to show up at my house, or even a pony ride, is quite the testimonial to my sense of integrity and to their perspicacity. And probably your credulity as well.

Hell, I'm shaving three times a day now, twice on Sundays and not just my face (pause to let that sink in; that's enough, move along). I'm shaving peaches and other hirsute fruits and vegetables not to mention all the dogs and cats within a five block radius of my house.

Point in fact: I've had a to buy a wheelbarrow to help me get the money I save each month to the bank and I've had naked babies touch my shaven cheek, on my face, and ask me what my secret is. Luckily, I can keep one so they're S.O.L.

I'm not ever going to enjoy shaving, I've accepted that, but I'm done subsidizing manufacturers whose processes are designed not to make better products or to save me time or money but to maximize their own profits. Short of electrolysis (didja see what I did there?), this is the way to go. You're welcome.
-bill kenny

Monday, August 31, 2015

This, That and Some of the Other

Digging through some old notes (I'm old; what other kind do you expect me to have) and came across some Imponderables that, at the time I noted them, were vexing to me and now that some distance and space has elapsed, I still don't get. Your mileage may vary. The outcome will not.

I saw a man the other day with a Mohawk haircut, but the part that wasn't in the Mohawk was shaved to the naked scalp. He was wearing a three-piece suit that probably cost twice what my car is worth. I cannot imagine what he does for a living to be able to do what he does for a living. He wasn't a young guy, either. I'm not real good at guessing ages, or weight for that matter so that career option as a Carney is out. 

Actually he was closer to being my age and he looked as goofy as the guys with whom I didn't go to Woodstock together all look. You've seen 'em too. They have long hair, gray and frayed and wispy, in a ponytail usually with a bald spot the size of a pancake (mine is more a silver dollar size). Nothing sticks it to the man like a Volvo station wagon, Teva sandals and those green 'we recycle' grocery bag while you shop for organic tofu and bean sprouts. Fight the Power!

Here's somebody I'd actually like the 'man' to stick it to. The auto-American cretin who compensates for his car's driver's side headlamp being burned out by driving with his high beams on and not dimming them as you and he approach one another. Yeah, I remember what Driver Ed said: don't retaliate and turn yours on-it makes two blinded drivers but still.... My son some time ago gave me a great idea-I turn off all my lights which makes it a lot easier for Hi (no Lois) to see me behind the wheel as I visually suggest that he's my #1 special friend, but not in that way. 

I also don't know what to do about the driver who goes up a one way street the wrong way, slowly because he certainly doesn't want to cause an accident, for a short distance, to pull into somebody's driveway, rather than go around the block. I love when he comes nose to nose with a car coming down the street the correct way and they glare at each other like Mr Upstream Salmon has any comeback at all. Or that guy's cousin, the driver who backs up a one-way street the wrong way with the car flashers on, so I guess it doesn't count as much. 

Speaking of counting, how many crumbs from the toaster tray do you suppose it takes to assemble an entire piece of bread, and can you toast that slice when you're done? I've told you I have a second Facebook thing (account/page/I don't know what to call it). When I go there, why does it say "you must log in to see this page"? Don't they mean "you must log in to see the NEXT page" since I can see the log-in page just fine?

And help me get the word out in advance of next year's Presidential elections.Take the pledge now and promise to make everyone else do it too: After the vote is cast and the Republic is doomed or saved, depending on whether your nominee won or didn't, why not take the political bumper stickers off.

And I mean ALL of them, not just the party who lost but the party who won as well. We hate those talking heads on our TV screens officiously opining about the ills of the nation and cringe when our elected Representatives blame one another for everything from the recession to Bill Buckner booting that grounder (and the cancellation of Paris and Nicole's The Simple Twits), and yet here we are, not remembering that sometimes a razor blade can be your friend, and not in that way (either). 

But judging from the number of three-day growths I've seen lately, every bumper in America will be gleaming from sea to shining, or whining, sea. I can only assume we're working our way to buzz cutting those chickens in every pot much like that guy in the three-piece suit, unless your state has legalized marijuana in which case your recipe may just be the reverse.
-bill kenny

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Hurrah! Wir Leben Noch!

It's an exclamation auf Deutsch that translates as 'We're still alive!' as in we have survived a calamity and have come through on the other side. I thought of that exclamation when reading about Victoria Yillia who has far more than a secret, she has a triumph, and by extension, so do we all.

For us here in the Land of Round Doorknobs, Ebola was something that happened long ago and far away, as it always had in the past, to people about whom we knew very little and about whom we cared even less.

There were some headlines last fall when one or more posturing politicians saw an opportunity to profile themselves against what was already an ever-enlarging pack of potential Presidential candidates, with mixed results.

Whenever I see Mr. Perry with glasses (what did become of his candidacy for 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, anyway?) I always think of lipstick on a pig. Oh. As if I'm the only one? Just me, really?

I've always loved that image and not just because I'm one of the six men in North America who never married Kim Kardashian, though attempting to be serious if only for a moment, perhaps it's because we're insulated and isolated by large oceans, or have great neighbors to our North and South so that the last large war fought on our own soil was against one another from 1861-1865, but we really never grasped, and still don't, the horrors of infectious diseases that spread like the types of plagues Western Europe saw in the Middle Ages.

So it's time for a small cheer for Barnabas and his mother whose circle of family and friends was decimated and shattered by Ebola while so many advanced nations shook their heads in dismay.

And if that reminds you, even a little bit of the reaction to the immigration situation right now engulfing Mediterranean refugees, where First World Nations are softly sighing and saying 'if there were only something we could do." If only we had a worldwide outreach that could help.

If you want to help, you'll find a way; if not, you'll find an excuse. What can I say? Something about shoes, how they fit, who walks in them and who walks alone.
-bill kenny

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Just Not of the Rosary

I have trouble sometimes keeping the past in the past, and nothing aggravates that problem more than a shared monumental moment but one that I’ve sorted sideways of how history sees it. 

We are awash (deliberate choice of adjective) this week in Katrina retrospectives (this one I find especially excellent for much and many reasons to include who created it) because it has been ten years since that hurricane turned so many lives upside down. 

From what I’ve watched and read, many of those who survived the types of horrors I tend to think of only when describing Third (or Fourth) World nations are still struggling long after the last of the TV camera’s lenses were capped and the uplink trucks chased off over the horizon in search of their next ninety-second circus. 

We tend to like our endings three ways: simple, neat and wrong. Maybe I’ve missed it so far, not the first time that would have happened, but there’s a report or a program we’re going to  catch real soon on the lessons we learned and the ones we still need to learn about how we responded to Katrina, right? I hate to say 'I sure hope so,' but what else can be said?

Tens of thousands, if not more like hundreds of thousands, of people, are living with and through the hellish aftermath of all the sins of commission and omission that went on a decade ago.  But the more things change or appear to, the more they stay the same. The immutable object has now become the irresistible force. And the machinery behind the scenery is now one and the same.

‘They’re selling postcards of the hanging; they’re painting the passports brown. The beauty parlor’s filled with Sailors, the circus is in town…and though her eyes are fixed upon Noah’s great rainbow, she spends her time peeking into Desolation Row.’   
-bill kenny