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Monday, January 26, 2015

Realizing (Again) those are Pine Trees not Palm Trees

The second thing I did yesterday morning when I got up was make arrangements with my work to be able to tele-commute through Wednesday because the first thing I did was check the forecast and discovered a picture is worth a thousand words or a billion snowflakes.

I'm thinking there's a lot to be said for selective color-blindness. And I love the asterisk. However, turn and face the strange....

We have gotten away (so far) with not much of a winter here in Southern New England (I never venture into Vermont, New Hampshire or Maine once the leaves depart the trees), but our luck will, say the meteorologists desert us today into the foreseeable future. Even though we shouldn't complain, I shall because I'm That Guy.

The third thing I did was ready the beast and prepare to release the hounds (okay, technically, one hound or a small number of cc's based on the displacement of the engine)-filled our snow blower with gas, checked the oil and made very sure it turns over and runs.

Two inches I don't mind shoveling. I've been told we might see four inches fall in an hour every hour for most of the afternoon. Mom raised crazy children not stupid ones (okay, after me).  Soon enough, we'll be complaining about the heat and humidity and in the meantime I can enjoy the empty-headed prattlers on Fox tsk-tsking global warming and mentioning this snowstorm as their refutation.

Same logic that says I had a big dinner last night so the notion that anyone in the world goes to bed hungry is a lie. The only thing both "liberal myths" will have in common by Wednesday is Ted Cruz will blame Barack Obama. Film at eleven.
-bill kenny

Sunday, January 25, 2015

When Life Imitates Art

I’m figuring despite my appalling lack of understanding of technology that I am no more than three (more) apps on my smartphone away from no longer needing to converse with anyone outside my family at all. 

That, on a planet with a skosh over 7.2 billion (with a B) people I could have my own private Idaho is, pardon the lack of modesty, pretty cool, even if I do say so myself (especially if I do that). 

And now, based on an article in Friday’s Christian Science Monitor, for those tired of living the dream, come and join me in Nowhere Land. I am less than ‘meh!’ on the name and think something a little more Nat King Coleish, better reflecting the whole deceit and duplicity ambiguity might have been more fitting, but who am I quibble.

As someone who had an imaginary friend, Marty (from the Triple R Ranch) growing up (technically until I was 53 but keep that to yourself) I’m wondering in terms of the scale and scope of the masquerade if it’s considered appropriate to go on invisible vacations to invisible exotic destinations with one’s invisible (girl/boy) friend. No need to worry about the weather and getting that invisible tan since there’s got to be an invisible sun

And when, as it must, the relationship comes to an end, you’ll have a wan smile as you tap the app tiles on your smartphone display and they seem to quake in fear until you consign your pixelated simulation icon to the virtual dustbin. 

Even as the memory fades faster than that taste on your lips of someone you’ve just kissed while surrounded by the girls that don’t exist.
-bill kenny

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Memo to Marie Antoinette

One of the more poorly understood natural laws of the universe is our species’ right to be miserable if that’s what we want to be. A lot is made of the language in the Declaration of Independence suggesting that the USA is the once and future Party Central what with our ‘Unalienable rights…to Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness.’ Take that Magna Carta or Declaration of the Rights of Man.

But for some of us, any form of pursuit is out of the question and our ability to make ourselves unhappy to be here is only surpassed by our capacity to make others as unhappy about that as we are. Why else would anyone anywhere at any time attempt to special order a cake from Azucar Bakery in Denver Colorado to relay a homophobic message

After the order was refused by the baker, the unhappy would-be customer filed a religious discrimination complaint. How do you feel about this classic expression of exasperation: That really takes the cake doesn’t it? <GROAN> I’m thinking based on that complaint, hate is now a religion? That means things must be really looking up for Westboro Baptist Church and ISIL.    

Talk about It’s My Party (and I’ll Cry if I Want To). 

All you can do is shake your head sometimes at how we behave towards one another. This is the type of story I always mean to return to and ‘see how it all comes out’ and never do because it slips my mind in that it’s showing us at our worst and meanest moment and I don’t really need to add to my collection of those. Quite frankly, neither does anyone else.

-bill kenny

Friday, January 23, 2015

Not News in Boga

Here’s what I know about the Super Bowl (of American football): the Green Bay Packers won the first two and Joe Namath and the New York Jets won the third one. There have been others, lots of others. I think this year’s edition is #49 or as the NFL so pompously loves to call it XLIX (plus sales tax?).

The biggest story right now judging from its placement and frequency in my news feed is the antics of those cheaters from Foxboro Stadium, Massachusetts. This version of the deflated balls story absolutely cracks me up.

My favorite part of the headline is "again." And, I know, when you saw ‘deflated balls’ in the body of the stories you were thinking Barry Bonds working out with A-Rod; not necessarily wrong either, I might add, just not the (d)roids we were looking for (this time).

Say it with me: It’s a sporting event. And it’s a sporting event that just about no one else on earth plays, except the Canadians and they have a wider field, more guys on it and only three downs to do stuff. 

Of course, we’ve come a considerable distance from the University of Arizona Symphonic Marching Band, Grambling State University Marching Band, Al Hirt, and the Arcadia (California) High School Drill Team and Flag Girls as the half-time entertainment at the first one.

I do remember a couple of years after that me and my brother, Kelly, sitting awkwardly in a family room many miles from our own home for Super Bowl III as our hosts, the brothers Vincent and Arthur, beat one another senseless while Joe Willie Namath and the Jets of New York easily defeated, Tom Matte and the Baltimore Colts. For purposes of this reminiscence, those two were the half-time entertainment.

The stridency and anger in all of this confounds me. I cannot begin to imagine how fevered you have to be to believe within the context of the world in which we live, that this is news. Maybe if one of the Patriots had punched a football while in an elevator and knocked it out cold, we could have skipped all of this off-week trauma and drama. Almost worked for Ray.

You would need to snort the lines on the Jersey Turnpike, from 6A to 14B (never did learn what became of exit 5. Lost in the flood maybe?) to believe any of this Deflate-gate mattered.

We have 2000 plus people slaughtered in Nigeria by relentless lunatics in the service of a God who most surely has turned His face from them by now and no one blinks once. much less twice.

Then just past the clean-up of deflated footballs brouhaha in aisle three you have others having a meltdown because they've only got the short charger cord for their cell phone. Funny the way it is....
-bill kenny

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Puts the Standing in that Ovation

Long ago, in another galaxy far away, I worked in rock and roll. Not in the snort my own body weight in cocaine during the road trip rock and roll. More the play the records from people who made the music and, if lucky get to converse with them sometimes aspect of the business. It’s a living.

Jello Biafra and the Dead Kennedys were a band of that era about whom I had heard and read a great deal without ever knowing very much about them or their music. Now, in an era of relentless visuals that may (or may not) have anything to do with the music, auto-tune (which has nothing to do with music at all) twerking and anacondas of all kinds, much of their body of work seems quaint and semi-sepia toned in terms of whom we are now.

That’s why I love a story like this. And if you’re an old dog like me in search of celebrating new tricks, be advised the concert was in the Belly Up Tavern in Solana Beach, California, not LA’s The Roxy or the once and future Capitol Theater in Passaic, New Jersey (where I took Genevieve F (before she broke my heart) to enjoy Fleetwood Mac and no one in the band looked like Mick Fleetwood or John McVie, because they weren’t there; the manager owned the name and packaged some musicians to cash in on the band).

From Holiday in Cambodia to folks horizontal bopping during the instrumental break. And thank goodness for Roadkill TV News to rush this story to our video screens (I love the exclusive visual you offered me). My favorite part was catching a glimpse in the extreme wide shot of a coming attraction on the marquee for Tower of Power. Talk about putting the hard into so very hard to go.

-bill kenny

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Every Accomplishment Starts with a Decision to Try

In reading an account last week about the closing of Chacer’s on Franklin Street, I wondered (maybe feared is a better word) if I were hearing the tolling of John Donne’s bell across the city, and where we might be when the tolling ended. And then I remembered a favorite pick-me-up line from  Stephen Kaggwa, whose a Ugandan restaurateur now living in Minneapolis, Minnesota (pause) whose insight encourages me more often than I’m comfortable counting.

Try and fail,” he once offered, “but don’t fail to try.”  
I’m considered a very trying person by many whose opinions are highly regarded (mostly by themselves) and Kaggwa’s larger point is spot-on, you cannot win if you do not play. We often fear failure so much that we’d rather not even make an attempt (the difference between a try and a triumph is usually the amount of ‘umph’) thus dooming ourselves before we start.
Here in Norwich (and I suspect this is true across the country and around the world) there’s often an undercurrent of dis and mistrust between the governed and the government based on a near-genius inability to openly and honestly speak to and with one another. We don’t listen to understand but, rather, to reply and rebut.

We can build bridges or we can build walls, often from the same materials-it depends on our intentions and perspectives. One of the better tools we have is the City’s municipal website. It’s both an example and a product of an effort by people from across the community who had little more in common than a desire to make a good idea a better tool in redesigning Norwich’s world-wide calling card.

I enjoyed being a part of that group-even if I suspect some of them had a little less enjoyment because of me, but the city’s website is more than a gearhead’s delight. Its utility, from answering questions about paying property taxes through maintaining calendars on both municipal meetings and community events, is complemented by its capability (used to be potential, but now its energy is being realized) to be a platform for conversations with and between all of us, elected and the electorate.

I’ve been reading Mayor Hinchey’s blog (disclaimer: I didn’t vote for her, but as was the case with her predecessor (and those before him as well), I want her to succeed because when she does, so, too, do we all). It’s a great way to get unfiltered information, directly from the source at City Hall (so to speak) and is a terrific use of technology and connectivity to create a more informed public.

Her blog is still new and I won’t tell you she’s found the keys to the universe in the engine of old boxcar, but she has made an excellent start in her telling of The Story of Us. Her patience and perspective challenges me to remember that when you don’t know where you’ll be in five years, you really don’t know where you are now.         

-bill kenny

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

And we do have a Harbor....

One of my favorite quotes from Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. is I've always believed somewhat tongue in cheek. I've read it but have never heard how he delivered it so I'm guessing a little bit, but I think it's close. And the quote is: "We may have all come on different ships, but we're all in the same boat now." Not bad stand-up for a guy with a serious day-job.

His 86th birthday would have been last Thursday, the 15th, and we observed it yesterday here in Norwich, and across the country, on the Monday following his birthday which gave people like me a three day weekend. I used it to find things like this.

The treatment of General Powell has saddened and angered me for the last couple of decades as I worked for him when he was a wee slip of a three star general back in Frankfurt am Main. I would have voted for him had he chosen to seek elected office, but he didn't and I think we're all the poorer for it and that loss has nothing to do with the color of his skin and everything to do with the content of his character.

That said, we paused in these parts yesterday to reflect on what is yet to be done in this country on so many challenges we face. As Dr. King, I'm sure, would tell us, there is no color, gender, religious faith specific solution to what ails us. And whatever we come up with for the cure, it will require all of us but that's more than fair because that's who it will heal, too.
-bill kenny