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Tuesday, June 30, 2009

É toda minha falha

For about forty-seven minutes Sunday afternoon I was in restless rapture as the men's US Soccer team was thisclose to defeating the Brazil national team. I was still numb from the thrill of their having upended the Spanish national team earlier in the week (and actually may not have ever come down from the almost impossible, but ultimately only improbable victory over Egypt that propelled them into the semi-finals), and was out on errands and NOT watching the tube on Sunday afternoon. I wanted to watch but am aware of the historical impact my viewing has on sporting events and outcomes (all negative all the time). If only I could harness my power for good.

I know better than to try to listen to soccer on the car radio. First, I can hardly ever find it (I have Sirius radio which I got three summers ago for the music and not the news or the Howard Stern Channel(s; plural?!) or any of the other detritus across the band) and secondly I tend to squint at the receiver as if trying to see the action on the dial face. Not the kind of explanation you want to offer a police man, "but officer, he was off-sides!" to explain your cavalier disregard for the laws of traffic and/or gravity.

I returned to the house and tuned to the game, literally, as the second half began with the US up 2-0, or two to nil (I never count that way, ever. I call the guy in the net the 'goalie' and not 'keeper' and they play on a 'field', not the 'pitch') and it sure didn't stay that very long. Poor Team USA-not only playing a legendarily great soccer power, far from home, they now had me watching and rooting for them and that double whammy proved to be too much of a handicap, though they showed heart.

After Brazil scored to start the second half (I was still getting comfortable on the couch when they scored), I quickly changed channels. Panic mode, the remote landed first at the Eternal Word Television Network which (only) seemed like a safe haven. There was a discussion on the Life of Christ and since I've read enough of the New Testament to know the next part of the Greatest Story ever told, I went post haste back to the game, just as Fabiano scored to tie it.

I stopped at one of those infomercial stations (what a waste of bandwidth) and there was someone with a beard pitching Oxy-Clean. Turns out my talents aren't just confined to soccer matches so you know what happened next, right? Those dents in your car may just have to fix themselves from now on, and I'm sorry for my part in that.

Hoping the team had righted itself, I went back to the match just as the hugging and sliding on the knees for half the length of the field (or pitch, if you insist) was starting. The game was in the 85th minute and Brazil had gone ahead seconds earlier. Boy, I hate the samba and not just on Dancing with the Stars. I hit the remote again and ended up on The Weather Channel.

When their forecast called for a swarm of locusts followed by a rain of frogs for the holiday weekend, in Finland, I turned the TV off, threw the remote out the window and unplugged the set from the wall. My apologies to Clint, Landon and Tim. From now on, I'll watch only Red Sox games, I promise....(yeah, I am a Yankees fan. What's your point?). Go, team.
-bill kenny

Monday, June 29, 2009

Let the (Three) River(s) Run

We here in The Rose of New England, Norwich, Connecticut, are running out of days to celebrate the Semiseptcentennial which is a good thing for those of us whose tongues have tripped over that word every time we've tried to say it and a bad thing for those who've been able to learn "a little something" about the city from before we were here. For me and my family, Norwich did three hundred and thirty-three years without us and, from what I've caught up in recent weeks, did just fine.

As George Santayana admonished, "Those who forget history are doomed to repeat it" and I think one of the things I've come to enjoy about the 350th anniversary is, in looking at the past, I've become more confident about future, despite how grim the present is at so many levels.
If you're in the area, you can witness (and better appreciate) how far we've come by using this project created by a positive force at every City Council, Keith R, to gauge our progress. As so many have told me so often over the years, I'm NOT from here-but I'm from here NOW.

We spend a lot of time in this neck of the woods talking about days gone by, forgetting that there's almost thirty-eight thousand of us here in the now, who, by our efforts on a daily and repeated basis, form a bridge from yesterday to tomorrow. Through everything we do and everything we don't do (commission and omission-Sister Mary Jean would be proud I've remembered those for all these decades), we add or subtract from our city. I wasn't born here and I'm not especially comfortable at the growing probability that I'll die here, but that's pretty much out of my hands so all I can do is my best for everyday that remains. And that goes for you, wherever it is you live.

Each of us is in a formalized environment with financial, emotional, organizational structures and strictures. We function in a form with a President, a Governor, a Mayor or a leader with a title of some sort and there are subordinate bodies and functionaries in a descending order to deliver good and services to us, the citizenry and residents. But there's also an informal association of significant others, our neighbors and friends, perhaps in a neighborhood watch, or a bowling league, or a group of volunteer firemen, or who coach a kid's soccer team or host scout meetings.

Where we live is the sum of all those activities-not just our bond rating and our reserve to debt ratio. What we are is defined and refined by who we are. Yes, it's important we have trash pick-up, but it's just as important that we keep an eye on our neighbor's house when they go away for a long weekend. We have a municipal apparatus for the 'big things' but we need to have engaged and energized citizens for all the things in between. So when I talk about this, or any, week's municipal meetings, it's the celebration of the volunteers who give of themselves to make where we all live a better place that should be paramount.

Here in Norwich, for 350 years, and now now a little more, we've been getting done that which we must do in order to build a city from which we can do those things we want to do (maybe not as successfully as we always can, but we can try again and differently the next time).

"Silver cities rise,
The morning lights
The streets that meet them,
And sirens call them on
With a song."

This is a very light week for formal meetings, though that shouldn't stop you, if there's something you feel strongly about, from organizing friends to develop solutions to those challenges you see around you.

Tuesday night at six in the conference room in their building at 10 Golden Street is a public hearing by the Board of Public Utilities Commissioners/Sewer Authority. You'll find the agenda for both meetings here, with a small suggestion for clarification. Both meetings were originally scheduled for last Tuesday the 23rd, and moved to this Tuesday. Technically, that makes them special, NOT regular meetings (because each City Clerk is required by state law to have a full year's listing of meetings before the new calendar year begins). We have trouble grasping this difference which is why some of us look at our governance agencies with a jaundiced eye.

Wednesday at seven in Room 210 of City Hall is a meeting of the Republican Town Committee. Room 210 is kind of snug as I recall from my years on the Baseball Stadium Authority, barely able to accommodate all of us and two or three folks from the baseball team. If one of the two major political parties in the city can hold its regular meeting in there, how many people can we be talking about? I think anyone can attend, it's in a public building after all, but you have to be a member of the RTC to take part in the meeting, which seems only fair.

And Thursday at seven in the conference room (probably in the basement) of 23 Union Street is a regular meeting (possibly) of the Inlands Wetlands, Water Courses and Conservation Commission, though there's NO agenda posted for the 2 July meeting (Wednesday starts the seventh month already!) and the appointments of all but one member, and alternate member, have expired. I hope the City Council might find the time at an upcoming meeting to make current ALL the appointments on advisories, boards, commissions and committees of those who would wish those appointments to be validated.

And it'd be nice if the chairpersons would do their best to inform the City Council about appointments and their status (it takes two, or more). And there's always vacancies, so if you're willing to help you might want to visit here and fill out one of these (though I did, about sixteen months ago and never heard another word....soon enough we'll have to fix the form, so maybe after that I'll re-apply).

We have a proud past in Norwich, as do you in your town. A past that shouldn't make us wonder what's happened as we worry about the why of today but rather challenges each of us to add to that tradition and build upon it, for our children and their children and all the children of those who will, one day and someday, live among us and for themselves and their families.
"We, the great and small,
Stand on a star
And blaze a trail of desire
Through the dark'ning dawn."
-bill kenny

Sunday, June 28, 2009

The Late, Great Michael J

"I was reading a magazine
And thinking of a rock and roll song.
The year was nineteen seventy-nine
And I hadn't been playing that long.
When a man came on the radio
And this is what he said
He said I hate to break it to his fans,
But Michael J is dead, yeah, yeah, yeah."

Michael Jackson announced his coming of age in 1979 with the release of Off the Wall, the first of a trio of consecutive albums whose total sales now approach one hundred and sixty million copies and are still going strong (and nothing gooses sales like death. If the promoters of the London O2 Arena shows could figure out a way to do it, they could quadruple the number of shows slated there, starting next month and sell ALL of them out as well as the fifty they claimed were already sold-out).

As a fossil of fifty-seven years of age, I grew up listening to white rock and roll music. That The Beatles, Rolling Stones, The Who, The Kinks and countless others who crossed the musical bridge from England based 'their' music on black American rhythm and blues meant almost nothing to me. I learned of Muddy Waters, Howling Wolf, Bo Diddley, Lightnin' Hopkins and more through the long-haired Englishmen who mentioned them in every interview and who were visibly stunned that more (white) American fans didn't know of them.

While some of us had Gary (Lewis) and the Playboys, Paul Rever and The Raiders and Tommy Roe, there was the music of Motown getting played beyond the 500 watt AM day time radio stations in the middle of the country. When Diana Ross and the Supremes, Smokey (Bill) Robinson and the Miracles, Gladys Knight and The Pips, The Temptations (with and without David Ruffin), Martha (Reeves) and the Vandellas (what the heqq was a Vandella anyway?) took the Top Five spots on "Music Radio! Seventy-Seven Double U, A, B See!" countdown, pop music had crossed a line even if many of us couldn't. Check out the soundtrack to Forrest Gump to discover how transcedent music had become.

For radio stations, long after the listeners had made the leap of faith, the segregation continued and when Music Television launched on 1 August 1981, with The Buggles' Video Killed the Radio Star, musical apartheid was still alive and well. It was Michael Jackson's Thriller album, with the John Landis epic film treatment of the title track, but more especially Beat It with Eddie Van Halen's lead licks that kicked open the video door for artists of ALL colors and musical genres. No one ever looked back, at least not until last week.

All of that was made possible, if not inevitable, by Michael Jackson who died suddenly Thursday and many across the globe were maddened by the loss and saddened by the circumstances. In recent decades, Michael Jackson had seemed to be more of a Greta Garbo, in terms of sightings and stories. There was Wacko Jacko who slept in a hyperbaric chamber, the man who married Lisa Marie Presley, had fathered children through some variant of the Immaculate Conception, dangled one of them from a balcony, was the subject of rumors on every aspect of his personal life and as deeply in debt as some entire nations. And if you think his life was one, long tabloid tale, we may never get the last of the deathly details.

Sad as it sounds, when I heard the news last week, it was the first time I had thought of the King of Pop in any context in many years. Shame on me? Shame on him? A life ended before its time, a gift of great price not fully shared and the tragedy of what could have been, overshadowed and measured by what was in its place.
"And the two of us went to this bar
And we stayed to close the place
And every song we played
Was for The Late Great Johnny Ace, yeah, yeah, yeah."
-bill kenny

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Even then, Rolf Harris knew....

An acquaintance who knows my appetite for the bizarre, and tries to avoid ever being the object of it, Bob H., shared an item with me that thrilled me to the marrow. It combines my love of the arcane dateline with my commitment to the concept of the global playground, and here it is.

Yes, if you're in Iowa and beset with crop circles, I'm not sure this helps you at all, but the Mel Blanc fan in me LOVES the idea that on the island of Tasmania there's something a bit weirder than the Devil (I've always been a bit disappointed that oh-so-many years ago when I saw a real Tasmanian Devil, it behaved nothing like Mel's and sounded more like Marvin the Martian.)

I think in light of the number of poppies the little fellows probably eat before wandering around in circles, the farmers should be grateful the beasties don't develop raging cases of the munchies and hit the local 7-11's for Ho-Ho's and sugar coated donettes. Just cleaning up the discarded packaging alone would take two days a week. Or so I've been told, as I have no personal experience with the snacking while stoned phenomena at all.

Initial reports, such as the one above were a bit sketchy, but leave it to the BBC, the Beeb(er) with apologies to Sir Eddie Haskell, to add granularity to this discussion and allow us to snicker while pretending this is serious business.

Speaking of which, as true where you live as it is where I live: "Lasting change is a series of compromises. And compromise is all right, as long your values don't change." but nearly as important, and certainly more germane today is:
"Watch me wallabies feed mate.
Watch me wallabies feed.
They're a dangerous breed mate.
So watch me wallabies feed."
G'day.
-bill kenny

Friday, June 26, 2009

We Couldn't Agree More unless it Were Less

We had another nearly-nice day yesterday around here. I'm treating June in Connecticut as if it were a chocolate layer cake, always moist. Seems to be more or less a national trend but I don't live in Indiana, so I don't know what it's like where you are. I do know when John Donne rings the bell around here, I'm the only one in my corner. And right now, even though summer has officially started, I'm not working on my tan, that's rust.

So, of course, we had showers (if we were to NOT have showers, I'd fret that something was wrong with the clouds. Oldest children worry about everything and when stuff is going great, we worry that we overlooked something), not torrents of rain (at least around here) but enough rain that you knew it was raining as if Gene Kelly could keep a secret if his life depended on it.

And as I walked from Point A to Point 2 (I majored in neither math or phonics at Rutgers, nor orienteering (come to think of it) which must be why so many people tell me where to go) I passed a building where the sprinklers were on, making sure the lawn was getting watered. I almost dropped my umbrella in surprise. I imagine there's a schedule for this kind of stuff and a contract to regulate the relationship between the waterer and the wateree and yet, this is another one of those bridges that becomes a wall.

Instead of an agreement that helps get things done, we have a starting gun in a footrace to see which side can come with a faster reason for why something cannot be accomplished. Or, we have a variant of the Abilene Paradox in which one party is not willing to even attempt to change a relationship even though they say they want change. Instead, they maneuver to have the other side come up with reasons for why change is bad so they are absolved of any responsibility to change.

Happens everyday and more often than you'd imagine. Just watch the evening news and listen to what those who are our leaders say and then watch they do. In Hartford, Connecticut right now, both the Republican Governor and the Democratic state house want a responsible state budget. With both sides wanting one, what could be easier to accomplish? Yeah, right. Tell you what, how about you hold on to the umbrella and I'll go get a yellow Macintosh and a rainhat to go with it. I already have the tartar sauce, so no pressure; but for Friday dinners we like a nice piece of cod, okay?
-bill kenny

Thursday, June 25, 2009

The Evils of The Great Outdoors

You have, I imagine, heard, seen or read something about the Governor of South Carolina, Mark Sanford and his power walk along the Appalachian Trail that ended in Argentina. Or perhaps in a woman by the name of Argentina. There was so much sniffling at the press conference I had trouble understanding him.

I did enjoy his explanation that 'it began innocently' which, I just put my polit-speak decoder ring on, means 'both people were fully clothed.' And then they went for a hike, I guess. Fresh air, flora and fauna, Ned Beatty, canoes, hot, monkey love. The National Park Service could be on to something here. Did someone just say Eric Weissberg? Earlier in his life, Governor Sanford worked as a guide on the Appalachian Trail and my notes say something about a G string, but I think that's in reference to a banjo (my ring just exploded so I'm not sure what that means).

Perhaps he and Senator John Ensign can organize a Philandering Meandering for Straying Spouses though I guess in the interests of propriety, men and women would not be permitted to hike or tent together. Perhaps Senator John Edwards could sponsor a merit badge or two, to include one on bi-partisanship and the person who collects the most badges during the hike could receive a Monica Lewinsky purse, for the ladies, or a cigar humidor for the men. (Or not.)

And Republicans were angry ten days ago when Letterman cracked wise about the family of one of their Governors? Yipes! He could dine out for months on this stuff, which will, in turn, spark spirited intellectual discussion and debate in that great American tradition that always end with shouts of 'your mother!' and descriptions of feats of gymnastic and anatomical derring-do. I suspect our Secretary of State still can't believe she doesn't have a dog in this hunt.

I'm starting to get a better appreciation of why more Republicans and even some Democrats regard Newt Gingrich and Rush Limbaugh as Republican party leaders (okay, maybe NOT everybody). They've certainly done quite a job on the gender gap that's always supposed to be such a problem for the Grand Old Party. I'm wondering if Ann Coulter can't be persuaded to help out as well. Perhaps some cunning costuming, "look at those little shorts ... You can see all the way to Argentina." I smell a pay-per-view special that will be a hit from sea to shining shining sea and east and west of the pampas. 2012, here we come!
-bill kenny

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Jon & Kate Meet Dr. Seuss

I don't watch pap on my TV
You'd think that means I watch TLC.
But I'm so bored with What Not to Wear
American Chopper? I do not care.

The shows all seem so fake to me
Because I remember the "old" TLC.
The Learning Channel it was called
Until into showbiz it was hauled.

More glitz, more handheld, more "Me-TV"
Toddlers and Tiaras, dysfunctionality.
I do hate to brag with this advertisement
But most of their shows are self-aggrandizement.

Those two luckless losers, Silent Jon and Witch Kate
The newspapers report, will now separate.
Maybe the kiddies can have their own show
Please tell me their names as I do not know.

Three years ago, both led the most quiet of lives
Then the chaos descended as the cameras arrived.
He was too surly, she was a twit.
How can folks in their homes tune in for this s**t?

They're opportunistic, their kids make a crowd.
Have neither of them ever heard of Lance Loud?
Between diapers and feedings and small children's squeals,
They're fussing and feuding when not cutting deals.

And now, as it happens, Warhol was right.
Fifteen minutes is over so now say good night.
You were famous for being famous, that's the name of the game.
Though no one's quite sure of the source of your fame.

We'll cap all the cameras and shut down the lights,
And quietly skulk off into the night.
Yeah, it's sad about you, but it's worse about us.
Yourselves and your kids are now under the bus.

I never watched you so I guess I could gloat,
But I just changed the batteries in my TV remote.
Jon and Kate Gosselin, so their lives are all gone?
Let's turn on the tube, something new will come on.
-bill kenny

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

"I Left my Trousers in My Other Pants"

On a day where I have a few minutes after lunch before returning to the fray, I have a guilty pleasure I indulge. I'll go on line and read the police blotter. If Ross MacDonald wrote in haiku, it would most closely resemble the police blotter. Baseball fan that I am, the police blotter is to a full-out story as a box score is to Damon Runyan byline.

My most favorite 'crime stoppers textbook' (Chester Gould, where are you now that we really need you and how could Madonna and Warren Beatty screwed up Dick Tracy the way they did?) of the moment wasn't in the newspaper (yet) but rather showed up on line at the CBS TV news affiliate in Hartford, Connecticut, WFSB.

It had me at hello: Man In Underwear Held Standoff. I didn't expect video and there wasn't any-no hard feelings, that's why I have an imagination, though a bit more specificity would have helped. Boxers or briefs? White or a color and which color? Inquiring minds want to know (I doubt that in this case, but a boy can dream).

Speaking of questions, savor this line from the story: "Police said officers received a call just after 9 a.m. that a man was driving around his Third Street home (in Windsor Locks, CT) in his underwear." We have a yellow sun, right? I assume that means visitors from Krypton can use their powers of X-ray vision to see through a car door and realize the driver has no place to put his wallet or change for tolls.

And for sheer majesty of language, I'm tempted to notify the James Joyce Society for this pearl beyond price: "While negotiators were called to the home, police said the man tried to elude police by setting off a diversion in the basement and attempting to run out the door." The fellow is in his underpants--how much MORE of a diversion does he think he can create and, that said, why not share with the rest of us what his masterstroke (poor choice of words?) was.

The TV report offers me two BGOs (Blinding Glimpses of the Obvious) to finish by telling me the police took the man for a mental health evaluation (cannot imagine why) and the entire incident remains under investigation (though we at home will NEVER hear another word about this story. Guaranteed.)

For those who prefer newspapers to video, the Hartford Courant version has far superior granularity (it means 'more detail' but sounds so much cooler, it hurts; doncha agree?) but almost destroys the movie in my head because of the detail it offers, lacking in the Channel 3 story, to include the man's name. I like to think of him as nearly the Lone Ranger, wearing underwear instead of a mask. If I'm gonna stand on the front lawn of my own house in my underpants, holding a knife (I read that back about nine times and see no other way to write it), I sure as heck don't want my name in the paper. And don't tell a soul that the police had to taser me. What are we supposed to talk about at Saturday's Little League game, the weather?

In a way, except for the officers who were directly on scene as he was doing his Ginsu knife demo, this was almost a victimless crime. What, I wonder, would an APB read like had he robbed a bank and tried to blow that Popsicle stand? Would anyone have even looked at his face? Or would the cops be on the lookout for SpongeBob, because that's all that the witnesses remembered. And, just me, or didn't the getaway driver look a little like Michael Jordan? (As long as all he shows me is the money, we're fine.)
-bill kenny

Monday, June 22, 2009

Norwich Meetings 22-26 June 2009

I stumbled across this link, again, on the City of Norwich website and it makes me smile. Shows what The Buggles know. Turns out the Radio Star is unscathed, it's urban suburbia that tends to take it in the shorts. Twenty-one months left on a three year relationship, it'll be hard to top the first fifteen, I guess.

As for goings-on in The Rose City this week, there's a ton of Semiseptcentennial events you can most easily learn more about by visiting here.

Meetings-wise, this afternoon at four there's a (another) special meeting of the Board of Education though it's a public meeting really for the purposes of posting only as a reading of the meeting agenda suggests. And am I alone in being surprised as to how this agenda can be shared with the Norwich City Clerk for posting in accordance with the Freedom of Information Act and public law, but nearly all the other Board's meetings and meeting minutes cannot be posted seemingly anywhere.

At five o'clock in Howard T. Brown Park is a special meeting of the Harbor Management Commission, special despite what the agenda says because it's on a different day and time from its regular convening which is why the Commission had to send a note to the City Clerk, not to mention its location shifted from the great indoors to the great outdoors. If it's raining, does the meeting shift to the gazebo?

With all due respect to the agenda, which mistakenly presumes this is a regular meeting, there shouldn't be any new business as a special meeting must be restricted only to the posted on the agenda reason for the calling of the special meeting (there isn't on this one). While it would be heartening to hear an update on the Cadle Mill development, past meetings suggest that all's quiet (too quiet) on that front. If you are going to attend, I suspect there's a lot more specifics on the Harbor Management Plan update first introduced in May after months of work. From what I've read, it seemed like a good first draft with some work still needed.

The announced for Tuesday at four o'clock Building Code Board of Appeals meeting has been cancelled. For those (like me) keeping track at home there's NO posting of meeting agendas or any meeting minutes, since March of this year, on the City's website.

It may be worthwhile on Wednesday to pack a picnic lunch and hike over to 23 Union Street as there's a series of meetings going on there, starting at five, with the Dangerous Buildings Board of Review whose meeting agenda makes it one of the harder-working groups of people this, or any other, week in Norwich. I've joked about the name in the past, and it is a tad overly dramatic, perhaps, but the members are serious and sincere about making the city a better place for everyone.

Meanwhile, stay where you are if you go to that meeting because at 6:15, both in the basement conference room of 23 Union Street, are meetings of the 21st West Thames Street Advisory Committee followed at 6:30 (or when the first meeting is over) by the 751 North Main Street Advisory Committee (FWIW: for BOTH Advisory Committees, there are no agendas posted online and neither set of draft minutes mention where your meetings are held; how can you expect Waldo and Carmen San Diego to include them as part of their date?)

And at seven across town on New London Turnpike is a regular meeting of the Norwich Golf Course Authority, whose members' appointments have ALL EXPIRED. Perhaps the City Council can reappoint the members (or close New London Turnpike, whichever is easier), at an upcoming meeting? And my compliments to the Authority Chair for alerting the Council.

Thursday morning at eight, in their offices at 75 Main Street is a regular meeting of the Board of Directors of the Norwich Community Development Corporation. I am the most easily amused person I know, and even I have stopped laughing at the irony of the lack of a website presence for the agency designated by the Norwich City Council as the primary agent for economic development for the city.
You can probably get a meeting agenda and/or minutes of their last regular meeting by contacting Bob Mills, their Executive Director, though what you're to do if you're in search of new location for your business, is beyond me, possibly him and probably all of us. Hilarious.

"Dwarf on a moped speeds through the park
To Kilroy's Renaissance, the Temple of Art
Signs with a flourish, then makes it his own
Pockets his pencil, and slyly rides home."
-bill kenny

Sunday, June 21, 2009

We're still here

True story I've just remembered: from so long ago, Patrick is our only child. He and I are driving from our home in Offenbach to my work in Frankfurt am Main. He is about three or so in the back seat of our car, in his car seat. The car is waiting for the light to change at the intersection of Eschenheimer Landstrasse and Adickesallee, just a block down from the old Frankfurt cemetery. "You know what?" he asked me, in German (as that's all we spoke), looking out the side window at a kebab-laden or a trinkhalle, "if Mom had married someone else, I would have a different father." Thanks for playing, indeed.

Both of my brothers, Kelly and Adam, are fathers, so Happy Father's Day to them and to you, even if you're not one of my brothers. All three of us are fathers without a reference library as our own father passed away almost thirty years ago and, quite frankly, set an example before his passing that I suspect none of us would have been interested in following.

I don't know if either of them have, in the course of their own families, had moments where they've wondered 'what would Dad have done?' I have had a few, but not as many as being the oldest, perhaps, I should have had. My wife and I are married for almost thirty-two years, and all but about eleven minutes of that are because of her hard work and certainly NOT mine. We have two children, a son turning twenty-seven in three weeks and a daughter whose birthday (her age is her business and not my story) was a little more than a month ago.

When my son was small and when my daughter was (much) younger, I was fortunate that my wife's Dad, Franz, was close at hand to serve as a sounding board to his somewhat befuddled and other cultured son-in-law as he struggled to remain competitive in the Parenting Olympiad. I never wanted children, or thought I never did, until Patrick and Michelle were born. I was very fine with defining myself as Sigrid's husband but I think 'and father of Patrick and Michelle' adds a lot to my resume.

I don't have happy memories of interaction with my Dad and learned many years later he could have said the same about his relationship with his father. I grew up thinking somehow I was the screw-up and judging from the caustic comments, I wasn't alone. I was numb, literally, after we learned my wife was pregnant with Patrick because I feared I would forge the next link in that chain, but that fear evaporated in the first moments of his life on this earth and while his sister later brought her own challenges (how could someone so tiny be so insanely defiant I used to wonder as she would glare up at me, no higher than my knees it seemed, and tell me 'no' for hours on end), I kept coming back to Freshman Orientation at Dad's College: Help Them Do Well and Be Happy.

I've since discovered, as have probably all fathers, it is pretty easy (especially in hindsight) and not unlike the lesson of Dad's College. You can't do too much about the skinned knees or the first true loves that break hearts but tell yourself, and your child, 'this, too, shall pass' because you know it will even when they know it won't. All you can wish for your son or daughter, is that they are well and happy-two conditions for which they, themselves are most responsible. I used to fret that their father, unlike the parents of their friends, couldn't afford cars for them to drive in high school, or ski holidays or wardrobes from A & F, wasting so much of my energy on pointless worry since both of them grew up never missing what they never had.

Today, Father's Day 2009, both of our children are adults with lives very much their own and have more or less accepted that in the heart of their dotty Dad they will always be his kids. And should the day come when they choose to have children, I think (or hope) they'll have good memories from their own childhood to draw upon and smile.
-bill kenny

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Pass the Ketchup and Praise the Admonition

Right now in Connecticut, the (Republican) Governor and the Democratic Legislature have yet to pass a state budget, try as they might (and some days, the finger pointing and the 'I know you are but what am I?' under-five behavior does get VERY trying) and because it's not happened, the 168 municipalities across The Nutmeg State have had to improvise (= roll the dice) on their own local budgets.

In a state that thinks of itself as "The Land of Steady Habits," and has two casinos that would seem to argue just the opposite, you'd assume we'd have developed a comfort level by now on the amount of Jell-O being used in the foundation of our soon-to-be-next fiscal year. (And why can't we be "The Land of Comfortable, but Casual, Footwear"?). So our elected and appointed local leadership, all talking about tightening belts and lowering expectations etcetera ad infinitum (or so it seems) have "austerity" budgets "because of The Economy" (or some variation thereof).

But budgets, like diets, have two sticky moments: the start and the end. When you're trying to lose weight, the first five pounds and the last five pounds are the hardest to lose. Those are the pounds you can't talk off, that you can't start losing tomorrow; they have to happen in the now. Of course, I suppose, you could always go the amputation route, and obviate the entire discussion and that, it seems to me, is what may have happened this year.

Instead of having a hoped-for (by me) discussion on what should (city) government do and how much of it should be done (and how do we measure that) , we tried a 'Honey I Shrunk the Kids' approach which doesn't do much ultimately to get rid of any of those ten pounds (total) we were hoping to lose. The shock waves of discussion we've had, and are still having, over how classroom population size may change, how building fees will escalate, and what will happen to property taxes, have all obscured that discussion. Too bad because that means we'll have it again and again, with less and less patience for differing and dissenting viewpoints which brings us to debates involving balled fists and hurled invective. And those always work out so well.

We, and not just here but across the country, took a page from the (borrowed, and heavily) book of J. Wellington Wimpy 'I will gladly pay you Tuesday for a hamburger today', had fries and a shake with that burger and then went back to the office and removed ALL the Tuesdays from our desk calendar. Just not forever. The trouble will come later on when both the calories and the deferred costs of that hamburger go right to our hips. Good thing we can't afford to buy new jeans because we sure as heck aren't going to fit into them. Which is just as well because you can already guess what's gonna look fat.
-bill kenny

Friday, June 19, 2009

Remembering All Mothers' Sons

(Congrats to Adam and Margaret! The first 16 are the hardest. Of course this time next year, there may be an adjustment to the number.)

It's odd that on the day, Wednesday, it traveled to Norwich from Montville (on Route 32 in New London County), the weather was the driest we'd had in a fortnight or more. Odd, I mean, in an ironic way, because the American Veterans Traveling Tribute to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial commemorates a conflict that has always been associated with torrential monsoon rains, lush forests, and endless acres of flooded fields cultivated as rice paddies.

The VFW post in the Norwich Business Park (yeah, you read that correctly; don't try to figure it out, just be grateful it's NOT there alongside the baseball stadium or the condominiums) collected all the funds and provided the organizational wherewithal to host the commemorative wall at Howard T. Brown Park in Norwich (right at the harbor) during the Semiseptcentennial through Sunday, Father's Day.

I've never gotten organized enough to see the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in our nation's capital though I know where I'd go when I did. Roy Christopher Olgyay was three weeks older than I when we met as freshmen at the Browning School for Boys tucked between Park and Madison Avenue on Manhattan's East Side. There were three of us who were odd men out, Roy, me and George. George was a wrestler who lived in Brooklyn, which, for Manhattan scions might as well have been the moon. I was the son of the lower school headmaster and it would have been suicidal to harass me.

That left Roy. As near as I could tell (and more accurately, remember now) Roy's family was Roy, a younger sister and his mom. There had been a dad and a successful and comfortable life in Europe, actually in Hungary, but Soviet tanks put an end to all of that in 1956 and Roy never mentioned his father no matter how often or hard Charlie H and Roger C (the former, terminally bored; the latter, terminally stupid) would tease him, from all the niggling dumb stuff that Neanderthals in packs inflict on loners, through the wholesale destruction of Roy's school blazer. His mom never had a week when she didn't need to repair a tear or a rip.

He endured it all stoically, writing each injury down in a small notebook with a date and the time. George and I watched and never intervened because all of us knew the rule: you today, me tomorrow. As it turned out, Roy knew more than the rules and tomorrow caught up with him soon enough. I left Browning in the summer before my senior year for elsewhere. Roy left everything he had ever known and joined the Army for the express purpose of stopping the Communists in Vietnam. While others scoffed and smirked, he sweated and served. He was a true believer in the rightness of the fight. Roy arrived in country about the time the rest of us had scattered to the winds after high school graduation, so full of ourselves, on our way to colleges and universities.

Roy received a different education. He learned how to eat dry C-rations, how to fix a bayonet (even when it wasn't broken, strange language, eh?) and when, and how to always have extra pairs of dry socks because with all the rain and all the paddies a grunt walked through, the skin on your feet would rot in the boot if you weren't careful. As if, by the fall of 1970, in South Vietnam it was possible to be careful. As it turned out, he wasn't careful enough, technically, to make it to the fall, dying as a result of small arms fire on the 19th of September-probably while I was still wandering the New Brunswick campus of Rutgers College, learning my way around. The dude found his dust.

The Traveling Wall is at the edge of the park, framed by the harbor behind it. A few paces away, a volunteer looks up the name of the fallen and locates the panel and line on the wall while another volunteer helps you make a rubbing, as grey as the sky overhead, on snow white paper you can hold in your hand the way you hold the memory in your heart. I spent a moment in the soft drizzle, not so much talking about the good old days, because Roy can't and he didn't have all that many, but to bear witness in my small way to the sacrifice he embraced knowingly and willingly for those who may have been so wrapped up in their own lives it took a hike halfway across a New England town in the middle of June to try to make amends and sense of it all. "If you have a farm in Vietnam/And a house in hell/Sell the farm And go home."
Welcome home, Roy.
-bill kenny

Thursday, June 18, 2009

LT Rip and SGT Biff!!!

Wednesday in this area was dry-doesn't sound like much, I know, but a bit more than halfway through June we've had about three and half inches of rain in this part of Connecticut, which is most definitely more than normal, and we've got two weeks to go.

So when the sun came out yesterday, a lot of us were a bit loopy with joy (I guess). One of the local newspapers, and I'm hoping this link will still work when you click on it because they don't keep them active for much more than 36 to 48 hours (and then you have to buy the article or feature which is a good deal, I suppose, if the reporter or the photographer gets the money but I'm not sure they see any, much less all, of it. I know, 'publishers gotta eat, too.') grabbed a picture of a Norwich policeman at Chelsea Parade (practically across the street from my house, though that wasn't in the caption) putting his police dog, Kaiser, a German Shepherd, through his paces.

I, and lots of others it seems, knew it was Chelsea Parade because in the background you could see the Teel House, where the NFA Superintendent used to live (as part of the contract to be in charge of NFA), though the police car parked on the grass of Chelsea Parade kind of blocked a clear view of it.

Proving it takes a lot to laugh and it takes a train to cry, reader comments noted Norwich has a leash law and Chelsea Parade is posted for "no dogs"; others, perhaps as part of their own way of observing Law Enforcement Appreciation Week, had observations on the location and manner in which the police car was parked.

I smiled looking at the photo, as I think the point the photographer was trying to make was 'Hurrah! The flood waters have receded!' but instead launched a short downpour of discord about the laws and their sometimes uneven application. I don't know about you Officer John, but Rusty was telling me to keep off the grass and to be careful because there's trouble back at the fort. Turns out, NOT just there, either.
-bill kenny

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Benjamin's Brilliant Insight

I returned to work yesterday and every time I take a day off, the song remains the same. For the first couple of hours, as different people walk past my door, there's a distinct tone of surprise when they say "oh, you're here..." in such a way that I wonder if there's not a pool in a back room somewhere with odds on my not coming back this time. And I'm calculating how empty someone else's life has to be for mine to be worth examining.

I got off to rousing lurch coming in as my car came up lame, with a flat tire, as I pulled out of the garage. After using one of those air compressors that's powered through the cigarette lighter (= very slow) I decided on the way home to stop in at the tire place where I bought them.

The shop shares a pad with a reasonable number of somewhat tired stores, many of whom are in need of a make over they'll never see in a mall that's immediately forgettable. Trust me on this, when you have the Norwichtown Mall as a frame of reference, you can smell failure at a mile or more and this strip mall is dogged out. It's across the interstate from another mall that was rebuilt not that long ago (at considerable expense) and basically brought back from the dead. The contrasts between them are startling and provoked me to think about the never ending discussions on economic development and reward versus risk where I live, as our municipal elections rapidly approach.

Despite the vitriol that service on our City Council seems to generate among so many of our residents, we are fortunate to have a pool of interested and talented people who are willing to serve. We need more of them, as do you, too, because it's the nature of life in these United States. No one has enough time and everyone needs help.

If you've ever had children in school, you already know about the PTO parents who were also the band parents who were also the class trip escort parents and who were the prom chaperons and that list goes on forever. It's true in municipal government as well. You see the same people at City Council meetings who attend Board of Education meetings (when they can figure out when and where those are held) and are the ones who offer to serve on a citizen committee of some sort or other. So many people in the same device.

We all pitch in and we all have folks with whom we get along better than others. I get concerned when so much time is devoted to tearing people down with whom we disagree. I just don't have the energy for all of that and it's hard for me to pretend that things I heard were NEVER said and vice versa. When the 'clown' (use a more colorful sobriquet of your choice in its place if you'd like) is in the State Capital or in Washington, it's easier than someone you see in the grocery on Saturdays. Besides I hate apologizing over the celery in the produce department, 'those things I said about your Mom and the 82nd Airborne? I'm pretty sure I didn't mean 'em.' Yeah, thanks, Dave.

I don't see the point to carrying around all the grudges and bruised feelings over slights (real and imagined) that keep us from starting again. Sometimes I'm concerned that the long, proud history of New England sometimes gets in our own way of trying new things and walking away from our past. How much of yesterday do we really need to overcome today in order to have a shot at a tomorrow that is large enough for us and our children and their children? As we travel through today, look around. Everything you pass was created as a result of choices made, good and bad; buildings, businesses, neighborhoods, families. We cannot go back but we cannot stand still. We can only go forward, together.
-bill kenny

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Three Vowels and a Consonant

I was off Monday, taking some compensatory time from the people I work for to stretch a weekend into a shortened work week. In my house that means BGP's, 'Baby Girl Projekts' (with a k in deference to my wife's heritage).

My son's 27th birthday is approaching and we decided (the plural first person is my fig leaf that it was a joint decision; we know it wasn't, okay? But it costs so little to let me have my dignity. Thank you.) that we'd go to IKEA in New/East Haven CT which everyone here pronounces Eye-Key-ah and which we tend to call Ick-Kay-uh from all those years ago when they weren't in the USA and neither were we.

We started shopping in the IKEA in Wallau, (West) Germany back before we had our own family and while there were still two Germanys. It was a radically different way to buy furniture and we furnished our entire apartment in Offenbach am Main with it and were able to make do with the provisional store after an employee accidentally set fire to the one in Wallau and it burned to the ground (that much wood created flames that formed a glow on the horizon we could see from our house, some 40 kilometers away). I've always enjoyed IKEA because their stuff has clean lines and is simple to assemble.

A lot of the furniture names are fun to say as well, except the ones that have an "O" that isn't an "O", you know, the "O" with the line through it. I think they could just skip that letter all together. Some kind of Swedish variant of Donovan's "First There Is a Mountain." Sometimes, the furniture is fiendishly clever in its design so much so that whenever we visit the Connecticut store, I tend to feel there are more bright ideas per square foot there than in any other place in the state. Based on the behavior in Hartford, I think I win.

We used to travel I-95 South to get there but I HATE I-95 in either direction. I think through some point in the late Fifties it was probably faster to use 95 as part of the trek from Boston to NYC but then population growth in the corridor turned stretches of it into a parking lot with tollbooths. Years, ago, people mocked me as a resident of New Jersey ("what exit?"). The Turnpike Authority, who had their own police force and were NOT afraid to use it, expanded a huge stretch of 95 into six lanes in either direction. Some wags suggested it was to make it even easier and faster to get through and out of Jersey. Be that as it may, when you have 95 in Connecticut practically two lanes in each direction for the entire state, which was great in '58, but not so much in '09, the idea of 'who's laughing now' comes to mind.

We take 82 from Norwich onto 80, I think (I just drive and not especially well; directions I leave to my navigator) and then a a bit of 91 and then 34 to IKEA. I skip the ferry ride at Chester and take the scenic route through Hadlyme (which to my mind should be the next town neighbor to Gotmilk and GimmeGoodLovin, but isn't) and East Haddam and Deep River and who knows what else.

I saw campaign signs supporting Merrick Alpert in what I thought was his uphill battle to unseat Senator Christopher Dodd in a Democratic Party primary in 2010. The signs were in Haddam, which I've always believed in political geography is about as hallowed Democratic ground as you can get. Maybe that 'culture of corruption' mantra and a sense that Chris has stayed way too long at the fair are catching up with the Doddster. There's already two Republicans seeking their party's nomination to run against him and the election, itself, isn't until November 2010. Maybe Connecticut will end up with two independent Democratic Senators. Of course, before that happens I'll have figured a short cut to get from the IKEA lot back on to Route 80 and skipped all the color of a staycation that driving through New Haven can mean. At least I can dream I will.
-bill kenny

Monday, June 15, 2009

What We Are Now Is What We Were When...

We are knee deep in the hoopla of the 350th celebrations here in The Rose of New England, better known as Norwich, Connecticut. And as we celebrate our past, which has helped define in innumerable ways who were are now and who we are yet to be, we would do well to also look closer at the present and what is going on in our city this week, within and without the walls and halls of city government.

This afternoon at five in Room 210 of City Hall is a regular meeting of the Redevelopment Agency. If you go, I'd suggest listening in as the conversation about what to do next with 26 Shipping Street starts to get some definition, especially in light of the 'new business' on both the RDA's agenda as well as later in the day, the regular meeting of the City Council, starting at seven (item nine).

The City Council agenda is never without interest, and it's true again tonight as for me, public hearing #4, isn't without its attractiveness. I wish there were more specificity in terms of what a 'non-binding referendum' on the city budget means, in relation to charter revision and for the enumerated duties of the city council (which sounds like charter revision, again and maybe some ethics review thrown in) and perhaps that will surface in the course of discussion in Council chambers.
Or we can just add a motion to close the road in Mohegan Park for the other five months of the year and have two major accomplishments for this session and another example of 'how government works' (as if we needed any more examples). Remember, you read it here first.

Also on the agenda, new business, item #9, and worth the price of admission unto itself will be another installment of what I like to think of as 'living on the precipice of a cultural renaissance.' Us and Glen Cove, New York-how could two communities be so lucky? (Maybe because our 'last names end with a syllable (sic)'? Don't look at me. I don't know what he meant either.) There's always (at least) two sides to a story (around here, usually more) so let's see if we can effectively separate the hype from the hope and determine the helpfulness.

Tuesday afternoon at 4:30 in their central office across from the Norwichtown Green at 90 Town Street is a special meeting of the Board of Education that has a familiar and disturbing similarity to ALL Norwich Public School Board of Education meetings: a near total paucity of information in terms of agenda for the meeting or minutes of previous Board meetings, either on the city's municipal website or their own.

Here's where this Tuesday's meeting agenda and last Tuesday's meeting minutes should be, but aren't. Again. I'm guess I can assume it's either ignorance of Public Act #08-3 or arrogance in thinking that rules are for people who don't know better that has the Norwich Public Schools, and by extension the City of Norwich, in violation of Connecticut state law.

The Personnel and Pension Board (ALL of whose members' appointments have NOW expired) meets in Room 319 of City Hall at six o'clock. (Small solace I know, SK, but you were right at the April meeting to oppose underfunding the pension for any reason. Sadly, as the vote indicated, you were also alone). You may already have sort-of known about this meeting, especially because of "New Business, Item A."

As Forrest Gump once observed, 'that's all I have to say about that.' (except, I'm probably not the only guy who thought he knew where to score (some Yankees tickets), eh, Mikey? How's the knee-ready for Dancing with the Stars?)

One of the local newspapers reports there's a Police Department Awards Reception (though it's not listed on their website) Tuesday night at seven in Room 335 which, if true, is a perfect counter point and abject refutation to the type of behavior so often (and TOO often) the focus of deserved news outlet and public scorn and derision in these parts. The vast majority of public safety professionals do their jobs in an exemplary manner and sometimes we forget how much sun we have after a few rainy days.

Tuesday night there may be a meeting of the Downtown Neighborhood Revitalization Zone (Advisory? Agency? Board? Committee? Posse?) at seven at "Artworks to Empower" (I'd suggest Google since Mapquest draws a blank on directions) which is sort of appropriate since the city's website doesn't have a whole lot of information either.

And also Tuesday, at seven, in the basement conference room at 23 Union Street (next door to City Hall) is a regular meeting of the Commission on the City Plan. If you attend, and in light of some of the business on the agenda you may desire to, pay mind to what the public may comment on and when. Sometimes, people show up at meetings without understanding how business gets conducted.

Wednesday morning there's a three hour meeting of the Norwich School Readiness Council (Children First), starting at 9 AM in the Dime Bank's community meeting room on Salem Turnpike. I guess the theory behind a meeting that long is that you numb one end of your body for the benefit of the other. Would be curious to learn how that works out. At the risk of repeating myself, lovely website, uncontaminated with any current information on actual or proposed programs or activities.

Also Wednesday, starting at 5:30 at Montville Town Hall and traveling up Route 32 to Howard T. Brown Memorial Park in Norwich and remaining there through Father's Day as part of the Norwich Semiseptcentennial is the "American Veterans Traveling Tribute with Traveling Vietnam Wall." (And if you wind up having a coke and a smile with jetmec, he and all the other 'just folks volunteers' are why the 350th is happening, so tell him thank you. (Jetmec is much taller now than when he made that commercial.))

And sometime Wednesday, but I've forgotten exactly when Prudy and Brad told me, Garry and Marterese will welcome a new addition to their family and another potential student in the Challenger Learning Center. Welcome to earth, young person. And thanks for being a part of the next 350 years of Norwich history.

Thursday afternoon at five is a regular meeting of the Historic District Commission in Room 210 of City Hall. And the Norwich Ice Rink Authority (all of whose members' appointments expired on the LAST City Council's watch) meets at six in The Rink over on New London Turnpike.

Gotta tell ya, I'm tired of playing "Where in the World Is Carmen San Diego?" with minutes of previous meetings and other required-by-law-need-to-do items. When the government plays keep away with information its citizens are entitled to have, no one can or should wonder when cynicism sets in.

Finally, Friday morning at eight in Room 319 of City Hall is a meeting of the Chelsea Gardens Committee. Hope the link helps as that's ALL the information on them I can find and, yes, I looked at the city's website.

"Who counts the money underneath the bar? Who rides the wrecking ball into our guitars? Don't tell us you need us, 'cause we're the ship of fools. Looking for America, crawling through your schools."
-bill kenny

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Complicated Shadows

Earlier this week, there was a media rumble about David Letterman's aspersion, or otherwise, cast upon the Governor of Alaska, former Republican Party Vice Presidential candidate and voracious reader, Sarah Palin and members of her family to include her fourteen year old daughter. What was said, what was meant and what was said about what was meant are at least three different things and you've read all about them and I won't waste your time or mine speculating about any of that. (And yeah, her answer to Katie, who will NEVER be confused with Edward R. Murrow, still causes me to wince.)

The Governor is a public figure; getting whacked by late night hosts with clever or snarky remarks like a pinata, comes with the territory. The same recognition factor that induced someone to arrange at no cost to the Governor, I'm sure, an opportunity to sit in rather nice seats in the new Yankee Stadium for a New York Yankees baseball game was also the inducement for a writer for The Late Show to poke a stick at her. Life is hard-wear a cup (and make of that what you will).

The Governor's children aren't public figures. In much the same way as Rush Limbaugh's comparisons of then-First Daughter Chelsea Clinton to a four-legged White House pet was a cheap shot, the purported humor behind a grown man making sport of a fourteen year old girl is in poor form. To their credit, both of the men who did these things did later apologize for doing so though there's no known record of the success rate of putting the toothpaste back in the tube.

Surrogate warfare is okay in politics but, to me, it should only be 'okay' when the posture of those participating is defined and understood in advance. Here in Connecticut this week, our senior Senator is having some difficulty explaining his relationships to some of the larger pharmaceutical companies and health insurance combines in relation to his declared wealth. For those of us who see a confederacy of dunces as the only ones in government, the proof is in the public disclosures while for those who think we need to separate perceptions of reality from the reality itself, it's another day at the office.

The Senator, too, has sought higher public office in recent years with not-so-much success and understands the rules of the Gotcha Game. I'm not sure those who are organizing the torches and pitch forks for his spouse are being totally fair. She, the last time I checked, is a private citizen who, I guess, because she's married to him, gets to have her life torn up as well.

And at the end of the day, all of us, reader and reporter alike, look around to see where the next scandal is starting to form. The odor of ill repute is so intoxicating and the joy at the misfortune of others can be so addictive. Perhaps an athlete will be caught popping pills, a TV role model discovered with a pony, plastic sheets and a motel room or maybe it'll be a celebrity who drinks his own bathwater? Circuses are what's called for in these serious times to distract us from ever thinking about our dire circumstances and if the collateral damage proves to be fourteen or forty, who are we to mind? "When you should have found someone to put the blame on, Though the fury's hot and hard; I still see that cold graveyard. There's a solitary stone that's got your name on."
-bill kenny

Saturday, June 13, 2009

History and Mystery

As a grade-school student studying American history I can still remember a sense of disquiet and bewilderment when I first learned about the Burr-Hamilton duel. I was no stranger to a schoolyard scuffle myself (even back in the day, I had that certain something when I smiled) but the notion that the Founders would settle differences in such a way confounded me. I'd read about the Revolutionary War but this wasn't that and wasn't anything else I'd ever heard of except goofy barbarism.

I know a lot of us have fleeting thoughts of homicide when someone succeeds in getting up our nose or under our skin, or (I guess) under the skin of our nose. And as unkind as such thoughts are, few to none of us would ever act on those impulses.

Not so James von Brunn who, news accounts suggest (and there must always be a presumption of innocence under our system of justice, even when it's wasted on the accused), has deep and abiding issues with a not inconsiderable number of God's Children here on the Big Blue Marble and an all-too familiar approach to conflict resolution.

It's a way of resolving differences that's as old as we are as a species and about as useful as an appendix in anything other than a book. And yet, when the barometer is just so, or the moon is in a phase, or the tides are at flood or a thousand other atmospheric, philosophic and/or metaphysical excuses masquerading as reasons, we cut to the chase and go for the throat.

Sometimes nations kill nations and we call it war. When the insanity is sponsored by governments against their own people (and/or others), we call it genocide. When it's one at a time, we usually call it murder and try to not see larger consequences. The catastrophe Wednesday in Washington D.C . is, in some respects a combination of all the variants, still producing that frighteningly, familiar finale.

And the only thing more tragic than a tradition that is as long as our time on this planet is that it will have a future and a recurring presence. Long after we have returned to everyday, and nearly forgotten Stephen T. Johns, Jimmy Von B will be prattling, posturing and polluting the world with his pellets of racist and paranoid poison that some simpleton, somewhere, will hear as the Inspired Word and the cycle will begin again and forever. Woe to the one who does you wrong.
-bill kenny

PS: And to show how we are all related one to another as much by the air that we breathe as the way we live our lives, today in Norwich's Howard Brown Park, starting at eleven o'clock, is the 20th Annual Juneteenth Festival. I'd like to believe Stephen would enjoy this immensely.