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Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Where Is Jeremy?

I’m enslaved, by a habit that’s not just part of my daily shopping routine, but the best part. You'll know it when you read it. On my way home every afternoon, I swing by my local grocery and avail myself of their make-your-own-damn-salad bar as I prepare my healthy lunch for the following day. 

At the rate at which I make and eat salads, I should be so healthy I glow in the dark. I eat salad because I’m told it’s good for me; I have no idea or proof of truth and have even less interest in finding out. I do believe if there is a just and merciful God S/He could have had broccoli taste like chocolate, thus making those created in Her/His image very happy. And healthy.

There’s not a lot of variation in how I assemble the salad-lettuce, peppers, those goofy small tomatoes that explode everywhere when you cut them into smaller pieces (but they’re too large to not cut), some spinach, pieces of pineapple, a few sliced strawberries, cranberries and some pieces of white meat chicken all go in the aluminum foil and I pop a plastic lid on top (so the salad can see where we’re going?).

I use the self-checkout register because it’s almost always open and there’s no line, especially after I not too softly whisper “I own you now” after every purchase crosses the scanner. You'd be surprised how quickly people find other lines. The self-checkout has The Voice encouraging me to use my market’s preferred shopper card and then thanking me for so doing. If I have bar-coded items, all of that merchandise goes first. I put the things in those terribly thin plastic bags which are impossible to separate so you end up with hundreds of landfill-choking plastic bags you can never use for anything else and you dare not throw away.

Yesterday I also bought eggs as we had none at home. Every home should have an eggscess of eggs. I can't understand why that slogan still hasn't caught on. Your loss. I buy HUGE eggs but there’s always one I forget to check that’s welded to the bottom of the cardboard container by escaped egg insides which have now hardened. This means for the price of twelve eggs I purchase eleven. I do this with a consistency I no longer find funny. I blame the chickens for the broken eggs; perhaps that why I eat my salad with chicken pieces, but never chicken salad. Perhaps not.

Anyway. The salad doesn’t have a bar code (yet), so when I place it on the scanner/scale, I have to touch the screen display for produce and The Voice explains “touch the item to purchase.” That, of course, is crap. What I have to do is touch the image on the touch screen showing a salad (not unlike the one I made). Touching the salad itself accomplishes nothing. I know this because I do it at least once every day, more often if there’s no one behind me. Every time I do as The Voice directs, and nothing happens, I go “no?” in a tone of wounded surprise that sounds genuine even though I know it’s not. And I smile because I just crack myself up with this routine every single day.   

Why am I telling you this? Because if you’re a resident of Florida and are voting today in your state’s Republican presidential primary, I was hoping to distract you from so doing since I’m pretty well convinced, despite history to the contrary, there are worse things that can happen to us than a hanging chad. And three of your choices have the same number of letters in their first name.  May I offer you a lightly used egg?  
-bill kenny

Monday, January 30, 2012

Learning to Fly

It's difficult to believe the first month of the new year is almost over. So far, so good; so what? Not sure what we accomplished in the first thirty days but I'd hope it sets us up in good position for what's left of the year, starting with whatever's going on in your hometown this week.

Around here, here being Norwich, Connecticut, The Rose of New England (though based on my honker you might better have guessed 'Nose of New England') we have a full week of meetings of all kinds and sizes as citizens volunteer not only make a difference but try to be the difference. We are all better for their helping hands.

This afternoon at five in Room 210 of City Hall it's a special meeting of the Redevelopment Agency, and for background on the Vibrant Communities Initiative, which is what the Cecil Group is all about, visit here.

Tuesday afternoon at 2:30 in Room 335 of City Hall is something called C.O..O.L. Directions. This is all I could find out about it, but it's a start and if you go and share what you find out, we're all better off.

At 5:30 in the Latham Science Center on the campus of the Norwich Free Academy it's a special meeting of the Board of Trustees. The item of greatest interest on the agenda is (for me) #4, NFA's next budget, which will directly impact next year's tuition payment by the Norwich Board of Education which will be funded within the next city budget and paid for by all of us. My point: I, too, 'don't have kids at NFA anymore', but still care about the school and so, too, should you. Something about no man is an island, though whether it's Block or Coney is always unclear to me.

And at 6:30 in Council Chambers in City Hall, it's a training session for the members of the Council on Zoning Rules and Regulations (and all this time I thought just like the old NBA, we had to play man-to-man defense. Live and learn, preferably in equal amounts).

Wednesday afternoon at 5:00, it's a regular meeting of the Emancipation Proclamation Commemorative Committee whose meeting minutes remain missing. Remember: history rhymes with mystery. Now roll up for the tour.

At 5:30 in the Kelly Middle School Library it's a regular meeting of the Norwich Public School's School Building Committee. This is where the minutes of the previous meeting would be, if they were but they're not, so they aren't. Subject to your questions, that will conclude my briefing.

At six, in the community room of the Greeneville Fire Department, it's a Matryoshka doll meeting (of sorts) with a regular session of  the Greeneville Neighborhood Revitalization Committee; you'll find their December meeting minutes, in draft form, here. The Matryoshka part comes from a second meeting inside this one-aimed at residents of the  "Greeneville/Taftville villages" (but the rest of us are welcome as well) soliciting input to update the City of Norwich Plan of Conservation and Development. If you're going, read this; if you're not going, why not? Whose job do you think it is to redesign where we live, if not ours?

And at seven, in Room 335 of City Call, it's a regular meeting of the Republican Town Committee. I wonder if they're going to solicit for volunteers for Newt Gingrich's moon colony? I'll bet their brethren across the aisle already have a nominee.

Thursday evening at seven, in the conference room of the Planning Department at 23 Union Street, it's a regular meeting of the Inlands Wetlands, Watercourses and Conservation Commission. You'll find their January meeting minutes here.

And that is that for this week in these parts, as far as public meetings go. That doesn't mean you get to sit at home and mutter about all the situations in Norwich you're unhappy about. The person to best affect change is staring back at you in the mirror. Do something and then do something else; as a mater of fact, keep doing something until it becomes a habit. Anytime you think you've thought of everything, think again and learn to fly. See you at something?
-bill kenny

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Killing the Muse in Music

Unless you're lactose intolerant, like me, you probably like ice cream. We may have flavors, chocolate chip or mocha swirl, we like more than others, and perhaps a few we're not enthused about, pistachio, I'm talking about you, but when asked we plead guilty to liking ice cream.

I'm the same way about music. I just like it-and I don't spend a lot of time labeling it though sometimes that does help, I suppose. I will admit I'm not a big fan of Rastafarian Country and Western and genres like crunk and death-metal don't do much for me (each sounds like a cat dropped in a blender, but I'm showing my age).

When I worked in broadcast radio I was always impressed by how many different idioms we could create to explain separate nuances of the same expression, all the different charts ranking song popularity in Billboard Magazine-while at the same time, the speaker in the car dashboard or sitting on the book shelf let the music flow.

Before any of us, okay, most of us, walked the earth, people figured out how to attract more ears to their respective radio stations, by playing music more, not fewer, people liked. This attracted audience, in turn, was delivered to advertisers who bought air time on those radio stations to sell us products. It stood to reason some of us would really like some of what we heard on the radio and would go to a brick and mortar shop to buy it to play at home (remember, this was a long time ago; if you're under thirty: think downloads but without a mouse or double clicking).

We had other people who would count how many of which songs sold, per week, per day, per hour in some cases, as if that meant anything and from all of that evolved the various charts, trend trackers, and other measurement devices that now allow us to do just about everything imaginable these days with music except enjoy it.

We have a variety of awards programs for different musics, though my genre, the 'dumb white guy with the bald spot, sliding his feet a little bit arrhythmical and humming off key' doesn't yet have a show (a boy can dream) but the Really Big Show is the Grammys (are the Grammys?) coming on 12 February. Maybe.

Starting this year the show will be streamlined as The National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences (thank goodness pomposity isn't a crime, eh?) slimmed and trimmed the multitudinous plethora of categories to a not-quite-so-large number. Fewer categories means fewer winners, and less exposure (in theory) and fewer opportunities to slap stickers on CD's that say "Grammy Nominated." Oh, you just said, this is about commercial advantage. Yeah, actually it is.Oh, I forgot to mention-they did this pruning back in April of last year. Check the calendar and now practice your look of surprise.

The Reverend Jesse Jackson's olfactory sense has detected injustice and perhaps oppression and he's decided to weigh in on this whole abridgment of expression of individual rights. My gratitude knows no bounds . I keep praying, play on words, Kirk Franklin intercedes and persuades him to turn his time and talents to something more in need of Divine Intervention. Otherwise, how long before the folks from the other side of the ideological swamp show up and there's so much yellin' and screamin', we'll have lost sight of the music we wanted to honor in the first place.

It'll be a miracle, another play on words (I am so on a roll!), if we get to hear any music at all on the night of the awards over the politics and posturing. Music, like other forms of expression, can build bridges between dissimilar people and bring them closer together. Or it can used to build walls to keep them apart. One note  at a time.
-bill kenny          

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Jip, Jip, Jorge!

Joe Dimaggio, who was the Yankee Clipper decades before he was Mr. Coffee, was famous for saying “I want to thank the Good Lord for making me a Yankee.” Tuesday afternoon, another Boy of Summer from a different decade of dominance, Jorge Posada, took his leave from the N. Y. Yankees and professional baseball and the Almighty deserves at least a tip of the cap.

Seventeen seasons, seven World Series and enough championship rings for a hand, to include the thumb, and the Core Four, Jeter, Petite, Posada and Rivera, are now the Dynamic Duo, Derek and Mo. When you’ve rooted for the Yankees your entire life, suggested a friend in Germany a lifetime ago, it’s like cheering General Motors (or applauding Consolidated Edison). In this case, fans feel like they've known these guys their whole (public) lives because they have.

No one, sorry FC Barcelona, Manchester United, AC Milan, Montreal Canadiens, or Boston Celtics, no one in professional sports has the tradition of continuous competitive excellence and success of the Bronx Bombers. I’m not a kid anymore, despite a degree of childishness some find disturbing, but following the Yankees is something I, as an old man, share with the boy I once was. They are like breathing out and breathing in-and if you root for a baseball team, any team, your aspiration and respiration are the same.

Jorge Posada was one of the homegrown players harvested from the Yankees farm system, transplanted to the most inconspicuous place in the entire media universe, The House that Ruth Built, who bloomed brilliantly and allowed a legendary franchise that had suffered a decade long doldrums through the early nineties to blossom once again.

Baseball, beneath all the myth and romance of “The Show” and “Field of Dreams” is a business. That’s why we fans can love Yogi Berra and Johnny Pesky while the owners fear Scott Boras (and why the latter is far more influential than the former in our National Pastime). Only in professional sports is a forty-year old man considered old and Jorge Posada is forty. His time for leaving had come and gone.

Pitchers and catchers will report for spring training in three weeks. This year Jorge Posada will join us in a bleacher seat somewhere while we root, root, root for the home team even though every time someone of his caliber leaves the field for the final time it gets just a little harder to remember when we were all kids at the sandlot and harder still to remember we were gonna play this game forever.  
-bill kenny

Friday, January 27, 2012

Seriously? Seriously!

I realize this is piling on and I don't blame you for being angry about what will, for all intents and purposes seem to be an egregiously cheap shot, except I swear the guy broke the branch off himself, whittled it down to a strong switch, put it in my hands, took two paces back, dropped his britches and begged me to wail away.

Newt Gingrich. I know, again. This time colonizing the moon and granting that colony statehood before his second term as President is over. I take back all the mean things I said about him just the other day (okay, now I'm lying, but Gingrich started it). I love this frickin' guy! Tell you who else does, too-Barack Obama, that's who.

Half a year ago, to hear people tell it, my Aunt Tillie could've whupped the incumbent President in an election. And now? Tillie is staying on the porch and the goofiest group of stuffed suits since the last Republican Presidential primary are playing whack-a-mole with one another as they roll across these, on occasion, United States.

Rick Sanctorum, Ron Paul, Mitt Romney, each of them have a special brand of crazy but nobody but Newt has the moon. Not just barking at it, my brothers and sisters, building a settlement on it, a second Plymouth Colony if you will. Someplace where the illegal aliens are us, again dammit! Sure, there are treaties and agreements about the moon and colonization; ask the Native Americans how well the US Government keeps its agreements. Help yourself to a blanket for your trouble. Take one home for the little lady, too.

The guy I visualize leaving an oil slick when he goes underwater in a swimming pool, that Newt Gingrich, is going to take up JFK's mantle--turns out they already had so much in common and now, to the moon, Alice. I can hear  Joe Cocker warbling at the Johnson Space Center already. Makes me thirsty just thinking about it. Can I offer you some Tang?
-bill kenny  

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Low Hanging Fruit

There are days that trying to be positive and upbeat and some kind of a happy idiot is just harder than it needs to be. All that Hooked on Phonics stuff later and I have a dickens of a time assembling a sentence; and gathering my thoughts can seem more like shepherding cats.

I had every intention of offering some clever and pithy observations on the retirement of Jorge Posada and the end of a Pinstripe Era, and I’m pretty confident I shall do just that real soon, but not today. On the way to here I fell over my current favorite useless mass of flesh on the planet, Kim Kardashian, who has had an even busier week than Mitt Romney’s tax accountant.

Tangent: I don’t understand the smiley-face talk shows on television weekday mornings usually after ‘news’ programs that look and smell an awful lot like the gabfests that are on to get us to noon news, soap operas and afternoon happy talk shows. Dear TV guys: when you don’t have anything to say, just sign off and go to black. I never disliked shows like “Regis & Kelly” or whatever permutation it is now; I just don’t care about them.

They are a platform that requires pap and pablum to remain on air. We already have the 24/7 news outlets getting lost in the tall grass, and if you don’t think so try to watch an hour of MSNBC or Faux Gnus not that CNN is all that much better. Talk is cheap goes the adage and in terms of production costs, talk is cheapest. We don’t have to budget a bunch ‘o’ bucks to host a lot of talking heads and they don’t get paid by the word.

Celebrities, which is what poor, little naive heart-broken Kim is (just ask her), aren’t a whole lot more expensive. They exist for no reason on earth that anyone has figured out-perhaps they always existed and we’ve gotten so stupid from the TV that’s built on them that we simply cannot remember what life was like before and without them. The Lindsays, Parises, Nicoles by the bushel and Jessicas by the freight car, plus a small city of people whose names we don’t remember because they themselves are so forgettable could well be an optical illusion since when you stare hard they do seem to disappear.

These folks have no visible means of support or even a reason for being. They’re passengers on a Streetcar Named Desire who’ve missed their stop, relying on the kindness of strangers, and that kindness grows stranger with every passing day.
-bill kenny

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Blue, Baby and Otherwise....

I was tempted to call this "Stopping by the Reid and Hughes Building on a Snowy Evening" but feared my attempt at an homage to Robert Frost would be unhappily received. Point in fact, I don't care but should really try to be nicer, so I shall.

In a downtown Norwich filled with broken promises and missed opportunities, the Reid and Hughes Building is neither. It's a piece of the city's past we've passed out of. I appreciate the hard work the volunteers on the Reid and Hughes Committee invested in their efforts with Becker and Becker to develop a plan to repurpose the building, but there comes a time when there is no longer time.  

The warmth of memories about this building's past which seem to be a primary component of the remarks offered to the City Council last Tuesday evening for redevelopment consideration simply don't survive the light of a new day when framing an argument for resuscitating another ruin. I wasn't here when Reid and Hughes was a landmark and a destination for downtown Norwich-from the photos I've seen, it must have been something. I arrived here quite some time ago, twenty years, and the building was broken, empty (and broke-ass) then. Time does NOT heal all wounds and the years haven't been kind to that building at all.

It's not just I who cannot recall Reid and Hughes being anything other than skeleton framework, empty and alone. Looking at the U. S. Census 2010 figures for Norwich, nearly 40% of all residents are 30 years old and younger, and have no memories of this building as a department store or anything else because it has been empty all of their lives.

We have confused cause and effect, yet again. Because we want 'something' to happen, we draw on misty-colored memories of glory days and suggest vaguely that history could repeat itself. We're all too polite to point out it never happens.

Try as we might to be 'data-driven' in our development decisions, we can't help ourselves when it comes to that old school tie. The difference between a rut and grave remains the depth of the habit. And when it comes to Reid and Hughes, old habits are hard to break. Just because a developer (on a grassy knoll?) hasn't shown up at City Hall in a pumpkin coach pulled by six mice transformed into horses, doesn't mean it won't happen today, or tomorrow at the latest. Will it help if we click our heels three times?

I applaud the optimism of the reclamation proposal but seriously, more ground floor retail space with high end apartments above street level at a cost no one can accurately forecast because the plan to make all of it happen is not much more than a conceptual framework?

At the risk of being called unfair let me point out we have (practically) an entire Chelsea downtown district in the same sad state with funding already in place for a voter-approved, professionally managed development program we hope will succeed but whose results are yet to be visible.

Norwich has more than enough buildings, once built and/or refurbished, that were going to 'turn downtown around'. We've turned around so much, I'm dizzy, and not with glee. There's Artspace, the Wauregan and the Mercantile Exchange, to name three; they're all lovely and, quite frankly, they're all islands, isolated and alone, not connected to a unified development program or to one another. Who among us wants to do the math on the total public dollars invested and the return on that investment? I don't have the heart for it.

I'm sorry Dwight Eisenhower's not the President anymore and, if it helps, I'll apologize for how cheap cars and even cheaper gas seduced us into moving farther and farther away from traditional city centers, basically abandoning them to those who made empty promises backed with empty pockets.

We have spent too much to continue to live in the past--too many dollars and far too many days. We like the past best when we can use it to hold our own future hostage. We do that too often and too well and the time for that to stop has arrived. We know how this story ends-it's time to turn the page and write not just a new chapter, but a new book.
-bill kenny            

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Sometimes this Stuff Writes Itself

The results of Saturday's Republican Party primary in South Carolina are in and former Speaker of the House (I almost typed ‘serial adulterer’ and then realized I did type it), Newt Gingrich, is the winner. (Now you know why I didn't need an exclamation mark at the end of that sentence) I’m not a member of Mr. Gingrich’s party so I ask your forbearance when I note, less than helpfully as is my wont, that the race among those (still) seeking the Grand Old Party’s nomination for president most closely resembles a ‘who is the tallest dwarf?’contest.

I keep wondering what happened to our democracy from the Revolutionary War until now. Look at the signers of the Declaration of Independence and then remember our American History about the earliest Presidents and leaders. I’m always amazed at the number of men (forget not the times in which our country was founded; we were pretty fly for only white guy(s)) who never became President. 

Fast forward to the here and now and we’re spoiled for choice. I’m supposed to believe the announced candidates and the incumbent are the very best we can do. Seriously? Anyone else think we should be getting a refund because we didn’t get the whole ride?  

Meanwhile, barreling towards Florida (look out, Mom! Stay indoors!), for whenever their primary is held (before B-I-N-G-O, that's for sure) are the Republicans with no clear-cut leader either in the polls or among themselves.  In all of that churn, meet Dr. Keith Ablow of Fox News Medical “A” Team (he looks nothing like George Peppard) who postulates Mr. Gingrich, or ‘King Bee’ as I like to think of him, would be  a better choice for President because of, not despite, his history of infidelity.

The good Doctor offers, “When three women want to sign on for life with a man who is running for president, I worry more about whether we’ll be clamoring for a third Gingrich term, not whether we’ll want to let him go after one.” Sounds like a graduate of of the Frito-Lay University School of Psychiatry or someone who's interested in just how thinly you can slice bovine excrement.   

  
I’m not sure I understand why Fox News has a Medical “A” Team or what their function is (purely decorative, perhaps?) though I am reasonably certain my health insurance doesn’t cover their use. We’ve all heard about the problems of fidelity FDR, JFK and Clinton all had  (I’m assuming with phonographs and radio receivers) so it’s refreshing, in a way, to elevate the whispers to screams this early in the contest. 

Besides, if Mr. Gingrich does capture the White House, we can all look forward to a serenade at one of the Inaugural Balls by Billy Paul. Perhaps as a sing-along?
-bill kenny

Monday, January 23, 2012

龙快乐的一年

Welcome to 4712,  the Year of the Dragon. If you're one who observes such customs, much fun and happiness with only a small portion of dragon (save room for dessert), unless that's considered poor form.

It's a busy week in these parts and not just in shoveling snow and other four letter words starting with 's.'

This morning at 7:30 unless the snow has changed their plans, it's an annual meeting of the Regional Planning Commission of the Southeastern Connecticut Council of Governments in their building in the Norwich Business Park. I did, to tell the truth, expect an agenda but would have been surprised had it actually been on their website.

At five, in Room 210 of City it's a regular meeting of the Redevelopment Agency, who are in the process of adding deeds to words, as evidenced by their agenda. .

Tuesday afternoon at 3:30 in their offices at 90 Town Street, it's a regular meeting of the Norwich Public Schools Board of Education Policy Committee, who last met, if their website posting of minutes is accurate (capital I and capital F), last June. Might want to work on rewriting the sentence at the top of the page, too.

At four, if necessary (i.e., a meeting is requested by someone appealing a decision), in the Planning Department conference Room, conveniently located in the Planning Department at 23 Union Street, it's a regular meeting of the Building Code Board of Appeals, whose page on the city's website is old and obsolete (unless, of course, it really is January of 2010).

At five, in Room 219 of City Hall it's a regular meeting of the Harbor Management Commission, whose agenda is very ambitious (and should be, or what's a heaven for) which is all the proof you should need that much must be done.

At six, in the conference room of the Norwich Public Utilities at 16 Golden Street, it's a doubleheader, as the Board of Public Utilities Commissioners and the Sewer Authority meet. I'm disappointed the excellent maintenance of the NPU website for meeting agenda and minutes is now a thing of the past, the distant past, as nothing has been updated since October(ish).

Also at six, in the Buckingham Memorial, it's a regular meeting of the Public Parking Commission, (I was taught to spell meetings with a silent and invisible Q) whose November minutes are here.

There's a note on the city's municipal meeting calendar for Wednesday about a 3:30 meeting of the Board of Education's Building and Space Committee but the note doesn't make a lot of sense (what was cancelled and when?) while a visit to the Norwich Public Schools' website makes even less sense. I enjoyed September 2010 immensely-not enough to want to stay there, but to each his own.

Wednesday, afternoon at five, in Room 319 of City Hall it's a regular meeting of the Emancipation Proclamation Commemorative Committee, whose listing on the city's website will occur, I'd hope, (if only) shortly before the actual 150th anniversary.

At 5:30 in the planning department conference room at 23 Union Street it's a regular meeting of the Dangerous Buildings Board of Review, whose most recent meeting minutes posted on line, November, are here. I think there should be a contest entitled "what does this mean" or perhaps "what language was this written in?" for Item 6 Public Comments.

At 6:00, as in o'clock  rather than million, is a regular meeting of the Reid & Hughes Committee whose report to the City Council last week, will be the subject of a public hearing at a Council meeting on February 21st. I'd point out the entries on the city's website are woefully outdated, but you suspected as much.

Also at six, in the Recreation Department offices at Dickenman Field, it's a regular meeting of the Recreation  Advisory Board. According to the city's website, the last meeting was, seemingly, in December of 2010. I'm happy they're not waiting any longer in this decade to hold a follow-up.

At seven, in their offices (the Mark Twain Pavilion?) on New London Turnpike, it's a regular meeting of the Norwich Golf Course whose December meeting minutes are here.

Thursday morning at 7:30, in the Norwich Inn and Spa (on Route 32), it's the annual meeting of the Norwich Community Development Corporation Board of Directors, whose regular meeting  minutes and agenda are available after accomplishing a mailing address request found here.

And at seven in the evening, in Room 335 of City Hall, it's a regular meeting of  Norwich Democratic Town Committee; maybe tonight's when they become their name.

If you have pictures of Norwich, here's your chance to let the rest of us see what you do. And if we all have to buy bigger wallets, maybe that's a store that could wind up in downtown(?)
  
Suspect more than a few of us are reconsidering that "I want a sled" wish we made at Christmas, but the exchange and refund window is closed for the season. We'll have to make the best of what we have, as has always been the case. Like most places on earth, we are a work in progress and can use all the helping hands we can get, to include yours. Put it there. See you at something?
-bill kenny

Sunday, January 22, 2012

He Lives in a Matchbox

I was very grateful we have had the winter we have had so far this season. I did not dance in the street all 'Look at me, I'm Sandra Dee' full of schadenfreude, while watching The Weather Channel reports on four feet of snow in Square Butte, Montana or Dickshooter, Idaho

I have patience, if not faith or hope. I figured we'd get ours. And we did. Something else I have is a snow blower. And while there are certainly other ways to spend not inconsequential portions of the weekend, reading Proust, digging Django are two that come to mind (though not mine), neither does a whole lot of positive about moving that pile of snow the city plow dumped at the foot of the driveway.  

Brute Force, and Ignorance-at your service. Five forward speeds and two reverse. Sometimes I'm not sure if I'm guiding the snowblower or an anchor it's trying to slip. Most of the time outside, I just pray it doesn't turn on me since next to nothing I've ever been involved in with it seems to so much as slow it down. Get too close to the chute and I'd have a whole new career in landscaping, as ground cover. 

We have four seasons here in New England. The fourth arrived, more or less, Friday. I suspect it'll be staying a spell, so keep the shovels and the scrappers close by. I keep mine on the shelf next to the snowblower, one of the finest inventions in the history of Christendom. While you stare at your boots, and the words float out like holograms, ponder that. If you don't think so, ask someone who owns one. My hand's up, feel free to call on me.
-bill kenny  

Saturday, January 21, 2012

That’s Why We Say “Man’s Best Friend”


If it weren’t for the unusual news on line, I could get through a world summary of daily events in less than a minute. Not because I speed read, mind you, but, rather, because I really don’t care. As someone who truly believes we are each tuned to WII-FM (What’s In It For Me), much of what some call news is for me, noise. Yes, the 'big world' is important but no, not much of what goes on in it is subject to any of my desires or demands. Merde!

In South Carolina today, members of the Republican Party will choose, well, they’ll choose the lesser of three evils, I guess (is that all that’s left?). There’s a guy who thinks it’s still 1811, and the one who isn’t just The 1% but more like POINT ONE % and don’t let me forget the Adulterer in Chief. But aside from that dab of drive-by snarkiness  (just to stay in shape), es macht doch nichts (it doesn’t matter). Enjoy yourself.

I live for the lunacy-for the implausible, for the ‘you cannot be serious’ dispatch. The item your eyes skim, the mouse has already double clicked, the screen has refreshed when your brain suddenly realizes what it just read, slams on the brakes and goes “waitaminit!” Up to the top of the screen you race, hit the back arrow and we have a pearl of great price, a story like this one, Man Tells Court it Was Dog Who Strangled Wife.


We wasted all that time in a tree house with Lassie, while the game was afoot? Actually my favorite part of this story was “Doz”, the commenter, wondering how long it took to train the dog. I’m a guy who has spent most of his life unclear about which end is for petting and which for pooping and this Dusseldorf Dog Lover not only trained his pooch to play dead but to play for keeps. Respekt!
-bill kenny

Friday, January 20, 2012

Where’s the Promise from Sea to Shining Sea?


As small kids in the primary grades at St Peter’s (sic) School in New Brunswick we took recess on the street to the side of the school that had police barricades set up and then taken down every school day, disrupting the traffic in and around the neighborhood. We children had no knowledge of that-we just knew to stay inside the area protected by the white saw horses with black lettering.

It wasn’t hard. We were, after all, Catholics, raised to believe in things we couldn’t see. If the saw horses kept us safe from cars, who were we to wonder how they did it? There were hundreds of us on a not large street and the turf battles between those in the ‘other’ grade (I was in 3B and our mortal enemy was 3A) were reasonably pacific but hard-fought nevertheless. Actually they were mostly staring contests that would end after minutes of peering at one another with someone sneeringly suggesting ‘why doncha take a pitcher? It’ll last longah.’ (I don’t have a Jersey Kid dialect type font on this keyboard. Who knew?)   

Perhaps a photograph might have lasted longer, but the folks who brought us Ektachrome and Kodachrome and Tri-X and Plus-X may not be around much longer. Eastman Kodak, the pride and joy of Rochester, New York, have filed for bankruptcy while vowing to remain in business. I remember  coming off the school bus up the driveway on Bloomfield Avenue and checking to see if the mailman had been there with a delivery from those faraway labs that processed  all the rolls of slide film Dad used to take. 

Years later, I and many others, discovered an alternate use for the metal screw top film containers that every cherry-top in New Brunswick also knew but never enforced otherwise most of the class of ’71 through’77 would have been wearing caps and gowns in lock-up.  Few things, to me, are more “American” (whatever that means) than Kodak. And underscoring how God has a skewed sense of humor, overshadowed or smoke-screened by the Kodak story, is Boeing’s decision to close up shop in Wichita, Kansas, after 80 years. “Them steady jobs, they’re going, boys, and they ain’t coming back.”

This is a Presidential election year-one of the parties is electing the President of South Carolina tomorrow and after the seers read the entrails of whatever animal is slaughtered they’ll unearth the significance of what didn’t happen, and people who don’t know what it means (mostly cable news because their audience never realizes they’re smarter than the people in the box) will attempt to explain it to people who don’t care (us).

It’s important, maybe, but, dammit Janet, we’ve got football this weekend to see who’s going to the Super Bowl in a sport no one else on earth plays, which may be why we still can boast of being the best at it. National priorities and concerns such as the National Defense Authorization Act, Stop Online Piracy Act and the like will bother us another day, if we remember, but not this Saturday and Sunday. Call the turn-down service and leave a wake-up call for after the Super Bowl (but before the NBA play-offs).

Good thing we’ve got cameras in our phones now. Otherwise, we might not have pictures of the fly-over they do before the kickoff. What was that about the planes
-bill kenny 

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Kaddish


I never met him, except through the ether and the wires of the Internet. I made his acquaintance through Floyd’s old board in August of 2001, unaware that his effort was still fledgling and fluctuating.

Bob had served in the radio newsroom of the American Forces Network Europe, the largest affiliate of the largest radio and television operation in the world that you’ve probably never heard of, about half a decade before I had arrived there.

That was as close as we ever got to meeting. He had been in Vietnam before he had been in Germany and shortly after the assignment in Frankfurt he, recently married, decided to pursue his broadcasting on the home front, in this case in South Carolina.

Sometime between working for the ABC (I think) affiliate in Charlotte, pursuing photography (really his first love) and living quietly with his wife, he found the time to start up a newsletter before all of this world wide web stuff was even a gleam in Al G’s eye. I’d hate to think what he spent in postage, but I know he didn’t regard it as an expense or as work.

The newsletter, as I said, became a Yahoo group which was an accurate enough descriptive as well as being the name of the ISP that supported it. In short order he went from a handful of subscribers to a fistful to an armful to well over four hundred.

I knew him for over a decade and admired his ability to keep hundreds of thin-skinned, large-egoed buttheads (it takes one to know one, she said) who loved to hear ourselves talk, or in this case, type, from eating one another hair and all (the good news was some of us were getting up in years and hair was a rationed commodity). Someone had to use a chair and a whip on occasion and Bob was that someone.

His online group, I think a therapy for him, was the bridge many of us from different decades of service used to find one another. In many instances that notorious six degrees of separation often only reached three and you would be among friends.

His health was never good. He had COPD when I first began corresponding with him and within a few years he was alone as his wife was ravaged by Alzheimer’s and his own health continued to fail. We spoke once years earlier when I called him after he had been hospitalized for a shortness of breath that nearly killed him. He was in constant pain and used his time online with his virtual friends to distract himself while amusing and amazing all of us.

Despite his history it was still an unhappy surprise two days ago to read a posting by someone (else) whom I didn’t know, telling all of us he was hospitalized yet again and was failing badly and rapidly. The watch started and the stream of updates was relentlessly grim. Each posted report was bleaker than the one preceding it. His heart and lungs, weakened from five or so decades of three plus packs of cigarettes a day, betrayed him and it was his sister, Bea, who had to decide to remove him from life support when all that could be done had been.

Bob assisted by accomplishing DNR and end of life directives years earlier. I can still recall exchanges he and I had on the subject and the eloquence with which wrote underscored the  passion he felt on the decisions he was making. Yesterday afternoon it was time. He lived an unassuming, purpose-driven life, and his departure reflected all of that.  

Large events moved across the world’s stage, thundering and reverberating as they will. In the silence between those rolls of thunder, Bob stopped hurting, finally, took his leave and hundreds of us across the globe and across the generations, can do nothing more than try to hold back our tears, remember the kind words and warm thoughts and be glad we knew him.

If prayers can help, and I’ve long since stopped believing they do, then I hope for the departed and those left behind, here’s one that does.                  
-bill kenny

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Leslie Gore and Will Rogers Move to Norwich

I thought about a delightful quote from Will Rogers last week while reading about the indoor fireworks at the Democratic Town Committee meeting that seemed to suggest while the Town Committee is bigger than any one person, there is at least one person, Greeneville's Ron Ward, for whom it has no room at all.

Rogers once offered, "I belong to no organized party. I am a Democrat." And while he reportedly never met a man he didn't like, there's no record of his ever visiting Norwich which might have put his legendary amiability to a severe test.

I'm NOT butting in, or piling on, when I comment about what went on last Thursday. I'm a registered Democrat--only because I thought years ago I'd get a chance to vote for Bill Bradley in a Presidential primary that eventually went to Al Gore. So, in that sense, Mr. Ward and I are in the same party (as are all those chosen to serve on the DTC for the 46th, 47th and 139th districts), though there are probably some members less than happy about how all of that worked out.

Freedom to disagree or to be disagreeable are not actually enumerated in the Bill of Rights, but they don't need to be expressed as they are implied within the protections of freedom of speech. As a practical matter, freedom of speech is often hardest to defend when you don't like what's being said or who is saying it. And for months people took exception to things Mr. Ward has said or done. That, is their right, freedom of association for which they need not apologize in much the same manner as Mr. Ward need not change his beliefs to accommodate or appease anyone else.

Quite frankly, from what I know of him, he wouldn't, even if he could, so it's just as well he can't or won't. I am chagrined when stories like this make the front page, and our front lobes, not because, channeling Rodney King, I wonder, "Can we all just get along? (Mom raised crazy children, not stupid ones) but because we have so many other and more important concerns and challenges facing us as a city, a state and as a nation.

An intra-party quarrel over membership on a committee that by the end of the evening still had vacancies seems childish very probably because it is childish. We can do better than behave in a manner first described by that well-known political scientist, Leslie Gore, and acknowledge political parties are often  alliances of convenience for a greater good than any of its members, alone, can achieve.

And for Ward's supporters, and he had (and has) them, who see  the Norwich DTC as an 'old boys club," remember the words of  Karl Marx's brother, Groucho, "I don't want to belong to any club that would have me as a member." Seriously.
-bill kenny    

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

The Earnestness of Everyday Returns

The business of local governance at least here in Norwich resumes Today, and is impressive for both potential importance as well as impact and influence. This afternoon at 5:30 in the Latham Science Center on the campus of the Norwich Free Academy, it's a regular meeting (and first one of the year) of the Board of Trustees whose November meeting minutes are here.

At six, in Room 319 at City Hall it's a regular meeting of Personnel and Pension Board, whose late December meeting minutes are here. Some of  the appointment dates listed on line for members can do with some freshening up. At seven, in Room 335, in City Hall, Republicans meet to endorse candidates for election to their Town Committee. If either Mark Burnett or Ron Ward are in the area, there's a rumor that these folks have snacks (unlike those other guys).

Also at seven in the Planning Department's conference room at 23 Union Street, it's a regular meeting of the Commission on the City Plan. A review of their meeting agenda doesn't suggest any items the City Council can completely ignore, but perhaps something will be added under suspension of the rules. Kidding aside, the City Council meets at 7:30 in Council chambers with a full agenda to include the report of the Reid & Hughes Committee and a not small amount of housekeeping on appointments to committees.

Wednesday morning at 8:30 in their offices in the Norwich Business Park it's a regular meeting of the Southeastern Connecticut Council of Governments whose meeting agenda is absent, along with their December 2011 minutes, from their website. Imagine my surprise (c'mon you can do better than that).

At nine, in The Dime Bank (on Route 82) Community Meeting Room, it's a regular meeting of the Norwich School Readiness Council (Children First) whose web presence continues to be little more than a rumor.  They're not on the city's site and their own site is old and badly outdated, to be kind. Their Facebook page was last updated a month ago, before all the schools had a holiday break.

At five, in Room 319 of City Hall is another regular (they meet weekly) meeting of the Emancipation Proclamation Commemorative Committee, which, aside from the meeting calendar, still hasn't surfaced anywhere on city's website, most especially the listing of 'Boards, Commissions, Committees and Authorities' (I don't know why they're not alphabetical, either).

Thursday afternoon, at five thirty in the Norwich Arts Council Coop office at 60-64 Broadway, it's a regular meeting of the Downtown Neighborhood Revitalization Zone (NRZ) whose page on the city's website remains a work in progress with no progress to report. Not sure what those who are supposed to be responsible for the city's website maintenance and update do, but this ain't it, or even close to it.

At six, in The Rink on New London Turnpike, it's a regular meeting of the Norwich Ice Arena Authority. Again, nice work on updating the city's website (I couldn't find the snarky font). Perhaps the problem is Thursday? Here's their Facebook page which is more current than the municipal website, sort of.

Friday morning at nine, in Room 319 of City Hall, it's a regular meeting of Chelsea Gardens Foundation but you'll have to look elsewhere aside from the city's website to find out anything about it (except it's very successful in getting financial support from the Sachem Fund). Their website is here and you can join their mailing list, which I did, though your mileage may vary.

And Saturday morning at nine, at the Laurel Hill Volunteer Fire Department, it's One City Forum. I'd tell you what we've gotten accomplished so far, but I've been sworn to secrecy (actually there was just a lot of swearing; I'm not sure how secret it was). My point is if you keep sitting around thinking 'somebody should really do something' why not join us and be the Somebody. Although sometimes, I admit, we may call you another name (but never to your face, promise). See you at something?
-bill kenny

Monday, January 16, 2012

And May Your Dreams Be Realized

If we here in the Land of the Red, White and Blue Round Doorknobs can't make it a three day holiday, we may not observe it at all. Yesterday was the 83nd birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr..James Earl Ray made sure he would never have to blow out all those candles by murdering him almost forty-four years ago. The deaths of American icons you've read about in history class in school, JFK, Dr. King and Bobby Kennedy, I was alive for all three and lack the words to tell you what we were like as a nation before their passings but I assure you we are better people because they lived.

I was a high school sophomore, a pimply too-loud white preppie kid, wandering around Washington D. C. on a school trip my father organized through the middle of  Resurrection City, just weeks after Dr. King's assassination. I was stunned at the scale and scope of the settlement, the audacity and eloquence of the vision that propelled and compelled it into existence and the pervasiveness of the poverty and despair that made it inevitable and necessary. Reinventing American society so that the reasons why it had to be would became history and aren't part of our present or future, is a part of the legacy of Dr. King.

Today across the country there are ceremonies and commemorations. Ours in Norwich at City Hall starts at a quarter of two this afternoon with some speeching, a little preaching (I suspect, having attended this every year for the better part of a decade) as well as singing followed by a march to Evans Memorial African Methodist Episcopal Church for warming words on what is usually a typical New England winter's day and then we'll all go home, back to the lives we lead and the people we are.

I hope this year, unlike any other before it, across this country, we can seize a moment from whatever we do today to celebrate the dream of Dr. King, make it our own and keep it on our hearts. And then, beginning tomorrow for all the days that remain, use it as a fulcrum, as he did, to change the world. Again.
-bill kenny        

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Of Course!

It felt Friday around here as if Winter has started to arrive. We had just about every kind of weather you can have all in the same day (Tony would have appreciated the idea, I'm sure, but, perhaps wondered a bit about the zealousness of our execution). By late afternoon we had rather ferocious winds sweeping across the region from Bar Harbor to Cape Hatteras with some unkind gusts thrown in for good measure.

When I got up yesterday morning it was about twelve degrees Fahrenheit cooler than it had been on Friday. So crisp, in fact, that the weather station our son got us a decade ago with outside monitors that transmit their readings wirelessly to the collection station were on strike. All I could read for temperature was "--.--" which is Radio Shack weather station code for 'get your butt out on the porch and see for yourself." I enjoy the notion the temperature readout offers decimals on every degree as if 28.1 feels warmer than 27.9.

I don't mind winter's arrival because there's not much I can do about  it (pouting, while therapeutic, changes nothing) and I figure we got away, so far, with about five more weeks of Autumn than we usually have, so it's all good. Out for a morning walk I was reassured at my own mortality because I could see my breath with every stride and I had the sidewalks to myself around Chelsea Parade and Washington Street (allowing  the cars on Washington to stay where they belong and I'll do likewise).

Coming towards me, and making me shiver just to look at him was a man with black baggy shorts and a dark (not Navy) blue tee shirt with some kind of  writing on the shirt. He wasn't running but he was power walking at a pretty good rate. As he neared I could see his footwear was a set of those new (to me) sneakers that are like having a second skin and, say devotees, make you feel like you're running barefoot. Considering the number and texture of surprises lurking in the grass throughout Chelsea Parade, I'm not sure how much of the attractiveness of  barefooting argument I'm buying.

As we briefly met and then passed one another, I saw the lettering on his tee-shirt, "University of Alaska Track and Field." Proving again there's no place like Nome. Well-played, sir!
-bill kenny    

Saturday, January 14, 2012

The Triumph of the Old School Tie

I’m not sure if it’s the three-day holiday weekends that attract the odd news or vice versa (I’m thinking not so much versa as opposed to salsa but that’s how I roll) but I suspect attempting to get from Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., to Christie Carr of Broken Arrow, Oklahoma, and not exceed the legendary six degrees of separation may be close to impossible. As it is, getting from Christie to Irwin is quite a leap, figuratively if not physically.

Read this for yourself; I’ll wait here.  Our children are fans of something called First World Problems, and its thousands of variations and permutations and Christie and Irwin are, I imagine, somewhere in all of that. I appreciate the story’s thoughtful sidebar on “What States Allow Ownership of Exotic Pets?” This is exactly why God (and His servant, Al Gore) invented the Internet. My initial reaction is Oh My. (Tell me Bert Lahr doesn’t know a set-up when he hears one.)

I know someone from Oklahoma-we met when he wasn’t there but in Germany. He has since returned (someone paid the deposit I guess) and lives, I think, in Tulsa. He has a doctorate and a marvelous life with a wonderful family, but does not own a kangaroo so I can’t claim to have the all-important ‘eyes on the ground’ to get me any real-life, real-time background.

I admire the reporter’s straight face while noting Christie “dresses (Irwin) up each time he leaves the house. The clothes — a little boy's shirt cut and sewed to accommodate his neck, sometimes a tie, and jeans or slacks with a hole cut for the tail — are necessary for therapeutic reasons and to protect him against germs.”  All this time, I thought that flu shot I got in the Walgreens in October was why I hadn’t had a cold. I wear a shirt and tie every work day-I think those vaccine guys got some ‘splaining to do. 

Stories like this are why I’m happy nothing else on the planet knows how to read. If other species get wind of how goofy we are, some of them might to tell us to take our opposable thumbs and big brains and go pound sand.  And now thanks to that damn list, we know exactly how near the animals with the tools and teeth to back that up have to travel.  Terrific. I’ll go into the basement now and get the suitcases because we may need them sooner than we think.

And that won’t end happily either as I suspect Irwin will have gotten so used to riding shotgun on the drive to McAlester, he’ll be a real delight to travel with. Whatever you do, Christie, don’t let him order at the drive thru window at the Jack in the Box. That line of cars behind you will end up stretching past Lake Talawande all the way to Bugtussle. 
-bill kenny  
 -bill kenny

Friday, January 13, 2012

Sink or Swim


We’re having a lot of rain mostly in piddles, but not puddles, the kind of rain when you wear glasses you squint a bunch and more extremely as you walk along because these microscopic drops eventually adversely impact your vision (insert your “feel like a registered Republican in a primary state” joke here) and you wind up in places you hadn’t intended. Today is a lot colder than it's been so the drops can sting a bit.

I shouldn’t complain, not because I haven’t had enough practice at it (ha-ha thunk! The sound of me laughing my as-head off ), but because it’s the middle of January in the middle of winter in the middle of Norwich, Connecticut, in the middle of New England and we have rain and not snow. Not snow is my favorite kind of weather. Actually “I Can’t Believe It’s Not Bubonic Plague Weather” is my favorite, but not snow is a photo finish second.

 I work with someone who believes I should feel cheated because I bought a snow blower three years ago ‘and you hardly ever get to use it.’ Yeah, it sucks to be me. I’m so disconsolate I’m organizing a block-size pity party for myself about that. As long as I don’t have to reschedule it because of snow, and no one arrives for it in a sleigh, I’m delirious with delight over what I don’t have to use.

None of that has anything to do with this. I was speaking of places I hadn’t intended to travel and I wound up yesterday someplace I’ll blame on a Jersey Girl (actually a woman, sorry Tom) I’ll never meet and of whom you may not have heard (yet) but probably will after she grabs a Grammy this year, Linda Chorney. She cracks me up with her blog but what I most appreciate is the sound her music and lyrics make together. As someone who’ll always regard New Jersey as my home state she makes music that tells me I’m there, even when I’m not.

And yet, that’s still not it. Actually, this is. This fellow writes so effortlessly, he makes me want to unplug my keyboard, dig a hole in the backyard and bury it because I’m really wasting my time. And while I appreciate the offer of your shovel, I was (of course) speaking metaphorically. Nice try. Snark much?
Sometimes the path less traveled proves to be a trap but other times it reveals itself to be a treasure.
-bill kenny

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Happy Trails Has Fewer Letters


Sometimes we end up learning stuff we didn’t set out to learn about mostly because we live in a world of converging and colliding information. Not that long ago it was sort of funny that we took a goofy word,  google and used it as the name of a search engine and then made it a verb and then a gerund and practically baked it in a pie with four and twenty blackbirds.

Speaking of which in rapid order, we started tweeting about stuff we’d googled, and vice versa and then to a far greater degree than we ever did with my space we facebooked everything on earth at least twice. I have long believed that in the face of the events of 9-11and the total failure to successfully impose any order and understanding on what happened and why, we constructed a pink noise generator to insulate our world so we need no longer fear being alone, ever. Hi-Ho.

We live out loud online all the time. That’s what this is, in a less flamboyant way than just about anything else you’ll encounter on any given day of the week out here in the ether. That I’m not advocating we galvanize babies at birth, put the steering wheels of motor vehicles in the center of the front seat or authorize pony rides for everyone’s birthday doesn’t mean I’m sane or that this collection of electrons isn’t a cry for attention. I just can’t be pushy enough to become a roadside attraction; we should both count our blessings.

Our world has become a fever ward where our ability to tell one another the most excruciatingly embarrassing things vastly exceeds our desire to know and overwhelms any obligation to care. Take this “news” story at whatever level you like, and tell me I’m wrong to cringe.  I appreciate your unhappiness over the lack of imagery to support the copy. An editorial consideration, I’m sure.

Of course I have questions, as if you don’t. For openers:  does the big gentleman work for a travel agency? What is the rate of incidence for this type of phenomenon (is that the word to use? And if not, what is?)? Who keeps them and where? And how did he know the words were all spelled correctly?

Somewhere Trigger just whinnied as if to ask is that a handheld needle in your pocket or are you just happy to see me? Happy Trails, little buckaroo, which rhymes with tattoo. Just how many letters is Dr. Wilbur Daffodil-11 Swain and will anyone need to buy a vowel?
-bill kenny

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

A Day of Miracles and Wonder

Often we go through life missing and mourning what we don't have instead of celebrating that which we do. We live in an age where the miraculous has been often reduced to the mundane and where amazing is perceived as commonplace.

Not all of us can enjoy all this amazement all the time. Javon Oates has learned a great deal about advances in medical science in the course of his life-but his life has been only a little longer than a year so perhaps you've already guessed Javon has challenges.

Actually what Javon has is Pfeiffer Syndrome, Type II, a genetic condition resulting in a premature fusion of certain bones of the skull that prevents further growth of the skull affecting the shape of the head and face. Pfeiffer Syndrome occurs about once in every 100,000 births

Javon has already had nearly two dozen separate operations and is currently in the Intensive Care Unit at the University of North Carolina Children's Hospital in Chapel Hill. His mom, Dawn, is from Norwich but she and her family have recently relocated to North Carolina. Because of his hospitalization, Javon's family are facing hard times with a long road ahead of all of them.

Shem Adams, and Shirely Briones, the owners of Phillys, A Taste of Philadelphia, at 32 Sherman Street, concede they can't do everything but know they can do something. And today is the day you can, too. From the opening at 11 AM until closing tonight at 7, today is Javon's Day at Phillys. All of today's profits will be donated to Dawn. You can help out on line, too, by going to http://javonoatesfund.chipin.com/javons-fund and making a donation.

Having an authentic Philly Cheese Steak, Ivo, Kobe, Stilt, Doctor, or Broad Street Bully (it's a Philadelphia thing, you wouldn't understand) will not only make your stomach smile because they're just that delicious but will also be helping out a family in need.

Phillys has been a phriend to Norwich neighbors since it first opened in July, helping celebrate a Cheez-Whiz covered conclusion to a successful 2011 season by the Norwich Free Academy football team this past fall and if you can't come to them, place your order at 860.912.1057 and they'll come to you.

Philadelphia is known as the City of Brotherly Love, and, Phillys, its embassy here in The Rose City is doing what it can, courtesy of some mad grill skills, to spread smiles as wide and deep as the dipping sauce on the pizza fries. Today, help Javon but help yourself to some extra napkins-because it you're not getting messy while eating one of these sandwiches, you're just not doing it right.
-bill kenny        

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

William and Shirley


A rose by any other name would smell as sweet” which is all well and good Julie baby, but what should one make of an inmate in Madison, Wisconsin who goes by the moniker Beezow Doo-Doo Zopittybop-Bop-Bop. You just know he’s the kind of guy who, in response to ‘how do you spell that?’ deadpans with ‘just the way it sounds.’

This is why I love the United States. We used to make things here-important, solid, somber things from cars the size of city blocks that handled like double beds with box springs to rockets that took people to the Moon and, more importantly, brought them back home again. No more.

We all fell in love with getting our MBAs and maximizing our ROIs and not too long after that we stopped making just about everything except a horse’s behind (sorry Bentley) out of ourselves for the amusement of the rest of the planet. I’m surprised every US birth certificate doesn’t come with a complementary red nose, a squirting flower and really big, floppy shoes.

Especially for someone named Beezow Doo-Doo Zopittybop-Bop-Bop-it just rolls off the tongue, don’t it? I suspect instead of an ambulance, his pregnant mom went to the hospital’s delivery room in a clown car.  Of course, that’s not really true. Bill Novak, crack crime reporter (pause for the back of the room to get the joke… and we’re walking) explains this tongue twister of a miscreant spent most of the first three decades on Earth answering to “Jeff.”  

I wanted more than this unassuming crime in the heartlands story could have ever had on the why (because we like you!)of how  B-E-E-Z-O-W became who he is and not a name formed from the Periodic Table of Elements (which, by the way, will always be incomplete until it includes the Element of Surprise).  Between us, I suspect his first night on the cell block no one was calling him Beezow Doo-Doo Zopittybop-Bop-Bop. Talk about a little trick with Nick? You wouldn’t believe the magic behind making a cellmate disappear for an hour.
-bill kenny