Friday, November 30, 2007

"They'll find no tracks of ours..."

I stopped listening to over-the-air radio in my car about eighteen months ago. Someone stole it out of my car. Brrrrmmp (just kidding. Perhaps the only blog that has its own drummer).

Radio here in SE Connecticut isn't that difficult to stop listening to--it's uniformly terrible. The chatter on the police and fire radio frequencies (trouble calls, et al), is better than most of the programming on the stations in this region. Not sure why, exactly and not completely comfortable with it being 'the radio guys' fault' only. No one steps into the same river twice, because both he and the river have changed (and take off that banana hammock, dude. Chiquita just called and threatened to sue).

Purchased a satellite radio receiver and, combined with the CD and cassette player and (of course) the AM/FM (and weather) car radio, I'm well served in terms of tunes. Someday, I'll actually drive the car out of the garage (that'll probably improve the sat radio reception) and maybe take it for a spin, but right now I'm still panelling the backseat and putting in a whirlpool. One step at a time.
BTW, who listens to weather radio and for how long at one sitting? I have NO life and I find it boring nearly beyond words so what do real people make of it? And how the heck does it make money for whoever puts it on?

The other day on Sat radio I stumbled across the 'punk channel' ("Anarchy! It's nothing but vintage and new punk rock music.") and all I can say to mom and dad is "I'm sorry for making fun." I always thought the folks you grew up listening to, Perry Como, Jerry Vale and that lot were awful (actually I still think they are) but I don't think I want my kids finding my collection of CDs from The Mighty, Mighty Bosstones, or The Dead Kennedys (though 'Holiday in Cambodia' isn't without its moments) or humming along to Jim Carroll's "People Who Died".
When they were smaller, I feared one of them might bring a Uriah Heep elpee (The Magician's Birthday, as an example) to school for show and tell on a day when the DARE police officer, Bill Nash, was in the classroom and then I'd have had some real explaining to do. Talk about the changing river. Earlier this month we elected the now-retired-from-the-police-force Bill Nash to the Norwich City Council. Hey! I told you to get rid of the swim trunks! You're leaving a puddle on the kitchen floor.

Anyway. This punk channel stuff is amazing and awful, often simultaneously. Tons of stuff I remember from my young and innocent days: Black Flag, Sex Pistols, Ramones, Buzzcocks, Motorhead (never thought of them as punk-more the predecessors of thrash rock) and more recent acts like NOFX and Social Distortion (well, they're more recent to me) and The Dropkick Murphys who, I've read, are a Celtic punk band from Cambridge, Massachusetts. Imagine that must be, at times, a little like being a Rastafarian country and western band in the South Bronx.

Lots of anger, tons of outrage, continents of contempt. My kingdom for a melody.
Was it always this strident? And in the mixes (and why, for crying out loud, did so much of it sound like it had been mixed through a wet sweat sock anyway?) where you can understand the vocals, how come the lyrics sound so lame now but sounded so vital and vibrant then?
How did it happen that all the things that made you clench your fist and thrust it in the air in syncopation with some glue-sniffing minimalistic drummer, are now so quaint and so of another time? This station is my new guilty pleasure, but I make sure I switch to a CD when one of the kids or my wife gets into the car. After all, I have an image to maintain.
Besides, "Starry-eyed and laughing as I recall when we were caught."
-bill kenny

Thursday, November 29, 2007

"An Army of Lovers Cannot Be Beaten"

At least, in theory, that was Rosa Luxemburg's belief as she and Karl Liebknecht led their Spartacist League comrades into the streets of Berlin as World War I was ending, both for Kaiser Wilhelm and Imperial Germany. Despite their sincerity and well-meaning, they lost a lot more than just the discussion to the overwhelming logic, eloquence and (most especially) arms of the Freikorps, as Germany began a descent into madness that drove all of Europe and nearly all of the world into a darkness that lasted until May of 1945.

Being a nice person who means well, goes only so far. I visit an endocrinologist who is probably a very nice man with many, if not all, of his other patients. Being the persnickety and prickly person that I am (a/k/a 'a pain in the' well-known body part), I can't really afford the luxury of having a pal as my physician.
I actually need someone who scares me into doing the right thing to avoid punishment/conflict, because while the reward for doing the right thing should be, indeed, the knowledge that you have done the right thing, that idea doesn't seem to ring the bell for me.
Not sure why and suspect my doctor doesn't know why either.

Neither of us actually care-we're not going shoe-shopping or picking out drapes for the waiting room (though, sitting out there yesterday, I couldn't help but feel some new ones might be in order; but I digress).

Life is choices and maybe one of the bigger ones is:
do you surround yourself with people who mean well, but don't necessarily do well? (I call them stumblebunnies. I used to have another name for them, but my wife made me stop using it in front of the kids)
Or do you embrace those who can get done that which you, and they, feel needs to be done?

The right thing isn't always the popular thing. Last week's crowd at the parade in your honor are now an angry mob howling for your head. Feel free to review the New Testament for an illustration of that concept. What can you do except be true to the vision you have of what "right" is.

As Rosa less famously, but more presciently, noted, "Freedom is always, and exclusively, for the one who thinks differently."
Be an exclamation, not an explanation.
-bill kenny

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

What a wonderful, wonderful world

"Don't know much about real estate.
Got the brains of a paper plate.
Got no use for a party dress
Cos all I like to do is second-guess."
-"Wonderful World" by Sam (Too Many) Cook(es Spoil the Harbor)

Not exactly a happy story in one of today's local papers about yet another casualty of the downturn in real estate right here in the Rose of New England. Turns out a mondo condo project on the waterfront, promoted with the promise of helping turn the area into a beautiful swan has shown itself to bit more of an ugly duckling than anyone would have imagined.

Article in the newspaper has two of the self-styled movers and shakers of redeveloping the Norwich Harbor tsk-tsking about the project and pointing out that they NEVER thought it was a good idea for where it was when it was proposed.
One of the pair has quite a few holdings in the harbor area, to include a miniature golf course with a volcanic eruption every fifteen minutes, that has been closed for quite some time because of a fire that caused a LOT of damage. Et tu, Tiger Woods?

The other harbor booster owns a junkyard right on the water's edge, on the opposite shore from the condo project. Both pointed out in great detail in today's paper how they testified before various development agencies, repeatedly, how this project would be a bust. Nostradamus must be very proud. I, on the other hand, am a little puzzled because I attended two of the meetings at which these misgivings were voiced, and I have no recollection of hearing their concerns at the time.
As a matter of fact, I can't even recall seeing either of them (I am a compulsive note taker and they appear nowhere in my Chronicle of Riddick). Must have been the lighting in the rooms.

There are six phases to every project, private or public:
1: Enthusiasm
2: Disillusionment
3: Fear
4: Search for the Guilty
5: Punishment of the Innocent and
6: Rewards and Honors for the Non-Participants

I am always impressed at how quickly we get to Phase Four.
If they ever make hindsight an Olympic Event, we'd see most of Norwich stampeding to the medals podium.
-bill kenny

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Duplicate Prizes in the event of ties.....

From the time I started working in radio, part-time, in prep school (that was really full-time, btw), for a large number of years, I could get away with dressing in jeans, or chinos, and a tee-shirt. Later, I moved up to 'casual slacks' (they're not just for casual Fridays anymore, y'know) and open-necked rugby shirts.

Americans get confused on rugby shirts, a lot. The ones with VERTICAL stripes are soccer shirts, and every stamp collector who followed World Cup '94 discovered the USA had no clue when our postal system, the USPS (the same folks who can't consistently and correctly deliver mail even when the address is printed on the front of the letter) issued commemorative stamps for the year we hosted the cup, and on the stamps were artists' renderings of soccer players (a/k/a footballers everywhere but here) all wearing horizontal striped shirts, meaning they were actually wearing rugby shirts. Team USA made it to the round of 16, not that a lot of us wrote home all excited about that development.

At some point, I 'graduated' to being a grown-up--and had to go out and get the costume for the grown-up job. So now I have pants with creases and a very small number of pockets, all with an extremely finite capacity (I used to love cargo jump pants with a hundred pockets and practically enough room to put a broadcast Betacam AND a Sachtler tripod in them) and shirts with collars, and lots of ties.

My wife organizes all of the clothes I wear because otherwise I'd just buy ten or twenty of the same everything: pants, shirts, socks, shoes, the whole rigmarole, and do my homage to Groundhog Day (I do resemble Bill Murray, come to think of it. When he's asleep).

What's that it says in the teeny-tiny print on the back of the lottery tickets?
'In the event of ties, duplicate prizes will be awarded.' Well! Back that Duplicate Prize Patrol van up to my house! Can I trade in all the duplicate prizes for one original one?
Who do I have to see to do that?
-bill kenny

Monday, November 26, 2007

Sometimes the things we do speak so loudly, I can't hear what we're saying

Have you started on your Christmas shopping yet?
I know, I'm supposed to say 'holiday' shopping in the interests of inclusivity and that's what I mean, but I revert to what I called it when I was a kid and we called it Christmas shopping.

In trying to explain to my two (sort of adult) children where their old man grew up, I realized the other day that until I went to prep school I didn't actually know anybody who wasn't a Roman Catholic. It just seems everyone I grew up were the same people I went to Mass with.

I always smile when I think of Monsignor Harding, whose first name I never knew (I may have been a full grown-up before realizing he undoubtedly had a first name. I just never heard it spoken aloud by anyone, that's for sure.) as he heard Confessions every Friday morning in the basement of St Peter Church which is where Sister Mary Jean marched all of us from Class 8-A on a weekly basis.

For the life of me, I couldn't understand what this woman thought we did all week that we had to confess every Friday. Sometimes, I actually made stuff up because I wasn't sure I had enough sins. Yes, I know now that lying about sin is, in itself, a sin, but I was thirteen and working on mysteries without a clue. I grasped the sanctity of the confessional and was scared silly at how dark it was 'in the booth' when I closed the door. For a moment, it was just me and God.

I could always sort of hear, but very muffled, Monsignor talking to the miscreant at the other partition and when I heard that window slide shut, I knew the drill: Monsignor was pivoting on his chair to my side, and was sliding open the door. Release the hounds....

Sign of the Cross and Bless me Father for I have sinned.
It has been one week since my last confession.
What would I say to him now? It's been nearly forty years, Monsignor; funny how time slips away.
Monsignor would always assure us eighth-graders that when he exited the Confessional, he could remember NONE of what had gone on inside and yet......on more than one occasion, when I'd offer 'I fought with my sister' or 'I was mean to my little brother', I could hear him sigh as he'd say, 'Billy, you did that last week! Will you never learn?'
And I'd straighten up on the kneeler and soto-vocce my defense, 'you said you don't remember this stuff outside the box!'
'Well, I don't,' he'd counter.
'Then how didja know it was me, then, Monsignor?'

Still working on an answer for that one, I guess, because I don't ever remember hearing it.
Perhaps another Christmas miracle? I meant holiday miracle.
-bill kenny

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Spammers Gotta Eat, too

Over the holiday weekend, I've been surprised at how much unwanted and unwelcome email I've continued to get. For reasons that have a lot to do with me and little to do with a reality anyone else might recognize, I thought I'd see a slowdown in the volume of email offers for breast implants, penile extensions, dates with sweet young things who can suck the chrome off a trailer hitch, solicitations on behalf of supposed family members killed in a car crash somewhere in Nigeria (it must be the African equivalent of Jan and Dean's 'Dead Man's Curve' as, literally, thousands of emails I've received all mention the street) and my favorite, the note from Yassir Arafat's widow, seeking my help (for a handsome fee, I should add) in getting back from the PLO the billions her old man helped swindle from the world community.

Check your in basket or spam folder. Right now, you, too, could be sitting on a fortune in opportunities, if only you make a leap of faith.....Yessiree, if you believe in something for nothing, or sometimes even less than nothing, have I got an email for you.
Perhaps you'd like a copy of that 'Microsoft email' where Bill Gates is sending everyone money--or maybe you and the family want a getaway to the House of Mouse with an email that purports to be from Disney with a sure-fire offer on a vacation at Disney Something Or Other (mouse ears optional).

I ran a calculator through all the offers in my spam mail folder for just Thursday through last night and I stand to make upwards of 136 Million (with an "M", brother) for very little investment on my part, aside from sharing my banking information with total and abject strangers who grow stranger by the minute.

I think the ones that tempt me most are from those with the exotic diseases who have found the Lord (I always envision Jesus with a LoJak locator) but who still want me to have their fortunes after they've shuffled off their mortal coils. It's touching, really. I just wish I had enough wheelbarrows to put all that money into. But perhaps, today will be my lucky day and a special offer from the widow of a founder of The Home Depot or Lowe's will send me an email offering me a package on Wheelbarrows Without End, amen. If so, maybe I'll put them in touch with Mrs. Arafat; it sounds like she can use a helping hand.
-bill kenny

Saturday, November 24, 2007

The Warmth of Memory meets the Cold of New England

We had our annual Lighting of City Hall last night here in Norwich CT, which now calls itself "Connecticut's Christmas City" (and no other municipality cares enough to contest this assertion, it seems) and it was lovely, if a bit on the really long side.

I can remember taking my kids to this the day after Thanksgiving and it took about 45 minutes; a little speechifying, a couple of carols of the season, an arrival of a Jolly Red Elf, a countdown from ten and LIGHTS! And those of us assembled, cheered, wished one another a happy holiday (again) and went home.

In recent years, to include and involve all those who see inclusion and involvement as 'good things' more and more people, 'neighbors I haven't yet met' I like to call them, get up and sing or do puppets or sing in large groups or do carols and what was a brisk forty five minutes in the cold and the dark was, by last night, over two hours.

Again, last night, it was cold in New England in mid-fall. Probably about 28 Fahrenheit with a light (8 to ten knot) breeze, and the longer the night went on the colder it got. I always remember smiling when the lights on City Hall are first turned on but I also have to remember that every night between now and Christmas when I drive by City Hall, the lights will be on.

I watched parents with small children and infants leave before the lighting because their little ones had gotten too cold to stay. I was so cold, I gave thought to time-sharing someone else's child so I, too, had an excuse to leave. By the time the lights on City Hall came on at about twenty-six minutes after seven, we all sort of shrugged and began the March of the Penguins back to our homes.
-bill kenny

Friday, November 23, 2007

No Black Friday for Blogs

I was going to get up before I went to bed and write something, just in case you thought I might do that in honor of today being Black Friday in US retail, and then I remembered that my Mom raised crazy children but not stupid ones.

I was impressed watching all the TV commercials yesterday and reading the papers with all the inserts (the newspapers actually looked like the Sunday newspapers in terms of thickness, didn't they?) at the early hours so many stores had for today. And the rewards so many offered for sleep deprivation.
If, for instance, your city hall opened at 4 A.M. and gave you a 25% discount on overdue/past-due property taxes, would you line up the way you stood out out in front of Best Buy this morning trying to get one of the twenty 1080p HDTVs they had for under $500?

What if the state DMV office had offered a driver's license or vehicle registration for half-off, for the first one hundred folks through the door when they opened at five? Heck, at DMV, what if they just let you pick the photo for the license instead of keeping it a secret until after it's been laminated? (My photo ALWAYS look like a raccoon having a seizure because of the black rings under my eyes and how the camera always catches me in mid-blink).

And if the IRS gave you a 10% discount on your earned income credit for stopping in between 4 and 6 AM, would the line in front of the building look like the mob circling the Target trying to score a Wii console?

You ponder those questions. I'm heading out to the local church because if I get there before 5 AM they have a twofer on plenary indulgences and I need all the indulging I can get.
Sic transit bargains galore in every store.
-bill kenny

Thursday, November 22, 2007

It's not just Thanksgiving

Today, the fourth Thursday in November, is Thanksgiving in the USA and all the best of the holiday to you and yours if you observe it.

As a kid I got confused that some holidays were fixed and others movable (this was before we had a Monday holiday law, which happened shortly after the end of the Civil War) and I'd lose sight that Christmas Day was always December 25th, whatever day in the week that proved to be (you always hoped for a Sunday because that way you got credit for church, twice, and had more time to play with whatever you had received for Christmas). I never really understood, and still don't, how some years Easter 'came early' in March and other years it was 'late' in April. I suppose I could ask the Pope to explain it, but he'd go through his 'naughty and nice' book, find my name where I'd prefer he not see it, and tell me 'no chocolate for you!'

But today, 22 November, isn't just Thanksgiving in the USA.
Today is the day, forty-four years ago that President John F. Kennedy, was murdered in Dallas, Texas. I was barely eleven and a half years old and in 5th grade at St Peter School in New Brunswick, NJ (in Sister Thomas Anne's class in the basement of what was still a brand-new building).
The announcement came over the PA from the Principal's office, Sister Immaculata, through the speaker in the corner of the room near the end of the school day and in the blink of an eye, not just for me, but for my entire generation and perhaps all who followed us, the carefree innocence of childhood was over.

As children we couldn't fathom what would cause anyone to want to kill anyone else (the violence on our streets and in our homes now was very different back then, and how we gathered and processed information was different as well), and as we headed home to houses with mothers and fathers and siblings gathered around the radio, there were only three TV stations in those days and 'live' broadcasting was a cumbersome operation, radio was faster and newspapers rushed out 'special editions', I think we all had a dim awareness something had changed, but we didn't know what and how much. A lifetime later, many of us still don't.
-bill kenny

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Love is the answer

...assuming the question is 'what can you fall into that doesn't stick to your face?'
As part of the generation that insisted 'All You Need is Love' might I be permitted a do-over on that concept as I make my way to and through my Autumnal Years?

Not sure anymore that the world can be seen in absolutes like 'love' and 'hate' or black and white. And I'm not sure that was ever the case, despite a generation's fervent conviction to the contrary. Maybe that's why Tolstoy called it "War and Peace".

I think 55 years of running around on the ant hill, thirty of it as a spouse and twenty-five of that as a Dad has taught me that what I don't know may be of more importance than what I thought I learned. While my generation sang the Beatles' anthem, we were actually living the Rolling Stones' "Sympathy for the Devil" ('just as every cop's a criminal, and all the criminals are saints....') Sometimes the difference between essential and existential is nonsense.
-bill kenny

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Freedom of Choice vs. Freedom from Choice

Remind me to come back to this note six months from now and see if I 'feel happy' as they used to say in an old Monty Python routine. Here in my adopted hometown of Norwich, Connecticut, (www.norwich.whyohwhyisitalwaysus.sad) we've been pretty busy in November what with leaf raking, pie baking and elections and all.

We had six vacancies on our City Council with two alderpersons choosing to not seek another term and we, the voters, deciding to not permit three of the other four to receive another term. Turbulence is a descriptive that comes to mind though at last night's 'lame duck' Council meeting (the last one of the current Council with the New Kids taking seats next month behind the GBMD, Great Big Mahogany Desks) the word often used was 'change'.

Many, though not all, from the front of the room and from the audience at the given time, had kind things to say about one another, those succeeding them and the challenge awaiting us all. One alderman correctly suggested it was possible to go from 'hero to zero' very quickly and all seemed to agree that service on the City Council can be very rewarding but comes with a price and a cost (hours devoted to assisting others are hours spouses and children give up, sometimes both knowingly and willingly but always reluctantly) that can become a burden.

The outgoing City Council made it official and, having started a chapter in the book by removing the previous City Manager, closed that chapter by offering the position to another person who has, it seems, accepted. Everyone settles in next month.

Norwich 2008 will see us with a new City Manager, the Chief Executive Officer according to our charter, and five (of seven) new members of the City Council. Vox Populi.
We said we wanted change. Whether we meant from our dollar or for ourselves and our children has yet to be established. Stay tuned.
-bill kenny

Monday, November 19, 2007

Money fixes everything

Spent the weekend reading news stories driven by folks whom I would consider 'comfortably well-off' grasping for a few dollars more (don't tell Clint Eastwood I'm appropriating a movie title, okay?)

Sometimes our reach exceeds our grasp and that's not a bad thing, I think we should live out loud and dream larger than we actually are. Who better to set the bar for us than ourselves?
Sometimes we fail, but as long as we learn from that 'failure' we can look forward to eventual triumph. I get sad when, after we fail, we learn to cheat better because we then cheat ourselves and demean everyone in the process.

We had it happen in CT in recent days when a State Senator resigned his post and 'accepted responsibility' but didn't really do anything of that sort. From what I've read, he thought his married daughter was getting the short end of the relationship stick, in a number of ways, from her husband so he spoke to an acquaintance about having a conversation with his son-in-law. There was a quid pro quo involved, but what the concerned Father didn't know was the acquaintance was being monitored by Federal law enforcement officials and the law of unintended consequences ensued. The State Senator ended up between a rock and hard place, but in his apology he sounded like it was all the hard place's fault.

We have so many public figures, not just politicians, who've had the shame gland removed years ago, so remorse is an emotion they can only read about but never experience. All any of these folks do when they now get caught is reinforce the reasons why fewer and fewer of us care.
Most of them are my age cohort which is embarrassing. As a generation, we had our moment.
I haven't been able to explain to my son and daughter why I was willing to trade clean air and my beliefs for a BMW-but I did. Thankfully, they no longer ask. The only thing left to negotiate, as is demonstrated every day in a hundred ways, is the fee.

Which we can always invest in a my favorite selection on Greed's jukebox.....

"Show me an upright, respected man.
I'll have him licking my boots when I put money in his hand.
There's no one alive who can't be purchased or enticed.
There's no one alive who won't sell for a price."- Ray Davies, 1977

Gimme another quarter for the jukebox, okay?. It now costs a dollar?
Whoa, Strange days, indeed.
-bill kenny

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Some days you eat the bear

And some days the bear eats you.
I always have napkins, to cover any eventuality.

As we head for The Holidays (mental, if not actual, capital letters expected), we (or at least, I) start to lose sight of the reason for the season and regard this time of year as just another obstacle to be cleared, another steeple-chase to be run, another 'thing' to be gotten through.

I'm not alone. I saw lots of grumpy and frumpy folks out in the stores yesterday wondering 'what the heqq are all these people doing out here shopping today while I'm shopping?' I was, and am, another obliviot alone on my exercise wheel alongside the other human hamsters, chasing the pellets I want for Thanksgiving dinner and a head start on the Christmas gift lists.

It's a cliche, I know, but that doesn't make it less true: we are blessed as a society. We really do throw away more of everything than most other people on earth have had, or will ever have. And yet, given the chance, we cry for the moon and the stars and cry even louder when we all we receive is the sun. Is it possible our greed grows exponentially as our needs grow arithmetically? How much is enough and how much more is too much?

Did The Lord give us two hands so we could take as much as we could grab and two pockets to put it all in? And how are we supposed to say a prayer of thanks when our mouths are full?
-bill kenny

Saturday, November 17, 2007

"To take up arms against a sea of troubles...

I inadvertently watched two people in a pick-up truck in front of me this morning as they had sex. Not that I am a voyeur or another really cool foreign word that means 'perv'. It's a heavily-traveled, two lane state road with no passing. Okay? Technically, I suppose what I saw was ONE person having sex and the other....well, NOT having sex. Safety experts claim talking on cell phones adversely effects driving safety. Perhaps.

I watched one of the two heads visible above the bench seat disappear to the left. Then the pick-up started to swerve like the driver was talking on a cell phone while changing a CD and drinking a cup of coffee and accomplishing a Sudoku puzzle, simultaneously. Or not. The driver's shoulder-harness seat belt appeared to remain fastened. If you're in the automobile insurance underwriting business, you may want to re-think that application questionnaire you have us fill out when we ask for car insurance. But don't ask the question if you can't stand the answer, okay?

I don't think dogs have very good height/size perception abilities. I watched a woman with one of those itty-bitty dogs, but this one was still a puppy so it was really small, out walking this morning. The dog is struggling and straining against the leash as if it wants to take on the world and is aggressively barking, or in this case, annoyingly high-pitched yipping at everyone and everything it sees. Sure hope if those abilities are developed as the animal matures, it grows up REAL fast, otherwise the little fella is going to end up as chipped beast on toast for a real dog someplace real soon.

Found out somewhat abruptly yesterday I need to find a new job by next August, because I won't be in my current one for much beyond that if I don't. Not sure what the market looks like for middle-fifty, terminally out-of-touch, skill-challenged, so-white-I-glow-in-the-dark-white guys, but I'm sure I'll find out.
-bill kenny

Friday, November 16, 2007

Even the dog can shake hands

Have encountered an acquaintance at a number of different events in the last week or so. We were never as close as (I suspect) each of us thinks we were. Memory is funny that way (as opposed to the way Andrew Lloyd Webber has it). That's okay-it's a large ant hill but it's an even bigger picnic. Mind the footprints on the checkered tablecloth.

I'm struck by, as the English say, how a person can be 'clever by a half.' He has (for him) slyly alluded to topics he's read in this space on days previous, I guess, wondering if I would notice (Yep) and how I might respond. Welcome to here we are: population, us.

We were never The Owl and the Pussycat, more like Crusader Rabbit and Rags or Tom Terrific and Manfred, The Wonder Dog. And now it seems the least we can do is to wave to each other. And that's fine. Life, as Billy Joel once warbled, is a series of hellos and goodbyes.

Many of us are still auditioning to be the people we'll spend the rest of our lives in being. I, for one, never could figure out what I wanted to be when I grew up and I solved that problem by not growing up. Now that's clever by a half, as we dined on mince and slices of quince which we ate with a runcible spoon.
-bill kenny

Thursday, November 15, 2007

I'm too sexy for my shirt

If you're looking for the excitement of travel without the travail, check your clothes' labels. I have clothing made on practically every continent and in every country (with the probable exception of the US of A; I don't think we make clothes here anymore). I have shirts and slacks from Sri Lanka and Surinam but my favorite at the moment, because I had to look it up, is Lesotho.

I just read the Daily News (and swear by every word) and think of myself as 'up on geography' but I had ZERO clue about Lesotho. And here I am, with a sweatshirt from my daughter's university, made there.

Turns out, it's a 'kingdom' inside the RSA (that's Republic of South Africa for those geo-politically impaired) and seems to trace its roots back to the bad old days of the Union of South Africa, the policy of apartheid and the creation of (ethnic) homelands. Suspect there's a lot more to this tale that's too ticklish to tell, especially when a CT university permits its vendors to manufacture its branded outer garments there. Would NOT be surprised to learn most of the University's staff has no idea where Lesotho is located or that they have little knowledge and even less interest about the working conditions or the wages and benefits of the people who make their sweatshirts. Global Warming is, of course, a front lobe concern for the sincere and well-meaning--knowledge of the people and places elsewhere on the globe, not so much.

For the tens of thousands who used to work in this country in the 'garment industry', don't let the factory door hit you in the butt as we close it and lock it for the last time. I remember an ad campaign that encouraged clothing shoppers to 'look for the union label.' Talk about eye-strain; you'd go blind now, trying to do that.

It's a pity our kids don't have geography anymore in the schools. They'd learn so much from just putting away their clean clothes. Where in the world is Carmen San Diego? Try the sock drawer.
-bill kenny

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Corky, the Circus Boy, has some 'splainin' to do

Sometimes Ruth is stranger than Bridget and at other times, Truth is Stranger than Fiction:

"GAUHATI, INDIA (AP)- In a November 13 story, the Associated Press incorrectly reported that Paris Hilton was praised by conservationists for highlighting the problem of binge-drinking elephants in northeastern India. Lori Berk, a publicist for Hilton, said she never made any comments about helping drunken elephants in India." (Thanks, Bob; like you didn't know this would go in like an icepick, right?)

How many more times can the Paris Hiltons of the world look away? Today, it's binge-drinking elephants and by Friday (Saturday at the latest), we're allowing harmonica-playing porpoises to terrorize schools of tuna as they blow "Room To Move". John Mayall died for some one's sins, Lord, but not mine. We should have spayed the Harmonicats when we had the chance-it was a snip! But no...

Can we go back, maybe one step, in this process? How or why would/could anyone think Paris Hilton, the Dali Lama or the President of the United States (for that matter) would offer an observation on (hard to believe it's a real item) binge-drinking elephants? Inherent in the idea of 'news' is the notion that information is being created, or shared. I don't really think so, this time-and for the AP to correct their report leads me to wonder exactly who in their office was binge-drinking, Pinky the Pachyderm or Eddie the Editor.

And don't even get me started on if binge-drinking elephants get the DT's, what pink animal do they see? (Is Paris Burning or just embarrassed?)
Barkeep, set 'em up again, and get my friend, Horton, a double.
Poor guy has been hearing things again.
-bill kenny

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Orson, come in

Is there a reason why doing the right thing, eating the right food, or drinking the right beverage is inherently less cool, less pleasant or less exciting than a choice that's less good for you?

I love lemon meringue pie, diabetes and all, and knowing that I really shouldn't have it, I enjoy it that much more. In my world, dessert is its own food group and for those at home still working with the 'USDA Pyramid', think of dessert as the Great Cheops. I eat a lot of vegetables (not a big fan of okra or Brussels sprouts), but cannot ever pretend to have exclaimed, 'oh boy, broccoli!'

There's cod liver oil and there's Zinfandel. There's cream of wheat and french onion soup. How much extra engineering would it have taken to make the stuff that's good for us taste more like the stuff that's not so good for us?

Ditto for behaviors.
The happiness at seeing a twenty dollar bill at your feet, picking it up and putting it in your wallet should NOT be greater than seeing it, picking it up and having a frazzled person run towards you to thank you for finding the money they lost, intended for the rent, for heating oil, for food (lemon meringue pie, perhaps?). I know the reward for doing a good deed should be the knowledge you have done a good deed. How come it can't feel more like winning the lottery?

I saw an advert the other night for Ken Burns' "The War", his documentary on World War II, airing on PBS stations Wednesdays at 9 P. M and concluded 'I really should watch that. What do I watch on Wednesdays now?'
It took me a moment to wrap my head around that one, which should make TV programmers happy that I find their choices so memorable. Turns out, I watch 'Private Practice'. I really like that show-certainly doesn't have any of the intellectual fiber of an offering on PBS (and doesn't pretend to), more like empty calories, and yet....I already know what I'll be watching Wednesday night.
Hello, Kate Walsh, Drew Carey, we hardly knew ye.

This morning, riding the exercise bike like one of those loonies in greasepaint on the outer ring at the circus, I had forgotten my mp3, so I had to enjoy the big screens suspended overhead without sound but with the captioning popping up in the middle of image.

Infomercials pain me, because most of them now 'star' people I sort of know from 'real' TV, back when they had careers. I don't just mean Valerie Bertinelli for that weight-loss program, though I guess she did lose about 220 pounds when she and Eddie Van Halen went their separate ways.
I'm talking about people like that guy from ChIPS who sells real estate where ever it is that he sells it and the original Bionic Woman who now hawks mattresses of some kind. I don't really lock on to the product because I'm tripping over my memories of these people as 'real stars' earlier in their lives.

If someone had told Lindsey Wagner she'd be selling adjustable mattresses to make the condo payment, would she have believed such a thing could happen? How often do I have to see Glen Campbell, who looks just awful by the way (and makes me feel a lot better for my 55 years on earth) , selling some Time-Life music collection before I pay any attention to what is in the collection.

This morning, making like Lance Armstrong (without Sheryl Crow or whichever Olsen twin he's supposedly seeing), squinting up at the big screen, I'm watching a woman pitch what looks like a variant of the Evelyn Wood Speed Reading course back from when I was a wee slip of a lad. She looked sort of familiar and seemed to be very earnest about whatever this better reading system is all about.
And then I flashed on her: Pam Dawber! Nanu, Nanu, Mindy!

Thirty plus years on, Mork has completed rehab from the years he shovelled the mountain peaks of Peru up his nose and you're on one of those TV stations just above the police calls hawking a reading system for how much money?
Orson, is this fair? Come in....
-bill kenny

Monday, November 12, 2007

Putting the "TS" back in T. S. Eliot

Governance can be a tricky proposition. It's not just trying to do the right thing, it's doing it the right way and sometimes the end justifies the means and sometimes it doesn't.

Here in Norwich, CT, we have a City Council that was in such a hurry to rid itself of the City Manager that it got a little too crafty for its own good and conducted a large amount of the "people's business" out of the line of the sight of the very people who elected them. They still separated themselves from the services of that City Manager, but earned a visit and a 'workshop' (which is like a time out for municipal officials) from the State of CT Freedom of Information Act Commission.

Norwich has had an acting City Manager for a couple or three (or more) months now and the last anyone knew was that the search committee (which happens to also be the City Council. How amazing a coincidence is that? It'd be like learning Pam Anderson is also a member of Mensa, don't you think?) had narrowed its choice to three people. Over the weekend, there were print reports a selection has been made and negotiations are ongoing with the aim of announcing the hiring at next Monday's City Council meeting, 19 November.

Strangely enough, that 19 November meeting was convened originally to address a zoning variance that wouldn't have been ready for a vote anyway, and the variance was subsequently withdrawn at the request of the same developers who recruited three members of the City Council as sponsors for it in August. All three alderpersons were unsuccessful in their bids for re-election last Tuesday. While both local daily newspapers have speculated as to the causes for those defeats, neither has done any (much less enough) research to draw any fact-based conclusions as to the reasons.

In the midst of a very busy election season, there were no special convenings of the City Council, meeting as the Search Committee. These meetings would have been in Executive Session as personnel matters would have been discussed but decisions made in Executive Session would still need to be made a matter of public record (assuming a vote was taken to choose a candidate) when the Executive Session ended, but nothing was.

So now the question is how could there be an agreement to hire someone, when for the record, nothing has been agreed to? It is, said Yul Brynner in another context, 'a puzzlement to me'. Perhaps the CT State Freedom of Information Act Commission gives a discount to a municipality that needs more than one visit in the same calendar year.

Joseph Conrad may have had his locus skewed in the Heart of Darkness. Perhaps it's more than likely to be in each of us and does, indeed, shape the way the world will end. 'Mistah Kurtz-he dead.' But for The Hollow Men (and Woman), it's not with a bang, but a whimper.
-bill kenny

Sunday, November 11, 2007

You had to be there

I may have given you the impression I am a fan of the music of Bruce Springsteen. That is a slight understatement. I am more of an unreasoning fanatic than a casual fan. That said, I have a quibble with "Channel 10" of Sirius radio, which, through March 2008, is devoted to all things Springsteenian 24/7. Actually it's not just them, but when it happened I was listening to them.

Live performance, perhaps ONLY when you are in the audience, is the most pleasurable way of enjoying your favorite artist. Even watching someone perform live on TV, thank you HBO, doesn't quite capture it (perhaps the 2 dimensional medium of the TV screen? Not really sure). Listening to a live performance on CD, elpee or on the radio is fine, while someone is performing. It's the 'in between' songs stuff that doesn't work when you can't see it. Back to Bruce Radio.
Sirius Ten is sharing the kickoff concert in Hartford, CT, for the "Magic" tour, in early October. Not sure why/how the decision is made to start what will be a world tour in Hartford, CT, but tours have to start someplace I suppose, and perhaps the tour bus needed new insurance and someone thought of the insurance capital of the world.

It's weird for me to realize ALL the (surviving) people whose music I still enjoy are older than I am and all of us, speaking of The Hartford, are eligible for membership in AARP. I think it's God's practical joke that, on occasion, my AARP magazine used to show up on the same day as my copy of Rolling Stone.
T-t-talking B-b-bout My G-g-generation.

It was a great show and I enjoyed it immensely until the encore-or more exactly, for the six minutes and 21 seconds, folks yelled for the band to come back out on stage to perform the encore. Ignoring the waste of time pseudo-dead air that is nothing more than the dull roar of a crowd yelling what sounds like "Bruuuuuce!" unceasingly actually is, what am I, driving along, supposed to be imagining is happening through all of the shouting?

To the folks who provide us with live music: is it too much to ask that you shorten, cross fade, or add a channel of commentary as the crowd cries out for more (where is Keith Reid when I really need him? Indeed, the room was humming harder as the ceiling flew away and KR shuffled off his mortal coil three decades ago making the reunion of Procul Harum very much 'beyond these things')?

You can play "Rosalita" in the amount of time I had to listen to people yelling for the encore and then as the cheers grow louder, I have to assume 'okay, they're back out on stage and we'll go some more.' By the time the band is back in place and we're finishing retuning the guitars, which, BTW, haven't been played since BEFORE the encore, guys (it's not like the roadies put them in the cases and the cases in the truck), we could have played "Carmelita" as well, though it'd have to have been real loud for Warren Z to hear it.

Besides, unless the set list includes "Meeting Across the River" and "Jeannie Needs a Shooter", they can play all night and still not have played enough.
-bill kenny

Saturday, November 10, 2007

"Gentlemen Only-Ladies Forbidden"

I think it's in the Old Testament, Book of Ecclesiastes, there's a reference to seasons and taskings, at least as Pete Seeger understood it when he adapted portions to write "Turn, Turn, Turn" that The Byrds took to the top of the pops back when rock was dirty and the air was clean.

I mention seasons and purpose because driving home yesterday I passed a golf course-actually I pass it everyday driving home, but yesterday there were people playing. One of the reasons I like fall in New England is, on many days, you know you're alive because you can see your own breath as you exhale. We were having one of those days here yesterday.

What's that seasonal song, "and folks wrapped up like Eskimos..." That's about the way the golfers looked as opposed to that (late) Payne Stewart wardrobe, the cardigans and knickerbockers and the trilby caps (I've always loved the ones the elderly guys wear, with what looks a pom-pom on the top. Someone told me, perhaps incorrectly, those are called tam o'shanters. If I could've ever persuaded my lovely wife to have a third child, that's what I wanted to call her/him, "Tam". Sort of works for either sex, or the two sexes we have so far, and it's easy to remember.)

You have to love golf an awful lot to traipse around on near-frozen earth and grass, with a chill wind blowing, with eighteen layers of clothing (one for each hole?) keeping you from feeling your own fingers and toes. Or, perhaps, you have to be crazy?
I'm not sure of which, or how to tell them apart.

What was it Mark Twain said of golf? "Golf is a good walk, ruined."
Playing through....
-bill kenny

Friday, November 9, 2007

Surviving Us and Them When Sometimes We are Both and Neither

This is the start of the Veterans Day Holiday weekend which to many, perhaps too many, signals a jump-start on Christmas shopping. Are we so comfortable with the idea of those who have served in our armed forces that we no longer actually "see" the men and women who wore, and still wear, uniforms in defense of a notion and a nation trying to make its way in dangerous times?

All the news in the last few days about body counts, wounded service members and the other horrors of war lead me to realize terrorists (ideologues of all stripes), are actually relentlessly logical. They see the world as "us vs. them" and behave and eradicate accordingly.
We, sentient humans everywhere, are facing off against lunatics who believe in a Divinity who wants them to smite their enemies or die trying. (I shudder to think that their idea of eternity is to spend ALL of it with a God who would do this to them. But that's just me, I hope.).

We do what we must do-continue to attempt to impose order on the universe even as the chaos slops out over the sides of the container, because we would not know what to do if we ever had the silence to hear our own hearts racing or our own emotions raging.

Visuals are powerful and our collective and communal memories of those visuals are more so. Our parents had to live with the black and white still photo of the Death of the Loyalist Soldier in the Spanish Civil War.

We have grown up with enough video horrors to last us three lifetimes:
we watched a President get his head blown off, more or less, in Zapruder's 8 mm silent movie; there was the on-camera execution of one Vietnamese by another with a pistol shot to the head (and the total absence of expression on the face of the about-to-be-shot) AND all of us saw a jumbo jet attempt to land on the 73rd floor of a World Trade Center tower....and the ensuing 'cut to the towers slowly, as if underwater, sliding into the ground picking up speed as they collapsed' street level camera with the cloud of dust driving a human stampede before it.

Few of us can stand to see EVER see any of 09-11-01 clips again, and yet I, for one, replay them in my memory as if trapped in a movie theater with a projectionist gone mad.
And we have raised kids who play video games, Grand Theft Auto is the usual whipping boy, where you get points for killing people. And then we scratch our heads and wonder 'how come law enforcement can't do more/something/anything about crimes of violence?'

What was it the Beatles sang, "I am he/As you are he/As you are me/And we are all together." Whether we like it or not. Six billion on the ant farm with beepers-each of us scratching and clawing for 'my share'. I'm afraid what you see is all you'll get. I can already see the "Here Comes Your Happy Ending" sign in bright lights and big, bold type, straight ahead.
-bill kenny

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Thank you for not asking

Count the number of times in the course of your day (in person or on the phone) someone asks 'how are you?' or words to that effect. I think we use turns of phrase like this to fill up the silence between us. No one expects an answer and when you do your count, I think you'll be surprised as to how often throughout the day we reach for this conversational crutch.

Every time I go to a physician's office (and I see enough different doctors that I have my very own Blue Cross/Blue Shield customer rep, 1-888-bill-sick), the receptionist asks me how I am.
I am in your office to see your doctor-you do the math.
I'm certainly NOT here for the six-month old magazines am I, or that gorgeous view of the tops of the cars in the parking lot? And as lovely as that wall clock from the drug company rep for one of the erectile dysfunction treatments may well be, I already have a watch and didn't stop in to check the time. Besides the size of the sweep second hand makes me feel inadequate.

Perhaps, the person behind the desk feels they should do something for the co-payment.
After all, when I get in to see the doctor, I'm not going to get a complimentary tongue depressor and I've yet to be offered a special on a colonoscopy (BOGO 'buy one, get one half off!').
How are you supposed to respond, "I'm fine"? Why are you in the doctor's office, then? Do you get your co-pay back? I don't think so (I sure don't).

When I do get to the exam room, the doctor invariably starts with 'how are you?' as well. But that's why I'm here! For him to tell me how I am. Perhaps I'm actually part of a carney act, where he guesses my weight or how much change I have in my jacket pocket.
Thirty eight cents, by the way, and none of the five coins is a dime. Hmmm......
I'll check back in with you later on.
You'll know it's me. I'll ask 'how are you?' but I won't be listening to your answer.
-bill kenny

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

For my next trick, I'll need a volunteer from the audience

"Half the world is composed of people who have something to say, and can't, and the other half who have nothing to say and keep on saying it."

I was amazed to learn Robert Frost, he of "The Death of a Hired Hand", he of standing bare-headed four plus decades ago on a bitterly cold morning to participate in the inauguration of President John F. Kennedy, that Robert Frost, would offer such an observation.
I guess it gets colder than previously reported while stopping in the woods on a snowy evening. Some of us get very cranky in the cold while others of us go crazy in the heat. Whether it's of the atmospheric type or of the moment is often unclear.

Have you noticed Hallmark doesn't have Election Day cards? They have cards for all and every occasion, but none for those whom we leave behind at the ballot box (or here in CT, at the 'scanning station'). I guess, not being elected is message enough.

Here in Norwich not everyone who wanted to be elected was. We can't all be candidates for the Norwich Board of Education, now can we? "This one is just right," said Goldilocks. I hope, after a very spirited, but civil, election campaign, all the candidates, both selected and the preterite, will continue working for all of us here in Norwich.

Frankly, as one of those NFH-types (NFH=Not From Here), I'd hoped we'd eventually figure out that we really are all we have and stop wishing on a star (tell Jiminy I said 'hello' and now I am a real boy, but it's not everything it's cracked up to be). The scariest thing about taking a speaking part in your own town's future, instead of sitting in the audience, is there's no one else to bless or to blame.
Lots of us spoke up yesterday-I just hope we can remember that having two or more monologues isn't the same thing as having a conversation.
-bill kenny

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

To a man with a hammer, the whole world is a nail

Perhaps we use issues and our perceptions of them as a prism for making judgements on whom to support and from whom we withhold support when we step into the voting booth today.
I think it was Tip O'Neill who's credited with 'all politics is local' as a mantra for how national elections are decided, but I think it applies more especially at the municipal level (perhaps more than we fully realize.)

There are, I suspect, dozens of towns in Connecticut, and hundreds (maybe?) across New England who are struggling, as we in Norwich are, with assuring larger and wider revenue streams from economic development but balancing that with a desire/need to maintain neighborhoods and preserve 'our history'.
Each of us, municipally speaking, seems to be struggling with our own tiny boats, barely afloat as we struggle and sometimes fail to appreciate the size of the ocean and how may more craft are in this with us.
We are thinking and acting locally, which may not get us as far down the road as we'd like. Our challenge is sorting that all out before we get 'farther down the road' and realize that we zigged when we could have zagged 'back there.'

Add to that, a reluctance to abandon well-intentioned but not well-functioning ideas (and our all too human tendency to hold grudges towards those whose ideas 'don't work') and we may not be as agile as we could be in embracing new ideas and approaches, and the people who offer and implement them.

If only one issue or aspect motivates you to go to the polls today, I'm sad because I suspect there's more at stake than you might be able to see.
I am, however, happy you are investing in our system of government by voting and thanks for not only making a difference but being the difference.
-bill kenny

Monday, November 5, 2007

Vote for Me and I'll fix everything.....

...I've already fixed the election. ;-)

What will we all do with our front lawns come Wednesday morning when they are, for all practical purposes, naked to the world? Okay, most of us will have some grass, or a grass-like covering (in my lawn's case), and some random fallen leaves as the fall grows colder and winter creeps closer. And there shall fall soft rains. Mr. Bradbury, where are you now when we really need you?

We'll no longer have the hundreds, into the thousands, of law signs for anyone and everyone that started popping up across the city, the region, the state and probably the country, as Labor Day neared. Instead of talking to one another, or better yet, speaking with those who sought our votes, we attached bumper stickers to cars, front yard windows, book bags and small children.

Hand on my heart, if you'd asked me for whom I was voting, I would have known who my choices are, but I wouldn't tell you because you need to make your own decisions, based on your own view of the issues. I am always concerned with how those seeking city council positions (and higher) feel about pony rides in observance of birthdays. I'm NOT saying it's the deal-breaker, by any means, but it's as important as what town and state a candidate grew up in or what color her/his ears, or hair are. (More or less).

Whatever you use to make your decisions and arrive at your choices, tomorrow is the day to let your choice be heard as your choice is made. Don't vote for those whom you think will win-vote for those whom you want to be in positions of responsibility. And if you're unhappy with your choices as you enter the polling place, it's a cinch you'll be even MORE unhappy on your way out. If that happens, come home and head for your bathroom and stare at the person in the mirror and give your reflection a piece of your mind.
And then promise to not ever again leave the matter of governing to anyone other than those with whom you feel a bond and have developed a trust.
-bill kenny

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Everything that you did.....

In some of the stores around here, Christmas decorations and merchandise have been on display since All Saint's Day. Perhaps we've all agreed that if we make time go faster, things will get better. Not sure about all of that.

I'm 55 now and time seems to be a LOT faster now than it was when I was a kid, a newly-married, or a young parent.
Spent a lot of time when 'the kids' were younger thinking I couldn't wait for the day when they were grown and leading lives of their own. This afternoon my wife and I will attend the recital of an orchestra that my daughter, Michelle, is in in the city where she attends college.

She invited us and hopes we'll be on our best behavior (the last time we went, one of us almost yielded to the temptation to stand on a chair, hit the Bic lighter, and scream "Play 'Whipping Post', man!". In terms of the silence on the ride home, if I tell you it was NOT my wife, I think you might guess who it was.).
Our daughter is a remarkably self-assured person who was twenty in May. She amazes me as much as her older brother, Patrick, who was twenty-five in July.

I don't remember growing older, so when did they? I can recall cradling each one, as a newborn, in the crook of my arm, moments after my wife gave birth being utterly astonished that I could have been part of anything as magical as their creation.
I can also remember before Patrick was born being asked by my wife's doctor where I would be when she delivered and telling him, 'by her side.'
He asked 'warum?' (German for 'why?') and I went on to explain, or to try to, that I had placed the order and wanted to be there to take delivery. Maybe it was my German or my logic, but he looked at me as if I were crazy, and perhaps I was, and am.

And now, an eye blink later, it has been decades since any and all of that happened and my 'kids' are grown-ups with lives and concerns of their own, in a world whose rate and pace of change only accelerates with each passing day.
I'm not able to 'make it all better' as I once did when they were tiny but no matter how hard we try or how fast we run, they will always be my children, for the rest of their lives.

"Turn up The Eagles, the neighbors are listening..."
-bill kenny

Saturday, November 3, 2007

meanwhile back on the ant hill

All the local TV weather forecasters agree: this weekend will be the Worst Storm Ever. Until, of course, the next storm and/or the one after that. Doubt it? Go to the Weather Channel and check it out for yourself. Praise the Lord for basic cable, eh?

Like everyone else (on earth or at least that's how it felt) I headed for the local grocery store. I never claimed to be an original thinker and my destination proves my point. The aisles are jammed with neighbors whom I've never met and people I see all the time whose names I'll never know.
So much for Norman Rockwell's portrait of America, eh? I'm not even sure if the Saturday Evening Post is still extant. And why would we want it when we have tabloids to tell me that "Rachel Ray Throws Out Husband" and that Katie is worried about her marriage to Tom.
The as-imagined-by-their-press-flacks lives of people whom I'll never meet adds a lustre to my own that no non-tabloid or a news magazine could ever provide.

Where else, but standing in the checkout line at a supermarket can I experience, admittedly vicariously, so much so quickly? How goofy must we be that Weekly World News, the tabloid that had 'Bat Boy' and the alien shake hands with everyone from H. Ross Perot through George Bush, both H. and W., cease publication because of flagging sales?
I LOVED WWN because I trusted EVERY news report, photo and feature was utterly bogus and knew I was never going to be disappointed. And what about the folks who placed ads in there! What were they thinking and who buys that stuff now that the newspaper is gone?

Lots of rainy day thoughts and concerns as we stand bravely and mostly silently behind one another waiting for the register operator (they're not really 'cashiers' anymore are they?) to say hello and ask us how we are, without ever waiting for, or listening to, the answer. We're past 'paper or plastic' aren't we? We may have given Al Gore an Oscar and a Nobel for his eco-movie, but I drove in my car alone, and passed a bus, to the store and have bought enough items over-packaged to single-handedly choke a landfill.

Now I'm home, enjoying the buzz from a food snack I bought and ate even though I shouldn't have. Empty calories are the best. They go straight to the waistline and skip the brain.
We need hurricanes more often-helps us get out of the house and mingle. You betcha!
-bill kenny

Friday, November 2, 2007

Going off half-clocked

This is the weekend we 'fall back' and return to Eastern Standard Time. If we're not careful on Election Day here in Norwich, Connecticut, we may turn back time all the way to the Eisenhower Era while turning away and shutting out many of our own residents.

The difference between a rut and a grave is the depth (of the habit).

In the (about) sixteen years of living here as one of the thorns in the Rose of New England, I've met many, who, like my wife and I, settled here to raise a family and who invested of themselves in our city.
Yeah, I said "our" even though many across Norwich seem to have a mental stopwatch on how long you must be here to be from here. It's not enough our kids went to Buckingham or Kelly Middle School together. I didn't attend Elizabeth Street School with my kids' friends' parents.
Like thousands, if not tens of thousands in Norwich, the 'old-timers' are right: we weren't born here, but we're here now and Norwich is just as much our city as it yours.

Some of us have family that arrived here on the Mayflower.
Others got here with the Mayflower moving van. It's not the destination that matters so much as the journey that defines it. I think the dreams and hopes (and maybe fears, too) we have for ourselves and our families draw us closer together than all the zip codes and accents that some would use to push us apart.

Happiness and success aren't rationed. We should believe they are infinite in supply, both quality and quantity, so that each of us should be able to have enough. And if you don't, I cannot understand how you get through your day.

A lot has been written in the weeks (and months) leading up to Tuesday about those of us, and the City Council candidates are 'of us' and just like us, who have volunteered their time and talents, in an attempt to harness the energies and ambitions of so many of us for the benefit of all of us in Norwich. For all of them, the reward for doing a good job on the council is, and will often only be, the knowledge that they have done their best. Making people who only want to help into heroes or villains demeans and impoverishes all of us.

If on Tuesday it's Election Day where you call home, just as it is here in Norwich, which I call 'home', you owe it to your family, friends and most especially yourself, to vote for your hopes.

I'll see you out in front of the polling place, looking for rainbows at the horizon.
-bill kenny

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Dazed and confused meets Tazed and Bemused

Large headlines in both local dailies today about the "Washington Street Rezoning Proposal" being withdrawn by the developers, which could alter the election calculus of the Norwich City Council elections next Tuesday.

Greater minds than mine, you've seen their letters to the editor in recent days (and definitely belonging to those 'from Norwich', in whose number I am not) will cogitate on that aspect, leaving me Wondering Where the Lions Are (not to be confused with the deer that once were in the Mohegan Park Zoo). Thanks, Bruce. (That's Cockburn, and not Springsteen, in this case).

Smart growth is, by definition, economic development but economic development is NOT necessarily smart growth.

We in Norwich should be pleased we continue to be attractive to those interested in creating opportunities for economic development. But (and maybe it needs to be in all capital letters) BUT, we need to reexamine our ENTIRE process and philosophy of development and sustainable growth, and the people who manage it, to better serve all of us.

Right now we approach economic growth the way a horse gallops--one footfall ahead of where we are. When you don't know where you're going, any road will get you there.
We need to stop being surprised that 'everything's broken.' (Thanks, Dylan-that's Bob, not Dylan Thomas. I've been around Laurel but never Under Milkwood.)

By our actions and our inactions (sins, so to speak, of commission and omission), we guarantee our own continued failure. Norwich does not suffer from Future Shock, Alvin Tofler; it has succumbed to Present Shock. There's no confederacy of dunces keeping us, as a city, from being successful; we do it to ourselves, and we need to stop beating up one another.

Norwich has a Plan of Development. What we need is the will to take it off the shelf, evaluate it, correct/refine or redefine it where needed and then deploy it. Plan our work and then work our plan.

We should resolve to partner ONLY with those who have projects that benefit everyone engaged in the effort, from those of us who live in this city through those who are risking their time, talent and capital. If we always do what we've always done, we'll always get what we've always gotten.

In Norwich there's a widening gap between our promise and our performance. We should elect to City Council those whose vision of our direction most closely matches our own. Then we have to learn to work together for the good of us all. So simple to type-and so hard to do.
-bill kenny