Tuesday, May 31, 2011

After Honoring the Sacrifice....

Not sure how unhappy anyone is when the work week gets shortened, but I hope your Memorial Day was a good one and that you had an opportunity to think about the reason for the day as well as enjoy any of the activities normally associated with it.

All levels of government were closed on Monday and get back into the swing of things starting today though for the rest of the week around here on the municipal meeting front, Erich Remarque comes to mind, almost.

Tomorrow there's a regular meeting of the Norwich Public Schools Building Committee at 5:30 in the Central Office Conference Room in the main office. You may have seen the article on the Adult Ed graduation in the (new) Jacqueline Owens Auditorium of Kelly Middle School, so it sounds like the committee's work is starting to wind down as the renovations and expansion enters the home lap.

Speaking of home lap, the Sachem Fund Board meets at six in Room 335 of City Hall. I was surprised to see by their agenda that no decisions on granting funding will occur Wednesday. Those decisions will happen, I assume, at the next meeting since this one is a special meeting (as all of their meetings are) and only those items on the agenda can be undertaken.

I don't know whether Mickey or Alana, in my mind two of the more memorable presentations at the May meeting, have funding, but we'll find out soon enough. I saw a many requests at the May meeting heavy on wishes and even more so on wallets deserving of support with so few dollars to go around. I do not envy the board their decision.

Thursday at 5:30 in the Marina (maybe at the restaurant? Or perhaps channeling Otis) it's a regular meeting of the Downtown Neighborhood Revitalization Zone (NRZ). Real soon, updating the membership, as it appears on the city's website, will be one of the actions taken by the newly reconstituted board of the NRZ. You read it here first, almost.

At seven in the Planning Department's conference room at 23 Union Street, it's a regular meeting of the Inlands, Wetlands, Water Courses and Conservation Commission. Judging from the minutes, and their length, of the May meeting, if you're planning on attending, be on time or you'll miss everything.

Speaking of everything, or nearly, how about a trip into the past without leaving the harbor of Norwich? Ayup, starting Friday and running through the following Thursday (June 3 to 9) it's a chance to see Christopher Columbus Replica ships, the Pinta and Nina landing in Norwich.

Avast, ye scupperheads, or pirate talk like that there, be prepared for boarding parties at a pretty reasonable price for all the days the ships are here. I think just having the earring and parrot concessions would make you a pretty penny and if your girlfriend's name is Peg, well, shiver me timbers. Now that we've answered the most pressing of questions, as Dylan, once noted, it's time for my boot heels to be wandering. See you at something?

-bill kenny

Monday, May 30, 2011

For Your Tomorrow, We Gave of Our Today

This morning at ten in the Taftville Memorial Park, is a remembrance of Army SGT William Brault and then later, starting at noon at St Patrick's Cathedral on Broadway and making its way to Chelsea Parade for some speeching and remembering, it's the Veterans of Foreign Wars observances of Memorial Day. You have, wherever you live across the USA, the same type of observances ahead of you today as well. This is who we are and somewhere back there in the dust is that same small town in each of us and this is how we mark Memorial Day.

My Dad had a large family of all brothers. His older brother, my Uncle George, was in the military-I was never sure what branch. He wasn't actually my Uncle George, but he was my uncle. His real name was Michael but everyone in my father's family called him George, so we did , too, though I never knew why and I may have run out of people in my Dad's family to ask.

George, too, married 'local color' in the years immediately after the Second World War and his GI Bride, Mitzi, returned with him to Los Angeles, California, where he had settled down and worked for something we kids on the Eastern Seaboard couldn't grasp, a bottled water company. They had two children, both older than I, Nancy and Tommy. George only came East once and he visited with us at my parent's summer home in Harvey's Lake. My dad idolized him.

My father's kid brother, Jack, was in the Air Force. I never knew what he did but I remember he was stationed in Turkey and he visited us when we were living on Bloomfield Avenue in New Brunswick (not really; we lived in Franklin Township but always said New Brunswick unless kids from Brunswick were around because they'd mock us).

Jack and his wife, Alice, had a lot of kids, none of whom I remember meeting-I don't think I ever met Aunt Alice either. She died of cancer and Jack left the Air Force and settled down to be a coal miner in Illinois, living near his mom and his half brother, Father Jim, who was every one's half brother. He talked like he'd been a chaplain in the military at some point which worked when I was a kid but once I was in the Air Force I didn't think so.

My Mom's brothers, both younger, were in the Army when we had compulsory service but they had been volunteers. John fought in Korea at Hill 255. My mom used to tell a story about John and how he'd volunteered for the Army even though a cat had scratched his eye when he was a child, depriving him of most of the vision in one eye. During the physical, the docs made him stand at a distance from an eye chart, told him to cover his right eye and read one of the lines, which he did.

They then told him to cover his left eye and read another line. He switched hands but covered the same eye and they took him. He and Aunt Marion had all girls and were madly in love with them and one another until debilitating strokes stole his memories and most of who he was and then, years later, other illnesses caught up and killed him.

By the time Mom's other brother, Jim, died, all but one of her brothers and sisters were gone. Ann, from lung cancer, leaving a husband, Donald, whom we called Chief (he had red hair; I think that had something to do with the nickname) and four children, Donna, Diane, Donald (we called him Chip, as in off the old block (maybe?)) and Daria.

Mom's baby brother, Paul, who, with his wife (our Aunt) Marilyn, had moved to the West Coast (I never knew where) and had a large family none of whose names I can recall, died of cancer or leukemia or something else protracted and painful.

Paul was how our father met our mother. Back when he was a kid in high school with a lot of potential but terrible study habits, he used to get tutored by my Dad, when he'd show up after school, that is. On yet another day he blew off my father, Dad decided enough was enough and walked over to Paul's house to tell Paul's mother when she'd answer the door that her son was a goof-off. Instead Paul's sister answered the door and the smit hit the fan.

Jim served in the Honor Guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier (as it was called then) and was larger than life in our house in every way. He worked hard as a mechanic everyday of the life he built with Dot, who predeceased him, and with their three daughters, Patsy, Michelle and Dori, short for Dorothy (he called them Pat, Mike and Ike which was the inspiration for the names of our children).

When he died almost all of us accompanied my mother to his funeral in Maryland and for a sort-of reunion with his children that marked (for me) the first time I'd seen them since Sigrid and I came to the States in the late summer of '77 and I water-skied behind Jim's powerboat (not barefoot like my brother, Kelly, who was/is superbly coordinated and quite athletic) which impressed the hell out of my still-new bride.

Today is a day when we remember large moments and the small, quiet ones. Those who led our armed forces but more especially those who served in them and gave their lives so that we could live as we do. We are more than everyone we have ever known. We are, as a nation, everyone, throughout our history, who ever said 'send me' when there was a need to free the Colonies from the Crown, to preserve the Union, to stop aggression thousands of miles away from hearth and home and to maintain constant vigilance in the face of baleful, ignorant hatred by fanatical cowards.

For the last two hundred and thirty five years, we have been a nation of ordinary people who do extraordinary deeds everyday. Today is another of those days.
-bill kenny

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Postcards from a Grey Area

I was behind a car with a license plate wrapper/frame/holder that read across the top, "Free Tibet" with "World Peace" on the bottom. Having been part of the generation that invented free beer and free sex, hate to do you this way, Dawg, but Tibet ain't even close to making the list, though it's a fine thought. As for that being the key to World Peace, from your lips to God's ear--I can think of a couple of hundred thousand kids, and not-so-kids, in US military uniforms scattered to the four winds around the world, who'd pack and come home in a heartbeat if that were the case. Go Dalai Lama (why is he a dot com and his nation's liberation a dot org? It is a puzzlement to me.).

In our neighborhood we have a place, I guess it's a quick stop munch and lunch joint named for a team in the same division of the National League as Lee H's team. It's in the same place a rib joint I always meant to go to was in-and by realizing the past tense of the verb you've already guessed how often I made it in there. I'm resolved to do better this time around since I'm assuming the place makes cheesesteaks (based on the name? Yeah; I am relentlessly scientific when I so choose).

I've never seen the business open and suspect it never has but I noticed for the first time yesterday morning a rather large red sign hanging in the middle of the door that says "CLOSED" because, doh, it is. But my point is, it's never been open; so what's the deal with the sign? This is akin to Colonel Scheisskopf's memo that the parade for Sunday has been cancelled. Seriously? Seriously.

Long story short: we'll have to do lunch someplace else. But not across town where I was treated to the next generation of Muzak, which I did not know was a Connecticut based business until just now, that uses actual music by actual musicians, of sorts. Yesterday, it was people who were slaughtering Beatles' songs which should be an offense punishable by death. There are critics who insist Aretha Franklin's version of Eleanor Rigby is superior to the original, as an example. The technical descriptive for that level of critical discernment is moron.

I've been reminded already some 3.2 billion times that we're in the middle of a three day weekend and that I should act like it and try to enjoy it. Fair enough. It's Memorial Day in America. This is how it's supposed to be. Let's remember our fallen heroes in the Land of the Free.
-bill kenny

Saturday, May 28, 2011

We Didn't Have Time to Be Sorry

This is the Memorial Day weekend here in the Star Spangled Land of Attention Deficit Disorder. Sorry about the snarky snarl to start but most of us have the same sense of history a cat does. Historically we don't vote in large numbers at any time to include every four years for the Presidency and don't get me started on the turnout for local elections.

We don't seem to know anybody who does vote, though we tend to believe voting, in the abstract at least, is a good thing and probably has something to do with democracy though many of us get tongue-tied trying to explain the exact nature of that connection. We're much better at barbecue and the Indy 500 (left turns uber alles) and thank goodness that's what most are us are up to this weekend.

Okay, not the men and women in uniform we've shipped off to fight our wars in a half dozen locales around the world, to include Afghanistan where there's a whole new meaning to the idea of Spring Break and the prognosis on progress doesn't improve when you change languages (though with Google Translate a whole lot of the meaning often changes or disappears).

Speaking of disappearances, neither Lindsay nor Kim have and c'mon, admit it, it's reassuring to know we may never again have a holiday from either of them. Our constant companions, fame and infamy, are interchangeable in our Brave New World and when you can extend the ongoing curtailment, usurpation and suspension of portions of our Constitutionally guaranteed civil rights by enforcement and extension of the Patriot Act, we're getting closer to paying a visit to Ben Franklin's neighborhood. And wouldn't he have looked silly in an orange jumpsuit? Si.

But don't worry. Get the set warmed up and the beer cooled down because the race will be starting right after the pre-race pre-show pre-race show (probably brought to us by the Home Depot or the other guys) is over and we're not sure when that will be, but it'll be soon. Meantime have a beer and a burger and try not to think too much. I know, there's not a lot of danger of that happening, but you can't be too careful these days.

We (too) willingly see this as the unofficial start of summer, though summer doesn't technically start for another three weeks, says the calendar, and tend to look off into the distance and get uncomfortably silent when someone wants to talk about the actual purpose and history of the holiday that we've built a weekend around. Sorry, didn't mean to harsh your buzz and please return your seatback to its upright position. And fight for what's true and smile at the gates because their hate don't belong to you.
-bill kenny

Friday, May 27, 2011

Krebs oder Cholera

In the words of the immortal Mae West, the Hollywood icon and not the personal flotation device, "when choosing between two evils, I like to try the one I've never tried before." Gesagt, getan. What's said is done. About a month ago on a Friday in the late afternoon, our home phone and our Internet simultaneously spit the bit. It wasn't the first time it hadn't worked and may well prove to NOT be the last time but it was my last straw.

About two years ago we swapped out and consolidated TV, phone and Internet service providers and went with a giant monolithic communications conglomerate. Lots of choices, lots of channels, bandwidth so deep and large you'd wade in at least up to your shoulders and beyond and don't forget that award winning phone quality. Sounds like a TV ad, right? Sort of is, and for a while at least it sort of was.

And then the high speed Internet started to get slow-that's not really true of course. It seemed to get slow is a more accurate description. The cable TV signal which was sort of iffy on some channels on most days when it wasn't iffy on most channels on some days slid a bit as well and telephone service. Well, gotta tell ya it's getting to the point where I'm no fun anymore about a home land line. It's like an appendix. I have one but don't know why.

The outage lasted through mid-day on Sunday when Bob came out and fixed what, as it happens, two other cable TV guys had goobered up while at the house the previous Friday when oh so coincidentally things got stupid even as they were getting back in their van. After two hours of wheedling on a cell phone that evening we had a promise of Bob by Sunday if we were lucky and then after a half hour on the land line on Monday afternoon a grudging adjustment on my bill for forty two hours of no service for two of the three services for which I fork out over two hundred and ten smackers a month netted me twelve bucks. Thanks.

The online offer from the phone guys, themselves the blackest of the black-hearted monopolies earlier in my lifetime, came wie gerufen and the installation happened on Monday. So far, so good but also so what. I've watched us go from rabbit ears that Dad maneuvered to keep the snow to a minimum through Community Access Television, CATV, out at Harvey's Lake to the really big bucks for cable operators who now own TV networks.

There's no way I can watch all of this television, but I am willing to die trying when I'm not racing on the new, but old, Internet connection and not calling anyone named Roger on my phone. The cable guys had close to two hundred channels; the phone pholks have over four hundred, I think. Turns out it's not a federal law that ESPN has to be on channel 29. Either that or the telephone TV is an outlaw, I don't know which, but I'm back, in my dotage, to being a hunter gatherer. As it happens, Springsteen was only half right but that's because he wasn't a math major.
-bill kenny

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Not from Here, but I Am Here Now

I think I've mentioned before, or meant to, quite often a variation of what I try to write about on Wednesdays here shows up, slightly more prettified and better punctuated there on the opinion page of our daily newspaper in my "hometown," Norwich, Connecticut.

I'm using the turn of phrase "hometown" possibly at some peril, if I understood what went on yesterday in the grocery store parking lot. And I may not have understood-that happens a lot when you're listening in much the way a dog hears, "mumblemumblemumble, buzz buzzz, MY NAME, mumblemumblemumble."

I'm blaming my wife-it's not her fault and I didn't say that. I just typed I'm blaming her because everyone blames someone and since she never reads this stuff and you're not gonna tell her, I feel better without fear of upseting her. And the wheel in the sky keeps on turning. For some of us, it's time to pull over and change the air in our heads. I have two candidates.

I was in the parking lot because I had been in the grocery store and I was in the grocer's because of stupid old Lowe's (maybe that's who I should blame) and their dumb old four hour special sale in honor of opening their store in the other Lisbon. Best of all, Eles não aceitam dinheiro Amefican. Anyway. Because Thelma and Louise had designs on Lowe's I was advised Tuesday night to get myself my own dinner because they were going to be busy. Hello, Marie C and those almost impossible for me to fix microwave doohickeys. Mmmm.

I thought about singing for my supper, but old shoes while high in fiber, are not on the Glycemic Index so I went to the grocery store and that's where a 'lifelong resident' as she described herself to me, recognizing me from the mug shot the newspaper uses (my mother wouldn't recognize me in that picture) let me know she didn't appreciate 'you new people telling us about Norwich.' Without sounding flippant (not that this would be out of character) seems to me somebody needs to.

Perhaps because I've changed after shave, my aroma now seems more 'new to the area' scent. I don't know, but in five months, I'll have lived in Norwich for twenty years. New isn't even close to being in the ballpark, sister, which, of course, also came up because I've written more than once about the minor league team in our beautiful baseball stadium that the mewlers and pukers who whine about all the awful things we put up with here NEVER go to visit because 'it's too far away.' And then they drive to Fenway and/or Yankee Stadium rather than Dodd which is seven minutes from Norwich City Hall. We would bitch if you hanged us with a new rope (that is a new rope, right? Just checking.).

Sorry. She was in front of me in the checkout line and when she finished she stayed and waited for me to pay for my purchase because she wasn't done with her harangue. For my part, I was sorely disappointed she didn't offer to bag-I mean, WTF, she was standing right there. When we went outside, she was joined by (I believe) her husband who'd been smoking (I figure he lost a bar bet which is how they became a couple) and that's why he hadn't been with her inside. He was, imagine my surprise, also a 'life-long resident.' How lucky can one new kid get? I was tempted to sell my clothes because it felt like I was in heaven. But I wasn't.

This is the part where I'm supposed to apologize, I know, by name to both of them (I didn't know their real names but I do have suggestions), for what I said. Don't wait for it; you won't live that long. Besides, I blame her for starting it. My favorite moment was when she interrupted me with 'I've never been spoken to like this in my whole life!' and I told her I found that impossible to believe. She seemed about to cry. Her Galahad said not a word.

I know, I'm a creep and a half. Guilty as charged. But here's what it comes down to Guinevere: if my mother had married a Kennedy, I'd be living in the White House. But she didn't, so I'm not. Boy, are you right, I'm NOT from here; but I'm here now. It's NOT where you are; it's where you're going. And yeah, I did tell you where, come to think of it. Like I said, everyone blames someone. In your case, try a Literacy Volunteer. Cheers.
-bill kenny

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

It's the Restless Age

If, as The Band offered all those years, "Life is a carnival-believe it or not" then tomorrow afternoon, Howard T. Brown Park in downtown will be about as life and live as you can get when the Norwich Rotary Carnival kicks off.

Slated to run through Memorial Day, the Rotary Carnival gives everyone who needs a reason to visit downtown, the perfect reason and the rest of us a reminder of just how marvelous the waterfront area truly is.

You could use the Rotary Carnival as an opportunity to walk the Heritage Trail along the riverbank or to watch the amateur fisherman from near and far laboring in the shadow of the Laurel Hill Bridge as they pull out a bewildering variety of fish every time I wander by. And that's not all.

There are always groups of three or more people of various ages on the grass near the newly reconstructed embankment engaged in Tai Chi, which I don't understand but I find relaxing to watch. There are bands of children playing tag up and down the steps of the gazebo even as small flocks of gulls, ducks, crows and sparrows quarrel over incredible edibles that human wanderers have left lying about.

Downtown is a place most of us, some have suggested too many, drive through as rapidly as we can on our way to someplace else. It's odd and a little sad at how our waterfront is never anyone else's someplace else or someplace special for anybody. We can change that but we have to want to change it.

It is a place to literally watch the river flow and marvel at what time and tide reveal as the day moves along. The Rotary Carnival will add its own seasoning to an area of our city that has enough novelties and nuances for all of us already. It'll give us another reason to explore what we already have while enjoying what's only available for a limited time.

The Rotary Carnival attractions will include an eighty foot high Ferris Wheel that will take up all of Market Street and whose riders, while at the top, might, on a clear night, be able to see all the way down the Thames to the Sound. Maybe, while we're up there, we can finally see the promise in our own city that so many others who travel through Norwich can see so much easier than we.

There will be some unhappy about changes in the flow of traffic and where they can park which is sort of funny since are absolutely perfect as they are right now in downtown. All that's actually happening is the fun stuff gets moved to the middle where it's easiest for everybody to get at it.

There will be thrills and chills and spills because that's what carnivals always are and that's what they always do. And we'll have ice cream and cotton candy, popcorn and candy apples while bumping into friends and families we know from our neighborhoods as we rush to take it all in. And don't forget the try-your-luck booths and the exotic indulgences that every child and every child at heart always enjoys.

"We're all in the same boat ready to float off the edge of the world, the flat old world. The street is a sideshow from the peddler to the corner girl. Life is a carnival--it's in the book. Life is a carnival--take another look."
-bill kenny

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

If Today Was Not a Crooked Highway

I almost cannot believe this even though I'm typing it. Happy Birthday to Bob Dylan who celebrates his 70th birthday today. For Dylan to be 70, I would have to be...let me do the math on this for just a second, okay? Take away the five and carry the one plus....YIPES! One of us is really old and I suspect it ain't the kid from Hibbings, Minnesota. And don't get me started on you, okay?

I guess you had to be there in one place, a generation lost in space as McLean sang, to really appreciate how bad pop music was until Dylan and The Beatles, coming at it from different perspectives and different backgrounds reinvented it and allowed all of us to own it. It was a long, long time ago.

US pop music before Dylan had Pete Seeger and The Weavers and Folkies and Okies for the most part. Woody Guthrie was idolized, but the guy at CBS (the largest label in the world at that time) was Mitch Miller (and we watched his TV show and oh boy...) while Guthrie lay dying. We also had the Brill Building contingent and a ton of heart thobbers and throbbettes and all the June/Moon/Croon lyrics you could eat with a --well you can probably guess what utensil you could eat 'em with.

I was too young to catch the guy who, as Elston Gunn, was the piano player for Bobby Vee and most of the hokey folkie incarnations--I picked up on him first through other folks doing his material and being seduced by his command of the language through Blonde on Blonde before finally stumbling across John Wesley Harding even as the auslanders were unveiling Rubber Soul and I realized the language was so powerful because the ideas it reflected were the foundation of the Next New World.

All of that was fifty years ago and the face I shave in the mirror on weekday mornings now could barely clear that sink a lifetime ago. Like Leo Kottke, I spoke with Dylan (and Leo as well and knew who they both were when I did; and my feet are still smiling), and was close to tongue-tied (my wife knows how rarely that happens) since all I wanted to tell him was how much his music meant to me even while realizing that he didn't make music for how it made me feel; he made music for how it made him feel. We were along for the ride.

So as Loudon Wainwright, III, one of those dubbed a New Dylan in the Seventies before we realized there was nothing wrong with the old one, offered twenty years ago, Happy Birthday Zim. And may you have as many more as you so choose. I hope we'll always find new and better reasons to celebrate you as you have so often celebrated each of us.
-bill kenny

Monday, May 23, 2011

Pornographic Lingerie Is Not the Same as Dirty Laundry

Boy was I momentarily excited and now utterly crestfallen. I looked at the calendar and saw it was Victoria Day and figured today was the annual sale day at the shop that's launched a hundred billion thousand damp fantasies. Nope, happy birthday Her Royal Highness Queen Victoria and now I lost the deposit on the eighteen wheeler I was going to drive to the Mall to pick up my order. Considering the amount of material in most of those items of intimate apparel, I've never really understood the word 'secret' but I do appreciate why so many men believe in angels.

I'm still a little sore from trash pickup on Saturday but it was a lot easier to do with the great turnout we had for the first effort. Of course, one pickup does not a One City make so in the coming weeks when you hear murmurings and mutterings about the next clean-up, consider yourself invited and we'll see you out there. Maybe we can get name stencils for the bottoms of people's jeans so we know who's out there with us as that's what we'll mostly be seeing....maybe I don't have as many good ideas as I think I do. Maybe.

This afternoon at four, in the conference room at the Central Office of the Norwich Public Schools on 90 Town Street, it's a regular meeting of the Building and Space Committee. There will probably not be an update on the Endeavor Mission but I suspect the Kelly Middle School reconstruction will be front and center, but not here. And, I'm assured on good authority, at five there's a budget expenditure sub-committee meeting also in Central Office though it's not on the city's website nor on the Board's website.

At five, in the Latham Science Center on the campus of the Norwich Free Academy, it's a special meeting of the NFA Board of Trustees who are making personnel decisions in executive session.

At 5:30 in Room 210 of City Hall, it's a regular meeting of the Norwich Redevelopment Agency who are closing a chapter in their story while pursuing the next, and good luck to all on that.

Tuesday afternoon at 3:30 in the conference room of the Central Offices of the Norwich Public Schools. 90 Town Street, it's a regular meeting of the Board of Education Policy Committee. You should be able to learn more here; should being the operative word. Wish they'd adopt a policy to comply with Public Act 08-3 though, if they and all the other city agencies did, what (I wonder) might I find to write about? Cynic that I am, I need have no fear of that happening anytime soon.

At five, in Room 219 (the City Manager's office) of City Hall, there's a regular meeting of the Harbor Management Commission, whose last meeting was in March according to the minutes posted on the City's website, unless (and here's a surprise) it wasn't.

Wednesday afternoon at four thirty is a special meeting of the Board of Education in their Central Office conference room of their offices at 90 Town Street. You'll have to be there to know what the meeting is about as there's no agenda on the city's website nor anything close to current about anything on the Board's website (good job, though on the 2009 archives).

At five thirty in the basement conference room of the Planning Department, at 23 Union Street, is a regular meeting of the Dangerous Buildings Board of Review whose publicly accessible archive of meeting minutes, as posted on the municipal website, is notional at best (downhill, with a strong breeze at its back).

At six, the Recreation Advisory Board meets for what seems to be its first regular meeting of the calendar year in the Recreation Department Offices at Dickenman Field, across from the tennis courts.

At six thirty, in the Planning Department's conference room at 23 Union Street, it's a regular meeting of the 751 North Main Street Advisory Committee. And while I don't know what the meeting agenda looks like, I also claim no knowledge of anything vaguely approximating recent meeting minutes as posted on the city's website. Lather, rinse, repeat, Amen.

And at seven, in their conference room at the Golf Course on New London Turnpike, it's a regular meeting of the Golf Course Authority, whose April meeting minutes intrigue me for corrections requested for the March meeting minutes. I'm wondering if Hughes Mearns qualifies to be a member, our loss if he doesn't.

And Thursday morning at 7:30, in their offices at 77 Main Street it's a meeting of the Norwich Community Development Corporation. On the agenda is a presentation by Todd O’Donnell who is a partner in the Central Corridor Line Railroad on passenger rail in the Eastern Connecticut. You can drop Shelley a note at admin@askncdc.com to get on a mailing list for meeting minutes and agenda.

Don't forget Thursday night the Norwich Rotary Carnival starts (I know, you figured life was already enough of a circus around here; hold that thought). Norwich may be a small town but that don't mean we are small time, my brothers and sisters. "And the Ferris wheel turns and turns like it ain't ever gonna stop. And the circus boss leans over and whispers into the little boy's ear 'Hey, son, you want to try the big top? All aboard, Nebraska's our next stop.'"
-bill kenny

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Well, This is only a Little Awkward, Right?

If you gave us a hand yesterday morning here in Norwich as we thrashed and trashed our way across downtown you should have heard from Karen so consider this the redundant redundancy department. Thank you for finding the time not only make a difference but to be the difference. The reason why it's important that Karen has your name, phone and email is because we're going to target another Norwich Neighborhood in the next few weeks and have at it again. Guess who we're gonna call? Youbetcha, Ghostbusters.

Actually, I think we done good and if you're reading this stuff this morning (I'm stunned that your life is more empty than mine), it's a good thing we didn't count too much on the end of the world happening so we could get away with a half-assed cleanup job. I always hate when that happens...'hey, what's the deal with the rubble? Why bother? The Rapture starts in an hour--dincha git the memo?' Nope.

Of course, if you were one of those who believed our Manufacturer's Recall would happen at some point yesterday (I can't really write hoped; it's just too weird) you weren't alone but yes, you do still have to go to church today but nice try. Call it Survivor's Remorse. And if you're Wimpie, tomorrow is Monday and the day after that, somebody had better have hamburger repayment money ready...

Of course, if Doomsday did show up, the Blogger folks are going to be very angry that I wasted server space with this since none of us are around to read it. Mea Culpa (see? I did practice just in case). I'm not sure some of the people doing that "He's Back!" happy dance all week haven't been reading the same Gospels I did when I was a kid. They may want to chill out until AFTER the Son of God shares with us what He thinks of what we've done with the place.

What's the matter, Lassie? Is Jesus in trouble? I think not, Timmy (Yow! I really hope he went first; that is really annoying); not to be confused with Paul's pen pal, Timothy. The part that makes me saddest is, at least around here, we had a hard winter and I was so looking forward to summer.

All this Prophecy that End Times will last until just before Hallow e'en really harshes that buzz. I'm breaking in a new toothbrush and this happens?! (I learned that the other day. just under the wire I guess; never knew it had name. Thanks SF.) TS Eliot's guess was as good as anybody else's and better than some. And it ain't just Mistah Kurtz. So much for that birthday party, cheesecake, jelly bean, Boom!
-bill kenny

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Wie du mir

Borrowed from my wife's language, I treat you as you treat me. Sort of sounds vaguely veiled payback and that pretty much captures my sense at this moment. We've all seen 'em, I think at one time I, may have had one on my bumper, some variant of 'Share the Road with Motorcycles.' I do what I can, when I can; leben und leben lassen. Warum nicht?

Driving home yesterday on Route 12 in Scenic Preston (Preston Chamber of Commerce: that'll be five bucks, please; cash money only and that's per mention so come across quick or the party's over before it starts), I'm heading towards the Pequot Bridge keeping up with the flow of traffic as the intersection widens to three lanes at the light and two of the lanes make a left to go over the bridge towards the back entrance to the Mohegan Sun or to access 395 North or South.

I hear him before I see him so I call him Doug(ie) Doppler (and yeah I know it's bassackwards, but so is bassackwards), a motorcyclist with NO helmet, no leathers, just wraparound shades (the rain finally stops in Southeastern Connecticut and we go all stupid) in the right hand lane (I'm in the left because that's where I need to be when I clear the casino ramp) and the guy weaves around to pass on his right the truck in front of him, cuts behind the car in front of the truck so he can ride between that guy and my car, accelerating as he comes along side so that he darts quickly to his left as his rear tire is parallel to my right front.

He's not in front of me long as he speeds up, love that throttle action and wonder what else he uses his right hand for (does explain the gloves, I guess) and slides (don't know what other word to use) between the car in front of me and one of the a-little-late-to-accelerate casino buses that yo-yos 24/7 between New York City and both Connecticut casinos so that anyone with the urge (I almost typed yen but ....) to invest in the slots doesn't have to wait.

In a flash, he's gone and I hope safely to wherever he's going. Meanwhile I'm alone in my prison on the road trying to sort out why worrying about motorcycles doesn't seem to be the front lobe priority for those who ride them as they'd like the rest to have. And yeah, I mentioned all the protective clothing, none of which this guy had, despite knowing that Connecticut is a Ride Free State thanks to "Pappy"

Nix fur ungut (give the Germans this, their language is useful when words fail in English), especially if all the folks exercising their freedom have signed donor cards attached to their operators' licenses. I mean if we're gonna do some outing with motorcycles and watching, I say let's make it interesting and figure out a better and safer way to share the road since a lot of folks in the motorized boxes don't have to be nice, as we all know, because they lots of protection even if they're not paying attention.

I don't ride a motorcycle but I think my car driver's rule works as well for two wheels as it does for my four. It's NOT my skill or ability on the road that I worry about; it's the other guys' even when it's the others girls' and as nice as the bikes are, none of them are a match one-to-one with even a beater. And what's the point of saving fifteen seconds of travel time if you risk being dead forever?
-bill kenny

Friday, May 20, 2011

No Shoes versus No Feet

Yesterday afternoon at 3:23, 1523 for those of us who tell time in a 24 hour universe, the sun popped out for a moment of two after an absence that started at some point on Sunday. Combined with the two hundred and eight seven percent humidity it got muggy in a moment. As a matter of fact, I think I momentarily experienced what happens to a lobster on its journey from the ocean floor to your dinner plate. I'm not sure how to explain the Amberen wrapper in my trousers pocket.

Yeah, I'm the guy who offered loud lugubrious lamentations last week for the chilly temperatures, profound unhappiness at the volume of precipitation I cleared all winter from my walkway and who also dislikes autumn leaves. Let me give you my card: Willie the Whiner. No need to feel sorry for me about the weather, I do a great job of feeling sorry for myself and I hate competition.

Yep, got the car washed one day last week and jeepers, or words to that effect but with more emphasis and having something to do with 'to tears', and look at it now. Pshaw! I almost can't see how the rain has washed the pollen out of the air, which my wife, and millions of other allergy sufferers, deeply appreciates mainly because I'm so busy listening to WII-FM, What's In It for Me, and the answer is not much. Maybe you too?

Let's shift the framework of the question, shall we? You can go with this. Or you can go with that. I can go with this or I can go with that and so on into the night. I'm unhappy my car has mud in its wheel wells. There are thousands of people a day and half drive from where I live who have watched flood waters sweep away everything they own. Even I feel awkward at the level of self-absorption around here and I NEVER feel awkward about that.

Strange how I almost always forget until someone else has to remind me. I felt bad because I had no shoes until I met someone who had no feet. sdaeh rieht edih dna nur yeht semoc niar eht fI. daed eb llew sa thgim yehT. Here's one way to take your mind off the rain we only think we're having. Feel to lend a hand to those who really are having it. Thanks.
-bill kenny

Thursday, May 19, 2011

So Yellow Book Wins by Default

I think all of us have, or did have at one time, a copy of The Bible-after the Harry Potter and Twilight Saga novels, the most popular book in the history of the world. That comparison is a little unfair since The Bible has been around a whole LOT longer than the Chronicles of Hogwarts and any comparison of the battle between God and the Devil and that of Jacob and Edward always results in the latter two getting their asses kicked.

Now, if a CNN blog is to believed and who wouldn't want to do that, right?, maybe the New Testament is an Ashton Kutcher production in terms of veracity and honesty. I'm talking about Punk'd of course and you're thinking I meant his union with Demi Moore. Pardon me prevert-my blog is up here, bub; thanks.

I still remember enough from my catechism classes to get a little bit weirded at the contention that more than half the fulfillment of the Old Testament is bogus. I mean, if that's God's will, I'm not going to criticize Her/Him. I mean, look at what happened to Jesus-and He was a relative. I'm thinking about Stake Your Claim and that's never a good sign. I'll bet Michael Moorcock is none too happy at this new book.

Yeah, I know. Why not? Could it be true--yes, I guess; or no, of course not. How come the more we know the less we're sure about? I'd be a lot better off with two forms of ID and I'll tell you now, that prayer card you're offering me looks a little hinky. Can't say I recognize that face in that picture that you keep. It's too high, it's too wide. You're so low, you don't know to get through, you go around.
-bill kenny

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Preparing for Saturday Sun

You've read about the flash mob-seemingly spontaneous, though covertly choreographed, mass turnouts and outpourings of people all in one place in support of a special and singular event. This weekend, through the power of switching consonants, many of us will be hoping to turn a flash mob into a trash mob.
Hot fun in the summertime has already started even though we have a month before the summer season officially arrives and nowhere will this be more evident than in downtown Norwich centered at the Howard T. Brown Park and spilling back and across much of the Chelsea District.

The Rotary Club is hosting a family fun-filled carnival that begins a week from today and lasts through the following Monday, May 30th. And that's just the beginning as Riverfest and Dragon Boat racing returns on June 4th, with Rock the Docks and great local bands every week starting near the end of June and other activities throughout the summer, centered around the harbor, promise to put both feet and heat in the streets of what city leaders like to think of as the living room of Norwich. .

But when you're expecting company and intend to put your best forward, you can't have enough last minute cleaning to make sure everything is perfect, which is why this Saturday's first installment of the One City Clean Up is concentrating on the harbor area and extending that effort to the gateway intersections of Norwich.

One City Clean Up starts at eight and runs until noon this Saturday. Kicking off from the steps of the front doors of City Hall, citizen volunteers from neighborhoods across the city joined by helping hands from the Norwich Ice Rink, employees of Norwich Public Utilities as well as Norwich Public Works, the Connecticut Tigers and staff members of local businesses, not forgetting members of the City Council and the Mayor will pick up and clean up across the downtown portion of the Heritage Trail, Howard T. Brown Park, Lower Washington Street and Route 82 in the area of the Marina at American Wharf, Union Street, the Laurel Hill Bridge all the way to Burnham Square.

Cleanup will include trash pickup, sweeping, raking and brush cleaning. There's still room for more helpers, and volunteers are always welcome and can sign up by calling the Mayor's office at 860-823-3743. We can promise to leave you enough trash to make it worth your while to show up Saturday. All you need to bring are some work gloves and a desire to make a difference as we help Norwich sparkle with a special welcome to all the new friends we intend to meet when this summer's events get started. See you Saturday.
-bill kenny

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Ashes to Ashes

Show of hands. Did you watch the launch yesterday morning of the last manned NASA space shuttle, Endeavor? (go in about a minute on that clip and it gets very cool!) If so, on behalf of third grade boys from 1962 everywhere, and Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, thank you.

If not, why not? As if it were ever possible to want to grow up to be anything cooler than an astronaut? And now, that dream is over even as we start to speak of Endeavor in the past tense.

I remembered a marvelous piece of mischief from Donovan Leitch, a Dylan disciple who flashed across the pop music horizon a lifetime ago and has since wondered what happened, The Intergalactic Laxative, as I was typing 'third grade boys' because we were rapidly becoming experts on bodily functions. And while it may have been alimentary my dear, Watson for Sherlock Holmes, it was a world of wonder for those of us in Mrs Hilge's 3-B.

As much as I envy our children their youth, and sometimes resent them for having what's in such a limited supply for so many of us, a future, I'd suggest we, the Cold War Kids and the I Like Ike Tykes, were fortunate in what we have lived to see. Look at where we started and what we have--and tell me, in so many ways, we don't have it better than our children, born beyond the Promise Dashed at the shattering of the New Frontier and the shuttering of Camelot.

What do our children have, modern miracles and machinery that are part of the scenery? What can they expect, especially in the world and times in which we live. If they're lucky, they'll hang on to what we haven't yet squandered from our parents but they'll never have the unbounded vistas we did.

What has been invented in the decades since we wore short pants and walked to school is so stunning you have to feel the chances of that volume of amazing returning are close to zero. I have little practical advice to offer aside from "stay young and stay high. Hand me my check book and I'll crawl off to die I've seen magic and pain, now I'm recycling trash."

All of what has been weighed against what could, but may never, be, went through my mind yesterday morning at just before 9 AM Eastern Daylight time as I revisited a part of my childhood and watched a genuine rocket ship with swear-to-God astronauts inside lift off into the heavens and, if only for a moment, my spirit soared as its engines roared.

Really shouldn't be surprised, I suppose; going out the way I came in. "Ain't got no money and I ain't got no hair. But I'm hoping to kick, but the planet it's glowing." Sordid details following, with any luck.
-bill kenny