Thursday, January 31, 2013

The Moving Finger

This is the last day of the first month of the new year. And if it feels a little deja vu that might be because there are certain things we've been doing every day for so long it seems like a habi. We've been knee deep in the gore, and other artifacts of the fog of war, for nearly a score of years in Afghanistan. Before us, of course, for centuries if not millenia, have been many other nations all of whom  attempted to tame whatever it is that makes Afghanistan the nation that it is.

I confess to a total lack of curiosity as to what exactly that might be except I am convinced whatever it is, it is infinitely better off without us, the Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave, squandering our children in its crags and crevasses. And, in all honesty, even if they are not better off, we are. The Taliban are rightly proud of their fanaticism and whenever I think about that I remember Churchill's observation, 'a fanatic is someone who cannot change his mind and who will not change the subject.'

And yet we continue to invest the lives of I have no idea how many men and women in what is now, a limited time offer. I've known servicemen and women, of all branches and who've been there in the forward operating bases and the 'cities.' Each had her/his own reason for going and no one ever sounded like they regretted leaving, even those who do multiple tours because some one has to.

I'm not opposed to helping people, even people who are so far away they are in another century, and the Afghan people are. They need so much of everything that they remind me of that stricken swimmer who is so close to drowning and in such frighteningly deep water that no matter how good a swimmer you are, both you and he will drown for sure if you attempt to rescue him. The kindest thing you can do is shut your eyes and harden your heart as you move away.

Our technology has evolved so quickly and so surely that we can be on the battlefield in ways and on platforms that a few short years ago weren't even thought about much less regarded as possible. And yet, the more of the gore of war that can come to the box in the living room or the flat panel display in the study, the more strenuously we shut it out and push it away. We go to the Mall of America more frequently than the National Mall. We know all about Gangnam Style and little about The Lone Sailor.

We watch every installment of TMZ for news on Lindsay Lohan, but we didn't watch this (though somebody, judging from the counter, certainly did) and, judging from the comments, we didn't appreciate a reporter bringing any of it up. And from the heat of a lot of the exchanges, maybe we need to worry about where our next battles are being fought and why the willing and the wounded, their selflessness and selfishness, don't cancel one another out anymore.
-bill kenny

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

You Grow from What You Sow

This is a pitch for your money for youngsters at Kelly Middle School who, with your help, can be out standing in their field later this spring. Admittedly, the ground is cold and hard right now, but that doesn't mean our hearts have to be as well. And knowing how many demands on your money you already have, I'll cut right to the chase.

Kelly Middle School is attempting to raise $2,500 by the end of February as part of the "100 Urban Gardens Initiative." When I say they are where the earth and the sky collide, I mean literally. They are using technology though an on-line outreach, to help them get to their goal. And you can help, too and become part of their project.

Go on line to here and choose your level of engagement. Don't have a computer? (How are you reading this?) Go to the library-they're so much more than books-and use one of theirs. Don't have a library card? Then go get one because there's always something you can learn or do at the library that you haven't even thought of.

Meanwhile back at Urban Gardens Across America....let's spend a minute thinking about vegetable gardens. We've had one for nearly all the years we've lived on Lincoln Avenue even if in recent times it's become a lot more our daughter, Michelle, tilling the earth and working the plantings while her dear old dad waits, napkin tucked under my chin, until the crops are harvested. There's been many an evening she's picked us a salad for dinner right out of the backyard-that's as fresh as it gets and it's delicious.

You're smiling-but that's a serious success and good nutrition. It's estimated only 2% of all American children eat enough fruits and vegetables and everyday, despite those amber waves of grain of which we sing so often, millions of children don't have enough food to eat. There's no excuse for why anyone in this country should ever go hungry so there's a reason to help right there.

Kelly's garden will be someplace where students, parents, staff and community members can learn more about the science of photosynthesis as the students deepen their writing skills as they reports on their progress and do some serious real world mathematics in designing and preparing healthy meals with the vegetables they're growing. Even with work gloves-it'll be a hands-on experience for everyone involved.

Your pledge will help feed and teach Kelly Middle School students while also strengthening our community. When you're on-line, you'll discover there are actual rewards for your donations aside from knowing you have done a good deed. Depending on your level of generosity you may never need to buy socks again or you can expand your wardrobe to include undergarments and t-shirts (I'm thinking they're two different things).

Don't wait for somebody else to help. Help now and be that somebody else.  Oh. Now you get the 'outstanding in their field' line. So glad I waited.
-bill kenny

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Medicine is Magical

Maybe I'm auditioning for Manic-Depressive Theater (I tend to blame the emotional roller coaster on my blood sugar levels as if I were, indeed, a Frosted Flake). My dilemma: if I get the lead should I be happy or sad? Decisions, decisions. For today, I'll pick happy.

Here's why: the burden facing our Veterans Administration after just the first decade of endless war is more shattered and battered bodies and savaged souls of more men and women than can ever be healed or held close until they cease to hurt. We have deliberately to some extent but mostly inadvertently sentenced the very talented doctors, nurses, specialists, therapists and everyone associated with VA treatments and hospitals to a life sentence of attempting to empty the ocean with a teaspoon.

Because of the incredible advances in battlefield medicine many people who otherwise never have survived their wounds on the field of battle are among us, the living. Sometimes the challenges of what life they have been left to lead is overwhelming both for them and their families.

It's hard to find a reason to believe and in an eye blink of doubt, you or someone you love can change and be lost in the deluge of life's uneven promise. It can take all your strength to not only believe in miracles but to rely on them.

And sometimes, all you need is one spark to light a flame of hope and set the world ablaze with the promise of everlasting change it portends. To be a moment when from this moment on nothing will ever be the same again. Perhaps for our caregivers and those in their care, and their families, that flame has a name and his name is Brendan Marrocco. These are the days of miracle and wonder. Rejoice and be glad.
-bill kenny

Monday, January 28, 2013

Another Working Week Gets Started

Here in the winter of our discontent, our minds can play funny tricks on us. I live in Connecticut which is nominally part of New England, I say it like that because while most of our neighboring states have pretty severely defined images from Maine with Jessica Fletcher to Ethan Allen and the Green Mountain Boys, we here in the Nutmeg State are a bit fuzzy in the self-image department.

You can spot it in the nicknames and slogans-New Hampshire has "Live Free or Die" despite the logical conclusion that there has to be some degree of moderation from one to the other whereas here in Connecticut we call ourselves The Land of Steady Habits. Talk about Snooze City. It's sort of like Kansas'  motto on their license plates, 'Gateway to Nebraska.' Of course, as acquaintances from Rhode Island are fond of pointing out, 'what can you expect from a state of insurance salesman?"

Certainly not coffee milk (that was a anti-Rhode Island slap shot, if you were wondering). Anyway, we're telling one another in these parts that this has been a pretty rough winter which assumes that it's true and that the winter is over. Yeah, it's been rougher (in terms of cold and snowfall) this winter than last but not by very much and the calendar says we have two months left of the cold and dark. So cowboy up about it already. Our mileage may vary but our tone of self-pity probably not.

Saying I'm glad to live where we have four seasons is like being proud of one place over another because of the accident of where you were born. Oh yeah right, the latter is what George Bernard Shaw said was the definition of patriotism. Well, this is awkward. Not as bad as some New England cities and towns will have it come spring when their residents find out that their leaders gambled on a mild winter and spent the snow removal budget on other pet projects only to discover too late they needed it to remove snow. Probably why  some places want snowmen declared one of the basic food groups so their school kids can eat them for lunch.
-bill kenny  

Sunday, January 27, 2013

For Alan

As you may well know by now, I am not an especial fan of winter. That I live in a region, New England, where we get all four seasons is only more ironic when I tell you I reside in a state, Connecticut, where we complain bitterly about whatever season we're in.

We've had five or so days consecutively of below freezing temperatures. If you live in Butte, Montana, or Moose Jaw, Michigan, that may be short sleeve shirt and shorts weather for you this time of year, but for us, it's cold and our litany of lament reaches to the heavens.

Walking to the pharmacy yesterday at mid-day to pick up a prescription I'd refilled for treatment of high blood pressure (and all this time you thought I was a carrier?) the breeze had died down and the winter sun nearly at its peak was as warm as it was to get for the day.

An old Lindisfarne song came along on my Slacker station for Bert Jansch, Pentagle, Nick Mason and the sort. I remembered a concert I'd seen at the Capital Theatre in Passaic, New Jersey a million years ago (actually in 1973) when Lindisfarne and The Kinks played and how nearly a decade later, I sat across from Alan Hull in a radio studio in Germany and we laughed about what a great night of music that show had been because he remembered every song and every note of each song he ever played because he so loved live performing and thought he had the greatest job in the world.

And because I could sit and listen to his stories, and sometime later, Ray Davies' (of The Kinks) as well, I knew I had the greatest job in the world. We never told one another the truth, we were friends after all, and if you can't lie to a friend to whom can you lie?

"When the wind is singing strangely, blowing music thru your head.
And your rain splattered windows make you decide to stay in bed.
Do you spare a thought for the homeless tramp who wishes he was dead.
Or do you pull the bedclothes higher, dream of summertime instead ?
When winter..... comes howling in."

I turned the corner and the winter wind surprised me, cacthing me full in the face and I suddenly remembered Alan is dead.
-bill kenny  

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Where Women Glow and Men Thunder

For you and me, locked in our winter of discontent's grip in the Northeast corner of the Land of the Round Door Knobs, this is the last Saturday of January (already? Didn't the New Year just get here? And now it's almost a month old already) but on the other side of the world, today is Australia Day. And you didn't even think to purchase a card.

The United States and Australia were both colonies of Great Britain. The stunning similarity between us rests in many places not the least of which is/was the subjugation and annihilation of the respective indigenous peoples those great Britons found when they arrived on the distant shores. I'm not sure how much more, or less, successful, than we here those from the Land Down Under have been in making peace with their past but I've always admired them for trying.

Of course, for Americans, Australia always has a bit more ginger with wry Irish humor perhaps because of its past as a prisoner colony for the most vexing subjects, historically and unwillingly of the Crown in the whole British Empire. I find it interesting how this account skirts that aspect of the history and the inhumanity  though the telltale giveaway is reading the account of the woman arrested (and shipped to Australia as a prisoner) for stealing cheese to eat (during the years of The Famine in Eire).

I'm not sure you wish another country Happy Birthday, but we tend to go all out around here on the 4th of July so if our long-time friends and allies wanted to sip a pint of Fosters in shade near Adelaide today, I'm sure it would be okay. As nations go, they're young, younger even than us, though they, too, have seen and done things that can never be unseen or undone.
-bill kenny

Friday, January 25, 2013

Beware! Low Hanging Fruit

As a child I had an imaginary friend named Marty. We did almost everything together except play catch and practice our trapeze act. He disappeared when I was nine when the kid down the street, Bobby, moved with his family to Ohio. I've always wondered but never really known....

As an adult I decided to embrace what Edgar Allen Poe called "The Imp of the Perverse." I call him my evil twin, Skippy. Eight out of ten people who know me say they prefer him to me. The other two think I'm his evil twin. I often wish he'd move to Ohio.

That brings us to the subject of Manti Te'O. Nah, too easy.
-bill kenny

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Better Late than Never

Despite the technology and connectivity, the convergence if you will, where one device can talk to others in ways unimagined scant months before, there are times I can't help but think I walk around with my eyes and ears closed.

I suspect it's more the fault of my mind and heart when something surprises me, for good or for not so much, when if only I'd have had some knowledge. Too soon old, too late smart say the Amish (at least the ones not in the Mafia).

My latest 'if only' is courtesy of someone on a social media platform, Google+, whom I shall never meet. So close are we (not), within seconds of clicking the link that brought me the next installment of amazement, I had no recollection as to who the person was. One platform has me doing thumbs-up and another has me with plus-up. Because I'm such a world-class screw-up, I can't keep them straight. You should be so lucky.

Luckily in this case, it makes no difference. The artist is Lee Ru-Ma but his fans, and he has swarms of them, know him as Yiruma. Much of his music, it seems, doesn't have lyrics. Based on my encounter yesterday, with this one, he doesn't need any. Glad I made his acquaintance before the days got any later.
-bill kenny

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

All the Wrong Reasons

I made an unhappy discovery earlier this week on the street where I live. It wasn't solitary by any means and I suspect you've got similar discoveries of your own that, if we compared notes, would add up to more tears and turbulence than we are able to bear.

Just down the street from my house I realized the neighbors I knew well enough to nod hello to have waved goodbye and departed without a word. They and their huge, furry and friendly dog are gone. I do not remember a for sale sign or a moving van and in these times, those two don't always come as a matching set.

We already have two houses on our street for sale. It's a pretty long street and I don't mean to sound like I'm bragging. You'd be hard pressed to find any street in Norwich that doesn't have at least one house on the market. There's a difference between wanting to sell your house and having to sell your home.

After all these months of political campaigning, it's not flippancy to suggest the most critically important lawn signs in any election are the ones the Realtors put out. And in Norwich, as across most of New London County and a great deal of elsewhere in the state, Realtors and banks have been awfully busy, if not especially productive.

I mention the empty houses remembering the one on Washington Street across from the Buckingham School, when it still stood, that I watched become that way one Saturday morning on my way to a One City Forum at the Central Firehouse. By the time I'd walked back home, an hour or so later, the family was packed and gone. The forum had been about generating and implementing ideas to attract people and businesses to come here. Too late for too many.

Having ridden the Big Blue Marble for more than sixty orbits around the sun I recognize we live in a capitalist culture that too often relies on politics to drive economics. This often results in bumpy rides and hard landings for whom we seek scapegoats to blame when all we need do is look in the mirror.

We're in the early stages of neighbors offering themselves for public office for our November elections, but that date, November 5, will be here more quickly than we can imagine and I'm always happy with choices unless it's been reduced to between a blindfold and an electric chair (I'm a pony rides kind of guy).

We'll have an opportunity to select seven people for Mayor and  City Council and to nine members for the Board of Education. That is 'for today, and for tomorrow.' We can't spend enough time encouraging talented and engaged people to consider seeking office because we need all the help we can get.

We campaign in poetry but govern in prose. We'll be enticed and seduced by oratory in the coming weeks and months but we need to make sure we appreciate the differences between hopes and plans. Hopes are wishes we make with our heart. Plans are good intentions we make real through work.
-bill kenny       

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Founded on Intellect and Argument

"Each time we gather to inaugurate a president, we bear witness to the enduring strength of our Constitution. We affirm the promise of our democracy. We recall that what binds this nation together is not the colors of our skin or the tenets of our faith or the origins of our names. What makes us exceptional – what makes us American – is our allegiance to an idea, articulated in a declaration made more than two centuries ago...

"This generation of Americans has been tested by crises that steeled our resolve and proved our resilience. A decade of war is now ending. An economic recovery has begun. America's possibilities are limitless, for we possess all the qualities that this world without boundaries demands: youth and drive; diversity and openness; an endless capacity for risk and a gift for reinvention. My fellow Americans, we are made for this moment, and we will seize it – so long as we seize it together.

"That is our generation's task – to make these words, these rights, these values – of Life, and Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness – real for every American. Being true to our founding documents does not require us to agree on every contour of life; it does not mean we will all define liberty in exactly the same way, or follow the same precise path to happiness. Progress does not compel us to settle centuries-long debates about the role of government for all time – but it does require us to act in our time.

"Let each of us now embrace, with solemn duty and awesome joy, what is our lasting birthright. With common effort and common purpose, with passion and dedication, let us answer the call of history, and carry into an uncertain future that precious light of freedom."
-bill kenny

Monday, January 21, 2013

His Story (and Ours, too)

It was never by design, I assume, that today would be the holiday marking the 84th birthday of the late Doctor Martin Luther King, Jr., and the Second Inauguration of the first African-American to be elected to the Presidency of the United States of America, Barack Hussein Obama. And yet that is exactly what is and will be happening today.

We live in interesting times-actually we live in the most advanced moment in the history of civilization on this planet...until the next moment gets here, and then the one after that and the one after that. Progress is both a journey and a destination; it is a noun and it a verb. And it is each of us and all of us. Today, together. always.

I cannot imagine ever campaigning to be the President. I ran for president of my fifth grade class in Catholic grammar school (and lost) and that was my sum of experience. To run, to win and to be the focus and focal point of so many hopes and aspirations and fears and anger (in politics as in physics, every action has an equal and opposite reaction) must be both humbling and exhilarating.

If the life and times of Dr. King showed us what was considered possible, might I suggest the election of Barack Obama showed us what was impossible. We are all making history today and none of us know where the story goes tomorrow, and for all the tomorrows which remain. The sky is no longer the limit since we know there are footprints on the moon. Make your own leap-and write your own story but be quick about it. Time flies.
-bill kenny

Sunday, January 20, 2013

More Shouting Down the Well

Yesterday  was Gun Appreciation Day. I didn't say anything about it, following my mom's excellent advice 'if you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all.' It wasn't a day the Hallmark folks will rush out a line of cards to help celebrate but it was eventful, I guess, if by 'eventful' you mean ironic. Schadenfreude ist auch ein freude, but in recent months arguments about guns and gun control (as if the two ideas were diametrically opposed or mutually exclusive) have gotten old and hearts have gotten cold.

I was in the Air Force and fired an M-16 rifle for familiarization even though I often told the armorer, 'yep, there it is right there, I recognize it!' I wasn't a warrior, I was a disc jockey for Unca Sam, but I had no doubts that if fired upon by someone who didn't like me, I would have to return fire. I also understood one or the other of us would have to be forced to stop. So, I "get" guns but not to the extent so many of the rest of us seem to.

A month ago former Governor Mike Huckabee, who will never be mistaken for the most reasonable man in the room, had an observation about the heartbreak and horror of  Newtown, Connecticut and Sandy Hook Elementary School that was beyond bizarre. I appreciate those who have taken the Lord who watched over the lilies of the field and who has His eye on the sparrow and have turned Him into the shift supervisor of the Neighborhood Watch.

I sort of prefer that Lord to the one for whom  I make the sign of the cross before I shoot a foul shot in a pro basketball  game (yes, Jason Kidd, I mean you) or to whose home in the heavens I point after I hang that slider just off the plate and still get the third strike called. With due respect to Governor Huckleberry Hound, I'm with Randy Newman on the Divinity.

But speaking of eye on the sparrow, here's a thought to shift your eye level. In the five or so weeks since Newtown, about nine hundred other people in this country have died in gun violence. Not much of it made the news, I know. It's just another day in 'Murikah I guess, because no one from the President of the United States to the Nazi Ranger Assholes who see the Rise of the Third Reich when the size of  ammo cartridges is discussed, seems to care about any of those deceased people. Maybe it's another example of our goldfish-like span of attention. Or perhaps, unlike the children in Newtown, they're not really dead. After all, if a tree falls in the forest and there aren't any satellite uplink trucks to bring it to us live in HDTV, does it (still) get its own benefit concert at MSG?

I'm old enough to remember when the cool kid in seventh grade had a pen knife for show and tell. Now we accept as a fact of life that we have more metal detectors in our schools than in all other public buildings in this country combined. And more people incarcerated than 1/3 of the nations who are members of the UN.

Gun Appreciation Day or Depreciation Day. A plague on both houses. We need to promise one another we'll stop posturing and pouting, or electing asshats who do one and/or the other. Pointing fingers at 'that guy on the other side' doesn't fix anything and never did. And when you look down at that hand, three of the fingers are pointing back at yourself, which is only fair because that's where the change has to start.

My mantra has become 'Begin with Me' and if morons on either side of the Polemic Potomac folks want to think that's a request to a Higher Power, that's fine but it's not. If they want to see it as a call to action, so much the better and maybe closer to the intent. What it isn't and never will be is acquiescence in my own annihilation. We can not only make a difference, we must be the difference. Consider this your invitation to bear witness and your share of the burden.
-bill kenny

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Picture Postcards from the Grillparzer Pension

I couldn't bring myself to watch Lance Armstrong confess to Oprah Winfrey, in that sort of/ kinda/somewhat disjointedly/in the third person manner as if he were talking about another cheater and bully on a bicycle on another planet in another universe. I devoured the various clips in the hopes that somewhere in one of them at sometime he'd display remorse and contrition. Maybe he thought he was admitting to taking drugs to do the interview.

One of his best quotes from his Golden Days, I think he had it trademarked, was "I don't have any more bad days. I have good days and great days." I'm thinking not so much anymore, you lying asshat. I'm not sure why I get so angry at the guy. Yeah, I understand the 'but everybody cheats' alibi masquerading as a defense. So what? It's like arguing you're the second skinniest kid at fat camp. It's as worthless as the man for whom you offer it.

I also enjoy the 'when you think of all the good he's done' line of argument. Oh? Don't think so. I think, rather, for the most part he's a monument to The Edifice Complex--looks really good, but actually isn't. Take a quick read through this and wonder as I do if, after he helped himself, how many others he helped and how many more should/could have been helped. That's why the Lord gives you two hands, Lance, to take as much as you can, and pockets, too, so you have someplace to put it all.

Lance Armstrong, all American tragedy. Let me think about all the people, fellow cyclists, racing officials, journalists, fans of  his sport whom he trashed in the decade plus that he 'defended himself.' The elaborate lies he wove and schemes he worked out. And for what? A shrug, at best, in national spotlight and a ratings boost for a niche network that exemplifies like nothing else the Cult of the Personality. A perfect marriage of medium and message.

Thanks, Lance, and you, too, Oprah, while I'm handing out bouquets and brickbats, for another real-life, real-time truth enema with a fire hose. It's not so much the price of the sell-out for an entire life but the value of what could have been. Stop using your thumb to ring your bike bell and return it to where you kept it before you put your pedals to the medals.  
-bill kenny

Friday, January 18, 2013

Fit to be Tye-died

I finally got to the fitness center I joined a week ago. I didn't get lost, but had the type of cold that made everything painful, even the thought of going to a fitness center. I joined with our daughter, Michelle, and the compelling sales point was that it's a 24/7/365 operation through the magic of a doodad on my key chain that serves as my pass.

I went  for the specific purpose of NOT using the elliptical trainer, I have one in our basement now, but, rather to learn to use machines about which I knew nothing. Mission accomplished. I still know nothing. At some point when my heart slows down I'll tell you about my misadventure aboard the "885 with Open Stride Adaptive Motion Trainer." For now, let's just say, large fun ensued.

I started at a machine for Triceps, perhaps a press, perhaps one of the names that I had for it by the time I almost injured myself not understanding how it worked. I sat with my back against the bench back and pushed straight down on the two handles flanking the seat.

I feared it wasn't turned on since nothing happened but I was wrong. There's a series of pulleys and weights and who-knows what that puts the "re" in resistance training so I get to learn about math and to practice my reading. Here's what I have so far: Resistance is futile..

When the machine is rigged for 270 pounds of weight, my pushing down on two sticks with my upper body while seated will create a beet red face on the front of my head and little else. I had to move the little thingamabob to 170 pounds before I could do one iteration of an exercise. And one iteration is useless. Give me those word problems with 'two trains leave from two different cities at two different times and speeds' any day. No, I won't get those right either, but I'll have a fighting chance of it.

I believe it's ceps in general that I'm gonna have problems with as I went next to a biceps building machine so carefully calibrated in terms of resistance it almost hurled me from my press bench in front of it as I attempted to work it. This is all my fault by the way. There are instructional videos on each one of these devices I can watch in the center or on line, perhaps while texting and driving.

What will really be needed is for me to stop in when a trainer is there and have them walk me through the different machines as that's my 'learning style.' I spent my earliest years hunched over a wooden desk in a crowded class room while a Sister of Charity displayed very little of it, and anything else come to think of it, while droning on in the front of the room about history, English, penmanship and religion, often all at the same time. And people wonder why I avoid the penguin house when we go to the zoo.

Now I'm part of the "demo-perf continuum," in other words more of a show-me guy though I'm pretty sure I have never been in Missouri. I handle in-person instruction better than video or distance learning. I can't believe I took a course on how to take a course, but I did and I'll continue to try to be the best me I can ever be even if it kills me. Because that's what I want from life, at least so far today.
-bill kenny

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Not a Dry Eye Anywhere

It was less than a eye blink ago that the horror of Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut was burned into our consciousness. I could offer an ad hominem attack on the misanthropic misfits who persist and insist it was all a conspiracy so the Muslim President could push his anti-gun agenda....

I would be on the side of the angels as I eviscerated the cretin and his creatures. The rant would be most completely justified and skillfully done. Except it would be a waste of my breath and of your life. Give the benighted bastards their own planet and a rocket to get there (but only half as much fuel as they need).

Try this instead. And afterwards go to Amazon or ITunes and buy a download and watch all the good your money does for people and places somewhere on this side of the rainbow. Be glad you are alive and do something today, and everyday, that makes everyone else glad, too.
-bill kenny

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

...Or Perish as Fools

Monday is a federal holiday, the observance of the anniversary of the birth of Dr. Martin Luther King,  Jr. Schools and government operations are closed as communities across the country join hands and hearts, if only for a moment, to celebrate his life and to consider our progress as a nation in our ongoing journey for equal rights.

This year, perhaps as much a coincidence of the calendar as a possible portent, Monday also marks the inauguration of Barack Obama and his second term as President of the United States. Perhaps, but I don't think so....

Norwich 2013 is about 360 miles away from our nation's capital but as we saw Tuesday, the first of January and the first day of the New Year, in 1863 when Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation, Norwich, home to David Ruggles a leading abolitionist and a conductor of the Underground Railroad, was closer politically and emotionally to Washington D. C. than perhaps anywhere else in the United States at that moment.. It's only been in relatively recent years that historians have started to examine Ruglles' life in greater detail and are still learning about his role in so many critical moments in the anti-slavery movement.

One of the places I've always enjoyed walking past is the Vernet-Lee House at 118 Washington Street, which, according to some accounts, had a tunnel in its basement leading to the Yantic River less than half a mile away to help speed liberated Southern slaves to the Port of New London on the mouth of the Thames and from there, north to Canada and freedom.

The Norwich of a century and half ago was a city of doers, with a rich ethnic diversity even then as waves of immigrants took their turns, so to speak, in the mills and factories built on the banks of the three rivers which helped define the city's boundaries and character.

Thamesville, Taftville and Greeneville together with Bean Hill, Laurel Hill and the farmlands to the east and northwest of the city all offered opportunity to newcomers and established settlers alike and Norwich thrived because of who we were and what we made of ourselves in the moments we claimed for our own. It wasn't the first time, I suspect, that we realized we had more in common than those individual items that separated us one from the other.  It's a history and  a heritage we would do well to remember Monday as we honor the 84th birthday of Dr. King.

As a child of the sixties, who came of age when Dr. King preached and taught and shaped every discussion about equal rights and human rights, believing as he did that one was always the other, I was often speechless at the depth of his belief and eloquence of his vision that resisted the existence and pervasiveness of poverty and despair that was destroying this country. Reinventing American society so that the his children together with mine and yours would "not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character" is a part of the legacy of  Dr. King's life and a part of our nation's history.

So, when you can on Monday, find the time to take part in the ceremonies and commemorations. Ours in Norwich is usually in the early afternoon, and starts at City Hall. There's some speeches (not too many) and some preaching (I don't think Dr. King would mind the competition) and warming words on what is usually a typical New England winter's day. Then we go home to the lives we lead and the people we are.

I hope this year we can seize the moment to celebrate the dream of Dr. King and make it our own.  And then, every day for all the days that remain, use its promise to change the world. Again.
-bill kenny 

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Ain't Gonna Work on Abe Lincoln's Farm No More

For generations, the variations and gradients of perspective politically in both of our two major political parties was astounding. You had conservative Democrats and conservative Republicans who weren't in any ideological respect the same people when it came to the great issue of their day, civil rights for all (the latter were the supporters of it and the former attempted to ignore the issue entirely). And you also had a liberal wing of the Republican party with people like Charles Percy, Edward Brooke, Nelson Rockefeller and Dwight Eisenhower who, when you cross the partisan divide might have been seen as no more than moderate Democrats. 

The current Republican party that's evolved, in my opinion, since the days of Richard M. Nixon and Ronald Reagan thinks of all of those people and others to include Chuck Hagel, Colin Powell and John McCain as Republicans in Name Only, RINOs. The Chamber of Commerce ninja assassins and all those chinless wonders who push the buttons in the party of Lincoln at this time see Sarah Palin, Michelle Bachman, Peter King and Paul Ryan as true blue Republicans and dismiss with a sneer all those whose pedigree is questionable and whose ideology may be less than pure (than their own).

Back in the day, we used to joke the Great Loyalty Oath Crusade always demanded to know "Is your grandmother's Great Dane a Communist?" and now we have, as I understand the November election results, 47% of the nation believing tthat wondering if you can't quote chapter and verse from the book of Rush Limbaugh or Ann Coulter, how dare you call yourself a Republican.

There's a gnashing of teeth when discussions of the merits of the Presidencies of either George H or George W Bush are raised since there's a growing consensus that neither of them was/is a 'real Republican,' which I'm thinking must come as somewhat of a shock to both men and to those who worked for them while they were in the White House.

I know Republicans, or believe to know of them. They're like people who are left-handed or who eat peas with honey. That is to say, I have little interest in their specialized and specific political beliefs because under the 'Big Tent' there's enough space to accommodate their belief system and mine in that 'one man's ceiling is another man's floor' kind of way.

So when Colin Powell shared his discomfiture not only about his party's (lack of) support for Chuck Hagel as Secretary of Defense but for almost any social progress or program created in the last thirty years Sunday on NBC's "Meet the Press" why did all of us get so silent? Yes, I realize MTP is another 'lamestream media' production. That leads me to wonder how is it we've permitted extremist trolls in both parties to frame the discussion and create labels for institutions that have been around for decades even though none of these morons could ever hope to make a meaningful contribution to ANY of them.

Where do Ann and Rachel and Sean and Ed go when the welcoming arms of Fox and MSNBC are not there for them? Back into Crankworld from whence they came and where they should have remained. Don't mistake me-I will not be going shoe-shopping with Chuck Hagel but I can see him more easily in the model of a Bob Gates and Les Aspin than a Donald Rumsfeld. And that he's being criticized for not being partisan enough makes my hair hurt.

Cabinet appointments should reflect our highest intentions and finest aspirations as a nation, NOT be a chance to advance a petty political agenda under yet another false flag. The dark vein of intolerance that General Powell sees on one side of the aisle has, I fear, long since spilled over and polluted both sides of the aisle. The hell with bridge-building-hair pulling is the order of the day, every day.
"I wake up in the morning, fold my hands and pray for rain. I got a head full of ideas that are driving me insane, it's a shame the way she makes me scrub the floor."
-bill kenny

Monday, January 14, 2013

Gamble if You Want to Win

I have a closed circuit radio station playing in my head 24/7. A lot of the time, I'm listening to Golden Oldies (did you know that Love Me Do, because of a quirk in the European copyright law is, as I type this, in the public domain? And all this time I thought Allen Klein was the only bad guy in rock and roll) and sometimes I get a song stuck in my head and I don't know why.

For the last couple of days, I've been taking it very easy in terms of activity as I continue to recover from my brush with the flu-before-it-became-the-flu, catching up on my sleep and drinking a lot of liquids, or vice versa. I've also been enjoying the work of Lizzy Spit, a musician and performer I met (more or less), though Google+ and whose music I find more than interesting both lyrically and melodically. Good quiet time sounds.

Somehow, though I'm not sure of the math that would cause me to go from one place to the other, I have added Harry Nilsson to my mental jukebox and pushed B-52. To my knowledge Lizzy and Harry never met and have nothing in common, except they once both had blond hair. Harry isn't even alive anymore and yet they're both coexisting on my imaginary Rockola, hopping at the high school hop.

There's a wistfulness about the Lottery Song I have always loved. It suggests a vulnerability in Nilsson that at the time we, as fans of the man and his music, didn't necessarily hear. It was only after the song was over in the silence that followed that we first heard the softness of the sighs for what had gone before and was now passed forever. Let the wheel of Fortune spin.
-bill kenny

Sunday, January 13, 2013

# 9 Dream (plus VAT)

I'm very lucky though I'd concede that right now I don't feel that way. I had the makings of a doozie of a cold, perhaps even a touch of the flu going 'round the Northeast, earlier in the week and it was more than imperative that I NOT be sick for events that were to happen yesterday, and did.

My newest doctor squeezed me in for an appointment late Thursday afternoon though she, too, was working on her own version of the illness and sounded like she was losing (she was perfecting her impersonation of Susan Saint. James in MacMillan and Wife). I think she caught it in 'the nickel of time' as my younger sister Jill, used to say.

One of the side effects of the medicines she prescribed has been a desire to sleep. For the last two days I've been able to drop off in the middle of a sentence, yours or mine, usually to be awakened with a hacking cough which is all I really have left from my close encounter of the germicidal kind. For someone who usually gets about five and half hours of sleep a night, this desire for two and three times that number of minutes is a little spooky and is causing me to wonder if the cure isn't worse than the illness.

Of course when you ask me tomorrow morning as I head downstairs to feed the chickens and work out on the cross-trainer, hours before the sun breaks the horizon I'll have a very different answer. I hope.
-bill kenny  

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Beginnings and Endings

My wife and I spent a not inconsiderable amount of time yesterday in the capital of the state of Connecticut, Hartford. Before we lived in The Nutmeg State I believe I thought the capital was Bridgeport or perhaps New Haven, both extremely well-known cities in the Northeast and both considerably larger than Hartford which, to give it its due, successfully fights above its weight class. We live in Norwich, a city of about forty thousand, closer to Rhode Island than it is to Hartford so for us (especially me) anything with glass and steel that goes up more than thirty floors is 'lookie there, Lurleen! Big City'

We were attempting to close one chapter in the novel of our lives and open another. Sort of one of those 'aim for the moon and the stars and if you miss, you at least have the stars' types of endings unless you have a handful of ashes. The two of us have had some turbulence in the last couple of months, mostly self-inflicted by one of us who let it drag on and on for no other reason than that I didn't know how to get out of the hole so I kept digging (you knew of the two of us, it was going to be me, right? Yeah, that's okay; it's how these things usually go). It was an interesting way to fill up the day though I wouldn't recommend it to everyone.

When I was in the Air Force, the fighter jocks (who never went anywhere near dweebs like me) supposedly had a saying 'any landing you can walk away from is a good one.' Maybe that's why I wore comfortable shoes yesterday. Just in case the distance proves to be greater than first thought.
-bill kenny

Friday, January 11, 2013

Had Employee of the Week in my Sights

I showed up on time, fully-dressed at my job every day this week. Do not sit there staring at your screen saying 'so what!' because for me to pull off this feat every day for five days is in itself a second tier miracle.

As I've aged, both my resolve and focus have tended to take days off more often than the rest of me. Sunny days of any kind are the hardest struggle and while I pride myself on still coming into work there's no joy around here when I do as I often seem to be elsewhere though rarely where everyone else so devoutly wishes me to be.

But as I said, five days in a row at the start of the new year (after being off for the three weeks prior, I forgot to factor that into the nomination package), I figured would make me a stone cert for Employee of the Week and I was already clearing a space on my "I Love Me" wall to put up the plaque and planned on wearing my best shirt for the newsletter photo accepting the award.

Then this guy from Canonsburg, Pennsylvania, shows up, sort of. That reserved parking space nearest the loading dock was mine.
-bill kenny

Thursday, January 10, 2013

You Got Enough Love to Make Your Babies

One of the funniest and most insightful routines George Carlin ever offered us as a comedic observation was a house was a pile of stuff with a cover on it. Like all classic Carlin 'bits' there was an edge beyond the laugh point if we wanted to feel it. And, of course, he was spot-on. We become possessed by our possessions, despite the best of intentions otherwise.

That's always pretty evident this time of year as I gather income tax forms, college loan statements and bank reports and punch all the numbers into Turbo Tax, typing everything very carefully with my fingers crossed, hoping for the best and fearing the worst. I'm always astonished (thunderstuck is my current favorite descriptive) by how much money I was paid in the course of a year (and at how little of it I have any personal recollection of spending). Same for you?

I'm wondering if anyone has ever said to the IRS, 'nope-don't think these gross earnings numbers are accurate; where is all of this money I supposedly got?' Make 'em prove it to you. Satellite images of you buying stuff, serial numbers from the money, all the minutiae we see on the CSI shows and The Real Housewives of Orange County (you know what I mean).

But as I said earlier, we are prisoners of all of these possessions, purchased with colored pieces of paper we have more or less agreed mean something. Barbara was right, all those years ago with a sign on her desk that said "I am now starving to death on the salary I once dreamed of making." And it all seems to come down to when is enough too much? Put your hand down, we're not looking for answers why do you think you have trouser pockets? To put the fun in?
-bill kenny

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Words and Deeds

As has been pointed out to me, repeatedly (at times, unceasingly), I didn't grow up in Norwich, the city in which I and my family now live, but Norwich is as much my home as anywhere I've ever been and more so than most. I'm certainly not oblivious to our challenges and areas needing in improvement but I choose to focus my efforts more on the distance we've covered than to dread the journey still before us.

Too often we talk a good game but aren't as good at walking the walk as we are at talking the talk. We claim to understand the value of long term incremental economic growth and continual improvements in our communities' and neighborhoods' quality of life but we continue to be most impressed by shiny steel, sparkling glass, boxes of bricks and bags of mortar.

I understand the appeal, it's rooted in our human nature. Major League Baseball has a Home Run Derby with a sell-out crowd every year as part of the All-Star Game weekend. They don't hold a suicide squeeze bunt or who-can-advance-the-runner-to-second competition.

But still, we can fixate on big things and convince ourselves big must be better than not big and the bigger a project is the more important it must be. Except, sometimes size really doesn't matter, and the impact isn't always proportional. Ask anyone who's ever seen an iceberg. Especially from a ship.

Monday night (and you can go back to the newspaper articles and count the words), the Mayor's annual State of the City speech was the most important part of the City Council's first meeting of 2013. And it was an important part (see what I did there with the definite and indefinite articles? Sister Mary Jean taught me that) but while the Mayor's vision is important, just as important, though much more quiet, was the approval of loan agreements for Norwich Public Utilities to upgrade infrastructure for the municipal water system.

And there two other resolutions, one tasking the Norwich Community Development Corporation to plan and implement (two words not often used together in Norwich) the Norwich Manufacturing Investment Program-that's still to be discussed and decided- and another creating a Downtown Steering Committee to (finally) answer the "shouldn't there be somebody doing that?" question everyone has always had.

I don't imagine we're ever going to have signs boasting to visitors that we're "Proud of Our Drinking Water and Sewers" but we'd better be, because if we intend to entice future residents and businesses to "Choose Norwich" we'll need those utilities.

And unless we think all of these new arrivals are going to stick around while we talk about "the future of Norwich" then we need to build a plan today and then use that plan to build tomorrow.
-bill kenny

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Attention Defici----LOOK! Bikes!

Sometimes I relocate to Downtown Hypocrisy without realizing it. It's pleasant enough, I guess. The pool ain't in but the patio's dry. Our kids are grown so I don't know much about the schools but the shopping is great and we're right on a bus line. The  neighborhood is nice as long as you sidestep answering any of those pesky 'how are you doing?' questions. 

What I'm trying to say is so often (okay, too often) when I get into my drive-by snark mode, as I get into full pointing-my-finger-at-the-outragousness-of-it-allosity, I fail to appreciate three fingers on the hand doing all that finger pointing are pointing back at me. Golly, Wally! Talk about being a poster child for a Target Rich Environment.

Happened yesterday as I was grabbing a look at news headlines. I ended up with time to read one of two articles, the first about the President of the United States refreshing and reforming Cabinet and senior advisor positions at this, the start of his second and final term in office (Disraeli's exhausted  volcanoes comes to mind), or this one. You can already guess which one I chose to read. Incredibly important for me as I audition for neighborhood washer-woman.

Actually I'm interviewing to become another card-carrying member of the Don't Do as I Do, Do as I Say crew. I should have a desk over at MSFoxNBC News by the end of the week, says my agent. If I can just get that correction fluid on my birth certificate to dry between then and now because I need to convince their human resources folks no matter what the driver's license says that I was so much older then, I'm younger than that now.
-bill kenny

Monday, January 7, 2013

Fit to be Tied

A week ago I bought an elliptical trainer to put in my basement. Between you and me I think I knew I was going to own one by the second day of using it in the gym and not getting killed by it. I liked the exercise, or the feeling of exercise (under the general rubric, 'the more you sweat, the more you get') without tearing up my knees which have spent half of the previous decade and all of this one getting torn up, rebuilt and then torn up again.

Of course, as a proud inheritor of my father's boundless mechanical ability, I got nearly as much exercise trying to assemble the 875 kajillion pieces this equipment comes in, cleverly sealed in a plastic designed to catch a  speeding asteroid as it enters an earth orbit, and to be assembled with a hex key that lost out in the semi-final round of the IKEA trademark tool lookalike auditions.

As I learned, the 'tool supplied' tool is useful about half the time which means it's useless about half of the time which is only half again as useless as I am (and was) throughout this entire assembly process. Without my wife and our daughter supplying all the critical thinking at the most critical moments I would be still be in our dirt-floor basement staring at the mountain of 'some assembly required' pieces, contemplating unkind thoughts towards everyone connected with its manufacture.

I knew the assembly would NOT be a walk in the park when a leaflet inside the packing material proved to be a flier to hire a professional to assemble the device for you. Talk about marketing! Yes, they could have put this information on the outside of the box but when do you suppose the most opportune moment to broach this delicate subject is? Yepper, when the stuff is all over the floor and you're starting to despair of ever seeing the light of day again. Perfect-a plaque of platinum, status is whack. As long as no one makes me  wear a unitard, it's all good.
-bill kenny    

Sunday, January 6, 2013

And Everybody's Wrecked on Main Street

It was forty years ago yesterday afternoon that I was unpacking a shipment of new releases in the record department of the store I worked. The number of folks who had dropped in before the truck made its regular delivery asking about one particular album was very impressive except.....

The album they were asking about was a local guy and when I say local, I was working in Manalapan, off Route 35 north of Freehold, and the local artist basically lived in the Boro as Freeholders called it. I wasn't one but was going out with somebody from there and she was a fan. Actually everybody all the way to the shore, blue hair and piney alike, was a fan.

They had good reason. A great live act, the local artist even then seemed to play all night and going to a show was like going to a marathon (but one with great music). Every one who saw him live knew he was going to be big, we just didn't know he was going to be BIG. But he did.

Forty years ago, yesterday, Greetings from Asbury Park, N. J.,  was released. I've never checked, and wouldn't know how, but I think every record shipped to any store in Jersey was gone before the store closed that night. He knew, we knew, and now four decades, so does everyone, everywhere. Nobody wins unless everybody wins.

"That blaze of noise, boys, he's gunnin' that bitch low to the blastin' point.
Rides headfirst into a hurricane and disappears into a point.
And there's nothing left but some blood where the body fell, that is, nothing left that you could sell.
Just junk all across the horizon, a real highway man's farewell."
-bill kenny

Saturday, January 5, 2013

One Is a Mandate

A fifteen year old girl, Malala Yousufzai, was granted a respite from her life in a London hospital and  released Thursday to the care of her parents. It's okay if you just went 'who?'

Malala Yousufzai doesn't hang out with Justin Bieber or shoe shop with Kim Kardashian and she probably doesn't have any idea of who Snooki is, or what that one's last name might be (can't help you sister, no clue myself though I think 'talentless' is her first name).

Malala Yousufzai's name was on every one's lips, for a moment or so, this previous October because of the infamous and perfidious injury done to her by cowards who murder others in the name of their God, which should please Her/Him, if s/he exists at all, no end.

The original news reports outlined an horrific crime of a magnitude your mind stops trying to contemplate it and looks for exit doors to attempt headlong flight from your skull. In a world populated with non-stop catastrophic, pornographic, vicious violence, the attempted mindless murder of this young woman over her desire and insistence on attending school is, and remains, beyond my comprehension.

Take another glance at the look on her face as she was exiting the hospital (she must return later and who knows how many more times for surgeries to repair damage the rest of us cannot even imagine), and tell me you believe, as I do, from the look in her eyes that she will win.

Actually, she has already won. She not only survived the attack but where before she was just one young woman trying to go to school, now she is a symbol for why Right Will Always Win and Why Wrong is Doomed.  میں ہو جائے گا، آپ کو سب نظر آئے گا میں سے ایک ہوں، میں ہوں، میں وہی ہوں.
-bill kenny

Friday, January 4, 2013

Eye Red the Gnus Today

If it walks like a duck and talks like a duck, in all likelihood, it is a duck. In this case, the duck would have to give away twenty points or more on an IQ test to be Kim Kardashian's equal. But with a set of tail feathers like hers, she'd still probably sink like a stone. Phew! I feel a LOT better getting that vitriol off my chest but here's my actual point: why is Preggers Kim Kardashian newsworthy? Maybe I should better ask that of ABC News.

Appreciate her blinding glimpse of the obvious that the 'reality star' and pearl beyond price offered all of us because despite what these folks say, she is the only pregnant woman in the United States. There's a story (you'll think I fabricated but even I couldn't make this up) to the effect that she and Kanye West are "adjusting." Oh? Pray tell, dish!

I can feel the gorge rise in my veins with attempts to portray any aspect of the existence of the Family Kardashian and their ilk as news of any sort. It's like those "Ling-Ling is Pregnant" stories when some US zoo with a panda bear gets excited because the she of the species got her swerve on.

Maybe just my jaundiced view but baby pandas look not unlike small raccoons wearing a black and white onesie. (And there are thousands of websites with pictures, Why?) Speaking of pandas, elevating purposelessness to an art form as well as the Kardashians (all three elements are one and the same I would submit) I have to wonder if Kanye intends to be present for the delivery. He did, after all, place the order and when the Blessed Event happens, as it's all on TV, so I have to imagine he'll use that opportunity to point out how much sweller Beyonce's baby delivery was/is.

If that happens (knowing Kanye's predilection for the wrong word at the wrong time that's more when than if) perhaps of some solace, Kim, (and you'll have to look that up as it's not on those word-a-day calendars Bruce Jenner got you and your sisters), Taylor Swift will so be able to relate to how you'll feel. Maybe she can be the baby's Godmother.Not sure if I smell a news Emmy but something sure does!  
-bill kenny

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Harry Was Right

Today is my first day back to work since the middle of December. I'm grateful to have a job-I no longer enjoy it, but I've reached an age where not enjoying what I do for a living is part of the price I pay for being alive. If punching the clock is what it takes to stay ahead of the Grim Reaper, lace up the ten ounce gloves and tell me where the neutral corner is.

I still subscribe to Noel Coward's "Work should be more fun than fun" position and believe that it should be the most fun I can have with my clothes on. But it isn't; and it hasn't been in sometime and I don't think I'll find the magic for it to be that way in my office desk drawer today, though that would be a hoot and half.

Fortunately, for all of us, but especially you, what I do for a living isn't important and (more especially for me) isn't difficult either physically or mentally. Today, the first day back, will be painful for all of us as I've made a terrible discovery that the salubrious effects of vacation disappear more rapidly now than they did five or ten years ago.

Back in those halcyon days, it would take until later in the same week before the grind and routine caught up with me-now it's just later that same morning. If you need to speak with me, I'd hold off until next week since I'm probably not much like a day at the beach today.

I have a whole new routine for going to work and am still sorting that out. I still start the work day with some cross-training (not to be confused with cross-dressing which I gave up for Lent a number of years ago, severely disappointing all the girls in the convent) but now I have a machine in our basement so I don't have to hit the gym on my way in every morning.

In theory, it frees up more of my more productive morning hours (in my case, all characterizations involving productivity are relative and ALL of my relatives work harder than I do) so if the stars shine a little brighter, the wind howls a little softer or the snows seem to be falling with an added urgency, that's more than likely my handiwork and you're welcome.

Unless, of course, I decide today's the day I harmonize with Harry in which case all bets are off.
-bill kenny      

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Still Has that New Year Smell

Luck is what happens when opportunity meets preparation said Seneca a first century Roman philosopher, and as we begin a brand new year, let's hope we get the requisite portion of luck, personally and as a city.

Thomas Jefferson once offered "I am a great believer  in luck and I find the harder I work, the more of it I have." And if the display window at 102-110 Main Street in Chelsea is an indicator of how prepared small businesses are, opportunity will barely have to knock at all.

But I've gotten ahead of myself, again. Last Thursday most of New England was digging out from and/or bracing for a nasty winter storm that dropped a lot of snow on people who didn't get sleds for Christmas. Around here we were getting sporadically drizzled upon during one of those cheerless gray days we could complain about except, checking the calendar, who would we be kidding?

It was a decent enough day for me to walk from Franklin Square up Main Street, between the Wauregan Hotel and Shannon Building, past the Haymarket Building and Mercantile Exchange all the way to the Carroll Building and then back up Washington Street and home to Lincoln Avenue (in light of yesterday's events, I thought I should work that in).

My family and I didn't live in Norwich when, the stories and sages say, it was so crowded on Thursday evenings children walked in the street to give adults more room on the sidewalks but I passed a goodly number of people out and about at the lunch hour grabbing themselves something to eat and running errands. Downtown looks very different when you had a human element in reasonable quantity.

I noticed people pausing as they passed just beyond the intersection of Main with Market Street and with good reason. Next door to the office of the Greater Norwich Area Chamber of Commerce is a display window collaboration of three businesses not (yet) in Norwich but close at hand who are using a still-vacant storefront to catch the passer's-by eye.

For anyone in the market for wedding services, the storefront is as close to one-stop heaven as you can get in this zip code. The owners of Ideas and Innovations, Love Me Two Times and the Chocolate Rose Bake Shop have joined forces to offer a sample of everything you might need, except the justice of the peace (who may be available through Amazon, which would explain the smile on the box).

The marketing outreach is an offshoot of some work in late December together with the Norwich Community Development Corporation and 110 Main LLC who own the building where the display brightens up a piece of the sidewalk you might otherwise take for granted.

Think of it as a trial balloon or a test run but more than that, a hopeful way to begin our New Year. We've spent a lot of time in Norwich bemoaning our fate and wondering when our luck might change-perhaps Seneca and Jefferson would agree this year the best luck we should have is the luck we make ourselves.
-bill kenny      

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Thirty Dialogues Bleed into One

It has already happened across much of the earth before it happens here. The New Year, filled with hopes and dreams and schemes and screams, is before us like freshly fallen snow. Be careful where you step as your marks are the first and you want them to mean something.

Sound familiar? It should.

It was just about what each of us thought last year at this time. And the year before that. And, truth to tell, for all the years before that which any of us can or care to remember. Maybe just me, but I think not, we all love brave beginnings-and 2013 will never be as new as it is now.

Okay, it's a little less new now than a moment ago, but still. Better hurry and make your mark-it's getting older and more shop-worn by the second and soon enough we'll be glad rid of it and looking forward to its successor.

Except, this year, this time, in this moment, make yourself seen and heard. Be someone and do something for someone else. Everyone, everywhere needs a certain someone at sometime. We, you and I, can each be that someone for someone else. There'd be no distance that could hold us back. Ever.  

Welcome 2013. Bring it.
-bill kenny