Sunday, June 30, 2013

She Loved Hard

I said goodbye in the company of family and friends to the wife of a long time acquaintance yesterday morning. I'm sure she would have preferred a more measured leave-taking but life is what happens when you are busy making other plans.

Sheila left Nigel and their two children, Samantha and Ryan, very suddenly earlier in the week. As I learned yesterday her husband's final act of their marriage was to administer CPR three times in a desperate effort to save the life of the woman he had loved since first seeing her when he was ten.

The filled room, hushed except for soft and quiet sobbing of those still processing the enormity of their loss, was witness to the celebration of her life. I've known Nigel for the better part of a decade and a half and I learned again, no matter how long or well you think you know someone, there are some journeys they make alone even in a crowd.

There are no words from my lips or keyboard or anyone else's that can help heal the hole in his heart or in those of their children. Today, tomorrow or in any way, shape size or form for many days to come.

The celebration of her life yesterday caused me to remember so many, too many, really, parent organized dinner and a movie nights in the gym at Buckingham School when all of our kids were a lot younger (us, too, come to think of it).

Sigrid, Sheila and the usual suspects of the Mommy Mafia would organize huge portions of pasta which disappeared often in near-record times to feed hungry children as their husbands battled the world's oldest projector and prayed it stayed running long enough to get us through the family flick. It usually did and everyone went home happy.

Yesterday, only Sheila went home. The rest of us will have to learn to deal with a little less sunshine everyday for the rest of our lives.
-bill kenny

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Losing the Balcony Over the Toy Store

I went to my fitness center yesterday. Our daughter has been consistently more conscientious about going than have I. In a good week, I'll get inside the facility twice maybe.. Not that long ago, I was so concerned about my attendance because of the money this is costing me I considered counting as visits days I thought about going. How sad.

I went earlier this week and there were a gaggle of folks working out so I had to settle for a treadmill instead of my Precor Super-Duper Machine of Death, shown here, full size.

If you're no bigger than the period at the end of the sentence above the picture, that is. I crack myself up, I really do. But that's not the point, at least not yet; it may be by the time I get done, but I'm not there yet.

The fitness center only has two of these machines. I suspect that has something to do with the Geneva Convention. Or not. They were both in use. That's a one laughing eye and one crying eye situation for me. I've mentioned when I'm on it, and its actual name is Precor AMT 885 Open Adaptive Motion Elliptical Trainer it almost kills me, but what doesn't kill me might hurt someone else and I'd sure hate to miss that. No such luck. There were two kids and they were each going at least ten time faster on the machines than I ever manage all without breaking a sweat.

I already disliked them but then suddenly I hated them and they started it. Seriously. Each of the two had an IPad set up on the handlebars of the doohickey so that the display screen for the machine was propping up their toys. They were using the center's wi-fi connection and their IPads to play chess with one another.

My lungs were exploding just watching them skip along on the machine at full speed all the while rooking and queening and never taking their eyes off their respective boards. They were already on the machines when I arrived. I ran for 30 minutes on the treadmill (a little slice of heaven for someone with prosthetic knees, but important I not only keep trying to do but that I succeed at) and then I biked for another couple of miles with a sci-fi system of sorts that's really nice.

And when all of that was done and I was a puddle of sweat and gym clothes on the floor near the entrance, those two were still scampering along, playing chess. They may still be there. I deliberately didn't look for them the last time I was there, just in case I found them.
-bill kenny  

Friday, June 28, 2013

Cheech and Chong: The Next Generation

I have a rather large album collection. If you were born after 1985, an album is a compendium and assemblage of pre-recorded music on a large flat vinyl disc surface that resembles a frisbee or an inedible thin crust pizza.

Aged hipster doofus that I am, I find it tragi-comic I have to explain 'album' to people who have never seen one because those who so believe once thought Moses came down from the Mount and the Burning Bush with The Ten Commandments on compact disc and then, later, on flash drives.

With the growing popularity of tablets, you can imagine those folks' excitement now. Their criminal misreading of the description in the Old Testament probably goes a long way to understanding why so many houses of worship in recent times are located so close to Apple Stores. I have a suggestion on what to do with the cloud my pocket-protector friend but if you do, you'll be mistaken for an AFLAC stunt double.

Anyway, one of the things I feared as our children grew up was that they might learn about their father through their exploration of my album collection. Not that learning about many different kinds of music is a bad idea, unless it's Big Band Crunk or Country and Western Rastafarian, but because of buried treasure, and not so much that might be considered treasure, they could find in those stacks o' wax.

I sometimes wondered how I would explain Uriah Heep albums to them after a school year of Officer Nash and the D.A.R.E. program. And I definitely didn't want something like Abominog ending up on the classroom share table for Show and Tell. I most dreaded the inevitable discovery of Cheech and Chong who, truth to tell, were, in the moment in which they were regarded as cutting edge humor, proof positive that cannabis destroyed brain cells.

That's why it's more in sorrow than anger that I encountered this on-line yesterday and read sad tales about medical maladies previously nearly unknown. I met your children-what did you tell them?
Alice B. Toklas has been repurposed as a medible? Up next, a nice safe and sane Buick sedan at a special low price at selected dealerships. Heaven forfend!   
-bill kenny

Thursday, June 27, 2013

God, Dice and the Universe as We Know It

With my apologies to Paul Simon's lyrics which I shamelessly appropriate on a regular nd recurring basis, like this one, 'these are the days of miracles and wonder.' Leaving me to wonder if the part of 'this is the long distance call' will be played by Johnny Depp or Liam Neeson (and yes, I used those two because I think who they are; caring is another and very different, matter).

Twelve hours or so before this happened in our nation's Capitol (actually down the street from the Capitol Dome, at the Supreme Court or SCOTUS if you're a hipster), not including crossing time zones in the US or adding the sales tax in either The District or in Austin to the purchase price of the watch we're using to time the temporal span, this happened.

The legal decision making of the former and the parliamentary pusillanimous pussy footing of the latter (Spiro, you were a national treasure and thankfully we've buried you too deep to find) almost  obscures a convergence of the absurd and the obvious that should be larger than Texas itself and yet remains somehow hidden from our 24/7 news outlets as noise gets proffered as news.

When we speak/write/think 'equal rights' doesn't it mean everyone already has them in the natural course of events not as a result of a judicial court or legislative action bestowing/withholding them. Despite the despair of my adulthood, funny how the loss of my religious faith seemed to occur as the 'real world' was mugging my idealistic butt, I remain resolute in the belief that if there were to be a God who created us in Her/His image and likeness, S/He would love all of us, not just some of us. And it would be all the time not on a whim or with a whisper or whimper. 

I remain confounded as to how one political party can labor unceasingly to make sure the New World Order's Governmental Black Helicopters cannot ever take away our guns but then simultaneously attempt to leverage the same gun-grabbing government to manage a woman's womb. Weawy. (Couldn't wesist, you wascally wabbit.)

I fear we're so far gone we've lost sight of what it is, or sadly and more accurately phrased what it was that allows us to sit at keyboards and type words such as these, or recoil in consternation (as you likely are) at a monitor while trying to read them and never mind figure out if you agree or not, liberty both as an intellectual exercise and a practical application. We have the same appreciation of the heritage that produced our liberty as a cat does of history. 

No one has forced us to be the people we are becoming. The ennui and the entropy that has contributed to our short-sighted dyspeptic worldview is our own creation. We have allowed our fears to outpace our faith and are not merely abandoning the gifts we received as birthrights as Americans but are actively casting them away as quickly as we can. 

All we can remember of the American Dream is that it has something to do with sleeping, but so, too, do nightmares. Like the one into which we are descending
-bill kenny 

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Winning and Whining

Horace Mann suggested “Habit is a cable; we weave a thread of it every day until at last we cannot break it.” How else to explain the near-kabuki theatre masquerading as the budget process we just endured, and more importantly perhaps, made one another endure?

What could be less unexpected than gathering up city employees, from department heads through teachers as well as school children, and holding all of them hostages while various advocates storm the podium in council chambers and thunder about dire consequences to us all should funds not be available and adequate. 

You say ‘tomato,’ I say ‘tomatoh’ and the next thing you know we have a food fight of epic proportions going on. Talk about a ‘clean-up in aisle seven.’ We should start at City Hall and work our way to the city limits.

As long as we allow ourselves to handicap a horserace with phrases like 'winners' and 'losers' while looking at a process creating a 116 million dollar municipal budget we're looking at the hole instead of the doughnut.
Do we have a process to determine what is 'needed' rather than what is fervently desired and presented publicly as a need? Is there a process in place to identify the funding, the full funding, of every 'need' we have? And have we prioritized the needs based on greatest good and return on investment.

If we don't have those things, and I’d submit we do not, nor do we have the political will to define that process, early next June we'll do exactly the same dance as this year only some of the dancers may be different (but sadly familiar). The song remains the same.

We change aldermen/women (city managers and others)-but we always arrive at budget decisions in the exact place, where the road and the sky collide. How and why does this happen and keep happening? A Confederacy of Dunces? A Conspiracy of Feckless and the Reckless? No, hardly.

The fault, Dear Brutus, lies not in the stars, but in ourselves.
We created this and we have to solve it.

Wringing our hands, yelling at elected representatives, wildly applauding people who agree with us and/or disapprovingly murmuring at those who don’t, wearing tee-shirt with slogans, holding banners in front of City Hall--all of that is a distraction masquerading as part of a process it, in reality, perverts.

Truth to tell each of us knows how to solve the challenge of an affordable and equitable budget, but how many are willing to?

It must be our willingness combined with an ability to work with like-minded (and often UNlike-minded) people of good will that is worth vastly more than all the posturing and pouting that brought us here again and which keeps us here always. Habits and threads.

Think about who we are and who you'd like us to become (and what you're willing to pay to do that) between now and Election Day. It could be habit-forming.
-bill kenny

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Still a Better Movie than Twilight

Empty calories are calling me and you home. We just didn't hear them because of all the processed sugar and corn syrup in our ears. Soon, it will be all clear.

Maybe this is what leads the next Renaissance here in the Land of the Morbidly Obese. When Ding-Dongs are outlawed only outlaws will have Ding-Dongs. Fight the Powers that Be. Word (and it's cream-filled).
-bill kenny

Monday, June 24, 2013

The River and the Changes It's Seen

One of the amazing things about this era of worldwide connectivity is how you can reunite with people you never actually knew and yet knew of. Sometimes it's a heartening experience and other times more disheartening when you discover the person behind the facade is someone you would never choose to otherwise know.

I never really have had that problem since people I've known in 61 years here on the ant farm are well rid of me when we go our separate ways and relief, not regret is what they more than not feel. If I had a dime for everyone with whom I had lost contact who was happy when we re-established it, I'd have closer to four cents. So much for change I can believe in.

I'm on a message board of an organization I was in a long time, over thirty years past, with hundreds of members from various eras with cohorts and generations of folks who worked in all aspects operation. Some people worked there for many years, spanning decades and are touchstones for a lot of us who don't really have a lot in common. It's nice but it can set you up to get hurt if you don't tread lightly.

One of the group posters, who is (and this will surprise you) considerably older than I am, shared that he's about to return to the work force (in this case, radio broadcasting). He's very much old-school, with a great voice and terrific phrasing, very important a generation of broadcasting ago.

I was discomfited years ago to discover he was nothing like the icon I had admired professionally for decades when through our joint membership in the group, I had the opportunity to get to know him as someone beyond the microphone. Crestfallen might be a word I'd use, or chastened by the encounters and I avoided his postings by not dropping by the group board.

So in recent days when I had a note from another former colleague asking me about  the pending 'return to the arena' I had to catch up on a lot of postings including one announcing he was "...ready to kick a$$ again." I hope he does but perhaps on his way to the studio that first day 'back' he'll pass a river, not unlike this one, that will  give him pause and food for thought.

It's important to realize no one enters the same river twice because both the river, and you, have changed. Not always for better or worse. And to remember in this universe, change is the only constant and our only constant companion.
-bill kenny

Sunday, June 23, 2013

In through the Out Door

We were busier than bees around here on Friday as just about all the schools not just in Norwich but across the region, from high schools and vocational schools through elementary and middle schools had their last day of the school year.

Driving on New London Turnpike, from the Norwichtown Commons towards Route 82, I passed the analog message board at John Stanton School.  I'm sure its message was duplicated across the state and the country.

At least that side was. However, and I first saw it in my mirror and then had to turn around to convince my brain were eyes were not goofing on it, this is the message that greets Stanton kids as they head to the Commons to stock up on snacks on their way to the beach.

Talk about harshing the little ones' buzz. Hot Fun is fleeting and the game's afoot..
-bill kenny

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Building Tomorrow Today

This is the first weekend of summer and I hope you have an opportunity to enjoy it as much (but no more) than I hope to. It's not wrong to kick back from life on the ant farm and coast for a bit as long as you're recouping while you're regrouping because there's enough slack spokes in need of some pedaling.

I found something yesterday, you probably already know about, One Today by Google, that will not change your life but may very well change someone else's and that would be a win/win instead of the usual whine/whine we get so often round these parts.

With the Summer Solstice behind us and the Perigee Full Moon before us, maybe we can practice a small dose of what I call 'realistic resolve.' I'd love to save the world but realize I can't and won't but perhaps I can actually save a piece big enough for a loved one to stand on. And then they, too, can save a piece of the world and then the next and the next and pretty soon before you know it we have saved the world. Bippity-bobbity boo.

And while you're helping do that, kemo sabe (was just at Mohegan Sun, sorry), consider a second helping of helping by enjoying this and spreading some cash in the direction of Linda Chorney and her effort to help support Boston Strong.

Good works, it really does. And I'm nearly the living proof as some time back I had email asking for help in financing new music from the Poet Laureate of the Lower East Side, Willie Nile. His new new album, American Ride, arrived in the post yesterday and it's stunning, must-hear and best of all, I helped. It feels better than good, it feels great.
-bill kenny

Friday, June 21, 2013

I Smell Rewrite

Turns out the most surprised guy in the business world Wedneday may have been the best-dressed, George Zimmer. Talk about putting the eliminate back in Eliminator, eh?

Sure hope somebody brought lyrical pencils for Frank, Dusty and Billy, because pen and ink is a bear to erase.

I guarantee it, by George.
-bill kenny

Thursday, June 20, 2013

On a Night like this, I Deserve to get Kissed at least Once or Twice

Who doesn't love a good peanut butter conspiracy? After all, it's spreading everywhere. Sometimes for reasons that say more about us than about the life and times in which we live it's easier if not actually preferable to believe something that was accidental or random was anything but. And we'll cling to that belief no matter what.

Take as an example a two-fisted, certifiably sad, heartbreaking calamity from another time in the era of pre- 9/11 air-travel. So many lives lost, so many more tangled and twisted and ultimately broken under the weight of everything done and undone in the course of the investigation of the aftermath and we may start on this all over again.

The holes in the hearts of the survivors, where the thinnest of scar tissue has only recently started to cover the place where their beloved was are about to be exposed again in the grim pursuit of The Truth (capital letters are deliberate because The Truth is and should be always Absolute even if it provides absolutely no absolution). If the truth will set you free, what liberation is grief without surcease?

Earlier in the week the game was afoot for Jimmy Hoffa's body. Again. It didn't seem to work out for the folks who see gunmen on the grassy knoll sharing a fudge sundae with Marilyn Monroe and eating peanut butter and fried banana sandwiches with Elvis always want it to, but they're used to that by now and are very comfortable with blaming Them for that magical miscreant tour that leads us all astray.

I had a note yesterday from a former friend whose so former in his current mental state I'm not sure in real life I'd recognize him (and suspect he'd say the same about me; and we're both right). He wanted to talk about the death of Michael Hastings. Instead of trying to share condolences over the loss of a brilliant and talented reporter, whose profile of General Stanley McChrystal did for Afghanistan in 2010 what Hunter Thompson's Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail did in 1972 for presidential campaign politics, I found myself listening to a crazy person spin a saga beyond my compassion and my power of comprehension.

I'm not sure what pushed him over the edge but that's where he was calling from and I hope he makes it back around here sometime when he's better because I miss my friend. Hadn't heard from him, or of him, for close to three decades until yesterday and he never did explain how he knew where to find me which, for the record, I find disquieting. But not every tragedy makes the headlines and somewhere, his happened very quietly but was no less profound.

"There's a spy in the sky.
There's a noise on the wire.
There's a tap on the line
For every paranoid's desire."
-bill kenny  

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Seventh Inning Heaven

Were you wondering about how it was that the clouds dissipated late Friday afternoon and the rain stopped, making the Father's Day weekend's weather the Best-Summer-Weekend-Before-Summer-Even-Starts in the history of summer?

Not bragging or nothing, but you're welcome. Kidding, of course. Your other choice is to believe it was coincidence, which you are welcome to do. But is it also coincidence that the kids get out of school, at least in Norwich, this Friday and the Connecticut Tigers open up their first long home stand of the 2013 New York-Penn League season on Sunday?

Talk about perfect timing. School's out for the summer and the sport that says summer like no other, Abner Doubleday's gift to the American people, baseball, is just getting interesting up the hill at Dodd Stadium.

The turnout for this season's home opener against the Lowell Spinners Monday night was the best in Tiger's history which will sound even more impressive when the Tigers have been here in Norwich for twenty years. But those days are still ahead of us.

The Single A Short Season which is the baseball we in New England have for many good reasons to include April snowstorms and Arctic temperatures, and yes I am guilty of being a baseball fan, is a perfect introduction of professional players, just starting the travail and travel they hope will lead to The Show, the Major Leagues, to fans in the stands who, after a hard day, want to sit in the cool of the evening, perhaps with the family and perhaps with an adult sparkling beverage, and watch the joyful boys of summer play a game that's so easy to play but so hard to play well.

There's a lot to like about the Connecticut Tigers at Dodd Stadium. The Tigers, affiliated with those so similarly striped in the Motor City, have provided and continue to provide, talent to the parent club every season and this year will be no exception.

There's the value for your dollar with reasonably priced admission for games in a facility with almost perfect sight-lines (= not a bad place to watch a game), terrific fan giveaways all season long, great prices and variety on food and refreshments and between innings entertainment that's good fun in its own right all in a ballpark that's in our backyard.

I'm told that for the price of four people to make a day of it at Fenway Park or Yankee Stadium you can put one or more children through college (and complete their doctoral studies) I just made that statement up and have no way of checking its accuracy.

But having enjoyed Major League Baseball since there were only ten teams in each of the two leagues, I'd note that even an old bench rider gets excited watching youngsters who less than a month ago were probably still playing college baseball and are trying to make their big league dreams come true.

As a fan whose favorite team is the Yankees, and whose second favorite is whoever is beating the Red Sox, the CT Tigers are my home team and I'm as happy when they play well and win as I am if I were to do the same. And from the safety of the seats there's no drag bunts to have to learn and no trying to remember the infield fly rule (it has something to do with "i before e" as I recall).

This is a limited time offer-the Connecticut Tigers' home season ends on August 30th and that gets closer every day. There's a plethora of ticket options (lots of choices) that are best explained on their website, by calling 860-887-7692, or stopping in at the box office to talk them every morning from ten o'clock. You might want to take the catcher's mitt off before you call them, or you could end up talking to Sydney. Sydney, Australia, that is.
-bill kenny

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

An Awkward Instant of Ether

This escaped my notice until yesterday was over so a belated note of sincere and ranch dressing covered congratulations (?) on all those who celebrated, I suppose, National Eat Your Vegetables Day

If you'd like to make a joke at the expense of Marcus Bachmann who is married to a Congresswoman who disagrees with how my wife and I spelled our daughter's name, among other partings of the way, I suppose I can't stop you. I could help you if you signaled even the slightest bit of interest since I'm as fond of either of them as I am of both of them which is the same amount as I like Brussel Sprouts sherbet.

You clicked didn't you and now you feel a little cheated that the recipe was something else. Spare me, buddy, or budette, none of us ever wanna think about a dessert like that. 

Tomorrow is a considerably more important and no, there's no need for Todd Palin to sit up straight  because no one is calling on him or his nearly delightful better half, Sarah "Mama Grizzly" Plain and Tall, to do anything. As if they could. Sorry, must be the sherbet talking. 

Tomorrow my brother Adam and his wife, Margaret, celebrate their anniversary and I hope I can see the floats from the celebratory parade here in Norwich and if I have to move to Alaska, well then I will because there's so much else to see. 

Kidding aside, assuming you thought I was, I hope they will have as wonderful day as I believe they have had since they first met and married. I was going to organize a small get together, just snacks really but guess who can't handle the chips and dip?
-bill kenny  

Monday, June 17, 2013

Infinite Space

Every time we try to put the past in the past, some hobgoblin of an awful memory comes slipping out between the pages of what we'd hoped was long-forgotten, standing in the center of our attention and demanding we do something. 

So was it last week for Michael Karkoc, almost a century old, who'd hoped to live out his days in Minnesota far from where he lived during his youth. It would appear, based on the allegations of this news story, he wanted an old age he denied thousands of others of ever having.

The assumption and presumption of innocence being what it is, I should withhold judgment until history has rendered its but every time I encounter a Holocaust denier, a 'if these people were any more different than us' asshat, I'll think of Korkac and remember the stories the nuns used to tell us of the special Hell for the special sinners prepared before time itself. 

"People are stirred, moved by the word. 
Kneel at the shrine, deceived by the wine.
How was the earth conceived? Infinite space. 
Is there such a place? 
You must believe in the human race.

Can you believe, God makes you breathe. 
Why did He lose six million Jews?

Touched by the wings fears angel brings. 
Sad winter storm, grey autumn dawn.
Who looks on life itself, who lights your way? 
Only you can say. 
How can you just obey?

Don't need the word, now that you've heard. 
Don't be afraid: man is man made.
And when the hour comes, don't turn away. 
Face the light of day, and do it your way.
It's the only way."
-bill kenny

Sunday, June 16, 2013

When the World Wasn't So Big and I Could See Everywhere

When I was in the US Air Force, after I was married but before we had children-actually before my wife had children; I placed the order and was on hand for the delivery but the pre-natal was all Sigrid. Anyway, back then shortly after Easter in 1980 I happened across a tremendous card that was pitch perfect for my dad for Father's Day.

I was in the Rhein Main Base Exchange and the thing you have to know about US military overseas shopping opportunities, be they exchanges (like department stores) or commissaries (like groceries) is when you see it on the shelf, buy it. There's no 'look in the back room for more' no 'we're expecting another order in a  week.' It really is a case of 'he who hesitates is lunch.'

When I saw the card, I knew it was ideal for two people who had long ago come to the realization they had nothing to say to one other but neither wanted to be the first to admit that because an admission such as that would be giving up and these two Thick Micks never gave up, ever.

Our relationship, and as I discovered, that of my brothers and sisters as well, to varying degrees, frequently had more turbulence than tranquility. I used to say my father was the angriest man I ever knew until I caught a glance of myself one morning in the mirror. I then stopped saying that.

The card captured all of that and when I got home I signed it, wrote a note whose every word I still remember, addressed the envelope, put a stamp on it and put it  in the hand tooled leather carrying bag Sigrid had gotten me for our first wedding anniversary and into which I dropped any number and manner of objects as I went about my life.

I next saw the card some six months later when Sigrid, Frau Ordnung Muss Sein, was cleaning out my bag and held it out to me in soft and silent reproach as we sat in our living room. She pursed her lips and waited for her spaetzen-hirnn husband to grasp what the object was and then, realizing he did, slowly shook her head.

For my part, chagrined as I was, I insisted it wasn't that big a deal as I could save the card for next Father's Day and thought no more of it. Sadly, the universe did. My father was to die in his sleep of an attacking heart the following May. The words I'd always meant to say but needed thousands of miles of ocean to actually write, were never shared.

I became an adult when I bought my first beer legally. I became a man when I took a wife (or more exactly, when she married me). I became a father with the birth of our son, Patrick, and of our daughter, Michelle. When I looked at my dad 'back in the day' I saw him differently than I do now, shaped and formed by the crucible of events controlled and beyond our control each of our lives has contained.

I've learned not very much in six plus decades here on the ant farm except, tell the people you love that you love them when they and you are here so they know it and don't be surprised that they already did and that in their own way they love you too. To my brothers and my brothers-in-law, fathers all, and to you as well and always, Happy Father's Day.
-bill kenny

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Even Mae West Was Impressed

...and it has to be hard to be good said the bad one. Sorry for the vulgar innuendo, unless that, too, is perceived as part of the assault on your sensibilities. In which case, I regret nothing. 

When I wore a younger man's clothes I spent a lot of time working and living dts, Down the (Jersey) Shore in places like Manalapan, (Ocean) Grove Beach and Point Pleasant. I just remembered about Genevieve from a long time ago and her dad's house on a mostly sandy road and her admonition to me to 'never get out of the car, don't ring the bell or come near the door. He doesn't like you.'

It's funny now, forty years on. It was perplexing then as I'm more than reasonably sure we never met, and time moving inexorably the way it does, we probably never shall. Mr. Ferdna (I think that was his name;  I just realised I never even knew that), I wasn't nearly as big a goober as you may have thought I was. Unless you didn't think that in which case, never mind.

Anyway, thought about all of that as I was on the Asbury Park Press web site the other day to follow the Linda Chorney Magical Mystery Tour (East Coast Installment). She's originally from Sudbury, Massachusetts, then moved a long time ago to Sea Bright, New Jersey, and, together with Scott F., lived DTS until some time last year when after she'd gone to Nepal (I never get into bar bets that might cause me to lose more than I can afford; just sayin'), she moved to Tucson, Arizona.

She's recorded some disarmingly original and remarkable music and got thisclose, to a Grammy last year and has the scars but also some great stories to tell about it, she's assembled in a book available all over the place and a terrific read.

After enjoying her performance on the website, came across this headline and knew I was receiving a gift especially after reading and then re-reading the copy, which I think is absolutely brilliant and strikes just the right balance between sincere and heartfelt concern over a genuine medical emergency and the softly ludicrous strains of Eddie, Are You Kidding First World Problem anthem and theme song playing in the background. Blue pills or volleyballs at ten paces. Turn and fire.
-bill kenny

Friday, June 14, 2013

Sometimes You Lead by Following

I was in the United States a (very) long time ago, though I didn't actually serve with Orville or Wilbur if you're working on a chronology. And I was barely in the Air Force according to nearly all of the unfortunates who were unlucky enough to have me work for them, holding  an AFSC (Air Force Skill Code) of 791X1 (radio/tv production specialist).

It was more Life of Reilly than anything else to include Good Morning, Vietnam, especially since I spent so much of my two enlistments serving with members of the US Army who had as close to no understanding of us zoomies as anyone either of us might ever meet.

This was all post-mandatory conscription for the US Armed Forces. I always hesitate to say "the all-volunteer force" since to me a volunteer is more like the person who hugs Special Olympians at the finish of a track meet or who cooks hamburgers for a 2nd grade picnic at Rocky Neck State Park or helps sort out the neighborhood's recycling bins before the big Spring clean-up.

I, and all the people with whom I served, got paid which seems to let at least some of the air out of the volunteer balloon (for me). Yeah, I could say "I volunteered to get paid" which reminds me of a mid-shift at AFRTS Sondrestrom when John D asked our boss TSGT Phil L. 'when will my pay raise be effective?' to which Phil replied, 'when you are.' All of us tittered like school girls.

When you're surrounded by snow drifts and arctic wolves, in complete 24 hour a day darkness you'll find the damnedest things funny. And when life hands you lemonade, you reach for the vodka. At last, back in the day, I did; it seemed to make everything even funnier.

What none of us there, later on in Germany or in a dozen other locations around the globe working for Uncle Sugar, ever found funny were the too-busy for colors asshats who would rush under cover into a  building before the National Anthem at 0800 or who stayed in the building foyer until the last note of the "All Clear" after "Taps" had sounded and who then evacuated the area like red beans and rice losing to Montezuma's Revenge.

That people who had sworn an oath to protect and defend the Constitution of the United States from all enemies, foreign and domestic, couldn't allow seventy seconds in the morning and less than that at sunset to honor the representation of the nation whose constitution they were on record as being willing to die for, drove, and still drives, me crazy (and I'm so close, I can walk and save the gas).

I'm bringing this up today of all days, because today is Flag Day. On military posts and bases across the country, ships at sea on the oceans of the world and in absolute armpit hellholes in far flung places whose names none of us can remember or pronounce, those men and women who wear our country's uniform are according appropriate honors to our flag today, as they do everyday.

In light of the hyper-partisan idiocy that now permeates the political discourse at every level of our democracy, combined with the pig-headed selfish obstinacy with which so many of us pursue our Private Idahos (under the motto, 'devil take the hindmost') perhaps we should find a minute to be mindful and grateful for their service and choose, as do I, to accept as sincere the truth of the words offered by the always thoughtful and thought-provoking Randy Newman.

"You can stand alone, or with somebody else; or stand with all of us, together.
 If you can believe in something bigger than yourself, you can follow the flag forever.

"They say it's just a dream that dreamers dreamed-that it's an empty thing that really has no meaning. They say it's all a lie, but it's not a lie. I'm going to follow the flag 'til I die.

"Into every life a little rain must fall, but it's not gonna rain forever.
You can rise above--you can rise above it all--We will follow the flag together.

"We will follow the flag together. We will follow the flag forever."
 -bill kenny        

Thursday, June 13, 2013

If I Had a Pick-Up, It Would have Mudflaps

Today is my Mom's birthday. I know you're turning that idea over very slowly in your mind right now (the I have a mother part, not the she's having a birthday today part). You are not the first and you will not be the last attempting to entertain that thought.

My mother and her husband, my father, had six children-three of each sex. The motion to have the same number of children but only two of each sex was defeated, mom once suggested to me in a dream, on a voice vote surrounding a technicality. I choose to always believe her, even if none of that exchange ever happened.

My parents were married nearly thirty years and had raised three of us to adulthood (okay, Evan and Kelly to adulthood and me to older and let's leave it at that) when my father passed away of a heart attack leaving Mom with Kara, Jill and Adam to raise by herself. A woman who could be married to our Dad for thirty years, was and is, more than equal to that task.

The three were raised and raised up, as were we all, by a remarkable woman whose praises I sing (not literally at the request of dogs everywhere) not only because she's my mom but because she's the mom of Evan, Kelly, Kara, Jill and Adam, a wonderful grandmother and a superlative great grandmother.

Each of us and all of us have, in our way, become the people she saw we could be (I am sure) from the moment she laid eyes on us. It was love at sight for her and for us and I can assure you it wasn't easy because some of us were not, and are still not, always so lovable.

She'll be at the beach today where she lives in Florida because why else would you move there and trust me, from her childhood at Howard Beach to now, she has had an affection for the ocean. She's weathered every changing in the time and tides of her life more than even she might like to recall so I hope today, her birthday is beyond anything and everything she ever wanted because the woman who raised us only wanted the world for us, her children.

For herself, our happiness was her joy. Happy Birthday, Mom!
-bill kenny

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Too Much Monkey Business

Experience is what you get when you didn’t get what you wanted and there’s quite a world of difference between twenty years of experience and a year of experience for twenty years. If we could have figured out a way to ice skate inside a police armored car with teachers and municipal employees during the budget deliberations, we wouldn’t have had to misuse them all as symbols and hostages.

What follows is an old story that’s part of our experience. Any resemblance to how we govern ourselves here in The Rose of New England is fully deliberate. If the feelings of anyone on the current City Council are hurt, in the interest of comity, I'll say I'm sorry not, but I'm not. And for the budding entrepreneurs in the audience, I’m thinking there’s probably money in swimsuit futures. You’ll see what I mean shortly.

Place seven monkeys in a cage.
Inside the cage, hang a banana on a string and put stairs under the banana. Before long, a monkey will go to the stairs and start to climb towards the banana. As soon as that happens, blast all the other monkeys with ice cold water. Then wait.

After a while, another monkey will make an attempt, provoking the same treatment: all the other monkeys get sprayed with cold water.  Pretty soon, whenever a monkey tries to climb those stairs, all the others  prevent it.

Now, put away the cold water.

Remove a monkey from the cage and replace it with a new one. The new monkey will see the banana and start to climb the stairs. Guess what happens? Yep; all the other monkeys attack it!

After another attempt at the stairs and perhaps another, the monkey realizes if it tries to climb the stairs, it’ll be assaulted and it gives up.

We're not done.

Remove another of the original monkeys and replace it with a new one. You’ve guessed it: the newcomer goes to the stairs and is attacked. What about that previous new monkey? Pshaw! Joins right in dishing out the punishment.

Replace a third original monkey, then a fourth and so on, until all the original monkeys have been replaced. Lather, rinse repeat. The result is and will be always the same: every time the new monkey heads towards the stairs, it’s attacked.

Most of the monkeys beating it up have no idea why they aren’t permitted to climb the stairs-actually, they’ve never even tried to go up the stairs- or why they’ve beating up the newest monkey. Remember, we replaced all the original monkeys; none of the current ones have ever been sprayed with cold water. But no one approaches the stairs and tries for a banana. Why not?  Because, as far as those little critters know, this is how things have always been done.

And if you always do what you've always done-you'll always get what you've always gotten.

Government at any levelis like having a birthday or an anniversary. We all know when the dates and what's involved and yet we are always unhappily surprised when we’re never rewarded for all the work we didn’t do in preparing for them.

As always and again this year, we searched for the guilty and someone or something to blame because for our annual budget woes we’ve convinced ourselves this is problem solving, because it always has been around here. All I can wonder is who rolled the hose up and put it away?  November elections are just around the corner and we have a very small budget to buy bananas but we have the all water we could ever need…

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Flying a Kite from Gitmo

Where I come from, and you can find that out and way more than you ever dreamed possible by visiting local law enforcement authorities and saying the magic word "terrorist" this graphic six months ago was hilarious and nothing more.

Yeah, that got really stupid spooky really fast. I ranted on the NSA spying on all of us story the other day and wouldn't be surprised if the cats and kittens running all of it aren't passing out wallet sized snapshots even as I type. Get the package that includes the two eight by elevens, it's a better deal.

But the longer this whole story simmers, the more horrific it becomes. And if you are NOT enraged  about the lack of candor (who am I kidding, 'lack of candor?' Total absence of honesty) in this mess then you have NO idea what is really going on. The same president whose campaign staff went ballistic in 2008 when it was revealed his cell phone was being shadowed, has repeatedly suggested this whole Prism thing ain't nothing but a thang.

Maybe you playing Bill Cosby to George W being Robert Culp in "I Spy" is, indeed, just another day at the beach but even if that is the case, Sir, what was the reason no one mentioned it in public.......? Didn't make the old 'to do' list?

Ed Snowden's action will in all likelihood result in him receiving a prison sentence that will be longer and more unyielding than the set of values and personal principles to exercise them that he possessed in choosing to disclose "state secrets." I'm not sure he would feel better knowing he has an attitudinal predecessor, Benjamin Franklin but I do.

I keep seeing humorless, faceless and shapeless figures fitting Poor Richard with an orange jumpsuit for a tour of Rendition Hotspots around the CIA and then a fun-filled, though not for him, vacation to the Gitmo Hilton. Somehow I can imagine these two guys learning Spanish and then Pashtun even though Jesus is American, at least to hear a lot of us around here talk about Him.
-bill kenny  

Monday, June 10, 2013

Welcome to the Working Week

I hope your weekend was as (un)nexpectedly delightful as mine was, though I am powerless to have helped make it so and aside from pausing to simulate thoughtful concern if it weren't there's not much I can actually do to change any of that.

My wife, for reasons not fully explained or even partially understood by me did not have the weekend meticulously organized like that hike the Reichswehr made through Poland all those years ago. There was no synchronization of watches, no loading of stores and no checking to see what phase of the moon we were in at night. Nothing to do but enjoy the weekend.

And the timing was perfect. The trailer of the Tropical Storm Andrea broke and while there was a lot of water-a town near us, Gales Ferry, got over six inches of rain-we got off far luckier than many others elsewhere, not that we didn't bitch about it anyway.

Our daughter, Michelle, is a violist in the New London Community Orchestra and had two concert this past weekend with almost nearly perfect weather for the performance yesterday afternoon at the City Pier in New London, on the banks of the Thames River.
Michelle in the middle with the way-cool shades.
We were joined by Michelle's brother, Patrick, and what looked like close to a hundred people, a not inconsiderable number of watercraft of all shapes and sizes, a truckload of trains all with working whistles and swarms of swallows, seagulls and all manner of avian friend.

This week has me spending some more time with folks with initials behind their names and at least some of the news will be of the kind I will find less than pleasant. It will not deter or delay them from delivering it and I will grimace slightly because from their emotional distance, a smile and a grimace look very much the same.

The roof offered ample shelter from the sun but not so much from the breeze off the water.
This past weekend will rapidly become nothing more than a dim memory but one I hope to hold on to at least in part for some time to come. And when I'm sifting through the rubble, Barney, at some distant point and time, I hope I can smile the way I am at this moment.
-bill kenny

Sunday, June 9, 2013

How Many Loved Your Moments of Glad Grace?

I got a late start on watching the Yankees and Mariners yesterday afternoon because of family business that involved enjoying our daughter, Michelle, and the New London Community Orchestra performing in the US Coast Guard Academy's Leamy Hall.

The orchestra is an assemblage of neighbors from across the region who enjoy making music and enjoying making music together and who work to make a difference in the town in which they are based, one child at a time. They have a show this afternoon at two, outdoors at New London's City Pier.

Early June can be a roll of the dice weather wise in these parts. We just were visited by some part of Tropical Storm Andrea (weird how we never abbreviate tropical storm as "TS;" have you noticed that?) but yesterday turned out to be a fine day-a bit humid but the farmers and ducks need the humidity (I hope).

The orchestra I'm told has a canopy to protect them from possible rain showers if it comes to that today. I guess they are assuming we in the audience aren't witches. I've attended more than a few of their performances and in all honesty that's a leap of faith I'm not willing to make. I'm hoping for cloudless skies.

When we got home yesterday my fake knee was barking so I used some most excellent prescription medication to make the pain and the world go away for awhile. Both returned, neither improved for the chemistry and while surfing the dial I came across the Yankees on YES from Seattle.

David Robertson had just gotten the third out in the bottom of the eighth, stranding two Mariners, and before YES went to commercials a cameraman grabbed a shot a greying and unshaven Andy Pettite who had a fine outing for himself on his way to his 250th career victory.

I was surprised to see how old he looked, even while admitting the hypocrisy of that observation. When I was his age two decades ago, I considered myself part of the All the Young Dudes and here I am now, just over the highway speed limit and  looking at an athlete twenty years my junior, thinking 'how he's aged!'

In the bottom of the ninth, as he's been doing since forever, but not for much longer, Mariano Rivera came in and put out the big light on the Mariners in what for the regular season could well be his last visit in his career before his retirement.

Professional sports, not just in the USA, but around the world, is a young man's game. That's not a negative pejorative intended as a slight to the talented women who have many professional leagues as well but, nearly all those lack the large finances, media exposure and mass adulation the men enjoy. It must be hard for successful female collegians who pursue sports careers professionally to NOT wonder if they're in a witness protection program when they suit up sometimes.

In everything other than their chosen profession, we would consider Messrs. Pettite and Rivera 'young' but in a cruel trick of the calendar, when they take the field, they're aging veterans. If Yeats were a Yankee farmhand, his tale might take a different turn but he isn't and thus, this doesn't.
-bill kenny

Saturday, June 8, 2013

A Prism that Proved to Be a Mirror

You remember this guy, right? For a while there wasn't a channel you could turn on and not have him leap out at you during the commercial break. He looks nothing like Banquo's ghost but he is. I sure hope he has some residual compensation coming his way since in the last 48 (or so) hours he's become the first guy I look for and the last one I want to see. Ever.

I'm not being childish, I wish I were one again but too late. As an adult I get that, as a nation, we have enemies and, within that ideological subset a not inconsequential number of hate-filled asshats who wish us dead, as Americans whether they know us or not. Drilling down into that Inferno Antechamber, we have more than enough malevolent miscreants who don't merely wish us dead but who are working strenuously and without surcease to make it so.

I have grasped the concept that the world is often unfriendly and am fully at ease with the premise so feel free to speak in full sentences, people in leadership positions within my government, about what you are doing, and will do, to thwart those efforts.

No shorthand, no euphemisms, no cryptic code--don't tell me 'wet work' when you mean assassination or 'terminate with extreme prejudice' when you're describing killing people. And because we're very much in danger at this moment of this part getting away, never forget my need to know always trumps your need to tell me so make sure I do know even when I say/act like I don't want to.

Dwight David Eisenhower named The Beast we all grew to know as the military industrial complex, which dominates and drives us to this day, and reminded us, all of us to include The President, whoever he is on any given day that "Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired, signifies in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed...."

I didn't vote for a Verizon Guy Stunt Double, Mr. President. 

I voted for someone to lead the change in my lifetime that I have spent my life awaiting. When people around the world look at We the People of the United States, what do they see? Are we standing in the unfiltered light of day through a window of truth or has the light been fractured into grotesque and misshapen pieces and shards as seen through a PRISM?

Friday, June 7, 2013

Joe Jackson Was Right

Sometimes as the news stream washes over me, there's a processing error of sorts. My eyes/ears receive information from print, TV or Sock Puppet News Hour and my brain for any number of reasons goes all mushy and the story doesn't register at that moment.

Somewhere down the line, I look up and go 'waitaminit!' and double back around the bridge twice, with apologies to Joseph Heller and Captain Yossarian. Sometimes, upon further review, the call on the field stands and other times I make movies in my head that are far more frightening than the original storyline.

Unfortunately, as is the case this time, there are yet other circumstances where Ruth Is Stranger than Richard and the yeesh factor of the actual story prompts a visceral "no more calls, please! We have a winner!" which usually means we have anything but. This is one of those circumstances. Michael Douglas, please leave The Streets of San Francisco exactly where they are, and c'mon down to awkward.

I'm trying to figure out if this is from the Director's Cut of When Mikey Met Cathy and if it is, I'm pretty sure I'm not having whatever he's having. You may remember a reactor mishap at Three Mile Island, near in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, in the late Seventies; this TMI has an entirely different meaning. And speaking of which, when does my right as a reader/viewer/consumer to NOT KNOW something exceed a public figure's need to tell me?

I'll bet it was magic in The Douglas household the day after this story hit the wires. And, Allen Burry, no skin off my nose (another cancer joke, didja read what I did there?) I'm sure you walked away from your "clarification" feeling pretty good about yourself but from here, gotta tell ya it looks like you drilled a second hole in the boat to let the water out.

I guess the good news is neither Douglas will be hearing from the Vonnegut estate. The bad news might be that Coppertone is talking about an endorsement deal for a flavored SPF-50 product.
-bill kenny

Thursday, June 6, 2013

The Unbroken Line

Looking at the headlines today, or any day this week, or month so far or even longer, you really can't be blamed if you're morose and downhearted. It's really a case of  "cheer up, things could get worse, so I did and then they did, too." .

Lest we forget with clowns to the left of me and jokers to the right, here we are:

Gridlock and exultation in that gridlock in the halls of our national seat of government.

Outrage by one party over the other's use of the IRS to investigate and perhaps intimidate conservative groups though when those same conservatives used the IRS to investigate and intimidate the NAACP, 'twas no big deal.

A rapidly approaching debt ceiling with little inclination and less will to remedy the causes of it.

A professional armed forces where sexual violence is more likely to be visited on its individual members than they are to ever fire a shot in anger.

A cohort of a generation of college graduates who will spend the next two decades of their lives attempting to pay off student loans for educations they hoped would enable them to get better jobs that never existed.

The paralysis of analysis among our national media that has concluded comity means allowing malevolent miscreants of any and all political stripes to mouth their slander and fabrication at the top of their lungs without correction or reproof for fear of being perceived as infringing on any American's right to freedom of speech, no matter how stupid and wrong-headed it is.

The treatment of a panda phenomenon, such as the pregnancy of Kim Kardashian, as if it were an epoch-shaking event like a walk on the moon, when an actual event that did just that receives not one frame of video on E!

I wonder what a man whom I never met but in whose footfalls, over two decades ago I followed on a still-pockmarked stretch of open beach on the coast of France, and whose original trip had been nearly four decades earlier, Dr. Bill Austin of Forest, Mississippi, would make of how hopelessly helpless we see ourselves today when, like him and his brothers in arms, we could be bouncing around in a modified tin can braving murderous fire to help enslaved nations reclaim their birthright.

And on this, the 69th anniversary of The Longest Day, the D-Day invasion, I have to worry if we can 'still draw strength from those moments in history when the best among us were somehow able to swallow their fears and secure a beachhead on an unforgiving shore.'
-bill kenny   

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

A Conspiracy of the Calendar....

It looks as if the City Council has stolen a march on Father's Day, two Sundays hence. Between the headlines late last week and the tumult and unhappiness expressed in Council Chambers this past Monday, that adage about 'success has a thousand fathers and failure is an orphan' most definitely applies to the 2013-2014 municipal budget. Actually, municipal was not what most people were calling it the other night.

All the years that capital improvements were deferred, where only minimal infrastructure investments were made because 'times are tough and the city should wait until economic conditions improve' now look like 'the good old days.' I remember not that long ago public anger at proposed "cuts" that were actually reductions in the programmed increases for  city personnel and services.

Now the city manager and our City Council are examining the probabilities not merely the possibilities, of reducing the municipal labor force and curtailing needed and necessary programs not because they (or anyone else) want to but because they have no other choice since that Powerball jackpot paid off for somebody in Florida, but not here.

I'm not being sarcastic when I suggest that, but I do wonder about the online comments and the thought processes those comments mirror of some drive-by nearly elected officials who offer in twenty words or less deathless observations on "getting the budget under control" that might actually work....if the laws of gravity were repealed and most of the previous actions of the last twenty-to thirty years could be undone. You know, small details like that.

I get to play an incredibly-smart (and sometimes smart-mouthed) person every Wednesday in our local newspaper, a role I enjoy very much (perhaps too much so) . If we've met in real life you know how hard that role is NOT for an arrogant mook like me.

But relentless realist that I am (when cornered), I can assure you that under no circumstances would I wish to be an elected local official these days. And if you doubt the sincerity of that assurance, ask everyone else in this city because most, if not all, have sworn a blood oath to that same effect.

Experience is what we get when we don't get what we want. So why are we surprised at the results of actions we take?

We elect the members of City Council to act on our behalf for an assortment of decisions, from developing strategic partnerships with potential private and public sector allies for enhanced community development and quality of life through creating an annual budget-perhaps the most high-profile and important job the Council does.

So how do you think they should choose? Better phrased, how would each of us choose? More police? More firemen? Books for our schools' libraries? New pavement for streets or a couple of thousand of line items that make up the city manager's proposed budget from which our actual budget is created?

Perhaps we could erect signs at our gateway entrances that say "Proud of our mill rate" because property owners could use more than a respite from higher and higher taxes. All of which brings me back to Father's Day and a plethora of budgets no one wants to adopt and fewer, still, wish to live with. And yet, the moment of decision is here. We all want freedom of choice, so choose.
-bill kenny

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Hannes and Gallen Would Share

I've written the praises of New York City more than countless times in this space. I tried singing them once as well and was pointedly told that I sounded like a cat being dropped into a blender (thanks, Mom) but a story I saw in yesterday's New York Times made me smile and think about a long ago mousetrap on an even longer ago bicycle of my youth.

As much as I regard the most mundane aspects of "The City" as mystical and magical (moronic is another word that starts with "m" that describes my fascination I'm told), I will concede unless you are riding in a bus or walking, a lot of the essence of New York eludes you. That cannot be said of the aromatic atmospheres, especially in the subway but that's a tale for another time.

When my wife, our daughter and I traveled into the city between Thanksgiving and Christmas, we learned first hand about what you see is what you get when you're underground and chose a stroll up Fifth Avenue from around Grand Central Station to the Central Park Zoo as the afternoon's falling light became the evening's glooming. By the time we'd returned to Grand Central Station for the 'home again, home again, jiggity jig' train ride we'd clocked over nine miles on foot.

I ended up thoroughly inspecting my eyelids for holes on most of the journey back to our vehicle in the car park at the New Haven rail station for the drive home to Norwich. "Found and repaired" was my close-out entry.

I'm not sure I could survive a year's bicycle pass but the day pass sounds like a great idea, though when I read the article I kept coming back to Joe Spitaleri's experience with exhaustion on his way to biking to an activity. Not sure showing up more than half-dead would be the ideal type of first impression I should wish to make on anyone whom I visit, unless it's a community health clinic. "Blue Cross: Never Leave Home without It."    

I'm not sure John Irving's bear would have a pocket in which to put any form of a bike pass though I'm sure the desire to so do would be visible from space. I don't suppose Lance Armstrong would be in the mood to volunteer as a spokesperson (insert you groan over that pun here).
-bill kenny

Monday, June 3, 2013

The Buggles Didn't Get It Right

For a long period of my life, upwards of seven and a half years in Germany, I was associated with American Forces Radio created on 26 May 1942 when the War Department established the Armed Forces Radio Service (AFRS) for US military personnel in the United Kingdom and deserts of North Africa as part of the Allied War Effort in Europe.

In 1942 such an effort was scarcely more than brave talk when the allies, to include the exiled French and Polish governments stared across the English Channel and the Straits of Gibraltar at an Occupied Europe behind an Atlantic Wall.

From tiny acorns, mighty oaks grew. I have no idea (even roughly) how many US military personnel, Department of Defense civilians, government contractors and their family members lived and thrived in Central Europe (mostly in "West" Germany), in the course of the now next seventy (!) years that followed.
It was an awful lot-perhaps more than enough to finally and truly be that 51st State we often fantasized we really were while all of us were stationed there. From one radio station we spread out across the Continent at one time having stations in France, Belgium, the Netherlands, Italy and Germany and then, as the world changed and we did as well, slowly shrinking until the radio stations serving US troop concentrations in Germany matched perfectly, nearly none.

A couple of weeks, TOB, the other Bill, shared a press release from the current American Forces Network about "The Big Blowtorch (a 150,000 watt (sort of) transmitter, large by US standards) in Weisskirchen and its announced closing on the last day of May.

A lot of who I was, and am, was shaped in radio studios serviced by that big transmitter, for better or for worse, and I wasn't alone. An ending was bound to happen, we all knew that. I would have hoped for a little (more) grace and (some) class but as it turns out, we cannot choose our final act.

"Where is justice now? I'm searching for Luxembourg, Luxembourg, Athlone, Budapest, AFN, Hilversum, Helvetia. In the days before rock 'n' roll."
-bill kenny

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Lazin' on a Sunny Afternoon

It's not summer but if the last couple of days are a foreshadowing, I am so ready already, Freddy. I hope your Saturday was as swell as mine, or close. We had our annual Dragon Boat Races in the Norwich Harbor yesterday.

The harbor is formed by the joining of the very well-known Thames (pronounced as in 'thame thit, different day' because the river's mouth is in New London not the original one, I guess) River with the Shetucket (rhymes with nevermind what it rhymes with) and the Yantic (as in frantic).

I have no idea how many years the Dragon Boat Races have been held but the folks who turned out for it (many) seemed to be enjoying it (greatly) and there were places to buy hot dogs and adult beverages and refreshments for other than adults, too, and the ice cream shop which opened last year in Howard T. Brown Park (the "T" is for Extra Special and is invisible and silent, unlike many of our residents) was open and scooping and serving to their heart's desire.

Considering this time last week temperatures were in the middle fifties and the skies were very grey with what seemed to be at least a 50% chance of snow, yesterday was a great preview of the summer, or of what I hope will be the summer. And if we were to have another day about the same today, just to convince those still wavering, who am I to complain?
-bill kenny

Saturday, June 1, 2013

A Past I Have Passed out of

My brother Adam reminded me yesterday of something I was surprised (and more than a little chagrined but only briefly) to realize had crept up on me as if on little cat's feet and had overtaken me. His online recollection yesterday in his cluster of electrons gathered in the frozen ether recalling the passing of our father, William Patrick Kenny, Sr., thirty-two years ago.

We are a large family-oh your parents were Catholic? ask all or nearly all of my acquaintances. Yes, my mouth and lips smile; screw you, dillweed, say my eyes in response whenever clever repartee is called for as a rejoinder. Times change-we weren't the only large family when we lived under one roof, but that was long ago.

We are six children, three boys and three girls-our parents were nothing if not even-handed. Mom is alive and enjoying Jupiter, Florida after way more winters in Jersey than anyone should have to endure.

All of my brothers and sisters are younger than I and all of them live in New Jersey though each, earlier in their respective lives, traveled far and wide from hearth and home to return to a starting point of sorts.

I've read where no matter how hard or how fast a man is he cannot outrun his own shadow. I don't have the legs to even put the theory to the test anymore. But in that vein, it wasn't until I read my brother's words yesterday that I realized our father's death, an event that shaped my own life as a husband and a father (even before I was was a father) had lost its power over my emotions.

I became the person I have been for the last last thirty-two years, more or less, out of spite and out of fear of whom I could become. That was foolish though the journey it sent me on was worthwhile and I hope my wife and our two children benefited from it. In the last year I've gotten a lot more comfortable in my own skin and have enjoyed what happens when you run towards people and feelings for them more than fleeing them.

I'd hoped to grow up and instead just grew old. All in all, I'll take it, especially since I can do little else.
-bill kenny