Thursday, July 31, 2014

Still Finding Our Way

I have no idea how long we, men and women of the Earth, have been on this planet (creationists and fans of the scientific method be warned: no one (meaning me) wants your estimate) but we keep getting in each other’s way and then compound the ensuing pratfall by not learning anything from our slip on the banana peel.

Just glance at the sports headlines, don’t linger, we haven’t got all day. I admit the only reason I had any knowledge of a particular recent instance that proves my point was because the leading man in the passion play, Ray Rice, was a Scarlet Knight. I, too, am also one though my shade of crimson has faded badly with age.

Rice, as you may remember and/or care about, is alleged to have knocked out his affianced while they were in an elevator in Atlantic City, NJ, where some/part or all of it was captured on video, flash frozen and rushed to youtube for our viewing pleasure. I leave to you the contemplation of just how much physical force must be brought to bear on another human being to induce unconsciousness in such a manner. Yeah, lots.

In a truly cynical exercise of damage control that a curmudgeon such as I found breath-taking, as criminal charges were being filed, the couple wed, perhaps so that one or the other could avail themselves of ‘spousal privilege’ in the event of trial (and error, I guess) or perhaps because of the ‘family discounts’ offered at so many of the AC watering holes.

The National Football League through a process more complex and opaque than the Manhattan Project, determined Rice would be suspended (without pay) for two regular season football games as punishment (I am assuming for being caught on camera).

If you’re still reading along in the car (thanks for the ride!), yes, you’re right that’s a penalty considerably shorter than that given for a first-time positive result for drugs (just sayin’). Sometimes the things we do speak so loudly I can’t hear what we’re saying. (Stay classy, Ravens’ fans…)

WAF, Women as Furniture, isn’t unique to American professional sports or any aspect of American public (and probably private as well) life. We’ve been at this for quite awhile on the old orb and we continue to make a right hash of it. 

We forget for whatever reason that Real Men and Real Women are Real People entitled to dignity and respect. We should have plenty of that for everyone since we so rarely extend enough to anyone. Ever

-bill kenny   

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Rosebuds and Other Items in Need of Gathering

Is it just me or is the summer of 2014 going by quickly, way too quickly. I saw what purports to be a humorous picture on Facebook last week of cars covered in snow and underneath it was written "if you think it's hot now, wait seventeen weeks."

To give you an idea of how short this summer has already become, exactly four weeks from today, Wednesday 27 August, your children return to the classrooms of Norwich Public Schools. It wasn't that long ago their attention was flagging in warm, nearly-summerish classes while the early June weather called to any child who looked out the window. And now, boom! It's just about done.

I say your children because ours are grown and gone (I warned my wife that feeding them on a regular basis would have unanticipated consequences) and I wish I could say I had fond memories of those days getting back into the "back to school" routine, but I don't.

And I'm sort of lying-it was really my wife who did all the heavy lifting. There are pens, protractors, note pads and a dozen or more other stationery and electronic device required in today's classroom that I have no memory of when we were kids. I can even recall instances when we had to get our children specific models of calculators and/or a slide-rule. (Not to be confused with the Electric Slide; don't concern yourself with how I would know this.)

How our children learned to work all of these devices, I'll never know. I'm thinking that's one of those jobs our teachers do, like breathing out and breathing in, that we never talk or even think about. I'm glad they do it as I would be no help at all. To this day, I avoid the calculator aisle entirely because I feel dumb since I can hardly even turn any of them on.

This time of year, when I was a child, I always felt a little cheated. The days were getting just a little shorter and my parents would more and more often start sentences with "when you go back to school..." Back to school? Zounds! It didn't seem that long ago I was running with everyone else as the last school bell of the year sounded and now we're four weeks away from starting again?

The grown-up me likes to think the fourth-grade me would have said Zounds! even though I didn't learn that word until about the time I was learning to shave, and may have even yelled it a few times on that initial effort as well.

That, as any kid will tell you is part of the problem. Grown-ups get to make the rules. At least that's what I thought as a school-child and couldn't wait to grow up only to learn that only some of the grown-ups get to change the rules, but I did learn the secret and that secret is education.

The purpose of an education I was once told by a very smart man is to learn the rules of the game better than anyone else, so that you, too, can change the rules. It's almost time for school bells and rule changes, let's hope we can hear the former and prosper from the latter.
-bill kenny

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

When I Thought It Was a Joke

At first I thought that cut-up Andy Borowitz from the New Yorker had wormed his way into my Facebook news feed. He's as good with a huh-provoking headline as The Onion and sometimes better.

When I saw the splash that Sarah Palin had started her own subscription news channel, I assumed Borowitz had the byline. Gulp. One stop at her channel's website and I can actually feel my smartphone getting dumber, even as I fret about protection of freedom of speech for all, which I have to support. But she really makes it hard.

With all due respect to Thomas Paine whom she'd like you to believe is her patron saint, these are the times to try men's souls and she's a big part of them. This is my favorite Paine quote. Would'n't be surprised to get only a look of incomprehension from Palin Partisans and those who have misappropriated the Gadsden Flag. Disagreeing with them carries the risk of an orange jumpsuit and a Gitmo holiday.

She, Rubio, Paul and that chuckle head from Florida the other day who thought the two GS (General Schedule) employees testifying before his Congressional House Foreign Affairs Sub-Committee worked for the Government of India (I can guess why he did but will assume he's simply a stumble bunny and not a racist) are all allowed to be foolish. Thank you, Founding Fathers.

For only $9.95 a month you can have 24/7/365 Sarah Palin. I liked her a lot better when I thought she was related to Michael and I didn't like her at all then either.

I'm a little frustrated with and frightened by how all the technology I'd thought was going to join us closer together as a world is instead creating walled enclaves of close-mindedness and animus that come with their own siren song to join and exult in one's own lack of ability to see the other person and/or their point of view.

I never attribute to malice that which can be explained by ignorance, but with a Pander Bear like Sarah Palin it becomes difficult to continue to do that. She isn't a human equivalent of a zen koan, one hand clapping, but rather an angry, clenched fist not happy until it's made all other hands that could have helped angry as well. Who have we become and why?
-bill kenny

Monday, July 28, 2014

Sometimes the Good Guys Win

Back when I was a wee slip of a lad and sandlot baseball was the sole purpose of summer vacations, when you played everyday from a bout half hour after breakfast until somebody's mom came out to tell yo to go home for dinner,  I wanted to be a professional baseball player but since I didn't realize grown men playing my favorite game were called "professional" I just said ballplayer.

Like generations before me, but unlike most of those who've come since then, I didn't realize everything that had a cost also had a price. It wasn't until baseball ran smack up against the Steroid Era that even it finally acknowledged the price to be paid was too steep.

My attitude on that was when Jose Canseco is the most honest and virtuous man in the room, you either need to get a much larger room or declare moral bankruptcy. With the billions hat major league baseball turns over three guesses as to which one was going to happen first and the first two guesses don't count.

But for a sport that has produced a Barry Bonds, a Sammy Sosa, a Roger Clemens, a Mark McGuire and an Alex Rodriguez (an assumption and presumption of innocence can go a long way though hopefully not all the way to Cooperstown, NY), yesterday was a moment of at least partial redemption as the class of 2014 was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame.

Especially the players with the might of Frank Thomas and the powerful arms of Maddux and Glavine, on behalf of twelve-year-olds everywhere with our chewed upon laces of the pinkie finger of our baseball gloves up against our right temple level with our eye in  as close to a salute as we may ever get, thanks MLB for doing something right. It was a great day to love the sport, no matter what team you root for.
-bill kenny

Sunday, July 27, 2014

The Origins of the Old Lie

It's amazing how many journeys, across the globe or around the sun, result in a return to the spot of origin. Less amazing is how so much travel has failed to make us wiser.

One hundred years ago tomorrow, after simmering in anger and seething with resentment for a month following the assassination of Archduke Ferdinand, the Austro-Hungarian Empire declared war on Serbia. Serbia's ally, Imperial Russia, declared and on Austria and Germany, Austria's ally declared war on both Serbia and Russia.

In short order, all of Europe was aflame.

Unlike the wars of the nineteenth century, one hundred years ago we had learned to harness the power of the Industrial Revolution and the mass production of manufacturing to populate the killing floor with engines of carnage and catastrophe that, where once we had killed hundreds on a battlefield, we could now kill many thousands and maim thousands more.

We called this progress.

And because we were unable, or unwilling to learn the lessons of the Great War we fought a sequel less than thirty years after its conclusion that resulted in ten times the number of dead and wounded.

In some way and form, it continues everyday and everywhere. No other species on the planet wages war on itself. Only the Crown of Creation, floundering like a man in fire or lime.

Dulce et decorum est.
-bill kenny

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Take It ‘till Life Runs Out

I suspect I’m morose because I’ll be attending a memorial service today for Bob, someone I’d long regarded as a friend for life without realizing the personal consequences of what is always an intellectual abstraction, death.

I have attended memorials and funerals. A previous friend (I don’t make ‘em or keep ‘em very well so my memories are very vivid) died in my arms too many summers ago and I wound up accepting another job some 90 minutes away as the BMW flies (drives) rather than walk through the same hallways in our building as he and I had done for years.

There will be a lot of people at today’s memorial. Each of us a spoke on a wheel that at the very center of the mandala, and the sole common point of reference for each, will be our shared though separate and distinct relationships with Bob.

His family, aching beyond any hope, will endure us and our efforts at solace because that’s what the family does at these moments. We try to make them feel better in an attempt to make ourselves feel better. It never happens and we know that even before we drive along the quiet two lane state road that leads us to the service. But we will try, because we know not what else to do.

There are no words I can offer them to heal the hurt at least that’s what I’m telling myself at this moment because I have no idea what those words might be or who could possibly say them. Our Earth became a bit more silent and cold last Friday with his passing-a little less kind, a little less understanding but another bit more brusque, caustic and calculating. There’s no going back now

We’ll have a moment at the service to face the enormity of the chasm Bob’s death has created in our lives, from each according to his abilities to each according to his needs, and to choose if the memory of the man we’ll hold in our hearts will be a souvenir of who we were or a map of who we are to be until our own time for coming and going has arrived.     

-bill kenny

Friday, July 25, 2014

Cosmic Prankster Strikes Again

Have no doubt my friend that while we may see ourselves as the Crown of Creation we are, too often to count, also the Butt of the Cosmos (if it helps, it's a fine but clear line between butt and butt and a suffix of the universe and we make out okay in this deal).

Despite what could be their envy of our big brains and opposable thumbs, there are times the rest of the animal, vegetable and mineral kingdoms find our pratfalls humorous though I'm not sure how I'd know an igneous rock is guffawing or how big a smile a wild rose could summon.

If you, too, believe that there are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt in your philosophy, trust me; the next time you stroll through a copse of trees and nearly trip over a root in the path, there will be giggles that can be heard but not explained. How else to react to a truly West Coast news story that, as a child of the Sixties, makes me sad?

Truly, the dream is over.
-bill kenny

Thursday, July 24, 2014

A True Super Nova in a Galaxy of Bright Stars

Today, as a check of any of three dozen or websites will reveal, is a busy day in terms of commemorating a full circle of the sun.

Happy Birthdays to a diverse and talented bunch of people ranging from Simon Bolivar to Jennifer Lopez. Among those whose natal anniversaries are also today are Alexandre Dumas, author of The Three Musketeers, and Zelda Fitzgerald, first wife of F. Scott.

On any given day, there's a who's who of famous and infamous associated with birthday cakes because every day nearly half a million people worldwide are born. I'm mentioning that today not as a mere abstraction-but part of what everyone who grew up in my mother and father's house thinks about, as our sister, Kara, celebrates her birthday. She's a little bit of all the famous folks I mentioned with a dash of Lynda Carter and Amelia Earhart thrown in for good measure.

The best thing about being the oldest child in a large family is you have often amazing and excruciatingly embarrassing memories of your siblings from when they were small and they can't stop you from musing aloud. Except there's nothing like those memories to hold over Kara's head. Trust me, I looked and looked hard.

She was a very easy-going child with an even temperament that should have been a cause for concern in a household as tumultuous as ours. She was the oldest of the Second Wave of Kenny Kids and was the emissary to the three (considerably) older siblings on behalf of herself and the two younger who were to follow.

Her ability to maintain an even keel no matter how provoked (and some of us were geniuses at provocation; not pointing fingers here, just sayin') has been a lifelong talent that has stood her in good stead and come in handy I imagine more often than she'd like to admit.. She and her husband, Russell, have three sons (I can hear the theme from that Fred MacMurray show playing as I type this) and a universe of friends stretching from all those years ago to all those yet to be.

Kara, I lack the power to declare today a national holiday in your honor which is too bad since my proclamation would have included pony rides for all relatives especially your most oldest of brothers, but one can't have everything I suppose.

But what I hope you do have because you so deserve it, is a terrific and marvelous in-every-way birthday, with way too much cake and far too few candles.
Happy Birthday!
-bill kenny     

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Rolling in the Dough

On a jaunt through Taftville recently, my wife and I made the acquaintance of the Poppy and Rye Bakery Cafe. We went late in the afternoon, actually really late in the afternoon and they hadn't had anything like a 'grand opening,' so the store was filled with word of mouth customers who were enjoying everything from bagels to cookies, Russian rye bread to crumb cake muffins. We purchased two pretzels, with apologies to David Letterman, that "were bigger than canned hams."

The cafe is on Norwich Avenue, also known as Route 12. The easiest way to tell you how to get there, if you're driving is to roll down your window, take a deep breath and follow your nose. If you have a head cold, you deserve wherever you end up instead. More for the rest of us.

You've read about Poppy and Rye-it was in the pages of The Bulletin not that long ago but after Gutenberg invented movable type which helped make the daily newspaper possible, he decided to NOT pursue scratch and sniff technology-which would certainly help when talking about Poppy and Rye.

I went back Sunday morning and grabbed an almond something or other and a baked apple dessert in a pastry pocket so light I was afraid to breathe on it, some everything bagels that simply demanded to go in the bag and a loaf of rye bread that was so fresh from the oven it was too hot to slice.

I placed my baked goods in the front seat and am still proud of myself for resisting the temptation to put a string on the rye and hang it from the mirror. The aroma lingered in the car for hours and don't ask how I would know that or about the bite marks in the passenger seat. As great as everything smelled-it tasted even better.

Standing in front of the glass display cases in the shop waiting to be helped, I was surrounded by folks who'd come from near and far all making the same movie I was. Just as you'd decided what to order, you'd catch something else out of the corner of your eye and suddenly your sense of certainty would disappear.

On Sunday the trio in line before me struggled mightily in trying to make up their minds and I suspect I didn't help very much by offering to the person I think was the Dad, 'who says you have to have only have one thing?' They decided to have some coffee and sweet snacks, grabbed a table to sit and enjoy them all the while discussing what else they would have for the ride home. I wonder if their choices survived the ride.

I get excited about a venture like Poppy and Rye not merely because it's a new business (the owners have a world of experience and are no strangers to Norwich) but because of what it represents and what it could portend for the city and those of us who love living here.

Norwich isn't Bedford Falls, and few if any of us feel like we're starring in "It's a Wonderful Life" but in deference to Zuzu's teacher and what happens every time a bell rings, any time a business, large or small, opens in Norwich, it makes it easier for the next business to try us out.

And don't think I'm waxing overly euphoric. The only thing harder to do than opening a business is remaining open and growing by building a following of raving fans based on quality, price and service who'll keep coming back because they want to.

Sometimes here in Norwich, we do the big start really well, with ribbon cuttings and balloons (but no pony rides) and then we move on to something else. Like every other merchant in Norwich, large or small, Poppy & Rye Bakery Cafe are worth searching out and enjoying. Once you find them, you'll wonder how you lived without them. And after you've had a slice of their rye bread, you'll wonder why you'd ever want to.
-bill kenny

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Urban or Urbane Explorers

Decades ago, as part of a radio series we were working on for some holiday programming (my evil twin, Skippy, wants to say “Arbor Day”; I want to tell him to shut up), a colleague and I trooped and traveled amongst and betwixt Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Berchtesgaden and (Lake) Chiemsee (“see” auf deutsch means lake) back when the US forces occupying West Germany constituted a 51st state (and with our own shopping centers, libraries and license plates, we were in many respects larger than Texas and Alaska combined).

One of the places that we went while at Berchtesgaden was the General Walker Hotel, a former barracks/headquarters for Hitler’s bodyguard detachment of the SS during the Third Reich. You could see many reminders and references to past glories throughout the hotel used as an economy stop by US Forces on leave in Southern Bavaria (spectacular views of the Alps from just about every window for (maybe) as I recall ten bucks a night in the early 80’s).

But getting to go into the basement and into the sub-basements of the place, where all manner of dark and dastardly deeds may have been carried out by the previous tenants was the high point, at least for me as the dust and disuse the corridors and endless series of connected rooms well below the earth had fallen into just added to the intrigue and the allure. I don’t consider myself a spelunker, but long before urban explorers helped remind us of what we had buried of our own pasts, the AFRC guides did a good job of making sure some of us remembered.

I hadn’t thought about any of that in decades until a moment ago while at one of my favorite stops on the entire (to me, so far) internet, I fell across this incredible imagery. Nearly all of it scares me so much, I can't watch; but it's so amazing I also don't dare to look away.

We cannot know everything there is to know in the world, but what a terrific goal, isn’t it? If each of us learned one new thing every day, and told/taught that new thing to one other person, how much smarter would or even could we all be by the end of the day? The week? Our lives?

Smart enough to remember our history? Perhaps wise enough to respect it?

-bill kenny

Monday, July 21, 2014

Dance on the Tables

I’m always impressed to realize again, and yet again, that the farther out in space you go the more alike we look and even more so, the more alike we behave and react to that behavior. This time last week, I was all smiles watching World Cup 2014 draw to a close because while the US Men’s National Team had fallen short, making it to the Round of 16, my “adopted club”, Die Mannshaft from Germany, had pummeled Brazil on their way to the finals where they would, a week ago yesterday, triumph in a hard-fought victory, over Argentina.

I’ve never won the most popular sporting event in the history of the planet-an event followed not by millions, tens of millions or even hundreds of millions of people but by billions so I profess to no idea or frame of reference for how one should behave.

If I were on the team that captured the Cup, I estimate my victory celebration would be measured in days-the opening moment of the Yippee! We Won! Dance, alone, would last for seven hours or more.  Be advised I have an aging white man’s sense of rhythm so some of it would be tough on the eyes, at the very least and the rest, kinda rough on the ears, too.

The Germans who historically have more baggage by themselves than the rest of the world’s population has altogether threw themselves a party for the team and hundreds of thousands of close personal friends in Berlin, earlier this week upon the team’s return to the capital. 

In Berlin, some of the team members offered chanted doggerel and desultory choreography that translates roughly as “This is how the Gauchos walk” (group bends in a simulated creep) and “This is how the Germans walk!!” (exaggerated stride). Politically correct? Undoubtedly not but obviously intended as good fun and nothing else. Or not.    

You can hit Google translate on that if you want or trust me when I tell you it’s a news story on the mixed feelings the Gaucho Dance provoked among Germans, old and young. Here’s a good version of the story in English and by all means, check out the hash brown (you knew what I meant) #gauchogate.

In a world with 99 Problems, while I “get” the concern, this ain’t one. Take a breath Germany, and enjoy the view from atop the soccer world you worked hard to get there and the rest of us will work harder to knock you down. Meanwhile we who struggle should seek solace from an all-too brief reading from the Book of Lineker. He called it, he really did.
-bill kenny

Sunday, July 20, 2014

A Postcard of Who We Once Were

I came across something I wrote five years ago while ruminating yesterday afternoon on the 40th anniversary of Neil Armstrong's One Small Step for Man

Forty years ago today, we walked on the moon for the first time. If you weren't yet born when that happened, you missed something, you really did. You can read a library of books on how much effort and coordination, time, talents and money such an effort took, and it's staggering, but here's the thing to remember from 'back in the day':

Going to the moon wasn't the only thing we were doing as a country, as a tribe, a nation-state on Earth. We had almost 450,000 men under arms halfway around the world in forests and fields of Southeast Asia in a war that was to be as divisive as none before it in the history of our nation and whose outcome left us saddened and sullen for a decade. 

Nearly the same number of young men and women were heading to Upstate New York during this summer, actually in August, for what was advertised as three days of Peace, Love and Music and almost all anyone can remember, whether they were or not, is all the mud and the incredible performances by so many musicians, especially those whose flame flickered brightly from that stage and were then forever extinguished because of self-indulgence or profound bad luck.

Back at the moon walk, we on Earth watched around the world, with some of our younger brothers and sisters going outside to stand on the porch at Harvey's Lake (Pa) and look up at the moon to see if you could see the astronauts (if wishing could have made it so) as the astronauts seemed to skip and dance across the most desolate place we could imagine. 

As a nation we were faced with challenges all around us-but we found the time, actually we MADE the time, to watch these extraordinary people do this extraordinary thing that NO ONE in our history had ever done before. And just as no man enters the same river twice because both he and the river have changed, there is no way we can ever again be those people who watched by the dawn's early light what so proudly we hailed at the twilight's last gleaming. 

We did it then, and we can do it now--not because it's easy, because it's not, but because it's hard and because if we do not repair and restore our country, we will have no one to blame but ourselves when in another forty years we cannot recall anything to be proud of since the Moon Walk.
-bill kenny

Saturday, July 19, 2014

The Death of Someone Is like Reading a Book

We exchanged notes electronically more often than we spoke on the phone, probably about every ten days for the last ten plus years. I met him about eighteen years ago when he was becoming the 'military beat' reporter for The Day newspaper, a daily based in New London, Connecticut, a town across the river from this country's oldest submarine base.

I had nothing to do with submarines and almost as little to do with the training of the contents of them and yet he always checked in or listened to an idea for a story I was struggling to pitch and more often than not made something out of what we both knew had started as less than nothing.

He was an extraordinarily fair person who not only believed there were two sides to every story but who strove to make sure he had shared ALL sides of every story. He always succeeded. From the first time I met I felt like I'd known him my whole life and that we would always know one another.

In a way we did.

He and I had exchanged notes about a week and a half ago on a yet another matter of grave national import, those were the tangents I sent us off on and always did, that was capped by some down home wisdom as a man who was both a contemporary and a confessor always managed to bring our discussions back to family and futures, home and hearth.

I'm sitting here now typing these words struggling to remember his, saddened to tears that there will be no more words to ever remember as my friend Bob, died yesterday morning in his home, at the age of 57.

I'm a better human-a husband, a father, a citizen, what-have-you, for having known him. There are no words I can offer to his children and his wife that will ease the hurt they will feel every day of the rest of their lives. I stole this thought and offer it as all that I have or ever will be able to offer: "Death leaves a heartache no one can heal; love leaves a memory no one can steal."
-bill kenny

Friday, July 18, 2014

Strawberry Fields versus Totie Fields

I have been accused of having a febrile and twisted imagination. Unless this is your first time visiting this particular rodeo I will not insult your intelligence by attempting to argue the accuracy and veracity of those observations. Thus, you could be forgiven for assuming “stabbing a watermelon in a passive-aggressive manner” might well be something from a near-fever dream I’ve had.

But. You. Would. Be. Wrong. Courtesy of Gutenberg (Johannes not Steve). 

I’ve never been to Bantam (I feel a Three Dog Night song coming on but will suppress the urge) but I’m sure it’s quite lovely, especially during watermelon stabbing season. 

You know with a bit of press wizardry, Carmine could end up with an endorsement deal for V-8 Fusion. Maybe make enough money to get himself a bigger tool box, some seedless grapes and a large carton of dial tone.

-bill kenny

Thursday, July 17, 2014

And He Will Return the Favor

The Potomac Playhouse, our legislative and executive branches of government in our nation’s capital, Dodge City, have in recent weeks had a lot of rest as the red-headed stepchild, the judicial branch, made a lot of news, most of it involving setting your watches and calendars back to the early 1950’s.

But, because things are going so well-everyone who is seeking a job is not only finding it but earning a living wage working it; various state governments are finalizing the details for a massive return of tax money to those of us whose pockets they’ve picked because they just don’t need all the dollars they took; and those migrant children overflowing our borders are, as turns out, actually on their way to Universal City and the Magic Kingdom-it has allowed our representatives to get involved in areas of the human experience in which they have even less expertise than the workaday finance and international relations of which they have been making a hash for decades.

I’ve been told in the confines of social intercourse to avoid politics and religion (and use of the word intercourse, but that's for another time) so imagine my confusion when an elected representative, Louie Gohmert, who is a professional politician, decides to put his Texas-sized oar in the water on religion, taking  a page from the Gospel of Billy Preston to demonstrate his mad math skills.

Half a world away, we have zealots of every stripe blowing one another (and totally disinterested bystanders) back to their atomic and molecular components perhaps in support of his position which, I fear, may not thrill God quite as much as some of us think it does. Call me old fashioned because I am, but I think I liked us a lot more as a species when we behaved like our belief in a Higher Power was something to be kept between us and the Divinity.

Speaking perhaps only for myself, fellow-traveler on the Big Blue Marble, the last thing I think we want to do, if God is in Heaven and all’s right with the world, is provoke Him into giving us His undivided attention. Historically we don’t seem to do real well when that happens.      

-bill kenny

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

The Holmes without Watson

In a city as rich with history from every era as we are, I find it sad that a person as famous as Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr., never called Norwich home. We would have been his kind of town. An Associate Justice of the Supreme Court from 1902-1932, perhaps his most famous quote is, “taxes are the price we pay for a civilized society.”

I was thinking about those very words just the other day when my car’s property tax bill arrived marking the start of the new municipal fiscal year. I felt extremely civilized and don’t be shy, it’s okay to admit you, too, were feeling more civilized after you opened your letter from the tax collector. Maybe civilized isn’t the word either of us were thinking.

Some may feel we already had all the civilization we can afford. Listening to the mutterings and murmurings across the city was like watching a big stadium crowd do “The Wave” between innings of a baseball game.  Instead of hot dogs and pennants we had sighs of exasperation and equal parts resignation and frustration combined with mutterings and murmurings that too many confuse with problem-solving.

Bob Dylan, who’s starting to bear a striking resemblance to Justice Holmes, once said “money doesn’t talk, it swears” which is why I told my wife I was practicing my Dylan impersonation especially after I saw how my car’s value and tax rate had gone in opposite directions when I opened my bill. But because I wasn’t playing the harmonica, she was buying none of it.   

I think we all understood what was going to happen to property taxes and even why it was going to happen. However, when rates of taxation and the price and cost of municipal goods and services moves from an abstraction like a budget hearing in City Council chambers to a here-and-now dollar figure on a bill addressed to you, things get real very quickly.

I don’t think there will be footraces in anyone‘s neighborhood to get to the tax collector’s office but that’s not my point (I always wear sneakers so don't get your hopes up). No one anywhere wants to pay more taxes, even (and especially) the men and women on the City Council whose decisions about budget expenditures are what we’re unhappy about right now.

Everyone pays but everyone benefits. The system isn’t perfect but can be made better by all of us. The interlocking systems of taxation that determine how we pay for what we want and need desperately require an overhaul. Yesterday is NOT soon enough. Meanwhile.

There’s so much that happens every day as a matter of course we don’t even notice it unless or until it doesn’t. Our police keep us safe, our fire and rescue are only a moment away. We entrust our children as we always have, and will, to amazing and talented teachers. Public works takes care of more moving parts in one day than I could list in a month. 

Norwich municipal employees are professionals in every sense of the word in every agency across our city. Many are our friends, relatives and neighbors- no one is a faceless unknown “them.” This is what our taxes buy and don't ever apologize for believing we are worth every single cent it costs to live in this city
-bill kenny

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Matching the Stars in the Sky

I’ve mentioned, I trust, in passing that I’m a baseball fan. Technically, I’m a Yankees fan which, now living in South Eastern Connecticut, still has me among the majority of “four out of five dentists who expressed a preference for gum” in relation to the loyal subjects of Red Sox Nation though in recent years, the numbers have tightened considerably.

I grew up a San Francisco Giants fan because my father was one and he was one because he’d been a NY Giants until Walter O’Malley who owned the Brooklyn Dodgers, not content to break my Mom’s heart, talked Horace Stoneham who owned the National League team playing at the Polo Grounds, into also  moving his ball club across the country to the city by the bay.

When the Lords of Baseball added the Houston Colt 45’s and the New York Mets to the National League, my dad and by extension, his first two sons (#3 wasn’t even rumored yet), went right out to Meet the Mets. Speaking, perhaps only for me, the pilgrimages to Shea (when it was built), far more numerous than the jaunts to the House that Ruth Built, never really took and I find myself in the summer of my 62nd year not being able to list a single starting pitcher or even position player for The Amazin’s. They deserve better; shame on me.

I can’t do it for the pitching staff of the Yankees either, but that has a lot to do with injuries and bad luck (all Yankees, btw; I’ve been hale and healthy) and to be honest, it’s not been much of a season, looking at the first half of Derek Jeter’s final bow. Much like the ending for Mariano Rivera, the denouement for his remarkable career would seem to be in danger of ‘falling short.’

Jeter will appear in his final All-Star Game tonight primarily because I voted for him about two hundred and forty seven kajillion times on-line. Please note my absence of an apologetic tone. If anything, I’m sorry I couldn’t vote for him more than I did-things like work, family and sleep got in the way-because I’ve been huge fan of his work throughout his career.

I am well-aware that while we call baseball a game, it’s a serious business (with an anti-trust exemption bestowed upon it by the Congress of the United States) and being an aged man who roots for younger but still aging men who make a handsome living engaged in pursuit of a game children on sandlots enjoy, I don’t really care that the irony of all of this is as obscene as it frequently is.

I will still root for my Yankees (don’t tell the Steinbrenners about my possessiveness) when Jeter no longer takes up his position after the season concludes but for tonight especially and for all the days of this season that remain, I’d wish him nothing less than an MVP year as I join with other fans, whose teams are not lucky enough to be the Yankees, in celebrating an athlete who always did what he loved while giving those of us who loved watching him do it reasons to cheer for two decades.

-bill kenny 

Monday, July 14, 2014

One is the Onliest Number

You already know. You have to already know. Germany 1, Argentina 0.
Sorry LeBron. Sorry Carmelo. 'Schland 1, Every Other Team 0.

When my baby smiles at me, I go to Rio. When she grins, we hit the stadtbad.
-bill kenny

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Very Loud or Very Dark

You should already have your television on and tuned to whatever the ABC station here in the Land of the Round Doorknobs is in case somebody wants to broadcast a profile of one of the players in this afternoon’s World Cup 2014 final when they were a child. You never know

Come to think of it, I may need to rent a back-up TV in case something were to happen to the one in our living room before or during the game. I'll wait on that project until my wife is distracted. I wonder if my old stand-by, 'Say, isn't that Elvis Presley over there?', might work though it hasn't at any time in the previous almost thirty-seven years of matrimony. First time for everything, I suppose.

I’m not going to lie to you. Yes, I am looking forward to seeing a well-played and great game. However, I have a very defined set of expectations in terms of the sole desired outcome.

That’s you feigning surprise? You’re not very good at this, but you already knew that, right? Sort of like the Brazilian back line defending during the semi-final. Could not resist. Sorry.

Before I get too comfortable in this chair and glue my thumb to the clicker on the remote, I would be remiss if I didn’t say thank you to every member of every team that competed for the opportunity to play in World Cup 2014. 

If I had more eyes, I’d have watched even more than I did, because the only thing about what the rest of the world calls football but we call soccer that I don’t like is that it’s not as popular  here as I’d like it to be.

Maybe someday. Maybe sometime. But today is the day to be here now. Good luck to your team but BEST of luck to mine. 

-bill kenny  

Saturday, July 12, 2014

None of You Stand So Tall

You’ve probably sensed more than consciously realized that the summer days are almost imperceptibly growing shorter. Like a shy smile, they disappear almost, but not quite, before our very eyes. The evening’s darkness last night approached a moment sooner than it did Monday evening but not as soon as it will next Monday.

I saw my first ‘hey, kids! Get ready for back to school’ TV commercial yesterday and it made me remember how I used to feel  when I was a kid and that happened, and how much I hated adults for making up rules like just after something gets really good, like vacation, it has to end. And now I am an adult who still has to live by rules and never get to make any. Hoist with my own petard.

This weekend, assuming the cloud cover cooperates, is the lunar perigee, when it will be a Supermoon. I’m still childish enough to smile when I type Supermoon. I meant childlike, of course. Sure I did.

I love how the fullness of the moon brings out the Doricness of the columns of the Lincoln Memorial though my fondness is tempered by the certainty someone, somewhere, wonders where the Cadillac Memorial is. We are a nation with the same sense of history possessed of a cat.

Actually my real reason for writing about the lunar perigee is it affords me all the reason I could ever need to share one of my absolute most favorite songs from someone gone too soon, Nick Drake, and Pink Moon. And it’s true, none of any of us stand so tall.

-bill kenny

Friday, July 11, 2014

Or and Um

You’ve seen/read/heard the stories on Andrew “I’m a Victim, Too” Rector and the humiliation and embarrassment he (claims to have)  suffered when ESPN ridiculed him for his advanced state of relaxation at the best rivalry in any sport, anywhere, a Major League baseball game between the Red Sox of Boston and the Yankees of New York.

Here’s a still frame of him in, umm, inaction.

I enjoyed how the article from smoking gun had a photo of him in a conscious leisure-pursuit pose though I wondered where the hat was.

I probably watched that televised game-and had long since forgotten this rectum with head gear. I can tell you I never knew his name until he decided to bleat about how life is so unfair. Should he have chanced across my brother’s observations about his behavior, bleating might have been the least of his activities.

Andy, take a look at this snapshot of Vice President Joe Biden sleeping through his boss’ State of the Union Address. 

I’m thinking that was okay as the Vice-President has long known the address because he mails stuff there all the time.

Life’s hard, buddy; wear a cup and grow a set to keep in it. 

-bill kenny

Thursday, July 10, 2014

The New Normal

When I was a kid in prep school, Mr. Morgan, who used his lunch hour to nap behind the wheel of his car in the parking lot behind the gym, taught Economics. Based on the amount of currency both in my wallet and bank account at any time since graduation, I fear I may have caught some zzz’s myself.

Economics is something I always feel should be written with a capital E. The fall Saturday in Lower Manhattan a couple of years back, as part of that noble but less than effective gesture, Occupy Wall Street, I wandered among the cavernous concrete monuments to Mammon this country’s financial institutions built for and to themselves in the course of decades of apathetic oversight and lackadaisical regulation.

That after having nearly single-handedly destroyed American capitalism through their rapacious and insatiable greed, these same financial institutions were punished by being bailed out with hundreds of billions of MORE dollars of taxpayer money to compensate them for the mountains of it they had destroyed, is a tragically true cautionary tale, but for the wrong people.

Here in the Post-Gilded Age of Greed, "obscene" has taken on a whole new meaning. If reading this story from the Washington Post doesn't make you angry enough to wonder indeed, as Mao asked Nixon in China, if one revolution was anywhere near enough, then perhaps you really don't have any idea what's going on now do you, Mr. Jones?

Look at the foreclosures on homes in small-towns everywhere, the wounded and wasted former service personnel who die holding for a non-existent appointment at a VA Hospital, empty storefronts where so many brave beginnings became unanswered prayers, and this generation’s college graduates who will spend decades in debt for schooling that was to help them to a better life and a career exported for a third of the salary and no benefits to someplace half way around the world.

We’re reshaping the American Dream to look like a modern day debtor’s prison where the only form of successful enterprise is the buying and selling of the shackles we place on one another. Business is looking up, even if we’ve long ago stopped doing the same.

McDonalds, Coca-Cola, Citi Group, Apple. In hoc signo vinces.
-bill kenny

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Rock the Docks

One of the better arguments for suggesting the "second half" of the summer is better than the opening act gets re-visited tonight in Howard T. Brown Park starting at six as Rock the Docks returns.

Kicking off the new season is EasyBaby who in less than two years have become a pre-eminent club and festival fixture across Connecticut, Rhode island and Massachusetts and who burned down the Mystic Blues Festival less than two weeks ago with a set that thrilled their fans and impressed legions of new ears.

Quite frankly, Rock the Docks is tailor-made for local musicians like EasyBaby whose repertoire defies easy categorization and pigeon-holing and have a well-deserved reputation for playing hard to audiences that fall in love with them from the first note.

Rock the Docks itself, as if you needed a refresher, is the collective product of a private/public partnership of agencies and associations who, for lack of a more elegant explanation, got tired of hearing how no one ever came to downtown Norwich because there was nothing to do and set out to prove otherwise.

Rock the Docks is the Mother and Child Reunion answer to the chicken and egg question about feet in the street of Chelsea-and about all the shows last summer, the consensus seemed to be if you play loud enough and long enough people will dance. And come back for more.

We have some great places to eat and drink in downtown Norwich and Rock the Docks gives you a perfect reason to have a night out. With EasyBaby starting at six and the music going until eight, there's enough daylight left to have a sparkling beverage or conversation along with a light snack right there at Howard T. Brown Park.

When the show ends, if your thirst for a good time still needs slaking, there's about a dozen eateries within a five minute walk of the stage and whatever your appetite seeks from Asian through South American, Italian to pub grub, you'll find a plateful of good eating just about anywhere.

So make sure to mark your calendars and spit-shine your dancing shoes as Rock the Docks is an every Wednesday event for the next six weeks featuring the sounds of Eight to the Bar, Coyote River Band, Johnny and the East Coast Rockers, The Fat Cats and Melaena-something for everyone and all at no cost.

There's more than enough free municipal parking in easy walking distance so don't even think about offering that tired old excuse for not coming down to the water's edge and having yourself a time. After all, if you don't deserve it, who does? C'mon, Rock the Docks.
-bill kenny

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

I Was Once Like You Are Now

I said this as well as I say anything, ever a long time ago and I hope you can forgive my repetition.

Today is the birthday of my son, Patrick Michael. When I type 'my son' or 'my daughter' (when speaking of his sister, Michelle) or 'my wife', Sigrid, I smile, not because of a misplaced pride of possession mentality but because I am truly the most fortunate person on the planet. 

If we've not met, count your blessings-I am NOT likable. Take my word on this-and be assured I could send you a list of folks who could attest to this fact, and that this list would vaguely resemble the census in size and scope, helps underscore my point. 

Being not likable makes it a difficult stretch to be lovable, and yet, my wife, an otherwise sane and logical person, could not possibly be married to me for nearly thirty-seven years, but has. Our two children are the result of her ability to make someone into something they feared they never could be. She not only raised two children, she transformed a self-absorbed obliviot into an Approximate Dad. Considering what she had to work with, she done good.

I was afraid to have children--the actual, 'here's a small human to take care of and worry about for the rest of your life' portion of the program seemed more daunting to me than I could ever handle. I didn't have a lot of happy experiences being on the receiving end of previous Dad and Lad interactions. 

When Sigrid shared with me she (and we, by extension) was pregnant, it was the early winter of what had been a rough year. Having successfully placed half a world between us, I discovered more guilt and anger when my dad died that Spring than sorrow at his passing. 

Sigrid went into labor in the middle of the morning and we drove across town to the Offenbach Stadtkrankenhaus. German physicians in the early Eighties were pretty much an unknown species to me (Sigrid's frauenarzt was cool enough-I still have the black and white Polaroids of Patrick in the womb, ornaments clearly visible) and I was to them as well. 

Their luck came to end with my son's birth and they were pretty good sports about it. As Sigrid's labor continued and the contractions shortened and the delivery preparation's tempo quickened, I was asked where I would be during her stay in the geburtsaal, and I assured the doctors, 'right there with her', which surprised them. 

I attempted to explain in what was better than decent German (I thought) that I had placed the order and had every intention of taking delivery. In hindsight maybe my German wasn't that good-it was like playing to an oil painting, no smile, no nothing, gar nichts.

When Patrick was born, after what's considered a spontangeburt (for the male doctors who can NEVER experience pregnancy, in their opinion, the childbirth was accomplished without labor. Sure it was-from your lips to God's ear, Herr Arzt), Sigrid looked she had just run a marathon and was utterly exhausted. 

I watched while the midwife cleaned up my son and, as she swabbed off the blood, he peed on her. Crying, basically blind, totally helpless in an alien world, he was my son and I laughed out loud in amazement and joy and mostly thankfulness for everything that I had just witnessed. 

The midwife placed Patrick on Sigrid's chest, for mother and child bonding and my disappointment knew almost no words. I'm ashamed to admit that at that moment, I was so jealous of the woman I loved. 

I asked as politely as I could if, after she had 'had enough of holding him', if I could hold him, and was stunned when she picked him up and fixing me with a stare that bordered on a glare (leading me to suspect the geburt wasn't quite as spontan as the wizard in the white coat had thought-and just because it was spontan certainly hadn't meant it was schmerzfrei) handed Patrick to me, saying 'I've carried him for nine months, it's your turn now.'

Patrick Michael was, and is, my deal with God. From the moment I held him, I no longer cared what happened to me-and egotist that I am, that's saying something. I know, your children are beautiful, and smart and talented and handsome and sorry-they're not my children and my son and my daughter are the absolute best not only in the world, but in the history of the world (there's a barn behind a hotel in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, that might want to argue that point but no chance, sorry). 

I walked him around that delivery room for the next two hours or so, singing I've Been Working on the Railroad (the drum and piano would have cluttered the delivery room) and really working those Fie-Fi-Fiddly-I-Os, making up in volume what I lacked in pitch. 

I don't know why I sang the song--I'm shaking my head in bemused bewilderment as I type this right now. It seemed like a good idea at the time-actually, it was a perfect idea.

And point in fact, I've gone on for way too long--Patrick was born faster than I'm telling you about it. In many ways, his first thirty-two years seem to have sped by at that same clip. He and his sister, have overcome the handicap of being my children, mostly because they've had the good fortune to have the love and devotion of my wife as their Mom. And, yeah, he's made me crazy, angry, frightened, delighted and every emotion in between--because that's what your children do and will always do.

And as long as you remember to make sure they always know sometimes they will do things you will not like, but that you will always love them, they will be able to do anything, even leave you when they grow up to be adults of their own. There'll be the moments in the living room watching the game when words aren't needed as you both reach for the pretzel rods. 

Other times, there will be phone conversations that start out about one subject and become all that and that infamous bag of chips. And your eyes will fill with tears as you watch them end a chapter of their childhood and begin to write their own novel as the life you have always wanted for them finally begins

And it hurts, and maybe the keyboard blurs as I type this because it's really warm and my eyes are perspiring-yeah, that what it is I'm sure. I am so sorry if the folks you work with razz you today for having a dotty dad-but you knew that long ago. 

Happy Birthday, Patrick! Love, Dad.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Hate to Get Mathy on Ya

Now that the last of the bottle rockets has been launched and the last sparkler has been allowed to burn all the way down to the it-almost-burned-my-fingers-part-of-the-wire you hold it by, it's time to pull your socks up and push on through the second half of summer.

I know. I know. Summer started on the 21st of June and ends on the 21st of September-according to the calendar. But let's face it, we've been thinking summer since Memorial Day which makes Labor Day the end and Independence Day the midway point. No math skills are needed and the fewer you have the easier this becomes to accept.

Sometimes your heart knows more than your brain. This is one of those times. If you've been waiting for summer to do that whatever-it-is-you're-gonna-do-thing, best be getting at it because we're burning daylight and that's about to become a rationed commodity as well.

A lot of us  are heading into work today to start the week and mark a return of the workaday after a holiday weekend. May as well play until the whistle, and remember the field is the same length for everybody but if you want it more, you'll miss it less when it's gone.
-bill kenny

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Waiting Here for Everyman

Maybe like you, I've had an extended weekend in honor of Independence Day that I made even longer by taking a day off in advance of the holiday (my boss was fine with it and I suspect some at work actually prefer the quiet). Before I head back to work tomorrow here's an image I sort of owe you from our fireworks last night.

A holiday like July 4th can fool you into concentrating exclusively on Big Deeds by Big Men (look at the size of Hancock's signature on the Declaration), and that's okay because history is defined by critical actions at critical moments, but that's not the whole story.

Unless you have a family tree that traces every person to every beginning, none of us can name anyone who perished on either side of the Battle of Gettysburg and more than just Teddy went up San Juan Hill but who can name them.

The Battle of Belleau-Wood was more important to the survivors than those who sacrificed their lives but who among us knows any among either? The Normandy invasion just marked it seventieth anniversary but who has ever had a grandparent tell a story of life in those times.

And so it goes. We remember personalities, like Eisenhower but not the kid who jumped off the first LST too far from the shore at Omaha Beach to ever hope to make it. Over a million men and women in uniform have been injured in Iraq and Afghanistan but we only know names like Petreaus and McChrystal.

We are a nation of stories and we're just closing the book on the celebration of the biggest one we do every year. For most of us, the work-a-day returns tomorrow and we slowly accept the idea that the high point of the summer, the Fourth, is now in the rear-view.

But we each have a story and we should tell it aloud to one another or to no one but yourself if that's the only way you can tell it. Yes, the broad strokes on the canvas are important to the scope of the narrative but the filigree and shading that each lonely voice lends to the telling of the tale is what, in the end, causes it to resonate within all of us.

Every life is a song-sing it to the end. The world will wait-it always does.
-bill kenny

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Rich on What We've Got

I had hoped I might share with you today some pictures of the very elaborate and well-planned fireworks we have in my town, Norwich, Connecticut, at the mouth of the harbor in the confluence of the Yantic and Shetucket Rivers which produces the Thames River.

Some years, leaders in the city have estimated 50,000 people swarm to the banks of the rivers to watch it all happen. And what a great time they have.

This year, we didn't quite have the rocket's red glare or the bombs bursting in air as rainy weather, pushed by Arthur to our south, postponed the festivities. With any luck at all, we'll have them on Saturday and it'll be a terrific time.

This is what I had just out my backdoor half-way through yesterday afternoon.

Understanding of course that I had the freedom to take a photo, or not take one, is a critically understated aspect of the Independence Day observances.

Being whom we want is something we take for granted as much as the air that we breathe and don't wonder about it until we can't draw our next breath. I get the fireworks-Independence Day is a lot of big things-but more than that, it's a myriad of small things.
-bill kenny

Friday, July 4, 2014

They Say It's (Y)Our Birthday

“Independence Day, often referred to as the Fourth of July, is a national holiday commemorating the July 4, 1776 adoption of our Declaration of Independence.  The Second Continental Congress voted for a resolution of independence on July 2, 1776.  The actual Declaration was debated, revised, and finally approved on the fourth. 

“Historians have long debated, and disputed, whether the Declaration was actually signed on July 4.  Many believe it was really signed on August 2.  An interesting coincidence is that both John Adams and Thomas Jefferson, the only signers to also serve as President, died on the same day: July 4, 1826, the Declaration’s 50th anniversary."

Independence Day is NOT about car sales, beach trips, beer guzzling, barbecued gluttony, or chest-thumping jingoism though we have through benign contempt reduced much of today to variants of all of that shortsightedness. We focus on the fireworks and fail to see them as symbolic of the ordnance expended in deadly earnest that helps preserve our freedoms.

We too often are a nation of people who use our precious gift of free speech to tell others with whom we disagree to shaddup; who understand our freedom of association to mean we can dislike with impunity those with a different religion, sexual orientation, political ideology or skin color sometimes regarding them as somehow less than our equals.

Today, Independence Day, between the grilled hot dogs, keggers, and marathon backyard softball games, should be an opportunity to enumerate and appreciate the blessings that nearly two and half centuries of selfless sacrifice have allowed each of us to regard as our birthright. The freedom to be whomever we choose to be.

Yeah, I know it's a day late but it's a wonderful Calvin & Hobbes.
Happy Birthday, United States of America!   
-bill kenny

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Hey Andy, Nice Watch!

We all have someone (or more than one someone) about whom we wonder wistfully ‘how can I miss you when you never go away?’ (I can hear your thoughts, y’know; and right backatcha). Though we have never, nor in all likelihood shall, ever meet, one of those folks for me is Lindsay Lohan.

I’m not going to rant or vent. She is who she is in the same way I am who I am. We share the same biology and from a nearly approximately infinite distance in space, we look very much the same. Of course, I can’t claim to be a character in a video game. Lindsay, over to you

I love hard luck headlines and stories like that. It is a hard life if you don’t weaken here in The First World. And I’d know, because I’m an expert. Submitted for your inspection: my unhappiness a short while back at how far an electrical outlet was from a nightstand in my hotel room on which I had my cell phone because it was really hard to get the recharger cord to reach. Yeah, I’m that guy-and I find it comforting to know Lindsay’s my gal, struggling bravely to overcome an irony deficiency,  

I thought between making movies which sink without a trace in the market faster than the Lusitania did in the ocean, she was getting all kinds of help up on Rehab Mountain. Or maybe not? Baby girl, if you’re forced to choose between Max and Christopher for life advice, choose Chris and leave ‘em laughing when you go.

- bill kenny

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Some Premature Congratulations

While I could get organized enough to buy a birthday card for two people from every state of the Union, I’m not sure I could afford the postage and with the holiday falling this year on a Friday, making a ‘natural’ three day weekend instead of those artificial celebrate-on-Monday ones, I’m not sure the cards would get there. So this space will have to do, even if I’m premature-Happy 238th Birthday, America.

Before it gets really crazy busy between now and Friday, perhaps each of us could look in the mirror and then look around at the country we received from our parents and which we are giving to our children. There’s been as much gained as there has been lost through the tears and years of sacrifices and some of what has changed has been better and some of it has only been different. The dilemma has always been in deciding which.

History tells us the heat was unbearable and tempers were hot in Philadelphia all those years ago as malcontents and troublemakers (in the eyes of His Majesty, George III, King of England) gathered to refine, define and catalog their grievances and complaints with the most powerful empire the world had known.

Listing what it called our 
‘unalienable rights’ to include ‘life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness’ the founders of our republic, who didn’t agree on very much except that the present state of affairs could not continue, concluded the only way forward on a largely unexplored, new continent whose size and wealth was not yet known, was to break with the past and declare independence from England.
Out of all of that has come all of this.

Along the way, the original magic and meaning gets lost sometimes in the noise of backyard pool parties, and barbecued anything. Our politics is spirited even if our interest isn't. It’s not even that we all agree with who we are and what we are doing, because we don’t. It’s been suggested as a nation we haven’t been this divided morally, philosophically, politically and socially since the Civil War. And that should sound ominous to those of us who still care.

Some say never have so many had so much of life’s material rewards but, others offer never have so many struggled to hold on to what they have. On the outcome of this fall’s Congressional elections, we hear, hinges the future of our nation-just as it seemingly always has. It was true then and remains true now.

I fear what’s missing is a national sense of self and our confidence and belief in our own abilities to forever adapt and triumph. We had those traits at the Founding and I would hope, this 4th of July, each in our own way, we might again find them, for those whose inheritance we are and for those whose promise is yet to be. Happy July 4th. 
May July 5th and all the days that remain be even more so.
-bill kenny