Wednesday, December 13, 2017

What You Remember Will Save You

There's a lot of counting going on right now on my street, around the city and elsewhere. 
There are the eight candles of Hanukkah which began yesterday evening; twelve days until Christmas as well as the twelve days of Christmas and one day shy of two weeks until the start of Kwanzaa, a celebration of family, community, and culture. And of course, the annual countdown for the arrival of the new year has already begun.

Your time is in high demand and in very short supply I know, but I have a suggestion of a better use for that half hour or so you were going to stand in line somewhere hoping to buy that certain someone this season’s hot toy or to try and assemble that shiny new bicycle. 

This Saturday at noon is the annual Wreaths Across America (WAA) Day observance conducted by American Legion Post 104 at Taftville's Sacred Heart Cemetery to honor veterans during the holidays. 

Recognizing the service and sacrifice of our veterans and their families is very poignant anytime but truly timely and appropriate during the traditional holiday season. Doing for others can help us refocus on what this time of year is about for so many, being with those for whom we care and who care for us. 

Wreaths Across America has a three-fold mission: Remember, Honor and Teach. 

Every year for the last quarter of a century this national outreach has coordinated wreath-laying ceremonies on veterans’ graves on the third Saturday in December at Arlington National Cemetery, Virginia, as well as veterans’ cemeteries and other locations in each of our 50 states, at sea, and in over two dozen cemeteries in other nations where US military members have been interred.

Attendance at the Taftville ceremony has always been good, and with you along this year, it will be even better. Seven specially designated wreaths for the Army, Marines, Navy, Air Force, Coast Guard, Merchant Marine, and Prisoners of War (POW) and Missing In Action (MIA) will be placed on memorials during the ceremony along with wreaths for each of the graves of the sixty-seven veterans now resting there. 

If only for the few moments the ceremony takes, neither we nor those whose sacrifice we are remembering are alone, and that's as it should be, and not just for the holidays. No matter the temperature and weather conditions, your presence will warm the hearts of the organizers and definitely put a smile on your own face.

As an attendee at previous ceremonies I admire the words offered by the speakers but confess to not having enough of my own to capture the essence and adequately describe an event that's a heartfelt and homegrown acknowledgement of the lives of our departed veterans (of all services and from every conflict and era of our history). 

It's a time for us as a community to gather, reflect and remember the fallen, honor those still in service and teach one another freedom is free only with sacrifice
I’ll look for you Saturday at noon.
-bill kenny

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Don't Touch that Dial!

I have a habit of thanking the imbeciles who drive through parking lots and down residential streets with bone-rattling bass rumbling strongly enough to set off seismic shocks for sharing their music. I'm probably very lucky they can't hear me otherwise I'm sure I'd have a few dents and dings than I currently do but I have always been fascinated with by cars (and trucks and motorcycles for that matter) and music.

I've come to appreciate, though don't tell her, my wife's perspective on the pairing, which seems to be that it's foolish and stupid. She doesn't drive so she brings to her side of the front seat a very different point of view than I have and, yes, I am the guy who turns down the stereo (rarely the radio anymore) when he's trying to find a particular street address which is an excellent example of her foolish and stupid paradigm and I wasn't even really trying though she assures I often am very trying.

I am not a fan of Rastafarian country and western music, but I like almost all other kinds of music, except crunk which I cannot define but know it I when I hear it as well as any and all of whatever it is Kanye West, Justin Bieber and others who unload on the public. It matters not to me that in the universe we all share, I am no more than a "who?" to any of them because they remain 'stop leaning on my Torino!' to me.

I devoutly believe employment of Auto-tune should be punishable by ten years in prison and a ten thousand dollar fine and if you spent more money on the production of the video in support of a song than you did on the song itself I think we should take away your birthday. I'll pause for a moment while you compose yourself and recover from that shock.

But music hath charms though it appears, based on this story that if you're wearing an orange jumpsuit, you may be the opposite of immune to those aforementioned charms. Mune? Is that the opposite or would it be Unmune? Or dark side of the moon?

Each of the songs mentioned in the article makes me smile because I've heard nearly all of them, and so, too, have you (okay, Barney not so much), and hundreds of others on every hike across a mall's macadam. Just the soundtrack for when you're on top of the world and you can't get any higher
-bill kenny

Monday, December 11, 2017

Starting to Settle Accounts

Three weeks from today, the first day of the next year will be drawing to a close. How is that even possible? Two thousand and seventeen was just arriving, filled with challenge/fueled by hope and here we are with the remnants of those hopes tracked across the living room carpet like so much of so what.

This was the year we were to do, we were to talk, we were to live large, and to be. And what happened? We allowed so many others, too many others (who've already given up on their dreams) to creep in as poor players and poison what wells of hope we'd held for ourselves.

We can blame a lot of causes for the politics of anger, though we know the reverse is just as easily as true. For my part, I'm exhausted, physically and emotionally. It's like I'm running through soup and sand, my feet never quite lifting from and clearing the ground, each stride a broken parody of what it once was with my arms pushing through the air I can taste rather than feel. And the harder I try the farther behind I fall. 

We started out standing beside one another on the first day of the then-New Year but ! have spent the year watching you disappear before me, long strides taking you over the horizon and when I get to where you were, you're gone with no trace, no track, and no regret. Sic transit humanitas.

This is the year I've been forced to concede the face in the mirror has continued to age and that the man behind the face hasn't nearly as many springs left as he thought and more on point, has squandered, rather than saved, those moments of meaning he thought would come along again as easily as they did the first time. I've actually felt the dullness of the ache in the pit of my stomach that the shocked realization of regret the next time can be the last time always brings with it as a constant companion.

Like many these past months, I blinked at critical moments and lost sight of the important in the rush of the real as the latter became surreal and unreal before disappearing by the dawn's early light. The year in which I had vowed to sort myself out has nearly run its course and the next one will be over even faster than this one, with less to show for it as the distance already traveled never equals the distance yet to go. 

The sense of adventure is replaced by dread as the days draw down and the year ends. The toast we'll make for much success in the new year assumes both will exist but accepts the implication that neither is promised. "The dog days are over. The dog days are done." But it remains (as always) the 'what's next' that keeps me awake.
-bill kenny

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Breathe Deep

Somewhere on the way to here and now, I lost my way. Not as in shuffled off the beaten path and got lost, but defiantly chose to not do as those who came before me had so chosen for generations. Too stiff-necked to this day to acknowledge my failings and weaknesses, I'm often in doubt but never in error. At least in my own mind.

Advent is a season of preparation; for the devout, it is for the coming of the Savior. The annual path to the birth of Christ began last Sunday and I know the calendar and the ritual. But I've never been quite sure what it is people like me are doing or supposed to do as flail about seeking land and trying to keep our heads above water theologically.

I envy those who bundle up and head out for early Mass, with confession beforehand and who can then leave the church fortified for their week ahead. I miss the comfort of the ritual and the sense of shared belonging. I fill up my hollow days with noise to distract me from hearing the approaching roar. 

I've never been clear if I should look to the future with anticipation or fear. However, I do understand I'll find out soon enough and far sooner than planned.
-bill kenny

Saturday, December 9, 2017

Here on the Moon Is a Car

Maybe it's a function of age (very little else about me seems to function at all) but I've started to have increasingly vivid and quite fanciful dreams in the course of the last few months that, when I struggle hard enough and remember the dream fragment, always seem to have a large long-ago memory component plus whatever other craziness was going on in and around my life before I closed my eyes. 

This is one of those dreams from the other night, offered more or less without comment because I have no idea what it means or what my subconscious (that's where our dream factories are located right?) is trying to tell me. When I awakened I was still overwhelmed with how real and true to life the dream had been to the reality.

Actually, I'm not all that clear where one stops and the other begins. But here's a postcard from the real part. 
This was mom's first car (her's was a nicer, and brighter, blue; I don't know how else to explain the color) and didn't have white walls.

Purchased new in (I think) 1968 from the same dealership in New Brunswick, New Jersey, a Chrysler-Plymouth-Dodge operation that had sold my father his 'Navy Blue" (always looked black to me) 1967 Chrysler Newport station wagon that was so large Mr. Zip, just getting started in those days, wanted to give it its own five number code, in retrospect it was hardly a car.

It had a water-cooled engine where the trunk would otherwise be (like the VW bug with whom I suspect Renault hoped to compete) no radio, and a heater with a very complicated set-up of sliders with colored dots that purported to direct air to the windshield and the passenger compartment but based on thousands of rides in the car, I think 'not so much.'

It was equipped with an automatic transmission with push-buttons, very much like this one.

My father's previous car, a Chrysler Newport sedan also had a push-button transmission which my brother, Kelly, to satisfy his intellectual curiosity I believe, managed to successfully simultaneously push ALL the buttons resulting in their falling to the floor on the driver's side of the car around the large brake pedal.  

The Renault transmission had electric brushes (typed like I know what that means; I didn't know then and almost half a century later, I still don't) that required a change of lubricating fluid every twelve thousand (or so) miles. Based on my father's mechanical aptitude (which I inherited), I assume someone at the dealership told him and he listened as well as he ever did about just about everything else.

I was a new driver at the time and Mom's car was the one I got to drive on infrequent occasion. On one of those, the transmission somehow knowing the mileage seized up and the car ground to a halt. Maybe I pushed it or someone came and towed it, I don't recall.

The only place on the East Coast to get the lubricant was some parts place in Englewood Cliffs and my father decided since I "broke" the transmission, I would the one to purchase the lubricant. For reasons I don't remember he also decided Kelly would accompany me on this errand. 

The parts department was filled with old(er) men, wise to the ways of the world, unlike the two of us or at least me. The man behind the counter was awful and mean and would arbitrarily decide to NOT help whoever was at the counter whom he felt crossed him. 

NOT only part of the dream: I can remember him telling the man in front of me "No!" after arguing with him for what felt like an eternity and when I reacted to his shout with a startled look he took to be sympathy for the hapless bastard, he told me "No!" as well.

We couldn't leave without the mechanical goop for Mom's car so I pleaded with him as only a half grown kid of seventeen years and some odd months could do with an angry adult all the while Kelly sat on a plastic hair slowly eating a pack of Chuckles candies one piece at a time that I'd bought for him from a vending machine which probably hadn't been restocked since Truman was President.

After an eternity or two, the counter-man relented and I counted out of the folded bills I'd brought with me, the dollars to buy the lubricant and we were on our way, I'm guessing in my father's double mattress of a car, as I think it was all we had.
In the dream, Kelly was just finishing the licorice Chuckle after which he picked up the plastic chair he'd been seated on and threw it across and over the counter at the man hitting him and knocking him and sprinted out the door, looking over his left shoulder and yelling 'Now!' so I took off, too. I'm pretty sure, based on his age, THAT was only real in the dream, I hope
- bill kenny    

Friday, December 8, 2017

Wishing This Were Almost Any Other Day

I wrote this a really long time and cried as hard the day I wrote it as I did the day the event I was writing about happened and that was almost FOUR decades ago. I still do not pretend to understand why Chapman is still alive and I really wish he weren't. That said...

If I need more than a dozen words to explain the importance of John Lennon and the music he helped create, and the other music he made possible, I'm too old and you're too young to be having this conversation. And since, chronologically, I got here first, you'll have to leave. 

I was born the year Dwight David Eisenhower took the oath as President. Rock and roll was either very rhythm and blues oriented (and called 'race music') or was so white it glowed in the dark with melodies from the Brill Building professionals as sung by any fresh face who showed up at the auditions. Little Richard's originals such as Good Golly, Miss Molly were covered and eclipsed by a variety of white artists and never enjoyed the success on pop radio station airwaves they should have, but the UK rockers had no way of knowing that. 

People like Sam Phillips and Sun Records helped change all that with Jerry Lee Lewis, Carl Perkins, Johnny Cash and (of course) Elvis Presley. The seismic shock Elvis set off echoed halfway across the world where tub thumpers, literally as well as figuratively, who were part of something the British called skiffleattempted to emulate the American records they were hearing in the coffee bars and teen clubs.

The perspiring and aspiring musicians who spent hours trying to copy every chord change of every R&B song they heard had no idea that in the USA, the music to which they were so devoted had been co-opted and to a large extent castrated by vanilla white safe-as-houses imitators. Their world then was so different from our world now that words fail, which is why (perhaps) so many of us who came of age in The Sixties turned to music in the first place as a replacement for language.

If all you know of John Lennon is what you've read, you cannot imagine the electricity late-night American Top 40 radio had when The Beatles were on. They built a bridge from the UK for every disaffected rocker to cross, and it mattered not if they could sing, Noel Harrison certainly couldn't, as long as they looked the part. 

The Liverpool lads stuck and stayed when so many others had faded away because they had talent and the ear of a generation who sought a voice while they, themselves, searched for the sound they had heard years earlier. They may have never realized they had become the object for which they searched-we, on other hand, never cared and embraced them as the Soundtrack of the World to Be. 

The Beatles 'broke big in America' in the aftermath of the murder of John F. Kennedy and I've never believed that was a coincidence. They were the standard by which all other pop music was measured. It felt, for someone in his teens for all of their public career, that The Beatles had been around forever but when they went dark in 1970, they had been a chart presence for far less than a decade. 

Where there were four, only two are alive today. All of them spent, and continue to spend, their solo careers battling unreal expectations, measured by critics and fans alike against an impossible standard no one could match. 

John Lennon portrait by Temo
With Lennon's murder thirty-seven years ago, the death of the public John overshadowed the personal tragedy his two sons, Julian and Sean,  as well as the pain and grief his wife, Yoko Ono, and his first spouse, Cynthia, felt and must feel every day of their lives, but most especially today. 

It's tempting when revisiting history to forget it can just as easily be written as his story because in this case, the bandmate, the father, and the husband were all walk-ons in the Beatlemania movie Mark David Chapman so abruptly and completely ended with a gun in New York City, thirty-seven years ago. 

For many who never knew the man, except through his music, today is a long day. There's little we can do except enjoy what he gave us while watching the wheels go round and round and wonder what might have been.
-bill kenny

Thursday, December 7, 2017

A Memory that Cannot Fade

At a moment so long ago it reads as if that chapter of history should start with 'in another galaxy, far away,' on this date in 1941, Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, was attacked by the Imperial Armed Forces of the Japanese Empire. 

Their goal, a pre-emptive strike that would eliminate the United States' armed might from the Pacific theater so that Japan's Co-Prosperity Hemisphere ambitions would sweep everything before them, wasn't realized and the USA, awakened from the slumber of self-indulgence and indolence, reinvented its own industrial base and used it as the fulcrum to overwhelm the Axis powers of Japan, Italy, and Germany. 

In less than four years (and uncounted killed, wounded and missing in action on all sides later), the Japanese home islands, as well as massive amounts of Western and Eastern Europe, were in rubble and ruins. The map of the world was to change shape, if not size, for decades afterward as ripples from the pebble in that pond traveled the surface of the globe-altering, if not improving, the definitions of nationhood and redefining the aspirations of people and cultures. 

Some historians have suggested that World War II signaled a new level of engagement and intervention in the world by the United States at a moment when that engagement was most needed; an engagement that continues I would like to hope, appearances too often to the contrary, to this day in many corners of the world whose names may not be familiar but whose threat to our way of life is not new.

Today across these United States  Americans will pause to remember those in the US Military who lost their lives on "A Date Which Will Live in Infamy." Here in Norwich in the David Ruggles Freedom Courtyard at City Hall, the Norwich Area Veterans Council is conducting a remembrance for state residents whose lives were lost in the attack. The remembrance begins at twelve minutes before one this afternoon to mark the moment seventy-six years ago when the attack on Pearl Harbor began.

Casualties on that day included 2,335 military members (2,008 Sailors, 109 Marines, and 218 Soldiers). Two Norwich residents were among those who died that day, Store Keeper First Class Harry Carlson and Seaman First Class Mike Quarto, shipmates aboard the USS Arizona.

While we remember them, and all who died that day, I'd hope we also remember as well all those in uniform everywhere today whose sacrifice and separation from their loved ones is just as real and as profound as those of the "Greatest Generation" who secured our liberties with their lives a lifetime ago. We owe all who serve our truest measure of devotion and gratitude. 

We must resolve, because of their sacrifice, to double and, if necessary re-double, our efforts to maintain the position of the United States as the world's best hope for all seeking a better life for themselves and their families around the world. 

We have lived for too many decades as the Promise of Liberty and Freedom to abandon our dreams and our hopes now.
-bill kenny

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

One City

If all went according to Hoyle, City Council chambers were filled yesterday evening for the oath-taking and swearing-in of our City Council and other elected officials. I'm writing this before the fact but have attended enough ceremonies to believe it was a happy and exciting occasion, as well it should have been. 

By the dawn’s early light today we'll read news accounts of the pageantry of last night and savor and reflect at least for a moment, I hope, upon the history we have and that we make not just when we have a change of Mayor or City Council, but every day even if some days, like yesterday we do it a little more (self) consciously than the other 364.

Now that all the applause has faded and the best wishes have echoed and disappeared down the hallways in City Hall, it's time for our City Council to begin its real work and there's plenty of it. 

No matter for whom you voted last month we, as a city, now have seven neighbors whose shoulders must be broad enough to carry the (often competing) hopes and expectations so many of us have for the better days we all want for the city which we share.

These same seven will also need to have backs strong enough to carry us in the new direction we say we wish to go but, in reality, have absolutely no appetite for the adventure such exploration would require.

I'd hope that more than a handful of those who witnessed last night's ceremonies will make it a point to attend Council meetings (both the schedule of meetings and agenda is on the city's website) because it can get lonely at those desks in the front of the room.

And once the flow of congratulations has ceased, and not pretending to be able to see the future but knowing the past, I'll wait to see how quickly we go from calling upon our newly elected Council member to calling them out for all manner of failings, sometimes real but far too often imaginary.

It's very easy to criticize decisions none of us will ever need to make, most especially when we know someone else will have to. There's a fine line between constructive and destructive criticism and sometimes we accidentally confuse the latter with the former. And sometimes, it's not so accidental.
I've lived here a little longer than a quarter of a century and understand the impatience that so many of us have about so much of where we live. I can see how far we've come but concede that there's a lot more to be done and hope our newly elected leaders will help move us farther along and that all of us across the city will get and stay involved and not just always show up on special occasions.

Our Mayor and City Council can do anything, but they can’t do everything. Only together with each of us can they, and we, succeed.
-bill kenny

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Just in the Nick of Time

Tomorrow is the feast of Saint Nicholas or Nikolaustag. That probably means nothing to you but in my house, it's a means of measuring how far we've come and not just the distance traveled. The first time we celebrated this day on this side of the Atlantic, my wife and children had been residents of Das Land der Runde Turgriffe for less than a month. 

Something familiar from home, or what was to become their 'old home' was very important and as Sigrid has set aside some small chocolates for both Patrick and Michelle (and for probably Jena and Kyle as well) for tomorrow, it still is (though I wonder if not more for us than for our now adult children).

I confess to still seeing them as small. I remember hours of hollering "nur Patrick!" and his echo answer of "nur Daddy!" as if it were yesterday. Holding Michelle in one arm as Patrick and I sang "How Much is that Baby in the Mirror" to her reflection every night as part of the going to bed ritual. 

The bedtime story book with a story for every night-a different subject and a different adventure and how the two of them would sit up in their beds as my terrible German rendered any form of narrative nearly unintelligible for the two of them. And then afterward we'd all sing Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star and it was lights out.

Es war alles sehr gemutlich and so long ago. Coming out of the grocery yesterday, the shopper in front of me was mumbling about the youngsters, definitely NOT from here, playing under the overhang as their mother struggled to get their baby sister out of the car and into a cart.

It's funny when little ones stiffen their arms and legs and refuse to make it easy for an adult to seat them in a shopping cart. Of course, it's only funny when you watch; when you're the adult struggling with the child, the humor is quickly lost.

Some people reach an age when you cannot tell how old they are-maybe I already have. Wouldn't want to try to guess his age but I think he needed glasses. I say that because he saw in me, as I walked past him, a kindred spirit whom he believed would appreciate his caustic characterization of where he imagined these children were from and where he wished they'd return. Except, jeder ist ein auslanderirgendwo

My response was to wonder to myself about his attempt to do something anatomically impossible, and not quite as much a suggestion as a directive. I could have been more vocal and gotten the same effect.
-bill kenny

Monday, December 4, 2017

Maybe You Too?

We had a Super Moon (although there were a lot of clouds making its visibility far less than ideal) last night here in New England. Maybe you too? I nod my head to indicate I understand and agree with most of the explanation for its appearance in terms of size, alignment with the sun, and the tilt of the earth at this time of year but I don't know if I believe me.

Between us, I was disquieted most of last week driving to work in what Sigrid might call 'the middle of the night' (between four and five in the morning) from the gym to my job on Connecticut state roads, watching the moon, when I could see it at all growing larger as I'd drive. 

Lots of people, myself included when I didn't live here in Norwich, Connecticut, tend to think of Stamford and Greenwich when we mention Connecticut. They are pocket suburbs of sorts of New York City and are as urban as Brooklyn or The Bronx in terms of population density and sprawl. There's another state and another state of mind beyond I-95. 

On the far side of the Connecticut River, which is where I and my wife live, that's not the case. I'm sure it's a little different now, but not too much, but when I arrived here in the fall of 1991 there were as many people in all of New London County as there were in Offenbach Germany, the city my family and I had lived in. 

One of the biggest difference in the Connecticut in which I live and the one you mainly think about is the light pollution and lack of it at night. Which brings me back to that moon that seemed to follow us everywhere as it grew larger and larger in the sky during the last few days. 

Full Moon Sky by Laurent Laveder
Without diffused ground light, I stand in my yard and look at the night sky and feel very small and alone despite the forty or so thousands of people who actually live in Norwich. It always reminds me of being a young child when we lived on Bloomfield Avenue in Franklin Township and I'd hear a noise at night outside and sneak a peek through the blinds thinking, I guess, I could see a sound though as an adult in the daytime I realize that makes no sense. 

But in the middle of the night, especially with a full moon against a star-filled soon to be Winter sky, when I look up I shiver just a little and not always from just the cold. Maybe you too?
-bill kenny        

Sunday, December 3, 2017

The First Sunday on the Advent Calendar

Just me or will we have to go some to top the last half of the previous ten days or so, right?  It's been really hectic despite that "The Most Wonderful Time of the Year" label we slap on this season.

To review, we had  Thanksgiving Thursday, Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, Cyber Monday, Giving Tuesday, Where the Hell Did I Leave My Car Keys (celebrated, perhaps only at my house), all of which leads us to today, Sunday, but a whole lot more than just Sunday. 

Today is the First Sunday of Advent. I knew that you knew I was leading up to something and thanks for your patience while I worked to get us there safe and sound. Still leaves, perhaps the question some may have as to its importance. Happy to help you out there. 

Feel free to use your newly-purchased tablet, smartphone or new computer to look up why.
-bill kenny

Saturday, December 2, 2017

To Insanity and Beyond!

If I could do one thing in my life over, it would be to double down on purchasing stock in aluminum foil manufacturers. Not just because this is the time of year that here in the western world we see a lot more baking going on but I’ll give you partial credit for that answer.

In my lifetime (sixty-five years and change) I have witnessed an expansion of the Tin Foil Hat Brigade beyond anything even the Book of Revelations could have foreseen. And in recent days, just under the radar of actual news reporting, or as #Pantload45 calls it ‘fake news,’ we have “Mad” Mike Hughes leading me to wonder if there’s a bigger difference between pearl and peyote buttons on your shirt than modern science has previously been honest and comfortable in admitting (and how hard are the former to chew and swallow).

I love this guy’s story, back, front, and sides. This is the tale of a classic underdog with his steam-powered scrap metal rocket (and motorhome) struggling against all odds to prove the idiotic stupidity he has turned into his crusade is neither the former nor the latter when it’s actually both.

I cannot read enough of this stuff. The original Kickstarter, aiming for $150,000.00, raised $350.00. And yet undeterred Mad Mike seeks to go where angels fear to tread though technically in a ‘flat-earth’ worldview I'm not actually clear where Heaven is located unless it’s somewhere beyond the sea ice holding the world’s oceans in place around our flat disc of a planet (and good job! by the way).      

With the calm uncertainty of a somnambulist, Mikey continues to persist in lifting the veil of deception from our eyes, ears, nose, and probably throat. Still thinking of the Earth as an orb? Bam! “John Glenn and Neil Armstrong are Freemasons,” Hughes agreed. “Once you understand that, you understand the roots of the deception.”  Okie-dokie, artichokie.    

I still think the Mojave Desert is the wrong locale for this when/IF it is to ever happen. If you’re gonna spike the ball on centuries of science and exploration, I think the place in space to do it is Columbus, Ohio, and come to think of it, when is Mad Mike's birthday anyway? I sense an opportunity to swap out one Monday holiday for another.
-bill kenny

Friday, December 1, 2017

A Sister's Natal Anniversary

Today is my oldest younger sister's birthday. I sometimes find it hard to keep track of all of my siblings' birthdays but I think most especially hers because I, myself, was so young when she was born. Of course, I will admit that she, too, was young at that time, and has  probably remembered it just fine, thank you.

When we were very small (heads at about the height that whacked dining room tables when you cut corners too closely as you ran around the house) I used to call her "Boss in charge of the Dog." I don't think I ever actually did that in front of the dog, or better phrased, dogs, as from the earliest age, she was an animal lover while I only liked them at mealtime usually with mustard and pickle relish.

I've wracked my brain trying to remember the name of the horse she had while living in the Blackwell Mills Road house and I'm not unimpressed that I can remember the name of the road. Assuming I have, or did, which may not be as true as I'd like it to be, I'm confident she knows the name of that horse as well as any and all of the names she may have called me growing up.

Evan has a lot on her plate these days and enough wishes and worries, hopefully in equal number to allow her to sail through the holiday season all the way into the next and New Year. Where, fingers crossed, even better days await. Happy Birthday, Evan!
-bill kenny

Thursday, November 30, 2017

These Twisted Games We Play

Somewhere on the interwebz I saw not that long ago an exhortation to “Everyday do something that scares you a little bit.”  I am intrigued by the idea if not the execution of it at both the personal and societal level.

For reasons that would tell you a LOT more about me than I might like and WAY more than you would ever desire, I am exceptionally risk-adverse in all manner of endeavors from choosing to change or not to change jobs, all the way down what tie to wear with which shirt. It’s not the decision-making so much that frightens me as the incessant murmuring of the voices that second-guess every step of the process.

And to varying degrees, I think that’s true for a large number of us. That whole ‘the pool ain’t in but the patio’s dry’ mentality that instinctively looks first at what we might lose as opposed to focusing on what we could win.

All these millennia of evolution on and we still wonder about the footfalls we hear from journeys never started and long wistfully for destinations never arrived at.

-bill kenny  

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Lighting Up City Hall and All of Downtown

Did we not have ourselves a time around here on Saturday afternoon with the 30th Annual Norwich Winterfest Parade? It was really fantastic and a belated but very heartfelt thank you to everyone who helped The Rose of New England defend its title as Christmas City, first won eighty years ago. 

Habits can be so strong that I started to pull on my coat and gloves to walk down Broadway Saturday night for the lighting of City Hall because that's how we've always capped the Winterfest Parade for all the years I've lived here, but then I remembered we're starting a new tradition this year by having the Lighting of City Hall kick off the First Friday Downtown Norwich, December edition, the day after tomorrow. 

What a great idea (and I can say that because I certainly would never think of it) because hundreds and hundreds (and more) of us pour into every nook and cranny around City Hall for the carols, the singalongs and (of course) the countdown to and lighting of one of the most beautiful public buildings in all of New England (making it even more beautifuler?). And afterward, in years past, we all then just went home. But wait! 

From a "Light Up City Hall" Past
Now, when we're downtown Friday evening, we'll have a chance to sample and enjoy the ever-growing palette of attractions and "I-did-not-know-that" moments which the artists and merchants who call downtown home have to offer. First Friday is a handy label to write on your monthly calendar but the attractions and events are an ever-changing delight. 

Sponsored by the Greater Norwich Area Chamber of Commerce, it's really a collaboration among the galleries, theatres, businesses, and civic organizations allying with local artists to include painters, sculptors, actors, musicians, culinary experts, authors, and photographers to bring each of us a night they hope we'll long remember and strive to equal on any of the other nights of the month that isn't First Friday.

And speaking of authors and downtown, and combining both, tonight at 6:30, Otis Library is hosting Norwich's own John Manuel Andriote for a discussion on, and book-signing of, his latest work, "Stonewall Strong: Gay Men's Heroic Fight for Resilience, Good Health, and a Strong Community." It's an important book at an important time and I think, tonight is a fortuitous opportunity for those who are interested.

Returning now to City Hall, First Friday, and spaces and places that should be lighted as well as highlighted this Friday evening, would you be surprised to learn that if you spent just an hour in each of the attractions, you'd be downtown through Saturday afternoon? 

Different lighting, but the same City Hall
I'm not kidding the scale and scope of activities (okay, maybe a little) that include (alphabetically by height) Encore Justified, Gallery at the Wauregan Inc., Norwich Arts Center, The Art House of Norwich, Reliance Health, Inc., NAC Gallery, Bold As Love Artisan Guild, Central Baptist Church, Bully-Busters; Reliance Health Gallery, and ArtSpace Norwich

I know, you can get hungry and thirsty just reading the list; First Friday has something for that as well to include: Billy Wilson's Ageing Still, Harp & Dragon, Namoo, These Guys Brewing Co. LLC, La Stella Pizzeria, Epicure Brewing, Ice & Fire, Mi Casa Mexican Restaurant, and, in their new location on Water Street, Strange Brew.

So I'll look for you Friday night and maybe we can share a laugh at all those who complain that there's never anything to do in downtown Norwich. More for us; works for me.
-bill kenny

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

The Dark Side of Hands Free Cell Phone Operation

I think we all agree that cell phones transitioned from a "Dig Me!" item of personal and flamboyant extravagance to a ubiquitous and an absolute essential in nearly less time that it would take Donald Trump to diagram this sentence (bigly). I mean, what would life be without the ability to send one another cat memes? If you just said 'catastrophic,' thank you because that's what I was thinking and  I didn't want to be alone.

I agree fully with public safety officials' contentions that, while driving, they are a distraction but I'm waiting for all of those experts to agree with me that we must also include listening to the radio, drinking coffee, eating a burger (and/or a slice of pizza), shaving, and applying makeup (all of which I have watched transpire in vehicles in front and beside me) aren't a walk in the park. 

Truth to tell, putting glass in the front windshield (the Brits say 'windscreen' like you were driving some sort of a motorized colander) was probably the first and biggest distraction and we've been coping ever since. 

Just about every one of our fifty not as United-as-we-hope-to-be-states has hands-free while driving cell phone prohibitions in our laws, and that's undoubtedly a very good thing except when I recall that old admonition about 'idle hands are the devil's workshop.'   

As an example of that, allow me to introduce you to one Ruberto Pasquale, who single-handedly (pun intended) has done more to boost auto interior roof cleanings than anyone in the history of car washes could have ever hoped. When self-pleasuring becomes an Olympic event (you scoff? We have selfies, don't we?)  we're going to see Ruberto on the medals podium. You probably do not need a reminder to NOT offer him a congratulatory handshake.
-bill kenny