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Wednesday, December 28, 2016



     We went to see the Bangles recently at the Ridgefield Playhouse, and it was quite a blast from the past. I'm willing to settle for that since I rarely get a blast from the future, and a blast from the present usually means I have to call the guy to fix the boiler.

     There was an opening act that seemed pretty good. They had a guitarist, a drummer and a singer. You could also hear bass and keyboards, even though there was nobody else on stage. Where were they that was so important? They had literally mailed it in. It was like Karaoke, only without having to hear "Summer Nights" sung off key.

     The singer was apparently going through some issues, and he brought out his Mom and Dad, who stood there for a song or two, beaming with pride. At the end  she gave him a hug and some words of encouragement. Do you want to know what MY Mom would have said? She would have said, "Honey, does it have to be so LOUD? Also, you make a funny face when you play the drums."

     Then the Bangles came out. They are an all-girl band that was super-popular in the '80s and '90s. One of their big hits, "Walk Like an Egyptian," wasn't their own song, and they didn't want to do it, but it turned out pretty well for them. I can't imagine that Egyptians thought it was too amusing, since it caused people to wander around with their opposite palms facing up and down for no good reason. Thank goodness people didn't try to drive like an Egyptian or worse, swim like one, since they could have drowned like an Egyptian.

     The band's name was originally The Bangs, but the record company made them change it. It turns out that record companies do not have a progressive attitude about women's hairstyles. Back in the '80s hair was so big and stiff because of the hairspray, and if you weren't careful, you could be pricked by somebody's curlicue.

     No one likes to see photos of themselves from the '80s- every Bangles video featured clothes with HUGE shoulder pads. You can laugh about it now, but if somebody pops into your backfield on a weak-side safety blitz, you're going to wish you were back in the '80s with those big shoulder pads. A set of thigh pads and a flak jacket wouldn't hurt, either. That way, when your career is over, and people are saying, "Well, look how far the mighty have fallen!" you will not sustain any serious injuries from the fall, thanks to your shoulder pads.

     I admit that I was checking out the girls to see how well they've held up through the years (pretty well), which seems like a sexist thing to do. I know I should be concentrating on the music, but it wasn't me who told them to come out wearing mini-skirts, although if they had asked me I would have told them to. And in fairness, if Kieth Richards walked out in a mini-skirt, I would check out his legs, and it would probably take my mind off the fact that his face vaguely resembles Ty Cobb's fielder's mitt. And I certainly do not mean that as an insult to Ty Cobb's fielder's mitt.

Friday, December 16, 2016



      As I write this today I am celebrating my 30th wedding anniversary. My wife coincidentally shares an anniversary this same day, and I don't know if she would use the word "celebrating" as much as say, "abiding." 30 years is a long time to spend with someone who doesn't eat bananas, coconuts, seafood, cucumbers, mushrooms or anything purple. Did I mention bananas? This disgusting little beast turns black if you leave it on your desk for 20 minutes. If you are foolish enough to unpeel it, you are left with this mealy fruit that has the consistency of an arm injury. BUT, banana lovers always brag, it is full of plutonium or some other useless item in the Periodic Table of the Elements that should only be eaten periodically.

      Anyway, 30 years is a long time- if you do the math, it's over 29 and a half years. It caused me to reflect on what makes a great relationship, and what it means to have longevity. They say that opposites attract, which is true. For instance, most women want a guy with a great sense of humor. Mine is just the opposite. Women are attracted to men with ambition. I'm just the opposite- I've been working at the same place for 36 years. Women want a guy who tries new things. I am just the opposite; at the mention of the words "new things" I start to sneeze. So if opposites really do attract, I am as close to a "dream man" as you could possibly get.

      Sure, women want a great-looking guy with a great physique and a great personality. But what I'm saying is that there are other traits that, in time, you might grow to see as much more important than those ethereal qualities mentioned above that will only be ravaged by time. Personality disorders that separate men like me from the rest of the pack. I meant to say personality attributes.

      When you are looking for a mate, consider how useful it would be to find someone who knows the words and melody to every single television show or commercial jingle of the '60s and '70s. What if you are being tortured, and your captives will only release you if you know the words to the Mary Tyler Moore Show theme from the FIRST season (hint: she does not turn the world on with her smile until the second season)? What if the person who knows every commercial from the '60s and '70s is the one torturing you?

      It's important that you and your mate agree on important decisions early in the relationship. We we first started dating, my future wife, who did not want to start a family, asked me if I wanted children. I said maybe one day, but not now. She thought it might be an immediate deal-breaker, until she realized that I meant that I wanted children just for that one day, and then they should go home. I have an aversion to screeching, and I don't like brightly colored objects, unless I can eat them. Plus, my wife would have to child-proof the home, and then I wouldn't be able to get into any of the cabinets.

      Over the years, you and your spouse should mold each other into ideal mates. My wife has fostered in me a love for "The First 48," a television show about murderers, and I have instilled in her a deep affection for "Forensic Files," a program that investigates homicides. We have truly kept our love alive through dead people.

      You should know how to compliment a woman. If she gets her hair cut, don't just say "WHOA! What did you do??" Turn it into a positive, like this: "Honey, you have such GREAT hair- it's a shame you left it on the hairstylist's floor." Or if she drags you out shopping for a new dress, and wants your opinion (she doesn't really), and says it's the latest fashion, don't say, "well, it's kind of ugly," just say, "Honey, let's wait around for 20 minutes, maybe a later fashion will come out."

      People say that familiarity breeds contempt, but I disagree. I believe that disharmony is caused when expectation is out of line with reality, and when you stay with someone who does the same annoying things for 30 years, you will never be surprised by that person doing something out of the blue that is not annoying. Because of that, I always strive to make the other person happy, even if she remains totally unaware that she is being made happy.


Friday, December 9, 2016



     Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to whack me over the head with a selfie stick. That is a poem I wrote when I went to visit the Statue of Liberty on Labor Day weekend. A lifelong New Yorker who has never been to the Statue of Liberty is kind of a loser, and I didn't want that hanging over my head. The ticket to the statue is free, and the ferry ride isn't much. Security is tight, so everything has to go through an X-ray, just like at the airport. I tweaked my wrist playing tennis, so I stuck my hand under the machine and asked the guy if he could see a hairline fracture or anything, but he gave me a look that indicated that he might hairline fracture my face.

     After you've been herded onto the ferry by a trooper with a cattle prod (it might have been a pen, but I am easily menaced), the ride to Bedloe's Island is only about seven minutes, during which you are treated to beautiful views of the downtown skyline.

     Approaching the statue, her pose looks like someone leading a tour group, an observation confirmed by looking around at all the people leading tour groups. But when you draw nearer her beauty is ethereal and hard to define. It's easy to see why people put her on a pedestal. She looks different from every angle. When you finally get around to her front, her expression has a far-away look, like she's still carrying a torch for somebody. A woman like that is hard to get close to, especially since that crown would poke your eye out if you asked her to dance.

     You could mistake the construction for a solid casting, but in reality, the colossus is an array of copper plates bolted to a steel infrastructure designed to exacting specifications by Gustave Eiffel, a guy who knows about towers. The plates are only 3/32nds of an inch thick, the width of two pennies. So if the Statue of Liberty ever comes up, you can throw your two cents into the conversation with that little factoid. Her toga-style garment cleverly avoids any possibility of body-shaming. "Does it seem to you like the Statue of Liberty has packed on a few pounds over Thanksgiving weekend?" Her figure will forever be statuesque.

     She was erected in a direction that was designed to face Europe, as an acknowledgement of France's generous gift, and as a subtle protest to the country's mistreatment of its own people, as perceived by the sculptor, Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi. In geographic reality, the statue pretty much faces Bensonhurst, but I think the symbolism still works.

     The The pedestal was designed and paid for by the U.S. and sits on the remains of Fort Wood, which was built in the shape of an eleven-point star. The surrounding area was beautified by Frederick Law Olmsted, father of the Olmsted Brothers who landscaped Katonah after it was moved to its current location.

     Once I had stopped gazing up at the statue, I started looking around at the other people who were there. It was nothing like the somber reverence you see at museums, but more like a playground. People were there with their grandparents, children running around, lovers barely noticed that there was a big green statue there. There were people there from countries I couldn't spell, wearing clothes that looked really uncomfortable, people of every color in the human spectrum. It was truly a melting pot, and since it was about 89 degrees, some of them had already melted.

     This is maybe the one place they all felt welcome at the same time, and there wasn't one thing anybody was going to say about it. Anyone with the urge to comment had only to look up at that ten-foot scowl to think better of it. After all, she is an immigrant, too.

Friday, December 2, 2016



     Last week we went on a mid-week vacation to Cape Cod, which we have been to a zillion times. One of the things we love about it is that it will never grow into the kind of annoying place where every restaurant is bragging about their "price points" and their "brand." Cape Cod will only swell to the exact size that people are willing to put up with the traffic on Route 6. The people whose head explode if they wait in traffic for twenty minutes will find someplace else to go on vacation.

     We always end up in Provincetown, at the tip of the Cape. Most of the year the place is 99.9% gay. But for three months in the summer, tourists descend upon the place, and everybody gets a chance to see what the other half is up to. There is no need for a "don't ask, don't tell" policy here. You don't even have to ask- nobody is shy about telling. Provincetown is surrounded by water and show tunes, so it pays to be both buoyant and flamboyant at the same time.

     Leave the car at the hotel, and ride your bike into town, because there are signs posted all over the place that your car will be towed at the owner's expense, even if you're driving it at the time. If you must take a car, take somebody else's, so if the inevitable happens they will have to pay for the towing, it's right there on the sign.

     We stopped in at Governor Bradford's tavern for some "queeraoke." The place is a mecca for people of dubious sexual orientation whose enthusiasm for music far exceeds their singing talent. The head transvestite who was running the show introduced Eric, who sang a version of Shania Twain's "I Feel Like a Woman." This was hardly big news- so did just about everyone else there, except for the women.

     For such a theatrical bunch you would hope that the singing would be better than usual, but instead it's only louder than usual. At the end of the performance the emcee said, "That was Eric- let's all give it up for him!" Even though it should be quite the opposite.

     Somebody else sang, "Killing Me Softly," only they sang it really loud, I guess they were thinking that if they killed me louder with the song it would be faster and more humane. You might as well strum my face with your fingers too, as long as you're at it.

     While we were sipping cocktails we played a game of chess- you can also play backgammon at the Governor's, there are boards at some of the tables. It wasn't my fault that my queen was a replacement from a smaller chess set and looked more like the bishop, but when I wasn't paying attention my wife swooped in and captured my queen. It dawned on me that somebody capturing somebody else's queen must happen fairly often here.

     The next morning when we were eating breakfast at an outdoor cafe, the Provincetown Town Crier came over, dressed in a Pilgrim outfit, ringing his bell and working the crowd. I was thinking what a great job that would be for when I retire, being a Pilgrim somewhere and Town Crying. Somewhere where it's hot, but low humidity, and the taxes are low and they tolerate Pilgrims pretty well. What qualifications would I need to Town Cry? Maybe I should just start out as a Town Whiner and work my way up.