something about everything

Long John Peg-Tooth

No matter what they say about getting a pain-free tooth extraction these days, this is what I have in my mind’s eye:


And if that’s not bad enough to make me want to swallow a bottle of Xanax, it’s one of my front teeth. But it has to be yanked out. I have a raging infection. It’s like I have microscopic piranhas in my mouth eating away at my jawbone.


After the yanking, I need a bone graft to strengthen my weakened jawbone. The dentist said he uses cadaver bones. So I’ll have a dead person’s bone in my mouth. Why does this come to mind?


They gave me a “flipper,” what a cute word for a fake tooth. This is on the way to a dental implant. This is a happy occasion, the dentist said. It should look like this:


But I can’t help thinking it will look like this… Long John Peg-Tooth?


But back to the yanking. I see myself tomorrow, waiting for the dentist, who is armed with AK-47 plyers…


I know. It’s only a tooth. So I’ll enjoy my last day with that front tooth…by biting into a hard, honey crisp apple.


Can Trump Make America Great “Again?”

I have a problem with Trump’s campaign slogan. The problematic word is ‘again.’ In my view, America has to be great for all of its people to be really great.  Has it ever been that way? Trump isn’t specific about when America was great; but it’s a good guess that he means during the economic boom following World War II and beyond.

Let me point out a few groups for which America wasn’t so great back then:

It wasn’t great for African-Americans in so many ways I don’t have enough space to write about them. But here’s a few: Yes, Jackie Robinson was playing ball in the majors; but black people couldn’t use the “whites only” bathrooms in many of the stadiums in which they went to see him play. And they couldn’t vote or eat in the same restaurants as their fellow white citizens…in large swaths of America.


And it wasn’t great for gay people, because they had to hide in “closets” to avoid being bullied, beaten, killed or coerced into “cures” for homosexuality.


1953 Thinking

And it wasn’t great for many women who had to hide from the sexual advances of their bosses at work or the abuse of their husbands at home, because they had little financial means to escape from either. How many of them numbed themselves with Miltown?


And it wasn’t great for many catholic schoolboys, because they had to hide from priests who coveted them sexually as they preached the word of God and while church “fathers” turned a blind eye.


And it wasn’t great for many African-American WWII soldiers who came home and wanted a bit of the American dream by owning a small house to raise their families. Levittown, that great post war social experiment, was perfect for returning soldiers – but only if you were white.



Whew! America’s greatness excluded millions of Americans, didn’t it?

So who did enjoy its greatness? For the most part, white heterosexual men who could take advantage of the open road of opportunity called the American Dream.

Until that road is open to all Americans, it can never be really great. It never was, by this definition. I believe Trump’s greatness has more to do with American power and influence in the world of nations and little to do with quality of life and equal opportunity for its people. There is a balance we can achieve and find greatness in both.

I don’t believe that Mr. Trump gives a damned about balanced greatness. So I say I don’t want you as our leader.

What do you say?

The Door that Keeps Opening

Justice Antonin Scalia called yesterday’s Supreme Court Decision on same-sex marriage a “threat to democracy.”

Here’s a guy who defended the Supreme Court decision to allow the super rich to pour millions into campaigns to get their candidates elected – called Citizen’s United. Now that’s a threat to democracy.

Let me put this up here, just in case Justice Scalia hasn’t read this in recent years:

We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

Mike Huckabee, would-be President:

“I will not acquiesce to an imperial court any more than our founders acquiesced to an imperial British monarch. We must resist and reject judicial tyranny, not retreat.”

Mike would have been jumping for joy if the Supreme Court had ruled against same-sex marriage. Take your ball and go home Mike, like any spoiled kid who doesn’t get his way.

Let me put this up here for Mike, just in case he hasn’t read this in recent years:

We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

Detroit Archbishop Allen Vigneron said that catholic bishops would continue to teach that marriage remains solely between a man and a woman. But the Catholic Conference of Bishops also urged “compassion for gay individuals.”


That’s like saying we’re going to keep you in chains; but we will give you good food to eat.

Let me put this up here for Bishop Vigneron and all the other catholic bishops who urge compassion for gay people. Just in case they haven’t read this in recent years:

We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

And for the Republican candidates for President who threaten to push for a constitutional amendment to allow states to deny same-sex marriage, maybe they haven’t read this in recent years:

We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

And for all those who purport to know what God intended or to point to history or religion or whatever cockamamie justification you use to try to keep the door shut on full equality for all people, the door keeps opening. And while it’s not yet open enough for everyone to walk through – all you can do, as you have always done – is to stand behind the door and try to push it until it closes.

You know who you are. You have always been on the wrong side of history; a.k.a. – The Door… that keeps opening.



That’s ridiculous, you say. Who would put a pesticide in a Frappuccino? No one would; but it seeps in, hitching a ride on the farm to table passageway. Here’s how: A cow, if its lucky enough to be grazing these day, eats green grass protected by glyphosate, the killing agent in Roundup, ℅ the king of the genetically modified organism, Monsanto.


The farmer milks his cow and goes to market. Starbucks buys his milk and that milk is transported to your neighborhood Starbucks Café and finds its way into your coffee, and then a smiling Starbucks Barista serves that milk – and ice cream – to you…in a Frappuccino.


You don’t believe it, you say. It’s a stretch. And you reason that even if we’ve been getting small doses of Roundup, our bodies would build up an immunity to it. Isn’t that how vaccines work? Except that Roundup isn’t a virus. It’s a chemical with one objective: TO KILL. And your immune system is helpless against it. Read more…

America in 500 Feet

It rises out of the ground floor by floor.  Cement trucks arrive like locusts to deliver the mixture that will hold the enormous weight of the 56-story building. The construction workers begin to look like ants as each floor reaches toward the sky. The sun shining on the corner of Arch and Eighteenth streets will soon be a thing of the past.


A homeless man sits against the fence of the Arch Street Presbyterian Church. His hair is dark and unkempt. He stares ahead, oblivious to the massive structure rising in front of him. In his hands, he holds a dirty cardboard sign that says Homeless but not Hopeless. On the ground is a wrinkled baseball cap holding change and a dollar bill.

Around the corner, the original Comcast Center stands higher than any building, and when the new Comcast Tower is completed, they will dwarf the skyline of Philadelphia.


The homeless man wants something to eat. In the near future, a restaurant 900 feet above him will light up the night sky and look down upon William Penn on top of City Hall. After the last French truffle is served, the garbage dump will overflow with enough food to feed a thousand homeless people.

What it could look like

The Caviar Crowd Look Down on the City

Someone said that 10,000,000 television watchers around the world, most of whom could never afford to eat in the top floor restaurant, paid for the cost of each floor.

In the 500 feet between the homeless man and the Comcast Tower and what it represents, all of America exists.

Where are you on this continuum of American life? Most of us are closer to the homeless man than we would like to believe; but you can only see it…if you open your eyes.

Cuba Mc-Libre?

Lately, there’s been a salivating epidemic in America. But curiously, it affects only CEOs of major American corporations. And it’s not because of the aroma wafting through their corporate food courts. It’s because they smell a gigantic untapped market of over 12,000,000 people. We call them Cubans.

Since Presidents Obama and Castro met and forged a new direction for their countries, the salivating CEO’s want to forge a new relationship with the Cuban people. It would go something like this:

We sell a lot: You buy a lot. We make jobs for you; you buy even more.

Fast-forward a bunch a years to a free Cuba. One of the triumphs of freedom, of course, is freedom of choice. And the choices for the Cuban people will go something like this:

Want a burger? No problem. Big Mac or a Whopper. There’s a McDonald’s or Burger King on every block. Want to try some Mexican food to expand your palate? No problem: Chi-Chi’s or Taco Bell. Want some Italian food? No problem: Olive Garden or Pizza Hut. You live on an island. Want to try something new from the sea? No problem. Red Lobster or Long John Silver’s.


Need a new dress? No problem. Check out JCPenney or Macy’s. Need some tools to fix up your house? No problem. There’s a Home Depot or Lowe’s in your town. You say you need a one-stop shopping place? No problem. Wal-Mart is everywhere! And if you crave a good cup of Cuban coffee? No problem. Just walk over to Starbucks and try their Cuban Blend.

Even with the most private issues, the salivating CEOs will give you the freedom of choice. Men – can’t get it up anymore? No problem. Just go to CVS or Rite Aid and get your prescription for Cialis or Viagra. Are you depressed? No problem. Get your Lexapro or Cymbalta or Prozac or nine million other antidepressants and be like Americans. What? They don’t work for you? No problem. Top off your antidepressant with Abilify.


It’s incredible how far we’ve come since the Cuban Missile Crisis, isn’t it? Too young to remember it? No problem. “Thirteen Days in October“ will be coming soon to a Regal or AMC cinema near you. Buy some popcorn, drink a coke, sit back and watch the movie.

Enjoy the freedom of choice – just like an American.


Landing on Boardwalk

When you were playing Monopoly, you dreaded landing on Boardwalk if another player has raised the property value by adding three hotels. That could probably drive you into bankruptcy and out of the game.


Last Sunday, my wife Alexis and I came into Atlantic City on Pacific Avenue and passed one of the first abandoned hotels, the Atlantic Club Casino Hotel. Like dominoes, other casino hotels fell this year. We parked in an outside lot that was nearly deserted and ate, nearly alone, in Carmine’s Restaurant. There were a few people milling about outside, yet there was the quiet of emptiness, broken only by the occasional sound of human voices and cars going by.


In my mind’s eye, I could see a ghost town looming in the future, as the gamblers that once roamed the casinos and challenged “the house” at blackjack, craps and roulette left for casinos in other states. They won’t be back.


If the Monopoly game reflected the Atlantic City of today, you could land on Boardwalk and not face bankruptcy, because the hotels on the property had beaten you to it – they were bankrupt. So you could sail right by, pass Go, pick up a get-out-of-jail-free card, and try to win the game, even while the city on which it was based, was losing.

Not Another New Year’s Resolution

This isn’t my New Year’s resolution. This is me becoming resolute about writing. I’m going to sink my teeth into the New Year as if it were a succulent piece of beef and I was a starving carnivore.

I’m going to create my own January thaw by pumping creative heat into my writing, which has been on life supports due to neglect, fear of failure and other excuses. And then I’ll persist through the February freeze and beyond.

So I didn’t follow through with my writing time and again. That was yesterday. What I should have done is in the past, which only has the power over me that I give it. I’m taking that power source away by shutting it off today…

…and turning on the power source within me that will light up my writing.


Enough said. It’s time to write. I have something to say with words…and if I don’t say it now, when will I say it?

“I have realized that the past and future are real illusions, that they exist in
the present, which is what there is and all there is.”  Alan Watts


The Shadows of Things that Must Be?

This year, Black Friday laid claim to part of Thanksgiving Thursday. Throngs of people all over the country abandoned their family dinner tables and morphed into salivating shoppers, lured by deep discounts.

It won’t be long before Black Friday swallows Thanksgiving Thursday faster than a family consumes a turkey dinner. And Christmas is next.  Could Santa Claus, Jolly Old St. Nick, become the poster boy for shopping?


Usher in the Era of Perpetual shopping.  The megastores stay open all day on every holiday, shopping takes precedence over family gatherings, and greed keeps the meaning of Thanksgiving and Christmas on the run. But it’s really just good business, right?

“It’s just that we were good businessmen, Jacob,” Ebenezer Scrooge once said to Marley’s ghost.

“Business!” cried the Ghost, wringing its hands again. “Mankind was my business. The common welfare was my business; charity, mercy, forbearance, and benevolence, were, all, my business.

“Business!” cried Marley’s Ghost. “Mankind was my business. The common welfare was my business; charity, mercy, forbearance, and benevolence, were, all, my business.

…well Scrooge listened; but others didn’t. And for the megastores today, mankind is their business; but only as consumers.

But alas, there is a new voice, and a warning similar to Marley’s:


“We have created new idols. The worship of the ancient golden calf has returned in a new and ruthless guise in the idolatry of money and the dictatorship of an impersonal economy lacking a truly human purpose.”

Can we put business in its proper perspective? Scrooge hoped he could change the course of events in his life…

"Are these the shadows of things that must be, or are these the shadows of things that might be?

“Are these the shadows of things that must be, or are these the shadows of things that might be?

…and he did.

Can we? Or will consumerism cast its shadow of things that must be for humankind?

The Sky Pointers

Since we’re in football season, we’ve already been subjected to a rash of sky pointing. You know, football players who point to the sky after they score a touchdown. Quarterbacks seem to do this more than others.


The pointing, of course, is a thank you to God…as if God cared enough to take time in his Universe-managing responsibilities to help an earthling move an oddly shaped ball down a field until it crosses a white line in the hands of another earthling? And all this on a speck of dust in the Universe.

Yet when you watch one of these players point up to the sky after a touchdown, you get a feeling that the sky pointer thinks he has an intimate relationship with God…the football fan?


And what about the sorry defender who was beaten on the play? Does God play favorites? Or does God use a sport like football to demonstrate power? God couldn’t be that shallow. Could he?

Maybe quarterbacks should just play football and realize that their successes have a lot more to do with their skills and the skills of their receivers, their offensive lines and a series of other random acts that have nothing to do with God.


But sky pointing works for them because, just maybe, giving credit to God shows that they are not as egotistical as they seem.

Post Navigation

%d bloggers like this: