Wednesday, November 29, 2017


One can make the case that “this season to be Jolly” is a code phrase for commercial madness.  It is surely that.  But beyond, or in spite of this, there is a loss of holy memory, generations of tradition and a whole lot more.  It's not just the department store sales craziness and the eternal playing of Feliz Navidad. It is the “something's missing” feeling.

One neighbor down the lane has a sign that reads “Put Christ back in Christmas.” At first I thought he was a religious fanatic.  But he's not. He is just an ordinary guy who urges passersby to rethink what this time of year is all about.  Nowadays, I agree with him.

When I was a little guy my brothers and I sat at our mother's knee while she read us the story of Jesus Christ and his birth long ago in some faraway place called Bethlehem. It had great impact on us then, and still has in spite of innumerable klutzy readings in religious settings by well-intentioned souls. So that's where I am coming from, supporting a sense of reverence trying to survive in a swamp of hucksterism.

Working in Manhattan for decades had me a goy among the Jewish crowd.  I had reverence for their traditions and holy days, Passover especially.  I respected too where they are coming from.

My personal hope is that we ALL pause and remember what is really worth remembering. And by the way, giving gifts is part of the tradition, just as those notables did when they visited that newborn lying in a manger. 

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

The Slippery Slope to Sexual Harassment

(He) “Moonlight becomes you; it goes with your hair. You certainly know the right thing to wear...”
 (She) Thank you, Bing.......We'll see you in court.

Bing Crosby directed these words to Dorothy Lamour in Road to Morroco, a very successful movie way back in 1942. None of us needs to be told that the times have been a-changin' since then. Nowadays men are increasingly wary of what they say to women. Tip-toeing is making a comeback.

Being High and Mighty is perilous if you are going to keep that frat boy mentality. Every day a prominent personality is in the news for alleged physical or verbal abuse of a woman. None of us takes this issue lightly. In the minds of many, including this writer, true sexual abuse of a woman is reason enough to justify the death penalty. Certainly the issue is worth another look, so let's do that.

Speaking about myself and many other men I know, males admittedly are not 24/7 the swiftest of God's creations. But in the main they are likable guys who mostly try to do good as they lumber along in this vale of tears. That's the premise. Second, the environment surrounding them is dangerous all by itself. Advertising in print and broadcasting hammer the same theme day after day: youthful female attractiveness. Beauty products are designed (and named) to attract the eyes of both sexes, but the gaze of women especially. From their earliest days women hear about “being pretty”.  As the years roll by they are urged to gain and/or retain their appeal to men. Stay young, avoid wrinkles. Theirs is a brutal test of time.

Magazines flaunt young women's appeal, partially clothed, or less than. Pin-up photos of a sexy someone adorned the foot lockers of men in the military and the dorms they returned to after service. It has always been so, but nowadays things have gotten totally out of control in an age of no restraint at all. Good manners, common decency and respect for womanhood have been lost to boorish behavior.  Who loses? Yes, women first and foremost, but really all of us get hurt.  Absolutely, women have to stand up, report and be more than brave in facing these idiots.  But gentlemen, you and I have to rally and protect all women. We have to change our mindset and think of every woman singled out for an indecent remark as our sister, sweetheart or spouse. 

The days of light-hearted flirtations are over. We are now in far sterner times. There should be some middle ground between recognizing attractiveness by giving compliments and being sued.  But I'll be darned if I know where that middle ground is given the wide range of opinion among ourselves, plus the vested interests from the left or right. And further, if there was a Citizens Code for Compliments, who would set those standards?

For decades we summed it up nicely in memorable music and words like “a pretty girl is like a melody that haunts you night and noon.”  But no one wants to sing that tune while doing time in the slammer.      

Friday, November 10, 2017

Football: Sport or Burlesque?

There are many issues that divide us here in this great country of ours. The big unifier is that we are all Americans, a force that can stand up to everything else. Our various opinions are protected because of that freedom.

Today, fellow sports lovers, our topic is Football and the issue of insane “celebrations” on and off the field.

When players shower and leave the locker room to re-enter the public world, we expect them to conform to generally accepted standards of conduct and decency. Which means, among other things, no spousal abuse, violence with or without weapons outside strip clubs and a range of other things that embarrass us all. Don't you cringe when the newspapers and broadcast media report yet another incident featuring a prominent athlete? Where is the sense of responsibility and accountability to society (including you and me) and especially to the young boys and girls who worship these “stars”?  Individual players, like the rest of us, have to step up and understand duty. For if we don't, the media will continue to play this same note time and again to our mutual shame.

The other issue is one that we, the football fans of the USA, have yet to clearly voice our opinion on. Is football truly a sport, albeit a very hazardous one, OR, is it an entertainment spectacle with pushing, shoving and tackling followed by giddy prancing and dancing in the end zone? To the fore rush those who say “that's my freedom to express myself”. True. But there are many ways to express joy and celebration that make sense. Executing antic behavior in the end zone is not one of them, at least after the age of 10 or 11.

A football player passing on bad “celebrating” examples to younger generations is (almost) as bad as the consistent spitting, spitting, spitting by baseball players. We NFL fans certainly have a right to object to it. If Roger Goodell is still in the job at the start of next season, write to the commissioner and tell him so.