Old age is like everything else — to make a success of it you’ve got to start young. The real sadness of ‘old’ age isn’t that you change so much, it’s that you change so little… Hmm… It is said that a man is as old as he feels and a woman is as old as she looks. Well, this weekend I’m gonna find out…

I received a summons to North Carolina the other week. It’s for a reunion and state awards ceremony this coming weekend at UNC in Chapel Hill involving some folks I practically started out with in journalism. Back when we were young… and invigorated… and full of self-prophesy.

And it has caused me to be feeling my age – which is way past that tropism that 40 is the old age of youth… and 50 is the youth of old age. Because now that I’m steeped into my 60s I can only swear that I am going to live forever – or die trying.

Hmmm… pretty soon my age will probably catch up to my diminished IQ. Or, as a friend was ribbing me with yesterday: ‘Those enlargement pills must be working. Because now you are twice the dick you were last week.’

In other words, lately I have been not only feeling old… but also crotchety. Especially because recently I was trying to do two counterintuitive things at once: think and walk. And tortuously reinjured my knee slipping down my steep wooden steps.

It’s an old ‘war’ wound from college intramural sports. And then it got more than a tad exacerbated from that bullet badly grazing my knee when I stumbled into a religious war years back in West Africa.

So life progresses. From wounds to scars to heart bypasses to my last ex-wife trying to poison me.

Really!

She insanely told the perplexed docs I tried to commit suicide. But of course! And then I made the docs laugh when I jokingly responded: I must be like that convicted felon who is given a choice, by the court, of which way to die – electric chair, gas chamber, hanging… or to be injected with the deadly AIDS virus. And he chooses the injection. And when the guard is taking him away asks why? That is, why would you choose the most heinous, egregious, painful way to die? And the felon smirks: I’m safe. I’ll be wearing a condom.

Hmm… old age really is like a shipwreck… don’t you think? Sinking… eroding… from a young gift of nature to an old work of art. Needless to say that in our youth we run into difficulties. In old age difficulties run into us. Particularly venal, vapid, vicious ex-wives.

But I’m sure I deserved it. And perhaps that’s one of my many problems – everything is a grand adventure that turns into a joke.

Yet through all that the real sadness of ‘older’ age is not that I’ve changed so much, it’s that I’ve changed so little. Like most of the rest of you.

Obviously.

And now I am limping painfully… with a cane. And my doctor told me the same thing he told me nearly 15 years ago: I need an operation. And I told him again: I ain’t getting transgendered. I actually said something about me being pusillanimous, which I thought was about the same thing.

Hmm… And no matter how youthful we dress and try to act, the fact remains that we all die in pieces. And another piece of me is apparently dying.

Obviously getting old ain’t for sissies! Especially if you’re already pusillanimous.

Even worse was that enticing woman I met the other night in that new beer brewery which recently opened just a few doors down from me in South Philadelphia. And the more beer we consumed the better we looked to one another.

She’s been tooting the clarinet for the Detroit Symphony the last 10 years. And comes to Philadelphia annually to get her woodwind overhauled. Philly, especially with its internationally acclaimed Curtis Music Institute, has long been a global workshop for this.

As she so informed me.

And in our continuing random conversation I also learned that her father, ‘a successful scientist but failed businessman’ had found a young, mail-order Russian bride. And decided that since he didn’t have much going for him here, relocated to Russia with his newlywed arm-candy and her 9-year-old son.

Hmm… Now why does that seem just grand to me?

Anyway, after 40 minutes of dis-and-dat I was about to suggest we continue conducting our symphony back at my place. But just as I stood up from my barstool my damn left knee decided to orchestrate some virtue… and collapsed. And down I went like a wounded duck, quacking and flapping on the cement floor.

And then this woman – I think her name was Shannon – in attempting to assist, ended up patronizing me – almost like I was her damn grandfather.

But of course! Her grandfather! And our ‘mood’ diminished and died like Viagra after 4 hours. So she paid her bar bill and, basically, fled.

And I slowly limped my way home.

And now I am about to limp down to North Carolina to drink, eat, make a wonderful ass of myself and gaze upon all those age-lines of regrets etched into the faces of former cohorts. Indeed, the closing years of life are like a masquerade party when the masks drop away. I just wonder if I’ll look as old to them as they will to me.

Probably not. Simply because I don’t have many regrets.

Hmm… I mean, life is just life… right? The party doesn’t end until the Russian vodka meets political correctness.

Oy!

I think my only real lament is that I still haven’t quite created a fully-satisfying surfeit of mischief. After all, you can only be young once, but you can immature forever.

So I’m planning to stop off in Richmond, Va., to see an old ex. She’s living with one of my best ex friends from high school whose own wife became an ex after she caught him with my ex. And then there’s another old ex in Chapel Hill, who’s married to my best ex-friend from Carolina. And they have been x-ing me outta their lives the last 35 years.

Hmm… If you’re counting all those X’s without the O’s you’ll understand why my game plan has always had so many illustrious pitfalls — it’s always been poorly designed and a tad offensive. Then again people do get offended so easily. So I ain’t apologizing. Because they obviously can’t take a joke. And a good joke’s gotta offend somebody… eh?

Hey, you’re never too old to be younger. That is if you’ve kept your sense of humor.

So, here I am, packing my bag and mandated dress suit and tie to trek down and confirm something I already know: That once you are over the hill… you pick up speed.

In a way I’m excited, I mean, even politicians, ugly buildings and whores get respectable if they get old enough. And like I already said: Old age is like everything else; to make a success of it you’ve got to start young.

And I did…

And dats yDrewIS on dis penal colony…

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News Flash: The good wolf and the evil wolf engaged in a mortal battle to the death. Day and night they ripped and tore at each other’s flesh. Hmm… This is not a fake news story. Just like Trump is President and you’re not… Soooo, guess who won?

Maybe it didn’t quite happen that way… But this is just the way I remember it.

During a beer break from the storm of Trump’s denials — of any Russian connections, as well as everybody but Trump’s denial of any Obama wiretaps, and the Congressional denial of Trump’s alternate healthcare plan — this tallish, dark, gaunt guy with long, black, stringy hair and black rim glasses clumped into Grumpy’s corner bar…

And he was scowling.

I don’t think Tommy meant anything by it. He’s just one of those intense human raptors who thinks he’s got life figured out. But just can’t figure out – sometimes — how to pay his rent… not to mention his healthcare premiums.

And Joe, the fellow perched on the stool beside me, who’s overly protective of his big-breasted, songbird girlfriend, regularly warbling during this karaoke night, poked me with one of his fleshy elbows. And then he nodded his way towards the sullen Tommy.

And while I may have momentarily mis-thought that Joe was about to lend some nourishing insight into the furrows of the Tommy’s gloomy character — as well as the forlorn of the ‘popular-voters’ of the country — Joe dispelled that misconception quicker than a Trump Twitter tantrum.

After all, this was Grumpy’s, where most of the intellectual stimulation among the steroid muscles and sagging tattooed breasts, consists of counting along with Big Bird. And definitely not exercising its minimum patriotic duty – that is getting their cellulite butts off their barstools… and voting.

Hmm… Then again, neither did 47 percent of the rest of the country’s eligible electorate.

Anyhow, so Joe, whose mental gerbil has been known to sleep-at-the-wheel, said to me:

“That’s the kind of arm-length tattoo I wanna get.”

But of course! North Korea’s launching missiles, and Joe’s launching another tattoo!

Hmm… Talk about denial. By the way, have you ever noticed that drinking makes such fools of people? And people are such fools to begin with that it’s compounding a felony. Then again when I’m not sober I like all g-d’s creatures… I just like some better when they’re stuffed…

Now to me, tattoos are nothing more than bumper stickers for the body. Admittedly they can make a corpse better looking. Which goes along with my conviction that most folks are merely corpses — having died by age 25, but somehow manage to hang around to 75 to get buried.

That is just after one last afternoon of 3 more football games and 8 bags of Doritos.

Nevertheless, just because I don’t have any vainglorious tattoos adorning my pallid, aging torso doesn’t mean I’m not amazed by them now and then. Like with that German woman in Berlin I told you about a few years back. She had a large “W” tattooed on the inside of each of her luscious thighs. You know, up there close to the putting green. And when you went down for a closer survey of the lay of the land it gloriously spelled: “W-O-W!”

Now there was a tattoo that makes a man putt for dough.

Hmm…

Anyway, I asked Tommy, whom I discovered enjoys nattering about how he’s been spending his life overcoming childhood, to show me his tattoos. They were half-covered by his half-rolled up sleeves. And without a second of preponderance, he whittled himself down to his muscle-man t-shirt – without duh muscles.

Hmm… And these are undoubtedly the guys, like Keith Richards, who are most likely to survive a nuclear holocaust.

In the dim light I couldn’t quite make out the potpourri on his left arm. But on his right, from his shoulder to a few inches from his wrist was a large wondrous wolf baying at the moon.

At that Tommy posed: “You do know the story of the two wolves, don’t you?”

Tommy didn’t pause for an answer… except to wonder if I was buying him another pitcher of beer. Any beer. I don’t think he’s ever found a beer he doesn’t like.

Hmm…

And then his story unfolded about how this elderly Apache chief was telling his youthful grandson about these two great wolves. One represented all the evil, ignominy, sinister, pernicious malevolence in the world. And the other symbolized all the goodness, altruism, mercy and grace.

And one night the two lofty wolves engaged in mortal combat. Their battle raged for days and nights… and more days and nights. Up the Dakotas, and down the Rockies. Fur flew. Blood spilled. Bones were crunched.

Finally the wide-eyed Apache grandson implored his grandfather to tell him who ultimately won.

The grandfather smiled shrewdly, and simply replied: ‘The one you feed.’

Hmm… No shit! Tommy’s dark eyes sort of smiled. And so did mine.

Tommy searched my appreciative face as he repeated: “The one you feed… the one you nourish…” Apparently he didn’t bother to search Joe’s puzzled mug. I swear there’s a ‘For Rent’ sign hanging on his forehead.

Anyway, I smiled in wondrous approbation. I mean, at first I had smugly figured: That’s a pretty complex thought for someone who probably has to write ‘L’ and ‘R’ on the bottom of his shoes. But then, of course, it’s well known that sometimes it’s the very people who no one imagines anything of, who do and say the very things no one can imagine.

But of course!

Perhaps I should repeat that – and often. In other words, I know I can be an effete snob. But I have learned that if you hold a person like me underwater long enough, I stop being an asshole.

Which sort of brings me to The Donald… He be duh President even if he didn’t win Mister Popularity. And it’s no secret that in my drain-em, kill-em and definitely don’t let-em propagate mode I definitely voted for The Donald the old-fashion, Philadelphia way – twice.

And this, of course, has made me the butt of some less-than-good-natured ribbing from some of my erstwhile journalist cohorts. They wonder if my brain is still under warranty. And, naturally, I wonder if they, like Dr. Bruce Banner and The Hulk, were exposed to too many gamma rays when their supercilious Hillary experiment imploded.

Hmm…

And a day or two after Tommy and I quickly discovered that the more beer we drank the better we understood one another, some of these very journalists were poking me with: I’d like to know when it was in your life that you came to that fork in the road where reality was to the left… and you took a sharp right…

Hey, I resemble that!

“Soooo… whaddaya think of your emperor, now?” they practically demanded to know.
They sort of sounded like Edward G. Robinson in “The 10 Commandments”, didn’t they?

“I think it’s all going according to plan,” I said. “But like a Shakespearean play I wonder who’s going to be left to tell the story. In other words who’s going to be able to separate the ideology and the facts.”

“We are!” they practically harmonized like a barber shop quartet.

Oh, yeah, I countered. And if I drink enough you’ll start making sense. Sooo, I explained to them that Trump is a work-in-progress. As an outlier and businessman he’ll figure out how to make Washington work for him… and the rest of us.

And if he doesn’t, I continued, the country still wins. Look what’s happening: People are suddenly getting involved; Protests are raging; More women than ever are stepping up, and running for office; And I am certain that most of the 47% who didn’t vote last November will be voting next November.

For him, or against him, Trump has lit a bonfire up our asses. This is how a Republic is supposed to work. And if he does build ‘The Wall’ I hope he builds it out of solar panels. Then we could charge Mexico for the electricity it desperately needs in its hard-scrabbled areas…

“Hey, it’s the 60’s revolution happening 50 years later.” I then also noted: “It’s even working in Russia.”

They didn’t need to remind me that in the Trump-White-House that may have been an unfortunate reference.

“So you’re saying that any good that Trump may be doing is like reverse patriotism,” asserted Erik from USAToday.

Reverse. Upside down. Inside out. What-duh-hell, what-duh heck!

For 50 years the rich have gotten richer; the poor poorer. Our taxes have gone up. Our schools have gone down. More jobs have gone overseas, and less jobs have come home. This isn’t just what the Democrats or Republicans have done to us. This is what we have done to ourselves. We get the government we deserve… by watching too much football — and not voting.

“It’s like the bad wolf and good wolf waging war,” I said to Erik

“Oh, yeah, it all comes down to the one you feed.”

“You know the tale?” I was impressed.

Erik sniffed back: “Do not tell fish stories where the people know you; but particularly, don’t tell them where they know the fish.”

I don’t know what the heck Erik was talking about. It sounded he hadn’t had his after-work four beers, yet. Either that or he was quoting Mark Twain – again!

Sheesh, it just goes to show you, Trump may be on to something. Those ‘other’ journalists may think they know everything but they don’t know nuttin’ about ‘alternate truths.’ And maybe next time their ‘popular majority’ won’t take the once ‘silent (electoral college) majority’ for granted. For we all have needs – no matter what bathroom we use.

And, as an omniscient man who still imbibes like a journalist, I must admit that President Trump’s real troubles aren’t with the media, but with some of the ‘facts.’ And some more that may be soon forthcoming.

But to tell you the truth, that doesn’t really matter much to me. Because, like I said of Tommy: It’s well known that sometimes it’s the very people who no one imagines anything of, who do and say the very things no one can imagine.

Which is why I voted for The Donald in the first place.

Hmm… If I have offended your sense and sensibilities… all I can say is: Get over it! And if I haven’t, I’ll keep on trying.

I know Donald will.

And dats yDrewIS on dis penal colony…

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Sometimes something happens that makes you realize the human race is not as bad as it seems. Then again, drinking makes such fools of people, and people are such fools to begin with that it’s compounding a felony. Hmm… And, as my pastor espoused: ‘We may have a new President, but we’ve still got the same old G-d.’ So ‘drink’ for me – I’ll be the only Trump guy at the family Thanksgiving table…

The advertisement boomed from the radio almost as a brief respite from all the blaring news about the cries-of-duh-unfittest protesting Trump’s election… and petitioning the Electoral College not to cast their votes for him in December.

The radio ad, promoting a university medical study to help you with drug and alcohol problems, asked: ‘Are you drinking more than you want to?’

And I immediately roared: “Hell, no! I ain’t drinking enough!”

And obviously neither are most of these fools.

I figure if I ever do drink sufficiently then hopefully some of these damn jackasses will start making sense – especially those crying a Niagara Falls as if another 911 plane crashed into the new Freedom Tower skyscraper that replaced the World Trade towers.

Besides…! What’s-a-matter with you? Big girls don’t cry. There’s no crying in politics. You’re acting like Reagan just got re-elected after reawakening from one of his many 20-year, afternoon naps. Or, stop duh world I wanna get off, Jimmy Carter finally stopped praying about what to do in Iran. And you really want bad?! Let’s bring that Bush kid back – and his V.P. Dick! — and go invade Bermuda… or Elba… or anybody else that ain’t got no weapons of mass destruction.

Man-o-man, as my dear ol’ bourbon sippin’ Pappy used to roar just before walloping me practically toothless: ‘You want something to cry about?! I’LL give you sumtin’ to cry about!’

Sheesh! Our dentist got rich.

Hey, the fact is about the only thing I don’t trust about Trump is that he actually DOESN’T drink. I mean that’s the same reason I don’t trust camels, either… or anything else that can go 7 days without kicking back and chugging the elixir of the gods.

Hell, folks, we got ourselves a man who not only don’t drink, don’t smoke, don’t do drugs… he also don’t care one damn casino chip that some 2 million more of you voted for Hillary. Because he still won. And that’s the system – the same system that allowed him to legally declare bankruptcy, and enabled Hillary to declare she didn’t know nuttin’-honey about no emails. It’s the same system that’s been broken for Hillary’s last 30 years of public service and nobody’s gotten around to fixing it…

Or most anything else.

Hmm… And I wonder why…

And the trouble with all you ‘Never Trump’ folks seems to be that you are definitely three drinks behind me. At least. You gotta quit overdosing on so much coffee. Drink your bourbon straight. You’ll get used to it. It’ll still be the best part of waking up… and remembering that 47 percent of you DID NOT VOTE!

But of course!

Please… all you people on saltpeter bemoaning Trump ought to just go into the bathroom and grab yourself by the crotch… and be thankful that it ain’t Hillary’s. Because, as some famous guy somewhere undoubtedly uttered: Nothing is ever as good as it feels, and tomorrow ain’t gonna be as bad as it seems.

You got that?

Besides, the only thing demonstrated by running a person like Hillary was that the Democrats, this time, were obviously trying to sell us some supertanker of ‘overruns’ of leftovers of bad t-shirts. You know, like the ones at the seashore with an arrow pointing and stipulating: ‘I’m with stupid!’

I mean, can anyone tell me why, out of the million or more honorable, eligible, qualified and electable women in America, why was it that only Bill was able to find a few who were better?

Hmm…

Look, the earth is still spinning. The sun is still shining. The stock market didn’t crash. Your dog didn’t get fried for dinner. And Trump is still sleeping with Melania… in duh Big House.

Meanwhile, what I don’t understand – and never will – is all those folks who are absolutely certain they are smarter than the rest of us supposedly deceived fools. And they just can’t believe that life didn’t go as they planned for us. In other words no manifest destiny.

Well, all I can say is: life is life. Truman beat Dewey. Daly stole Chicago for JFK. And Trump was proven correct when he said the system is rigged.

Hey, I don’t wanna gloat, or even remind you, that even though I voted for Obama before, this time I definitely put my chips on red. After all, America wasn’t created by a bunch of pusillanimous poseurs of parsimonious patriotism. We’ve killed, battled and dueled for what we are – a flawed country, indeed, but the only one where little men can still attain big dreams.

Hell, socialism is where we are all miserable together. We never were supposed to be Europe or anybody else trying to historically preserve its tattered past. In America change, itself, is the value we hold dearest.

In fact, change may be our most important value. Things in America are definitely supposed to be bigger, better, cheaper, different, phenomenal, magnificent, powerful…and yes, even ‘Yuge!’

If we think we can… then we CAN. There is nothing so big an American shouldn’t be able to visualize. And attain. Everything and anything should always be possible here where idealism is almost inherent in our psyche.

Lincoln proved that and kept the country together. JFK proved that and broke the Catholic barrier. Obama proved that and bridged the racial divide. And now Trump proved that a political outlier, a man who did things his way, who grabbed life by more than just its balls, may be able to put Humpty Dumpty back together… again.

Indeed, it is worth giving him a shot. After all how much worse can things be for a guy who everyday always has a bad hair day?

Hmm… Meanwhile…

This Thanksgiving holiday I’ll be visiting my brother-duh-heart-doc and his wife-duh-family-lawyer, their children and grandchildren, as well as other relatives all gathered together in San Francisco to break bread and pretend we like each other.

Gobble-gobble…

Also, I will be the only Jewish drop-out there. A Jewish drop-out is a guy who didn’t get his Ph.D. Which seems apropos since I will also be the only person there to have voted for Trump.

Of course, I will patiently indulge them and their fashionably liberal palaver – even though they readily recoil in horror whenever I tell them that you can never be too crazy, but you can be too sane. It’s what makes America great! Yet, they look at me aghast like I am some Moby Dick about to splash through their flawless California wine cellars and ship their children off to a kibbutz… where actual manual labor is required.

Oy-vey-iz-mir!

By the end of my stay and imbibing, we will have once again agreed that change is the only constant in life… as long as it’s change they don’t abjure. And that the two things people hate most in life are: the way things are… and change.

Yet, they also will again assess me rather dourly when they try to reckon why even a not-so-nice-Jewish boy like me has been praying with 4,200 congregants, at an all but me and one other white guy, black Baptist Church the last 10 years.

Like, what duh hell?

And so I’ll have to tell them what the pastor ended his sermon with the other Sunday: ‘We may have a new President, but we’ve still got the same old G-d.’

Hallelujah!

And that seems to be another good reason to drink heavily… even if the Baptist aren’t supposed to recognize each other at the liquor store.

Hmm…

And dats yDrewIS on dis penal colony…

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We usually don’t get what we want, but what comes. And what’s-a-coming in a few days is troubling. Then again, like my venerable Louisiana cousin recently informed me: ‘Trouble is the nature of all things. We can’t help ourselves. Hell, even a fish wouldn’t get into trouble if it kept its mouth shut.’ Sooo… let’s make trouble… and vote like me… and Jerry.

There was a scream. It shattered the still, midnight air. And pierced the emptiness everywhere. The shriek boiled over like the howling of an urgent train whistle. But no police sirens followed. No neighbors flipped on their lights, or gathered about.

For they had heard and seen it before. So they recognized it. Like Edvard Munch’s “The Scream,” the second most recognizable painting after da Vinci’s “Mona Lisa.” They knew what they damn well knew: That more often than not we don’t get what we want, but merely what comes.

And with what’s coming in a few days we don’t know whether to scream or whisper. Because one has become politically incorrect. And the other falls on deaf ears, like in a cemetery, where both whispers and screams often get buried.

Hmm… and such is as it was the other weekend at a family reunion. Just a few days before the damn — but clear-to-me — choice between Hillary and The Donald. And I was facing yet another dilemma of a potential breach of etiquette: I didn’t know whether to bitch-slap the ‘harlot’ or spank her ‘partner.’

Indeed, the pernicious choices we face. And it was all in the family, too.

Go figure. And all this time I have candidly believed that family, like friendship, is non-negotiable. You know, just be a decent person and accept the flaws and ‘idiot-syncracies’ in others. Even the one… or two… thousand roiling in moi. At least according to my exes.

Hmm…

We had congregated at cousin Mike’s home in the stone house suburb just across the city line where the democrats from Philadelphia have been creeping into.

We gathered to host three relatives on my Father’s side who I had never met until a couple of days before. They were from Louisiana, but since Katrina drowned their homes a dozen or so years ago now hale from Dallas. That’s in Texas for those of you mis-educated in our flailing public schools. It’s also where many of my Louisiana clan have relocated over the years. That and Houston.

There were about 20 or so of us. And although some of the gathering cousins I vaguely recognized from my sober childhood days, there was one woman, with a constant look of surprise on her puzzled face. And I felt the need to introduce myself. You know, perhaps she was sick or abroad during my heydays of print journalism.

But of course!

I think she said her name was Eileen. And then she immediately informed me she was Barbara’s – a cousin I hadn’t seen since we were prepubescent kids 50 years ago – ‘partner.’

“That’s nice,” I offered. Like, okay, that settles that.

But at that she insisted on inquiring if I understood what ‘partner’ meant. Like she was about to reveal some fundamental fact that hasn’t been already scrawled on the walls of public toilets.

So, I bit my wise-ass tongue and decided not to say something on the order — which I swear I didn’t say but merely thought – during one of Mike’s previous little galas of his erstwhile TV news friends who invited me, no doubt, to examine how a real, non-vegan, print journalist can hold so much liquor. And a shit storm ensued when a screaming and obviously mind-reading associate producer had imbibed one more potent cosmopolitan than she could hold. And she actually tried to tackle me.

Now that was a party.

But I promised Mike I’d be ‘reserved’ and muzzle my affliction of wit.

Sooo… this time to Eileen’s query I only replied: “Yeah, it means you play for the other team.”

Eileen’s big ol’ cow eyes blinked once or twice while the rose in her cheeks burned to rosy ashes. And then she spun and made her way a tad quickly to the other side of the room.

Gee… and here I was being so non-contrarian. I even poured myself another drink and plopped down next to Jerry. He’s the 88-year-old Louisiana-now-Dallas cousin who Mike and I gave a tour of Philadelphia with his middle-aged daughter and son-in-law two days before. He is also a first-cousin of ‘partner’ Barbara’s mother who turned 93 the day of the family reunion.

And, by the way, Jerry is a real, deep-South good ol’ boy who I was charmed by the moment we exchanged ‘howdy’.

He is a Trump fan. And so am I by way of default. Indeed, Trump may be an asshole, but Hillary is the stuff you flush. I mean, didn’t she and Bill supposedly steal the silverware when they departed the White House last time?

Anyway Jerry and I got to discussing Trump. And in desultory fashion we both got to pointing out that the Democratic Party has long taken Black Americans for granted. And that de facto segregation of most minorities is still rampant. And that I had switched my party registration back before the primaries in order to vote for Trump. Partly because I am sick of the castrating political correctness. And, also because we are really missing an opportunity here to hold forth and have a real and honest discussion on the failures of so-called progressivism and the overall leadership of the country.

And even though I had voted for Obama, we both strongly felt there needed to be real change, a real shake-up in Washington. And that would require a guy who is beholding to nobody. And here is never-can-be-too-crazy Trump who has been a Democrat and a Republican. And now they both hate him. So he must be doing something right.

And just then Barbara walked by, and was about to sit with us. But instead she yelped something on the order of: ‘You guys are voting for Trump! I’m not talking to you!’

And she, like her partner Eileen had before, skirted away. But not before I smiled and laughed: “Well I guess we’ll talk again in another 50 years.”

Hmm… Family… I am told it’s still illegal to shoot em… or leave them hanging from a tree. Sooo… you just have to smother them (to death) with love.

Yet, it was as if some fundamental fact about Barbara – and perhaps some aberrant family DNA — had been exposed. Even aging Jerry didn’t seem able to lasso the possibility that Barbara may have been a tad shortchanged with the cerebral dexterity to see the humor in all this. Because it really is farcical. All the shouting and shooting about ‘Crooked’ Hillary and ‘Misogynist’ Trump. And these, laughably, being the ‘best’ two candidates we could conjure up to lead the free world.

Oy-vey-iz-mir!

They’re both troubling. They both lie when their lips move. “But what do you expect,” teased Jerry thru a coursing drawl, “it’s the nature of all things. Hell, even a fish wouldn’t get into trouble if he kept his mouth shut.”

You know, I never quite thought of it that way.

The point is Jerry and I were merely having a discussion that anyone could join from any point of view. But like the trouble in Washington and with our prevailing two party system it seems that politics has turned poisonous, into a real blood sport that pervades our neighborhoods and, obviously, even our families.

It’s all about winning and not about country. Obviously we have quickly forsaken what JFK exhorted us to ask with what we can do for our country. And not the other way around.

At that Jerry and I looked at one another and tried to figure out why do the haters always scream loudest? And Jerry then noted that “it is the people who scream the loudest about America and Freedom who seem to be the most intolerant for a differing point of view.”

Well… that narrows it down… to most of us.

But since Jerry was easy to make laugh I suggested that perhaps when distant people on other planets pick up some wavelength of ours all they’ll hear is a continuous scream.

“And that’s because we’re all drowning,” I told him. “And unless we do something drastic – like elect an outlier like Trump – there isn’t a lifeboat big enough to rescue us. So most of us are screaming in the wind. Because when you’re drowning you don’t say: ‘I would be incredibly pleased if someone would have the foresight to notice me drowning and come and help me.’ You just scream!”

Jerry sort of eyed me wisely, like I was giving him paralysis by over analysis. And then he wondered with a sly smile creasing his cheeks: “You’re not talking about sex now, are you, son? Because I only scream during sex.”

I don’t know,” I replied with a chuckle. “Sometimes I get them confused.”

At this juncture Jerry felt he needed to wipe the smile off his aging face. And puncture me with a thought or three.

He pointed out that the country’s woes have been galloping in for the last 30 years. And that both parties are more than a little bit pregnant with blame.

“So you have to ask,” he said, lightly smacking his right hand into his still calloused left palm. “That after 25 to 30 years of Hillary and the rest of them: Are you better off? Are we better off? Is the country better off? Is anyone but Hillary and those other politicians and bankers better off? Really?

“Because if we are, then you have to really wonder why is she, with just a few days to go, still in a neck-to-neck, photo-finish, horse race with a bombastic, insecure pussy snatching, political dilettante, scoundrel, billionaire businessman whose had even more bankruptcies than wives and Bill’s infidelities?”

And leaning towards me he beckoned to know: “You following me down this bending river?”

Wow! No shit…

“Can you repeat all that,” I laughed. “I mean that was way above my pay grade.”

“Seriously,” he said. “You don’t think folks are really fed up?”

Half-heartedly I admonished: “Jerry, we get the government we deserve. And as long as folks keep masturbating to football games you ought to be damn happy that you’ve got more yesterdays than tomorrows. Because nothing lasts forever. Nothing. Which is why Viagra is so popular, isn’t it? It keeps us going when we’re long past lasting — and without having to work for it.”

I’m not sure even I understood the point I was making. But Jerry seemed to. And he went off on a tangent about everybody feeling entitled without having to really work for it. But our conversation soon ended as we all gathered around Jerry’s first cousin, and Barbara’s mother, Ruth, to sing happy 93rd birthday.

Hmm… I know there must be a metaphor in there somewhere about why some people grow older than the rest of us ‘without really working for it.’ Then again, is this an entitlement… or just an extension of our life sentence?

Anyway, a couple of days later Mike phoned and sarcastically wondered what I could have possibly said to Barbara and Eileen to roil them so much. But at the same time he admitted he honestly really didn’t want to know.

I simply told him I had no idea. But I may have suggested that if they play their cards right, they could probably also ‘partner’ up with Hillary. And Mike, who is a pusillanimous Hillary supporter, exhaled: “Gee. And you wonder why some people just fail to appreciate your humor.”

I said I honestly had no idea. Because at the same time the Louisiana-now-Dallas clan emailed me. They said I ‘really’ made their trip fun. And that they ‘really’ enjoyed meeting me.

And I simply replied: ‘I know.’

Really.

Isn’t that just a scream?!

And dats yDrewIS on dis penal colony…

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A rich friend won’t report his wife’s stolen credit cards because the thief spends less than she does… I don’t worry about someone stealing my identity because no one wants to be me… Prometheus’ stealing fire is viewed as the foundation of all of man’s technologies. And then there was this marijuana cartel who wanted me to fly for them… for a steal!

I have trouble with stealing. Even though in yesterday’s, today’s and no doubt tomorrow’s world lying, stealing and cheating are pretty much common place. And I don’t wanna talk about my last ex-wife. Sheesh. She even stole my bad ideas, as well as ‘my’ identity.

Hmm… identity theft. Why in hell would anyone wanna be me? It’s like stealing a shopping cart. Another bad idea. And I’m sure all my adamant bill collectors have explained that to her.

Anyway, a handful of local restaurant, bar and other business proprietors were huffing and puffing at the Twin Smoke Shoppe in South Philadelphia the other day. They were nattering and chattering. About most everything from football to about a couple of their employees who seem to misplace some twenties from time to time: Instead of going into the cash register they went into his pocket or her pocketbook.

And when called out on it, the employees inevitably go: Whoops. I must have done that by mistake.

But of course! No doubt what my ex is telling all those bill collectors

To me petty theft is just petty. I’d rather steal $10 million dollars. And when I get out of jail, at least I’d be able to afford my life in South America.

Of course this discussion was merely a spill-over from The Donald and Hillary debates. Each accusing the other of lying, cheating and stealing. And no doubt doing to their spouses and other ‘great pieces of ass’ what they will inevitably do to the country.

Which brought to mind one of my dear ol’ bourbon sippin’ Pappy’s snorts between one of his omniscient puffs on his omnipotent corn cob pipe: ‘If you learn how to give when you’re young, it is already second nature when you get older. Just like stealing. Start young and you keep on stealing forever. Look at our politicians.’

Hmm…

At this point I wasn’t about to get too philosophical with my fellow cigar chompers. I mean these guys are grand, but a tad short-circuited when it extends beyond the football sidelines. After all they were still utterly flabbergasted at how the referees absolutely stole victory from our Philadelphia Eagles the day before, causing the team to lose its first game this season.

Apparently the refs called a whopping 14 penalties on the Eagles while only 2 on the opponents.

Hmm… My-my. And in plain daylight, too.

And I had forgotten to watch it. Apparently TV viewership of NFL football, which is down 10 percent, is being stolen by other stuff. For me, that’s any stuff that’s not on TV.

Soooo… I thought about mentioning that it was Pierre-Joseph Proudhon, the 19th century French philosopher, who stipulated that everything is stolen, that all property is theft. It’s all stolen from somebody until it goes back and back to where nobody owned it. And that included stealing goods and services from the working man, artisan, craftsman, farmer, and all, whose toil, like his father’s, was robbed, raped, pillaged…

But I could just imagine the blank stares of incomprehension on their dour pusses through the cigar smoke. I might as well as be speaking French.

So instead of relating Proudhon, that libertarian socialist and journalist whose doctrines became the basis for later radical and anarchist theory, I enraptured their simple mental synapses on the order of drugs, sex and rock and roll.

And related my experience of more than a few years ago when one of the biggest marijuana distributors on the East Coast suggested I might want to fly an airplane for them.

Hmm…

I’m a pilot. And my grandest weakness is jumping into the fires of adventures. After all, it was just marijuana, which 25 years later is finally becoming legal in America. And never should have been outlawed. Hey, the only ‘victim’ here is the theft of weed from Mother Nature.

Besides, if the price is right, how could I go wrong?

Then again…

So I flew Tom, my artist friend, some of whose works were being purchased by the marijuana guys, to upstate New York to meet and greet. We were met at the airport by a big Columbian named Julio. He had high cheek bones and looked like one of their indigenous Indians who could survive easily in the jungle. And then eat you if food got scarce.

The estate was lost inside a heavily wooded forest. And it seemed like a Playboy mansion with sex, drugs and rock and roll everywhere. In the pool. On a pool table. Up against the trees…

Whoooeeee! Indeed, crime does have its momentary glorious heydays.

Anyway, the chief guy I was to meet was a fellow about my size and age playing eight-ball on one of the pool tables that wasn’t already ‘occupied.’ And he was cheating. That is, he was making up new rules so that he could win. And everyone was afraid to really challenge him. And he was a whiny wimp. Precisely the type of guy I never could enjoy. Then again, he was one of the three bosses.

And after a bit he cleared the room, including the couple coupling on another pool table.

And with just a couple of us – including Tom – remaining he laid it out for me. His cachè of former Vietnam pilots were organizing into a sort of union and getting too expensive for him.

And what he wanted me to do was fly something jumbo size, like a DC3, into some backwoods of Columbia. Wait while they loaded the plane with tons of ‘grass.’ Then fly back, at night, at a mere 100 feet above sea level, under the radar for at least 6 or 7 hours. Then by almost blind reckoning, find my way to this farmer’s field up in Georgia’s outback, where they would have a large bonfire lit to ‘guide’ me in. And then I was supposed to crash land the airplane. Hop on one of the several trucks loaded with the ‘cargo.’ And they would drop me back at civilization.

Hmm…

What duh hell?! What duh heck?! Might as well hang myself up by duh neck…

And for this, he said, they would pay me $100,000… in cash.

But of course.

And in the course of the conversation when I wondered how they nailed down the farmer and his field, he simply explained: ‘Oh, we pay him.’

How much?

‘$400,000.’

Uh-huh.

Was it just me, or was I the only one in the room having a risk-reward dilemma. Did this guy truly understand the concept of theft of services? And, quietly, my little addled brain was screaming: No wonder the bloody Vietnam pilots were organizing!

Who did this fool think we were flying for: FedEx or UPS! He wanted us pilots for a steal!

Look, I understand that big business has a lot of big expenses. Even Hillary has to pay for all those designer clothes. And The Donald has to find someone to pay for that Wall. But little ol’ me is the one who will actually have to pay time – if caught… in jail… with guys with mean tattoos and steroid muscles.

Wisdom, having been defined in many ways, is also understanding the consequences.

And furthermore, the irony – at least to me – was that I was the only one there who wasn’t actually stealing anything. Or taking anything. From anybody. Wrong or not, that is what I was thinking. I mean, I would have liked to take one of those women in the pool. But that was it.

So I stood up and politely thanked him for the conversation. I didn’t want his man, Julio, packing me off in a car trunk. So far, everything had been on me. My time. My plane. My coming here. And I simply said I’d think about it. Even Tom was shocked by how surprisingly polite and cordial I had actually been. Especially in the face of the southbound end of northbound jackass.

Hmm…

In the still of the night, flying back to Philadelphia, down the Hudson River, over New York’s sea of lights that sparkled like diamonds (this was long before 911) Tom’s voice, from the co-pilots seat, asked if I was seriously considering it.

I laughed to myself before responding: “Did I ever tell you about that 19th century French radical philosopher Pierre-Joseph Proudhon…”

And dats yDrewIS on dis penal colony…

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As you get older it’s harder to have heroes, but it is sort of necessary… I guess. But just because I ‘accidentally’ saved the chief’s life, shouldn’t have made me his hero. And then he offered me his daughter. Oy-vey! Heroes don’t get wives, they get all duh women… don’t they? Sooo, what is a hero?

One time, a lot of years back, in West Africa, after a rather raucous conflict that involved shooting people who were spraying bullets and other harmful objects our way, a tribal chief tried to reward me with one of his young daughters for ‘saving’ his life.

Hmm… Let me set the record straight: I weren’t no hero.

I am a coward. At best I am a survivor. Which is what I was doing that day. We were attacked for either being Christian. Or Muslim. I don’t think they ascertained that I was Jewish. But it didn’t seem to be particularly pertinent at the time.

It was either a tribal war. Or a religious one. I never figured out what the hell it was. Didn’t care. But next thing I knew we had accidentally ventured into its midst. It was chaos. More like madness.

People were yelling and screaming. The dust stirred wildly like the back-end of a wildebeest stampede. And everything from the cloudy sky to the scrubby brush oozed gloom. And I was thinking my carcass was about to be dunked into some chicken noodle soup.

Perfect. Because I am no doubt also a chicken.

And one of the engineers from Philips tossed me a 9mm semi-automatic hand gun. And being familiar with little more than shotguns from hunting pheasants back on my childhood farm I slid the cocking mechanism back Hollywood style… and ejected a perfectly good bullet.

Damn!

But just in time I recomposed myself as a raggedy-dressed fellow with an over-sized machete was closing in quickly.

I didn’t realize that the elderly chief from the village where I had been staying was right behind me. At riveting times, like these, I discovered: time slows, but the imagination quickens.

I fired twice. Or maybe it was more. And even though I have often joked that I am such a poor marksmen I couldn’t kill myself if I pointed a gun to my own head, my bullets found their 180 pounds of flesh. The guy dropped like ash flicked from one of my cigars.

His final act was slinging his machete, which glanced off me and nicked the chief. Which is how I noticed he was just off my back side.

The chief waved it off and strongly suggested I keep firing in the direction of another guy screaming our way.

So I did.

Hmm…

When it was finally over the old chief hugged me excitedly. I’d like to think he jubilantly squeezed the shit right out of me. But I am sure I had long before already dumped in my pants – right about the same time I am also sure I was silently shrieking for my Mommy.

The chief kept insisting that I saved his life. That I was a hero. And I was too emotionally spent to knock on his hard bald head and explain that the only ass I was saving was connected to me. Hey, as anyone who’s been in battle will tell you, most heroes don’t live to talk about it: If a bullet has your name on it you’re a hero. If you hear a bullet go by you’re a survivor.

In other words, I am just an ordinary guy who managed to put to good use the gun put in my hand. And I survived.

That’s all. But, as I found out a couple of nights later, that wasn’t all. And this time I really thought I was doomed. You know, when the heroes go offstage the clowns come on.

We — meaning some of the Brits who had been involved with me in that deleterious social malady I just mentioned – were drowning our bluster in a lot of Boodles gin (aka Proper British Gin) at a little inn with a lot of charmless character that stood like an outpost not far from the chief’s village. I was leaning heavily on the bar because that’s what I do when I’m drunk. And the Brits were drinking heavily because that’s what they do in Africa to stay drunk.

And suddenly Nehemiah, the tall, wiry Brit, who had tossed me that handgun, uttered: ‘Uh-oh.’ And began to smile knowingly. And a tad too mischievously.

So I forced myself to focus in the direction of his smile. And there in splendid, colorful, tribal garb was this young woman gracefully and easily making her way towards me. Her steady gaze fell on no other.

But of course!

She practically glided on long legs as her upper body was almost motionless. Indeed, she was a sight of beauty that even perked the most drunken of heads.

“You’re in for it now,” said Nehemiah. And soon most of the Brits were smiling… not only appreciatively, but also knowingly.

She made her way politely and courteously. A smile barely slipping from her moistened lips. And then in a voice that peeled softly, like distant church bells, she announced: “I am here for you. My father has sent me to you.”

Hmm… Where was such a woman, I wondered, when I needed her – back in high school. But I had no idea… not even about who the hell had ‘sent’ me such a present. My eyes queried Nehemiah.

“That’s what you get for saving the chief,” he replied. “You’re going to be family. This is one of his younger daughters…”

What? Now that sobered me up.

“Just how young is she?”

“Oh, I’d say 15.” Then he waggled his left hand while squinting a gauging eye. “There abouts. Maybe 16.”

I looked back to her. And she only replied: “I am your woman. I am here for you.”

Oy-vey-iz-mir! For whom the church-bells toll.

“Now don’t go soiling your pants again,” laughed Nehemiah, joined in by some of the other drunken wonders.

“Are you being serious?” To say the least I was somewhat flabbergasted. “Is this for a night? Or forever?”

“For better or worse,” smirked Nehemiah. “But here it’s also until death do you part. Now you don’t want to insult the chief, do you? I’d hate to think of the deathly consequences. You’ve got yourself a real whale on your hook.”

What I got was a real revoltin’ development.

Hmm…

Is this what happens to heroes? You don’t get to luxuriate in the moment before everybody else is deciding matters for you.

Then again, what is a hero? Or in today’s politically correct world of hero worship I have to also ask: What is a ‘she-ro?’ Is it simply a person who keeps his/her composure, is ‘braver’, five minutes longer than anybody else? Or, someone who hides his/her battle scars in public? I mean, I always thought that heroes came on the scene only in uncivilized conditions.

But of course!

Then again, these days we seem to make heroes – or victims — out of folks when they are simply doing their jobs. Like Sully when he landed that airline jet in the Hudson River.

And then the other day golfer Arnold Palmer finally found his way to the 19th hole in the sky. And an old golfing buddy said to me that Arnie was his hero.

At that I snapped: Arnie weren’t no hero. He was definitely a golfing legend. But that doesn’t make him a hero. He was a made-by-TV- guy when incipient TV sports was looking to capitalize on golf 65 years ago. He was handsome. He flicked his cigarettes. He won tournaments.

Even I may have loved him. (Perhaps not as much as his first wife who claimed on TV once that she ‘kissed his balls’ for good luck.) But he didn’t surmount life and death difficulties that reveal true heroes.

Legends are made. Heroes appear. They are ordinary people who become extraordinary. They reveal themselves during hard times.

Like Muhammad Ali. Jonas Salk. Gandhi. Sgt. York. People who overcame monsters to establish their heroic credentials.

Hmm…

Meanwhile, back in Africa…

If it is the surmounting of difficulties that makes heroes of us all, then this time I had to figure out something heroic. Indeed if heroes need something scary to overcome there is nothing scarier than being given a wife — even scarier than screaming guys charging at you with machetes.

So I politely escorted the chief’s daughter out to the car with my driver. And not surprisingly the driver readily recognized her.

“You be a lucky man, Mr. Boss,” my driver smiled.

Lucky…? “A lucky man,” I said, gritting my teeth, “goes to bed, and then goes home.”

My driver seemed a tad perplexed. “So where to, bossman?”

“I need to see the chief.”

The daughter searched my face and wondered: “You do not want me?”

“One day,” I said, directly. “One night. But after that what’ll we talk about?”

We arrived at the chief’s ‘palace’ with some folks sitting around outside. A couple of fires were burning. And I walked directly inside his home. I was about to be direct about everything. After all, I was the damn bloody hero.

The chief seemed pleased to see me, but puzzled. “You do not like that daughter?.. I have others.” He almost sounded like a clichè. In fact this whole scenario had the markings of too many bad movie scripts.

“No, chief,” I began, a tad hesitantly. But quite respectfully. And then I found my moxy. “I saved ‘your’ life. Therefore ‘I’ am the hero. So ‘I’ get to make the choices…” I tapped my right index finger to my chest.

His twinkling eyes searched the room. “So, choose,” he said. “Enjoy.”

“I do not want a wife!” I tried to stay calm, but also emphatic. I mean, heroes don’t have to be humble. And I figured that in a day or week or two I would probably succumb to post traumatic stress, and turn into a real messy hero.

“I don’t want a wife!” I repeated. And he stood there staring through dark eyes beneath a smooth sheet of wrinkle-free forehead skin. I could see he was sort of wondering what I did want that he could provide.

“Women,” I said. “Not wives. Me and the guys just need women, lots of women. For the next few days. To help us ease our way through all this…”

Hmm…

There was a pause. Not a big one. Barely a pregnant one. More like when the tide changes. Then he smiled, through a full set of teeth – well, almost.

“We go down the road,” he said.

“Down the road? What for?”

“Such a journey,” he replied, “must begin with the first woman.”

Hmm… No shit…

Sooo, that’s what it’s like to be the hero. Then again, we are all heroes of our own stories.

And dats yDrewIS on dis penal colony…

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If a man watches 3 football games in a row, he should be declared legally dead. The reason women don’t play football is because 11 of them would never wear the same outfit in public. No one in football should be called a genius. A genius is a guy like Norman Einstein. And meanwhile, I am having a breakdown…

I am not absolutely certain, but I think I am having another breakdown… which I am sure doesn’t come as a surprise to any of my exes. Undoubtedly, they figure I broke down years back – especially after I tied and handcuffed that scarecrow to a tree in our tiny, bricked-in backyard.

Was trying to get somebody – anybody! — to stick around and listen to me.

Hmm…

Funny thing is I think my last breakdown occurred about this very same time last year. And another one the year before that. Also about the same time.

Go figure. With all that’s really and truly going on in a world-without-end-amen I guess I am continually flabbergasted that people seem to leap further and further into the abyss of vertigo — the ‘Dizzyworld’ of make-believe.

We actually make-believe that football really matters.

I mean, this is in America where a recent poll revealed that nearly 15% of us have decided that we’d rather have a meteorite destroy our civilization than vote for either Clinton or Trump. Where 20 American veterans are committing suicide every day. Where American Indian sacred burial grounds are being desecrated by Big Oil… again. Where overpriced college campuses are afraid to challenge their mentally fragile students. Where disability rights groups want to prevent a soon-to-die 14-year-girl, racked with horrendous pain of an incurable disease, from ceasing her medical treatment in order to die a little sooner than later.

And let’s not even talk about ISIS everywhere, as well as back in New York. Or that the other day a group of Muslims and Pro-Palestinians in France (77 years after Kristallnacht’s ‘Night of Broken Glass’ in Nazi Germany) ransacked and burned the stores of Jewish merchants while chanting ‘Kill the Jews!’

And of course, let’s not forget our puritans dumbfounded by unisex bathrooms.

Hmm…

And meanwhile… meanwhile… back on the gridiron we have 17 f-king instant replays to decide whether the f-king end caught the f-king football in-bounds. And a Supreme Court of referees trying to figure out if a football has enough hot air blown up its under-inflated and over-bloated pig’s skin ass.

All this wasted energy going into something that is supposed to be nuttin’-honey more than entertainment.

And, as someone recently pointed out in talking about wasting energy, did you know that a single Dallas Cowboys football game uses up as much electricity as the entire nation of Liberia in those same three hours. No bloody wonder the globe, if looked at from a certain height, is a cluster of lights surrounded by enormous patches of ‘dark ages.’

Now ain’t dat a ‘clustering’ of deep, dismal melancholy. Like too many asses in a saddle.

Look, I am not here to bad-mouth a national mania where at least 50 percent of the players – just like our doctors, by duh way – graduate in the bottom half of their classes – even underwater basket weaving. In fact there are certain aspects of the aggression and ‘controlled’ violence that makes it seem so much more sane – if not more cerebral — than car racin’ and Australian rugby… and armored knights clashing lances for a fair lady’s kerchief.

I mean you just gotta love the after-clash antics of the concussed acting more stoopeed than indicted Brazilian politicians… not to mention those Palestinian Hamas who always miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity.

Hmm… And I’m not just talking about the fools in the stands who rip their shirts off during January games in Buffalo blizzards. Or those regular idiots on radio sports talk. For them there are only 2 seasons: Football… and eating urinal cakes until the next draft.

Who I am talking about is all ‘us’ damn overzealous acolytes in a country that is obsessed with a game that ain’t just a game no more. Just like the Grand Canyon ain’t just a hole in Arizona. Football has become another religion that sets people to praying overtime… even though I have, discovered, over time, that prayers work best when you have bigger and faster players.

Hmm…

The game also sets us to twisted thinking that reduces life to the glory and the despair of a bloodless sort of war — with jets soaring overhead and the teams marching in like armies with banners.

And we get to thinking that life should be like football where we bang, push and shove folks around. Even run over them. What-duh-hell-what-duh-heck it is a wonderful way to get rid of our hostilities… without going to jail for it.

Look, I’ve been married. I understand football. Not every season goes perfectly. It’s a game that doesn’t so much build character as ‘reveals’ it. Just like my marriages.

And I’m not going to over-analyze our love for these blood-sports and all their violence. It’s no secret that people have loved to watch these caveman-bites-Tyrannosaurus-Rex flesh gorging feasts since long before the gladiators of ancient Rome.

But something is more than a tad weird to me. Some people deny that we’re evolved from apes. Yet how else do you explain football, then?

So why am I having a breakdown about all of this?

It’s simple.

The NFL (not including its minor leagues of the college NCAA) is a $10 billion a year industry where players (and their owners) get well rewarded for transgressions and misconducts that only politicians, the police and Home Security seem to get away with these days.

(Do I need to talk about Sandra Bland and all the rest of those dead, often black people? And Bill and Hillary’s pay-to-play Foundation? And The Donald’s not paying his subcontractors? And Edward Snowden’s absolutely true NSA revelations?)

Really now.

Pro football is like nuclear warfare—there are no winners, only survivors. If the sport even fundamentally cared about the safety of its athletes it would be banned… right after boxing.

And now we come to San Francisco quarterback Colin Kaepernick. And his not standing up for the national anthem in protest to the way his fellow blacks and minorities are mistreated in America.

And some raucous people, who don’t want the conventions and traditions of their games interrupted, are protesting Kaepernick’s protest. You know, the same shit by the same hard hats who told us Vietnam protestors to ‘love-it-or-leave-it.’ Even after it was revealed that the reason we were napalming and killing in Vietnam was a bloody damn egregious, venal, vile lie.

You know, follow duh money, stupid!

Sooo, everybody has already talked up and bleated a shit storm about the rights and wrongs about Kaepernick’s right to kneel down. It’s not really going to change anything. That is, until all the athlete’s unite and refuse to play the game that makes them AND America millions and billions of dollars.

And that ain’t gonna happen. After all, commitment is what changes a promise, a protest, a premise into a reality. But in America, our commitments are like our memories – shorter than our dicks. And we all can be bought for a few pieces of silver.

And, anyway, depending on the economics, eventually everything changes… and nothing changes.

But all I am going to mention about this and that was a video I saw recently of a lecturing matronly white professor. She asked her amphitheater classroom of 150 mostly lily white students to raise their hands if they were willing to trade their lives and trade places with a black person. You know, step permanently into another person’s skin.

No one raised a hand. So she repeated the question. An undercurrent of discomfort permeated. And still no one raised a hand.

“What this tells me,” lectured the professor, “is that you already really know what’s going on. You know the truth. And yet you deny it. Or refuse to accept it. It has become too uncomfortable…”

But of course, which is why I am having another breakdown. Because the games must go on. They always do. And most of us prefer to live a lie rather than endure the pain of truth.

I mean, in time of deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act. What we want is the good times: Duh beer. Duh broads. Duh cars. Duh football. Duh touchdowns!

What we don’t want is the headaches. The concussions. The damaged goods. In other words: The truth.

Hmmm… and meanwhile, the band plays on… as always. After all, in life, as in football, you don’t go far, you don’t score, you don’t reap the glory unless you know where the ‘goldposts’ are.

And dats yDrewIS on dis penal colony…

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