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What my musings are all about...

Blogging might well be the 21st century's form of journaling. As a writing teacher, I have always advised my students to keep a daily journal as a way of organizing their thoughts for future writing projects, a discipline I have unfortunately never consistently practiced myself. By blogging, I might finally be able to follow my own good advice.

The difference between journaling and blogging is that the blogger opens his or her writing to the public, something journal- writers are usually reluctant to do. I am not so reticent.

The trick for me will be to avoid cluttering the internet with more blather, something none of us need more of. If I stick to subjects I know: sports and literature, I believe I can avoid that pitfall. I can't promise that I'll not stray from time to time to comment on ancillary subjects, but I will make every attempt to be interesting and perhaps even insightful.

Monday, May 25, 2020

What's Enough Wealth, Tom Brady?

This morning I read that Tom Brady is generously not costing the Tampa Bay Police Department whatever it takes to guard the waters around his 30,000 square foot mansion

Wow! I'm so impressed.

Which brings me to the subject of superfluous wealth. I'm betting there are a great number of Tom Brady's in the United States of America who are so rich, a 30,000 foot home seems, well, reasonable.
I'm thinking of a number of star athletes, and owners of teams. But rich athletes represent only a fraction of the uber rich in our country - all of whom, I dare say, live in comparable mansions.

I asked one astonishingly rich man once why he needed to live in a 40,000 square foot mansion. He had a wife and only two kids. His answer was, "I don't need to, I chose to." My incredulous silence prompted, "And because I earned my money and can do what I want with it."

Wow! I was so impressed.

This is the mindset of the Rex Rich, the 2% of the wealthy that control 98 % of our country's bucks.
It is sadly the mindset of most people who accumulate a great deal of money; they earned it, no one has a right to tell them how to spend it.

I'm not sure such a mindset will ever change, no matter what political party rules our country. Donald Trump and his greedy minions represents merely a more grotesque example of the superfluously wealthy.

But here's a hypothetical:  What would happen to Tom Brady and his  family if he had to live in a more modest dwelling, say around 5,000 square feet, in an ordinary gated (I can see the need for gated if you were a well known athlete) community, no lack of amenities, room in his backyard for a pool and patio. Perhaps not a tennis court. Would Tom Brady and family suffer greatly? And what if Tom Brady's mindset was a deep desire to use his wealth to help society? Over and above his tax write off foundation, all the wealth he really does not need for a happy, carefree life? And what if all uber wealthy professional athletes followed Tom Brady's lead?  And what would happen if all the other non-athletes of great wealth, follow the lead of the professional athletes? What if, for example, Bill Gates said, "I can live happily on four million dollars a year. And every bit of money I earn above that I'm going to spend on making our society a better more ethical place to live for all the people?

Wow! Then, I'd be really impressed.

Of what is truly important in a materialistic world, I offer to  all this small poem:

In the Mountains on a Summer Day

Gently I stir a white feather fan,
With open shirt sitting in a green wood.
I take off my cap and hang it on a jutting stone;
A wind from the pine-trees trickles on my bare head.

                        Li Po
                        Translated by Arthur Waley

Sunday, May 10, 2020

We're on our own Legends

Legends of the NBA, you of the Sixties seasons, along with all the senior citizens of our country, our fans or not, or not at all of sports, when we were young, playing in a COVID19 safe world,


It appears as if America's federal and state governments have made the decision to open up the country for business despite CDC's  dire warnings. It is a decision approved by a great majority of our small business owners and workers, many of whom could be our children, grown grandchildren, friends, neighbors, and and their friends and neighbors and co-workers and employees who have been steadily watching their lives deteriorate. As much as it pains me, I don't blame them for wanting to get back to work.

 Let's pray it will not backfire on them and on us, producing a second more lethal wave of virus in the fall that will make this frantic effort to open meaningless.

In the meantime, all you Legends out there between the ages of Sixty and whatever  - this writer admits to being 81 - the decision to open the economy means the deciders, whomever they are, have accepted the possibility or even the probability that we oldsters, the most vulnerable to the virus, are expendable.

So, Legends, what must we do to keep from being the fodder to their cannons?  Keep playing by the CDC rules is the only answer I can think of besides having Star Trek's Scotty beam us en masse to South Korea where they value old people.

Make no mistake: The Game of Life is being played with our lives. And for us, the game is in Overtime.

Which reminds me of the great /LA/Knicks guard, Dick Barnett. In a game against the Warriors, Warriors up by two (no 3 pt shot back then) two ticks left on the clock, Dickie speed-dribbling to mid-court, shoots the ball with that quirky looking jumper of his and announcing while the ball is still in mid-air,"Baby, we Ah, in Oh-Va- Time."

When the game is on the line, Legends, it is time to play our best.

I offer a great poem about a guy playing basketball by himself by my good friend, Peter Sears, dearly departed. Could be the same guy today, sheltering at home out on his driveway.

Air Ball   by Peter Sears

I'm shooting baskets on the driveway. I loft a soft
jumper: good arc, nice back-spin. It falls short,
touching nothing. Air ball. Hits the down spout, rolls

down the hill. Nuts. I go get it and, dribbling back,
imagine the seconds ticking down - 10-9-8 - I must 
pick my man off - 7-6-5 - finally daylight - 3-2-1
my shot clangs off the rim. O.K. I try again - 6-5-

4-3 - I break clear, lift a long running onehander. In
and out. Refs reset the time clock: 5 seconds. I look
my defender in the eyes, go up over him. The shot

doesn't reach the rim. Air ball. One bounce, and the ball
is arcing out-of-bounds. I leap for it, teeter on the line.
The pricker bush won't hold me up. I sink, I hurt.
Whistle! I must've been pushed out. Refs are putting

seconds back on the clock. I pull prickers from my
shooting hand. After this time-out, I'll be double-teamed.
That's O.K., they'll get me the ball,and there'll be time. 

Monday, May 4, 2020

The Last Dance

Sheltering in place, which for me means often sitting in front of the TV watching NBA reruns, I was delighted to upgrade to The Last Dance. It is a beautifully produced documentary of Michael Jordan
and his Bulls. His, primarily, but also Scotty Pippen's and Phil Jackson's Bulls. Even the magnificent
Jordan coudn't have won as many championships without those two. One could argue that GM Jerry Krause had something to do with putting together the players, but he also created so many waves
that he on a number of occasion almost sunk the ship. And, granted, we can't dismiss the personal
heroics of the rest of the team making big plays when needed. Still, who can doubt that the Bulls'
long-term success rested squarely on Michael Jordan's shoulders.

I could go on and on about the various episodes and what fascinated me, but the show itself is not the point of this blog. What I believe is The Last Dance puts to rest any doubt about who is/was the greatest basketball player of all time. It is Michael Jordan. I watched the episodes of The Last Dance, marveling at Jordan's precision moves, his physical ballet, air time, improvisation, knowledge of the game, intensity, work ethic, and competitiveness. I can not attribute this entire list of traits to any other player past or present. Only three approach and they are Elgin Baylor, Doctor J, and Kobe Bryant. We will, sadly, never know about Connie Hawkins as so much of his professional basketball career was never given a chance to reach its potential. I know some folks will be upset I do not mention LeBron. And there might be an argument for Allen Iverson, pound for pound. To them, I say, as Shakespeare would have, "Have you no eyes to see. . . ?" Or ears to hear: I said every one of these traits, not some or most of them.

Either in the air or grounded, Michael Jordan played through, around, and over his opponents
with grace and power and with an refined instinct that has not been matched in the history of the game of basketball, at least not so far.

I offer a small quatrain in honor of how difficult it was for Michael Jordan to leave his sport behind written in the voice (sprung rhythm) of the great 19th century English poet, Gerard Manly Hopkins:

Gerard Manly Hopkins    by Tom Meschery

Leave basketball behind, can you
As your age tells you, leaving
Without a sigh, no whys, will you?
without looking back, or, to mourn.

Friday, April 17, 2020

Possible Season, really?

Read this morning's Sam Amick's article in The Athletic that there is some hope of a renewed NBA season and the crowning of a 2019/20 champion. The teams will have to play in a biocity - Las Vegas - seems to be the front-runner with lots of hotels and two arenas. I can see it happening, each team with its own sheltered hotel, lots of continuous testing, no audience except, perhaps, family, administration, and ownership, widely separated. Television to a starving audience could recoup some of the leagues lost revenue. SO, GO FOR IT, I SAY, with this one essential requirement: All: the league, owners, and players should agree that a portion of the revenue garnered from these final games should be set aside to pay arena workers who lost their jobs due to the abrupt end of the season. I do not know if teams continued to pay their arena employees ( I would hope they did, but find it unlikely they did for more than a few weeks), but even if they did, money should still go to these low wage earners as a bonus, a thank you for cleaning the arena, for getting us our popcorn, for serving us our 50 dollar hotdogs, for directing fans to their seats. You are the best, HERE'S A NICE FAT CHECK FOR YEARS OF LOYAL SERVICE.

On to another article I read this morning in the emasculated sport page of the Sacramento Bee, a commentary by Tim Dahlberg. Dahlberg writes primarily about the financial impact COVID 19
will have on the future of professional golf: fewer tours, smaller purses, less player perks. Given the severity of the virus on the average citizen in America, I am unimpressed that pro golfers will have to suck it up a little. But Dahlberg goes on to talk about "revenues going down across the board" in all sports - pros and colleges. Any renewed sporting event will have to make a financial adjustment. I quote: "That might not be such a bad thing for fans who have to pay $50 to park and $16 for a decent beer (decent is a relative term) after already digging deep to buy tickets for the family." Read the entire article; it's very well written and informative. I'm sure you can pull it up on line.

A suggestion to the NBA. You're missing the boat on the NBA Channel. You should be promoting past NBA Championship games better than you are. You can be so much more creative. Team prizes for people watching games, easily verified by telephone calls: NBA quiz shows players vs civilians; like the HORSE tourny, players competing for how many free throws made in a row. How about Rick Barry vs any present day player? I'll bet on Barry even at his age. Look, I'm just imagining
stuff that NBA and basketball fans in general would have fun watching. And I'm sure the networks would be delighted to air.

One last thing: Our fake President says he did started combating COVID19 "early" starting in January when he locked out Chinese travelers from entering the United States and later in January locking out travelers from infected European countries. Why the hell am I NOT IMPRESSED while Americans from all these countries (many of whom were no doubt infected by this time) were allowed back into our country without being TESTED?????? And then, what were you doing, Mr. Fake President, during the month of February, four weeks and into early March when you did zero. Not only ZERO, but kept insisting this virus would go way like a "miracle?"



I promise not to write another COVID19 poem. But here is my one;


Sheltered in place, this afternoon, the NBA season
canceled, I'm watching reruns of games. It's 1994,
Knicks vs Bulls. I'm feeling squeamish as the Bulls'
Anthony Mason drives to the basket and scores
as if he was alive and hadn't been dead for years
from a stroke. It might be the statistics on the news
of the number of dead rising around the world
that had me thinking of NBA ghosts, my teammates
and me as a kid on Halloween trying to be brave
walking through the haunted house, white sheets
popping up around every corner. In New York City
they rent refrigerator trucks to store dead bodies.
Yesterday, I watched the Boston Celtics play
and Dennis Johnson died as he crossed mid-court
and rose into the air on the wings of angels.
I am eighty-one-years old, The virus likes my age.
I welcome ghost into my life, old friends. . 

Saturday, March 21, 2020

CORONA VIRUS 19, No Upside, but. . .

As weird as it may turn out to be, the NBA will not be able to crown a champion this season unless
our government can get its act together a lot faster than its doing. I do not see that happening from
the Federal side where the lack of leadership is a sinkhole of vacillation. The lack of a bold offensive
can not be overstated. Anyone with the least knowledge of the overall effect of the virus on the health of the population and the country's economy understands that 1 trillion dollars will not cut it. Unless (and this is highly unlikely) the President supports and the Congress agrees to a 5 trillion dollar investment in the lives of our people. If  they don't, we are in for a long, suffering haul, that could last who knows how long. To the start of the next NBA season in October? Then what? 

Right this minute I'd replace Mr. Trump with NBA Commissioner,Adam Silver and our country would begin to see positive results, pronto. Ok, so the commish is a little bit tied up running the NBA, how about Joe Lacob, owner of the Golden State Warriors; he have things moving. Ok, so Lacob is busy too, let's give Warrior GM, Bob Myers, a shot at running this country. I am NOT being snaarky. Each one of the men I mentioned has more leadership instincts in one finger than our fake president has in his entire body. Test out this replacement idea on any of your favorites for the job - no politicians allowed. 

Rant over, not the "but. . ." 

Here's a possible upside: Aside from the NBA players who have to get through the virus (and I wish them all the best and a healthy future), the rest of the leagues' players will have the longest period in the history of the NBA to rest their bodies. I have always believed that as the NBA began playing in the air the way it has over the last twenty years, that it is a miracle we have had as few injuries as we've had. Seven months away from serious contact basketball will refresh the bodies and the minds of our players, so that when the NBA begins again, it will be with physically healthy athletes, eager to get started doing what they do best on the court. This "but" is of course most important for teams whose players are recovering from injuries - the Warriors come to mind, but lets take into account all the players around the league with injuries, serious or nagging, as well. 

Don't misunderstand me. I'm not personally happy with this pandemic state of affairs. Without the NBA games, it's post season, Summer League, I'm in serious withdrawal mode. My wife can hardly put up with me. 

This is not a sports poem, but it is a poem that in the midst of this pandemic, might provide some comfort.

Pandemic    by Lynn Ungar

What if you thought of it
as the Jews consider the Sabbath –
the most sacred of times?
Cease from travel!
Cease from buying and selling.
Give up, just for now
on trying to make the world
different than it is.
Sing. Pray. Touch only those
to whom you commit your life.
Center down.

And when your body has become still,

reach out with your heart
Know that we are connected
in ways that are terrifying and beautiful.
(You could hardly deny it now.)
Know that our lives
are in one another’s hands.
(Surely that has come clear.)
Do not reach out your hands.
Reach out your heart.
Reach out your words.
Reach out all the tendrils
of compassion that move, invisibly
where we cannot touch.

Promise this world your love -
for better or for worse,
in sickness and in health,
so long as we all shall live.