Royal baby

abbie turns one

The timing’s unfortunate for the royal family, but that’s the way of the world, and young Prince George of Cambridge will have plenty of time to bask in the spotlight and have people ooh and aah over the fact that his royal dad was able to strap him into the royal safety seat in the backseat of the royal car and then drive away without running over any of his fawning royal subjects.

Today, the spotlight’s on an American princess. Today’s Abbie’s first birthday.

One year ago today in the middle of the night, my son-in-law called to say that my daughter had gone into labor and was at the hospital. A few hours after that call, I got the glad tidings: “Laura’s had the baby! Her name is Abigail Rose. They’re both fine.”


I won’t belabor this. I don’t want to sound like some goofball whose daughter had a baby and now he can’t stop talking about it. I mean, I do have other interests. I do have a life of my own.

So let me say just four things.
1) I’m not old enough to have a granddaughter.
2) Call it luck or call it genetics, but I just think it’s great that, as it happens, my granddaughter is the smartest and most beautiful little girl in the world.
3) One of the top five moments of the past year happened a few weeks ago, when I chatted with Abbie on FaceTime and she waved to me and laughed and leaned forward and kissed my face on her computer screen.
4) Happy Birthday, Abbie!


Armed and dangerous

Guess who’s never going to visit — or drive through — Gilberton, Pa.?

Me. This hick town near Pittsburgh has apparently become the new epicenter for the crazy, stupid, angry, racist lunatics with very little brainpower but lots of firepower (courtesy of the NRA, the folks who brought you Newtown) who are taking over this country.

A crackpot named Mark Kessler, the police chief in Gilberton (he’s also on the local school board, God help us) has posted a series of crazy, violent, obscenity laced YouTube videos in which he fires off automatic weapons on public streets, and rants against everyone from Nancy Pelosi to civil-rights groups to all of us anti-American, anti-Constitution assholes who want to take away his guns.

He’s also started an organization called Chief Kessler’s Constitution Security Force and calling on his fellow gun crazies to rise up and get rid of people he refers to as “libtards.”

This lunatic is firing automatic weapons in public, inciting people to violence, behaving in a crude and quite clearly psychotic manner, using obscene and threatening language — and the mayor of his town says the chief’s doing this on his private time and has a constitutional right to self-expression.

Not when you’re the police chief. Not when your job is to protect the populace. The town should suspend this guy immediately, take away his guns, and order him to undergo a psychological evaluation — although I’m thinking they should make sure they have armed guards protecting them when they do it. The state attorney general and the Department of Justice should step in immediately. This jackass is armed and dangerous, poisonous and vile.

It’s absolutely unbelievable that this guy’s allowed to run loose — never mind run a police department and help run a school system.

Then again, maybe it’s not unbelievable at all. There’s a lot more just like him ready to ooze out from under the same rock where this slime resides.

I am not Trayvon Martin

Are we all Trayvon Martin? White people all over the United States have taken up that slogan, and put on hoodies for a day, in a well-meaning expression of dismay and anger and a well-intentioned show of support.

But, no, I am not Trayvon Martin. Not even close.

I am not Trayvon Martin. I am a middle-aged white man. I’ve been pulled over by the police a few times in my life for minor traffic violations — I lived for many years without incident in a place where, as an African-American friend told me several times, a black motorist was at high risk of being pulled over by the state police for “driving while black.”

I am not Trayvon Martin. Neither are my children.

My three kids could walk through the streets of that Florida neighborhood at any time, night or day, and not be followed in a car and then on foot by a wannabe cop carrying a concealed weapon. If, say their elderly grandfather lived in a gated community in Florida, and they went to visit him, and they decided to walk a few blocks to the convenience store, chances are excellent that they would not wind up shot dead on the street.

We are not Trayvon Martin, thank God, as the land of the free and the home of the brave has turned into a place where — as Bob Dylan puts it in his great song “Blind Willie McTell” — “power and greed and corruptible seed seem to be all that there is.”

From Emmett Till to Trayvon Martin, from Bull Connor standing in the doorway to the U.S. Supreme Court’s shameful ruling allowing states to return to the days when intimidation and and double-standards were used to keep minorities from the polls, what has changed in America?

Some things have not changed. People in this country are still measured by the color of their skin and not the content of the character. A black teenager walking down the street, day or night, runs the risk of never coming home every time he or she walks out the door — gunned down, perhaps, by a stray bullet in the streets of Chicago…gunned down, perhaps, by a gun-toting stranger in a gun-crazy land.

And some things have changed for the worse — like neglect of the poor, repression of those who pose a perceived threat to the power elite, and an awful apathy, stunning self-absorption and sad self-deception that grip the heart and soul of this nation, from sea to shining sea.

It ain’t easy, life is hard…so everybody sing!

Some people said John Lennon had a Christ complex, and these lyrics provided fuel for that fire:
Christ, you know it ain’t easy
You know how hard it can be
The way things are going
They’re gonna crucify me.

Well, OK, but he was right about this:
It ain’t easy.

So sometimes it might help to remember these words of wisdom:
Life’s a piece of shit
When you look at it
So always look at the bright side of life

Stormy weather


We drive slowly through the narrow lanes, past Newport’s piers and shops, and once again admire the old Rhode Island town’s historic sea captain’s houses and millionaire’s mansions, then head out onto the scenic road that skirts Narragansett Bay.

The bay is hardly visible, as fog has swallowed up familiar scenes. One of our young companions looks out and observes, “It’s like the Newport Bridge never even existed!”

And so I am preoccupied with thoughts of bridges lost and drifting in the fog, of sailing ships and whaling ships, of those who must go down to the sea, of bodies and souls both tempest-tossed, of swirling surf and wild waves, of cabbages and kings.

Just then a snowy egret takes wing before my very eyes, bright pure holy white against the churning dark sea.

This day near the ocean is harsh and howling, its energy chaotic and its strength overwhelming and its roaring message sounding like a warning…It is a lovely day.