Friday, December 13, 2013
This would clearly have been the laugh of the week if it had not been connected to such a solemn occasion.
The crazy sign language guy at the Nelson Mandela tribute could have ruined the occasion, but he really didn't.
As you know, he was supposed to signing for the hearing impaired, but he was signing for no one, as his wild hand gestures could not be translated into any language on this planet.
He claims schizophrenia, he claims that he was hearing voices and seeing things, and that threw him for a loop during this tribute.
Sounds to me like he had an old fashioned panic attack, and he just could not perform his duties.
That being said, this was not the first time he was used as a signer, and security should have known that this guy was a fruitcake to begin with--especially with so many world leaders, including our President, sitting nearby, he might have been labeled as a risk.
And people talk about the lax security in this country!
Look, this story became a focal point of thousands of messages in social media, the news covered it more feverishly than a war, and everybody knew this guy for his 15 minutes of fame.
But did he ruin the day?
No, I don't think so.
World leaders traveled form all points of the planet to attend this thing to honor the memory of Mandela.
Sure, the man's actions were an insult to Mandela, to South Africa, and certainly to the hard of hearing around the world.
But did his actions take away from the day and what everyone gathered for?
I doubt it.
Mandela's words and actions were much stronger, and longer lasting, than anything this guy could do.
And undue it in a single day?
No, I don't think so.
What would Mandela have done if such a circumstance had occurred while he was alive?
I think he probably would have been upset to a degree, but he would have moved on from it, and I think that that is what everyone should do about this episode.
Sure, it was unfortunate, the man is mentally ill, but it could have been much, much worse.
Yes, it was a blot on the day, but it didn't permanently stain the day at all.
Mandela was too big for that, too important for that.
Thursday, December 12, 2013
And yes, that is so true, isn't it, in this day and age of Facebook and Twitter and all the social media we have around today.
And today, I am a star, well, sort of.
I am the star of a very short form video that is on the Newsday newspaper website, which was taken during the Reunion my old community, Rochdale Village, had on October 5 of this year.
The Reunion had gone on for a few hours by the time that this video was taken. I was bushed, and I look very, very tired.
It was actually taken twice, because the sound level was not good on the first one that was shot.
The photographer took me into a corner of the room we were in, and he basically asked me questions about why we had the Reunion and why Rochdale was so important, even nearly 50 years after we moved into the place.
What he shot was longer than what made it to the video that was posted, but basically I said that Rochdale was a different type of community, a community where integration was embraced, something that was revolutionary for its time.
Funny thing, as I talked about this concept, they showed people who attended the Reunion dancing, talking to each other, and socializing at the Reunion.
Not one person that they showed was one of color.
Believe me, they were there. We reached out to everybody who grew up in the development during its early years, 1964 to the mid 1970s, and we did get a diverse mix of people, and yes, we did get people of color there.
How none showed up in the video is beyond me, but anyway, my message was clear.
Rochdale was a great experiment, but all good things have to come to an end.
And Rochdale did, for me in 1971 when my family moved to the suburbs.
For others, it ended at different times, but essentially, it ended for just about all of us as we entered the 1970s.
It wasn't the same neighborhood we moved into by then, and just about all of us moved onto what we thought was something better.
To those who don't know what this neighborhood was, just think of it as an urban Mayberry, where seemingly everybody knew everybody.
We lived in nice apartments, and when you live basically on top of each other like we did, you learn a lot about socialization.
I made many friends there, but as the years went on, the friendships waned and we all moved on.
The Reunion celebrated the 50th anniversary of our old neighborhood, and also celebrated the fact that Rochdale lives within all of us, even to this day.
I wish I could post the video here, but it is one of those that you can't "lift" of the site.
Here is the address: http://www.newsday.com/long-island/suffolk/rochdale-village-celebrates-50th-anniversary-1.6586092?p=608637
And by the way, the title of this entry is appropriate, because it was the title of a song by Sly and the Family Stone.
Sly's girlfriend at the time--I cannot remember her name--lived in Rochdale.
Yes, the same community I lived in.
It was an incredible place to grow up, and when Newsday actually prints the story about our old neighborhood and the Reunion we had, I will let you know about.
Even if you did not live there, it is a story about urban living that definitely needs to be told.
Posted by Larry at 2:37 AM
Wednesday, December 11, 2013
Well, we didn't get that much snow in my neck of the woods.
Now to move on to something more important ...
Opportunists are entities that take advantage of a current situation and run with it.
In our culture, big corporations are often accused of being opportunists, taking advantage of the little guy to make money.
We often point at the oil companies as opportunists, because it seems that every little situation leads them to raising fuel prices.
But the little guy can also be an opportunist, taking advantage of a situation to make a point, make money, or both.
I am sure we all read about the military veteran waitress who claimed that a family stiffed her of a tip because they did not approve of her lesbian lifestyle, and wrote a note on their restaurant receipt to explain this to her.
Of course, in this day and age, you just don't bring this to the attention of your manager, you take a picture of the receipt and its handwritten message, go to the Internet, post it, and see what happens.
Well, that is exactly what she did, and thousands of dollars reportedly poured into her in sympathy for her plight.
She said that she would donate all the money to a wounded warriors foundation, for servicemembers who have been horribly injured while away at war.
People even drove miles and miles just to eat at her restaurant, and they gave her hefty tips, again in sympathy of her plight.
This story became an Internet sensation, and it was almost a feel-good story in these times where we, as a society, are becoming more accepting of gays and people with alternate lifestyles.
Well, guess what?
The whole thing was a hoax, and what isn't making the Internet rounds is that the waitress has been fired for her actions.
What happened is that the family in question, the family that supposedly stiffed this imbecile for a tip because of her lifestyle, came out of the closet themselves, in a way, stating that they had the credit card receipt to prove that not only had they left a tip, but they left a pretty hefty one.
And they didn't write anything about her lifestyle, their only use of a pen being to sign the receipt.
With the waitress' back into the corner, management of the restaurant made a full investigation, saying that they were seeing if perhaps another waiter at the restaurant wrote the message, or that there was some other wrongdoing that got their waitress ensnared in this situation.
What they found is that the waitress was simply an opportunist, taking advantage of the sympathy of the public to see her scheme played out.
Now, I would say she should get a lawyer, because not only was she fired, but she could face charges of embezzlement and who knows what else if anyone wants to pursue it.
I don't know if any of the money has been turned over to a wounded warriors group, either.
So here, you see that the little guy, in this case an average, everyday waitress who just happens to be a lesbian, tried to take advantage of the prevailing over-sympathy we are now giving out as a society to those whose lifestyles are not of the usual kind.
Shame on her, and shame on all of the fools that fell for this ruse.
But it just goes to prove that when opportunity knocks, the door will be answered, whether we are talking about a multi-national corporation or your average Joe ... or Jane.
Whatever the case, and whoever perpetrates these falsehoods, it is shameful behavior, and I hope that in this case, she gets the book thrown at her.
And I would love to open that door to have that book thrown at her, I really would, and I am sure that I would have to stand in line ... those that contributed to her fairy tale would probably get first ups.
And lastly, why isn't the Internet covering this part of the story as vigorously as they did the "feel good" part?
Are those that covered the first part afraid that they will offend a segment of the population if they did?
Frankly, I don't think the waitress is the only one who should be ashamed of themselves here.
Posted by Larry at 2:22 AM
Tuesday, December 10, 2013
This site reaches 1,100 entries as of today.
I think that is pretty good, don't you?
So many similar sites go down for the count pretty early, but this one keeps rolling along.
I know I don't have as many followers as, say, Perez Hilton, but hey, the ones that I have are very, very loyal.
I thank you for coming back to this site each and every day, or at least five days a week.
Now onto the news of the day in this neck of the woods ...
It looks like we aren't going to be spared this time.
We haven't gotten much of anything. I know the rest of the country has gotten walloped several times already, and it isn't even officially winter yet.
But our time appears to be here.
We did get a little bit on the weekend, just for good measure, but today, we are supposed to get something.
It won't be what other areas have received, maybe from 2 to 6 inches I have heard.
But we are going to get it. It appears the meteorologists on TV and all the others are going to be correct this time.
The snow is supposed to come during the height of rush hour, about 8 a.m. The good thing for me is that I am already at work at that hour, so I won't have to worry much about my commute. My wife is also pretty much ensconced in work at that hour, and my son is already at school, so there are no worries there.
Of course, my parents will be stranded today. My father hasn't gone into work and is taking the day off in anticipation of this mess.
It is funny how your perception changes as you get older. And snow is where your perception changes the most.
As a kid, you love the white stuff. It really makes your environment into a winter wonderland.
As an adult, you absolutely hate it. You hate driving in it, cleaning it up, or experiencing it when it is really bad and you lose power.
I don't look forward to it, but it evidently is coming.
So on the day where this blog reaches its 1,100th post, all I can say is snow, at whatever rate, is coming, and I just can't wait to clean off my car and come home from work in this mess.
I hate it, I really do.
Monday, December 9, 2013
My son and I hooped it up yesterday afternoon.
We really, really did.
We went to Madison Square Garden on our annual excursion to see a Knicks game, and boy, did we hoop up this one.
I am sure that you know that the Knicks played perhaps their worst game ever yesterday, losing to their arch-rival Celtics by 41 points, 114-73.
And at least I can say that my son and I were there to witness this fiasco.
But there is much more of a back story on this one than just the game.
I have been going to Knicks games since I was about eight years old. My father took me to my first game at the old Garden, a loss to the Lakers, in 1965.
Even though the Knicks lost, I loved every minute of my time there.
I loved how close the fans were to the action, and in those days, the place was half empty, so the ushers didn't mind if you moved down, and my father and I did, so the players really looked larger than life to this eight year old kid.
Anyway, flash forward to the current time, and I am a father now, and I take my own son to games.
But the situation is oh so different.
The Garden basically prints money. No matter how bad the Knicks are, they sell out the place, and sell it out at the top prices in the league.
It is very, very difficult for a working person to attend any games, because tickets are pretty much near $100 for a single ticket, on up, of course, to tickets that are thousands of dollars.
For one, single game.
This year, I scoured the schedule, and once again, tickets were ridiculously priced.
But this year, rather than keep silent, I made a move.
I called both the Knicks office and the NBA office to complain.
I did it in a constructive way, not accusing them or pointing fingers, but simply saying that I wanted to continue our family tradition of going to games, and I was being stymied by the fact that it was costing Broadway show prices to attend.
My pleas fell on deaf ears until about a month later, when a representative from the Knicks contacted me.
She said they would set something up where I could attend a game at a more affordable price.
And while I didn't get the tickets for free, I did get them at like 25 percent off, which I guess was good enough. They were still pricey, but not as pricey as they would have been if I bought them directly at the regular price.
(Yes, you would have thought they would have given them to me for free, and I wrestled with that point for a while, but after a while, I figured that I would take the discount.)
So we went to the game yesterday, and in a very classy move, the Knicks sent a representative to our seat, and gave us a fan pack for our trouble.
Very classy indeed.
That the Knicks got blown out--their third worst home loss in history--was kind of secondary to the back story.
I continued the tradition of going to Knicks games with my son--this is our ninth game together over the past seven or so years--and I was satisfied that the Knicks, and the NBA office, both have a conscience.
What that will translate to in the future is anyone's guess, but look, I have been hooked on the NBA for nearly a half century--why stop now?
Posted by Larry at 2:38 AM
Friday, December 6, 2013
Don't you just wish that one day, you would find a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow?
Well, I do believe that someone has he potential to do just that, and it wasn't a pot of gold, it was a blunt of pot.
At a Wendy's in Lovejoy, Ga., a customer called 911 after finding a half-smoked joint inside her burger.
The woman who was given the burger became sick, the employee who said she misplaced her pot inside the burger was fired and was arrested for marijuana possession, and Wendy's reportedly offered to pay the ill woman's medical bills, and also gave her a $50 gift certificate.
Sorry, in this lawsuit-happy world, the person who was victimized by the out of joint joint should find a lawyer and sue for millions. Heck, all she wanted was a Wendy's hamburger, and she got much more than she bargained for.
This might be the situation she was waiting for her entire life.
She could tell a judge and jury that she was poisoned by the pot, and that she deserved the money because she was victimized.
Fast food places are traditionally a courthouse's best friend.
Remember all the lawsuits launched against these restaurants for one thing or another, such as their menu items making their kids fat?
How about the lawsuits that stemmed from people dumping hot coffee on themselves?
Better yet, how about the litigation that ensued when somebody found a sawed-off finger in one of their sandwiches?
These have all happened, and while most of the suits seemingly have been thrown out of court, you have to say that they have, at the very least, kept courtrooms busy.
Here, we have a true victim, someone who experienced food poisoning-like symptoms after devouring at least some of this burger/blunt hybrid, so maybe she has a case.
Others with less of a reason to sue went ahead with it, and at least tried to get extra money out of the fast food companies, and somehow, I don't think a gift certificate is going to placate this woman.
Yes, a pot of gold might be waiting for this person, or maybe, at the very least, a lifetime supply of hamburgers, or maybe even hair dye to make her hair as red as the Wendy's girl in the commercial.
Ah, I guess it was a pipe dream ...
Posted by Larry at 2:09 AM
Thursday, December 5, 2013
For Jews around the world, Hanukkah 2013 has come to an end.
This most interesting of Hanukkahs--with it falling pretty much in line with Thanksgiving--made this a memorable occasion, one that we won't soon forget.
But now the holiday is over.
Amidst the weeks and days leading up to Christmas, Jews around the world can pretty much sit back and watch a good part of the universe get ready for the celebration of their holiday.
Usually, Hanukkah and Christmas are pretty much aligned, by the calendar only.
The two holidays have nothing to do with each other at all, although many people like to lump Hanukkah in with Christmas, as the Jewish Christmas, which is as wrong as saying Christmas is the non-Jewish Hanukkah.
But that being said, Jews often are on the outside looking in when it comes to Christmas.
There are so few Jews in the world relative to the overall population that Jews are, in fact, outsiders to this holiday.
No matter how homogenous Jews have become in this world, Christmas is just another day to us.
Jews revel in our non-Jewish friends' enjoyment of the holiday, and Jews often participate in the holiday as if it were their holiday too, but it isn't, no matter what many of them do and say.
I think being on the outside looking in is a unique position to be in during this time of year.
It allows us to view Christmas for what it is, what it means to our friends, and what it means to most of the world's population.
Jews such as Irving Berlin and Mel Torme have been able to put this viewpoint into song, and have written maybe the greatest Christmas songs ever, "White Christmas" and "The Christmas Song," two of not only the greatest Christmas songs ever written, but probably two of the greatest songs ever written, period.
Being part of our culture, Jews are bombarded, just like everyone else is, by commercials, TV shows, movies and music that reflects that this is Christmastime.
We have gotten used to it, as everyone has, but I still remember my kids asking me, "Why are there not Hanukkah TV shows?"
Things have gotten better in that regard since they were kids, and today, the entertainment business is finally starting to acknowledge that not everyone celebrates Christmas, that we are a true mosaic of lots of different religions and cultures.
But frankly, it took them a long time to acknowledge this.
I still remember that as a kid, my mother would have to look far and wide for Hanukkah cards to send to friends and relatives.
And this was in 1965, not 1865, so change has come, but it has been very, very slow in coming.
To all my non-Jewish friends, have a great Christmas season.
To all my Jewish friends, I hope this year's Hanukkah was a good one.
Let's all sit back, relax, and if you are Jewish, you know the Christmas routine ...
What movie will you be seeing on that day, and what Chinese food place are you going to be ordering dinner from?
Posted by Larry at 2:33 AM