Friday, January 29, 2010

Rant #183: Be-Holden

J.D. Salinger passed away yesterday.

If I tell that to my 14-year old or 21-year old kids, I doubt they would know a thing about who I was talking about.

But to at least a few generations of kids who are now in the their 50s and 60s, his passing struck a chord with us.

He was a writer by trade, but his book "The Catcher in the Rye" was such a definitive work that he really didn't have to do anything for the rest of his life after it was published.

And he didn't do much. He certainly didn't try to add onto his celebrity, as he was pretty much a recluse for the past 40 years or so.

But to the youth of the 1960s and 1970s, Salinger was something of a god. Although published in 1951, "Catcher in the Rye" was a book that hit a nerve with the generations that stood up and let it be known that we wouldn't conform to anything.

His character, Holden Caulfield, certainly led that charge. Caulfield wasn't your standard white-bread character. He thought dirty, dastardly thoughts, and he didn't walk a straight line. He questioned authority, and did what he wanted to do.

Wasn't this much like youth in the 1960s and 1970s? He was almost a "James Dean" type in the annals of fiction.

I remember reading this book in high school. I hated my high school years, and Caulfield was my hero. Everything that he thought and did pretty much mirrored my own thoughts.

I thought the book fell out of favor in the late 1970s, especially when that idiot who murdered John Lennon used it as a prop for his heinous actions.

Do kids still read this book? I don't know. But for my generation, Holden Caulfield was the man, and J.D. Salinger, his creator, was also the man.

It just shows that one book can have an incredible impact. And this one certainly did.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Rant #182: Rotten Apple

I am all for technology. I love to hear about new breakthroughs which allow us to do things that we couldn't do before and/or do things that we could do before in an easier way.

But the latest product release from Apple, is, in my estimation, a real lemon.

Yesterday, they released the iPad, a tablet computer that amounts to a larger version of the iTouch. It has a couple of bells and whistles that the iTouch doesn't have, but, for all intents and purposes, that is what it is, and iTouch on steroids.

Like those devices, it has a touch screen that lets you navigate around to hook up to the Internet, play games, view photos, and read e-books.

And all for just a starting price point of $499!

Why anyone would want to have this device is beyond my comprehension. For that amount of money, you can get your standard laptop computer, which can adequately do everything that this device appears to be able to do.

Sure, this new device is built for e-books, but honestly, if you want to read a book, don't you want to read a book--not a book generated by an electronic device?

I can't see how this is going to play into something that we all need. Unlike the iTouch, it is something you can't put into your pocket, unless you wear overalls designed for King Kong.

I think what Apple has done is provide the world with something in between a laptop and an iTouch, creating a new category unto itself, and thus, they hope, a new need.

But sorry, I don't see people buying this. How much technology can one have at their fingertips before that technology is too much? I think you have that scenario here.

And for that price--which, remember, is a starting price--I just don't see it.

But then, I carry around a cell phone that I almost never use that dates back about 10 years or so. It has absolutely no bells and whistles, and people marvel how I can still use it in this day and age of phones having cameras, various applications, etc.

But somehow, I manage.

That is my point. I think somehow, we will manage without the iPad.

We have up until yesterday, and we will do just fine without it in the future.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Rant #181: Bonanza Bites the Dust

I am sure that you read that actor Pernell Roberts died at 81 the other day.

This is a guy who had two chances at fame, rode the wave while it was high, and left when the going was still good.

His most famous role was that of Adam Cartwright, the eldest son of the Cartwright family on NBC's "Bonanza" western. The show was one of the most popular westerns ever. It was so popular that NBC used the show to sell RCA color televisions during a time when families were lucky if they owned a single black and white TV.

He had a six-year contract to portray this character, and even though the show was at its height in 1965, he left the series when his contract was up.

Some people thought that this was one of the dumbest things an actor could do, leaving a highly rated series for supposed fame and fortune elsewhere. But Roberts stuck to his guns, and really was not heard from again for nearly two decades. In the interim, he did summer stock, acted occasionally in TV and movies, and pretty much became a trivia question: "Who portrayed Adam Cartwright on "Bonanza" and what was the explanation for his character leaving the series?" (Obviously he was the answer to the first part of the question, the second answer was simply that Adam moved away from the rest of his family.)

Then in the late 1970s, Roberts took on a role that had been already been created on another show, and for that matter, on the big screen. He was CBS's "Trapper John, M.D.," a role originated on the "M*A*S*H" TV show by Wayne Rogers and in the movie by Elliot Gould. This was the Korean war character more than 20 years later, as a doctor in a hospital.

The show was very popular, but when it came to the end of its run in the mid 1980s, Roberts faded away once again. His co-horts on "Bonanza,"--including Lorne Greene, Michael Landon and Dan Blocker--all passed away in the intervening years, so, ironically, he lived out his life as the lone original cast member alive from the Cartwright clan.

That is, until the other day, when he, too, succumbed.

Roberts evidently plied his career the way he wanted to, even though his critics still said he was a numbskull to leave "Bonanza" when it was still at the top of the TV heap.

But I guess that wasn't his thing, and you have to respect him for that.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Rant #180: Gary's In Trouble Again

Remember my post a little while back about Gary Coleman, where I said we should give this guy another chance?

Well, I guess I am about to go for different strokes ... er, change my tune.

Coleman was released from a Utah jail on Monday after being arrested over the weekend on a warrant for failing to appear in court.

There was a domestic disturbance call on Sunday, and Coleman was arrested on the warrant and booked. The warrant is related to a domestic violence charge filed against Coleman in August.

I doubt that Coleman is reading this, but if he is, I would tell him the following:


Stop all the nonsense. Get into counseling. Forget about being a superstar actor anymore, it isn't going to happen. Get over it. Move on.

Again, use Ron Howard as an example. Howard knew his days as an actor were numbered, even when he was on "Happy Days." He was a cute, talented kid who had become, well, a talented adult. He was smart. He moved behind the camera before it fell on him. Look at what he has done.

Gary, do the same. Direct. Produce. Stay in Hollywood, but not as an actor. You have so many experiences. Don't tell me you couldn't use those to your advantage behind the camera.

People laughed at Howard when he directed the Roger Corman quickie "Grand Theft Auto," but they weren't laughing anymore when it brought in millions of dollars.

You can do the same.

Please do it. Do it for yourself, not for all of your hangers-on.

Just do it. And do it now.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Rant #179: President Shirks Jury Duty

Like the rest of us, President Obama has civic responsibilities that he must carry out. One of them is jury duty.

Obama was called for jury duty in Illinois, but he won't be serving.

A White House official said yesterday that the President has alerted the Bridgeview court in suburban Chicago that he won't be able to appear for a court session beginning today.

Unlike the rest of us, Obama can give this excuse, and probably did: "My reason for not serving is that I have a very busy week ahead. Not only do I have to continue to run this country even with people throwing bricks at everything I do, but I have a State of the Union speech scheduled for Wednesday, and I need time to bone up on it."

Could you just imagine if you or I gave such a reason for putting off jury duty? "My reason for not serving is that I have a very busy week ahead. Not only do I have to continue to run my household even with my family throwing bricks at everything I do, but I have a State of the Household speech scheduled for Wednesday, and I need time to bone up on it."

No, I don't think that would work.

Famous people can get out of jury duty, I guess. I mean, does Hugh Hefner serve jury duty? How about Derek Jeter?

I probably have jury duty service coming up soon. I haven't been called in a few years, and I am sure New York State knows that.

I got called about four or five years ago for District Court, which for me, is in Brooklyn, or about 50 miles away from where I live. Not only is that a ridiculous amount of miles to drive for jury duty, but at the time, jury duty and myself did not mix well. I could get out of it real quickly, by simply saying, "I have to pay child support, and my company will only pay me for three days on jury duty." No lies, no muss, no fuss--I got off then, and I got off numerous times because of this fact.

Now, I don't pay child support anymore, as my daughter is over 21 years old.

Well, I can't use that excuse anymore. It was the only positive thing that I, personally, received from paying child support for 19 years or so.

I know I will be called, and I know my reasons for not serving will be legitimate--to me, at least. But I guess that I am out of excuses. I will have to serve, take my lumps at work, and try to get it over with as quickly as possible.

Hopefully, it won't be a prolonged case. Something quick.

OK, I am ready, willing and able to serve.

Let's get it over with!

Friday, January 22, 2010

Rant #178: John Edwards' Baby

So I hear that John Edwards finally admitted that that baby that he was rumored to have fathered is actually his.

Heck, until this admission, I thought it might have been Tiger Woods' love child.

The ex-Senator and former Presidential candidate finally fessed up, saying that he fathered a two-year-old daughter with his former mistress and video production firm head Rielle Hunter.

What's worse, he did all this while his wife, Elizabeth, was battling cancer.

Edwards said that he hopes that when his daughter gets older, she will forgive him for the lies that he made trying to cover up this mess.

Edwards is also being looked at by federal prosecutors in North Carolina for his campaign finances regarding Hunter, whose firm was paid at least $100,000 in 2006 alone.

This guy is a piece of garbage, plain and simple. How he thought he would be able to cover this up while running for the top office in the land is beyond me.

I mean, this is not the Kennedy era, when everything was kept hush hush.

And, this guy is no Kennedy, even on a good day.

There are also allegations that he tried to pass off the fathering of this child on someone else, a real dope who was going to take the rap for this.

Can you believe all this? You can't make this stuff up.

Now, his wife is suffering from terminal cancer. She said that her family was relieved at the admission, and that now, her marriage concerns could be just hers, and not the general public's business.

You have to really feel sorry for his wife. She is not going to be here much longer, and has had to put up with this nonsense for many months now, all the while battling a disease that is slowly eating away at her very being.

And as for Edwards, he should be ashamed of himself. Any positive spin that he attempts to put on all this is really for the crapper. There is no positive spin. He cheated on his wife, and cheated on her when she was ill.

He should just fade into the woodwork and go away, Permanently.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Rant #177: Take A Jet Back To New Jersey

If you are a football fan, you know that the team that no one wants to play during the playoffs is the New York Jets. They are playing over their heads, and beating some of the best teams in football as they push to the Super Bowl.

They play the Colts this weekend, and even though they are the underdogs, wisdom says that they will probably win this game--they beat the Colts during the regular season, a feat that no one else accomplished.

That is all fine and good, but like I have said before, I hate football.

And I hate New York football, because, the only NFL football played in the state of New York is by the Bills of Buffalo.

New York City has not had an NFL team for more than 30 years, and no, the Jets--and for that matter, the Giants--are not New York teams, even though they are called "New York."

They play in New Jersey, and since when is New Jersey New York?

New York could have had the Jets in a return to the city where they played prior to their move to New Jersey. That billionaire nincompoop of a mayor, Michael Bloomberg--a great businessman but not a great politician, even with this three terms--could have had the Jets come back to New York City. The proposed stadium near the Javits Center was where they would have played, but this idiot of a mayor--who, you might remember, tried to horn in on the Yankees World Series coverage but Fox wouldn't bite--tried to tie in the Stadium with an Olympic bid. New Yorkers didn't want the Olympics, but they wanted the Manhattan stadium.

Well, when the Olympic bid fell through, so did the stadium.

Anyway, this dummy is having what amounts to a "pep rally" today for his beloved Jets, who bring nothing to New York City, and during this playoff, certainly bring nothing, since they are playing miles and miles away.

And even if they make the Super Bowl, they will still bring nothing to the city, because the game is being played in Florida.

New Jersey can have their Jets, but why is Bloomberg and his cohorts making this out to be a New York sports moment?

It has as much to do with New York as Hawaii does.

New York City has the Rangers, and Long Island has its Islanders. The Knicks play at the Garden. Pitchers and catchers report in mid-February--and yes, I am talking about the New York Yankees and even the New York Mets, New York City's two baseball teams.

These are the teams that New York should focus on, not teams that left here and don't give anything back to the city that they dumped all those years ago.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Rant #176: Stop Complaining, Just Eat!

I am sick and tired of people complaining about what they are eating when they go out to restaurants, including fast food sites.

Yesterday, at work, there was a "white noise" discussion in our office about the amount of salt in one offering from a local Tex-Mex place. People were shaking their heads, and asked, "How can they sell something with that much salt?"

Well, the reason they can sell that product, and many others, is simple--

Because people are buying it!

If no one bought these things, then I think these restaurants would take them off the menu.

On top of the fact, I don't think that if you go out to eat at certain places that you should expect everything to necessarily be healthy for you.

We, as a country, are on this health kick, which overall, is probably a good thing. We eat too much, and we eat too much stuff that we really should not be eating.

However, nobody is forcing us to eat it. And certainly, if I go to my local fast-food restaurant chain, I am not going there for a healthy meal. I am going there because I am hungry.

These chains offer healthier options, not necessarily healthy choices, but healthier than the normal fare. I am sure people eat these things, and I think it is probably good business to have them on the menu.

But to think that you are eating healthy when you eat at these places is a pipe dream.

And the people at my work, the same ones complaining about the salt content of the Tex-Mex item, are the same ones that are eating donuts and bagels and candy and other junk during the work day.

This nonsense harkens back to those idiotic lawsuits in the 1990s where "concerned parents" were suing fast-food chains because their children ate too many hamburgers and got fat. Sure, it was the chains' fault that their kids became Chubbsy Ubbsies, wasn't it?

Now, in many restaurants, at least here in New York but I am sure elsewhere, the content of many of the things they offer are posted for everyone to see. So, if you find there is too much salt in something, and it bothers you, just don't eat it.

But I guarantee that other people will, and that is why it is on the menu.

Better yet, save your money, and eat at home. I am sure that if you are so concerned about what you are getting in restaurants, you are even more concerned about what you are putting on your own table.

Maybe you can post the content of what you are eating at home on your refrigerator.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Rant #175: Not Hitting the Nets

This is a story that sports fans around the country are not really aware of right now, but history could be in the making come April.

The New Jersey Nets, the wandering team that is slated to play in a new Brooklyn arena in about two years, are on the brink of setting a record for the worst single-season record ever for an NBA team, and one of the worst single-season records for an American professional sports team.

I say that because I know what the NBA record is, and I know what the baseball record is, and I know what the football record is. I am not sure of hockey.

After another loss yesterday on Martin Luther King Day, the Nets' record stands at three wins, 37 losses. At that rate, all you have to do is do the math. With their NBA season one game from the halfway point, double their record and you will get six wins, 74 losses. Give them a win and another loss, and they will end up seven wins, 75 losses.

If that happens, they will eclipse the record set by the 1972-73 Philadelphia 76ers, who were 9-73.

This is a story that the sports media is pretty much ignoring for some unknown reason. Maybe it has to do with the Nets being, well, the Nets. Wherever they have played--be it Long Island or New Jersey--the Nets have always been a poor second cousin to the New York Knicks. Even in the Knicks' down years, like right now, they garner much more coverage than their New Jersey cousins, and even when the Nets were a good team in the NBA, the Knicks received most of the coverage.

And when the Nets were really good, when they played on Long Island, they were in the ABA, so the majority of pro basketball fans didn't care about them, even if they had Julius Erving.

Now, they have Brook Lopez, a couple of journeymen castoffs, and little else. They are a lame duck team, expecting to move to Brooklyn in a few years, and their pursuit of this record is going somewhat unnoticed.

No, it's not as bad as the Detroit Lions' 0-16 record a few seasons ago, and it is better than the 1962 Mets' 40-120 record, but it is bad enough.

Let's see how far this team can go into the dumpster. They are there already there, but they are digging deeper on a weekly basis.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Rant #174: MLK Day: A Day of Sales, A Day to Relax

I don't know how to be "nice" about this without being very blunt, but here goes:

The Martin Luther King holiday today is nothing but a day of sales for most people, a day off from the usual drudgery of the beginning of the work week.

Oh, I could be politically correct and say that the holiday is a time of remembrance, a time when we should look inward and outward and cast ourselves on the path that Dr. King made for us.

But, I can't say that.

This is a day off. A holiday to shop, with lots of bargains.

I mean, ask yourself, "Will I be reflecting today, or will I be relaxing?"

I will bet I know the answer.

Look, the holiday is well-intended. Some could argue that the holiday is not warranted, Other could argue that it is.

But to make it something that it isn't, well, it's wrong.

Do we reflect on President's Day? How much do we reflect on Memorial Day and July 4?

We look at these days as a day off, if we are fortunate to work for a company which gives us off for these days.

Me, I am working today, my wife is too, so it is a typical Monday for us.

But again, this holiday falls in the politically correct sphere which I simply won't enter. You will see on your newscasts today people in church, others talking about the work of Dr. King, and I know President Obama will make some type of speech about Dr. King.

That is all fine and good, but again, it's the politically correct way to go.

Sure, I may be cynical, but I am also a realist. For every person that reflects today, there are thousands that are sleeping later than normal.

If you want to see a remnant of Dr. King's work, I can give you one, one that I guarantee is making him smile as he looks down at the world.

My white, Jewish son is hanging out today with his black friend, and they are going to see a movie which stars an Asian actor (Jackie Chan).

Well, I don't know if it is exactly what Dr. King wanted, but it shows that friendship--and entertainment--sees no color.

And I guess in a minor way, that is what Dr. King wanted.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Rant #173: Let's Diet the Knot

My wife is on a diet.

No, my wife does not need to be on a diet, but she is on one anyway.

My wife is pretty thin to begin with, and she has a great figure. Sure, like most of us, she has to watch her weight, but this is a person who goes to the gym several times a week, watches what she eats, and doesn't overindulge on anything.

But she felt that she needed to diet anyway.

I think so many women have negative body image. They think they have to look pencil thin like those disgusting-looking runway models, or they have to look like some movie star that has a personal trainer by her side 24 hours a day.

My wife looks terrific. Take it from me, she looks great. Nobody can believe that she is the age she is (I won't reveal it, but it is the same age I am). Most people think she is at least 10 years younger than she really is.

Yet, she is putting herself through this diet--it's the Special K diet, where you eat the cereal for breakfast and lunch and then have a reasonable dinner.

Honestly, I don't know how she does it. I couldn't do it, and I need to lose a few more pounds than she does.

But she does it. She is determined to lose a small amount of weight, and she is going about it the way she thinks is best.

Again, I love the way my wife looks, but I also notice that her stomach, which wasn't there to begin with, is even flatter than it was before the diet. So I guess she is getting out of the diet what she wanted to get out of it.

But again, I love her how she is.

And that is the skinny of it.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Rant #172: I Can't See My Vacation For the Trees

I just put in for my vacation at work.

Here it is January, and I am putting in for a vacation which will take place in the middle of summer!

Anyway, my vacation was approved, and my family and I will once again be going to Florida at the end of July/beginning of August.

We have a time share down there, and it is fun to travel down south, no matter what time we go during the year.

We prefer the summer, but we have gone in the winter too. Happily, we don't have to go this winter, which, as you know, has hit Florida pretty hard. I heard they actually saw some snowflakes in Orlando last week.

And, by the way, we don't fly down to Florida--we drive. I have flown on many planes in my life, but I do not like flying. And with the current security boondoggles now in place, I like it even less. The last time I flew, I had to nearly strip to get on the plane. Of course, people who carry explosives in their underwear get by the detectors; me, with keys and wallet in my pockets, had to undergo extra scrutiny.

Anyway, now I have something to look forward to, a date that I can look ahead to. It gives me a target as I work my way toward it.

But it is still January. Vacation is more than six months away. Yes, right now, I can't see the forest for the trees, as they say.

But at least I have the dates. It will give me something to work toward while I wade through paperwork, and snow, as the winter progresses.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Rant #171: Late Night Cat Fight

In one corner, we have Jay Leno, king of late night on NBC. His show was moved to prime time, 10 p.m. Monday through Friday, and bombed. NBC wants to move his show back to the usual 11:35 p.m. time spot.

In the other corner, we have Conan O'Brien, who was promised the coveted 11:35 p.m. spot when Leno's show moved to prime time. NBC wants to push him back to after midnight. O'Brien has refused, and may have had his final broadcast on NBC.

NBC is the fourth-place network, and they thought they had nothing to lose by moving the popular Leno, Johnny Carson's successor, to 10 p.m. in a Monday through Friday show. They weren't drawing very good ratings with what they had, and this was cheaper for them, a "more bang for the buck" move that they thought might revolutionize network televison.

All it did was spark a revolt my network affiliates, who said that the Leno show as a lead-in was killing the ratings of their 11 p.m. local newscasts, which are huge moneymakers for local stations.

So what of Leno and O'Brien? Well, Leno is moving back to the coveted 11:35 p.m. spot, that is for sure.

But O'Brien has balked at being pushed back. Perhaps they will buy out his contract, perhaps this is all a ruse for something else. He might even end up on Fox.

And you just know that David Letterman, he of the open zipper, is laughing all the way to the bank.

But the guy who is laughing the hardest isn't even with us anymore.

The true king of late night, Johnny Carson, is laughing in heaven right now. All the fights he had with NBC over The Tonight Show pale in comparison to this latest nonsense, and let's face it, nobody could replace Carson on his perch, anyway.

He was the best that there was, ever.

And although they could occupy his old time spot, Letterman, Leno, and O'Brien really aren't any more than pretenders to the throne. It's what we have now, but nobody, and I mean nobody, understood late night like Johnny Carson, his crew, his writers and his cast.

Right now, NBC is smelling like yesterday's spoiled milk, and Carson is laughing his trademarked laugh, with a cigarette in his mouth and breaking pencils.

Here's to you, Karnack!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Rant #170: McGwire Fesses Up

OK, we all knew that Mark McGwire took steroids. We all knew that he took steroids during this epic battle with Sammy Sosa in setting the single-season Major League Baseball homerun record. We all knew that he took steroids, even though he wouldn't let on to Congress about it.

But now, McGwire has spilled the beans--he has admitted to steroid use, and admitted to it over a 10-year period which includes his epic homerun chase.

Why did he come out now? He says that since he is now the hitting coach of the St. Louis Cardinals, he did not want it to be a distraction during spring training, which comes up next month, and the 2010 baseball season, which starts in April.

Why didn't he tell Congress about his use? He says that he feared that he would not have immunity, and feared that it would hurt himself and his family.

So now he has admitted to doing something that we all knew he did. He also said that taking these substances did not allow him to hit a baseball further, because you have to have that talent to begin with.

So, if we are to believe this, the andro that McGwire took did little more than help him get back from injuries faster, it had nothing to do with his prolific homeruns that he tallied during his personal steroid era.

Although I am not a doctor, I kind of disagree.

At the time, andro was not banned by Major League Baseball, so what he took was not illegal, per se. But I do believe what he took was akin to making his wooden bat into a metal bat. If you have ever used one, and then the other, you know that the ball travels further with the metal bat.

Well, the andro made his hits travel further. It gave him extra strength, and that is cheating, because he did not come about it naturally.

Look, McGwire is never going to get into the Hall of Fame. In spite of nearly 600 homeruns, he wasn't really a Hall of Fame caliber player, in other aspects of his game, such as batting average. This is a guy who hit below .200 a few times in his career.

But he, and Barry Bonds, are the poster boys for steroid use in baseball, or cheating by chemical means. Both were excellent players that got a big "nudge" by using steroids. But also, let it be said that when they used them, their use was not illegal, at least by Major League Baseball standards.

So, to sum it all up, I am glad that McGwire fessed up once and for all.

And again, it's not like he killed somebody. He damaged himself internally, and he damaged the reputation of baseball.

And he wasn't the only one who did this, not by a long shot.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Rant #169: Where Have All the Years Gone?

I often talk about my years growing up in Queens, New York, as if I was living in some fairy-tale place in my own personal fable.

Of course, this wasn't so, but we all have a habit of making our childhoods appear to be some type of storybook, "the best years of our lives."

My childhood was wonderful. From birth through the age of 14, I lived in three places that were great places to grow up in: Brooklyn (I only lived there a few months after I was born, but was there anything wrong with Brooklyn in the 1950s?), Kew Gardens Hills (where I spent my early childhood and school years), and a mythical place called Rochdale Village, in South Jamaica, Queens (where I went in as a little boy but where I turned into an early teenager, a young man).

The Rochdale Village part of my existence I have talked about ad infinitum over the past 40 years or so. It was an experimental development built on the old Jamaica Racetrack, in the heart of the one of the most solid, yet somehow chipped, black communities in the U.S.A. Our development, at least at the beginning, was probably about 70 percent white, and of those white residents, probably 85 percent were Jewish.

For the first few years of the development, blacks and whites, at least within the development, lived in pretty much harmony. The people living on the outside were not always as nice to us as they could be, but generally, things were pretty placid. Even the New York Times wrote a major article about the place - "Where Blacks and Whites Live Together"--as if this was a utopia that all areas could aspire to.

And for a few years, it was.

Then the late 1960s erupted. So many things were happening in our country and throughout the world starting in 1968 or so, but the straw that I feel broke the development's back--and I believe Rochdale Village lost its soul--is when Martin Luther King was assassinated. This mixed race development, in the heart of a long-standing black area, became a focal point of what was going wrong with our country back then. The place became unsafe to live in, the schools disintegrated even with dedicated teachers, and although it took several years, by about 1976 or 1977, most of the white residents--and many of the original black residents--had left.

My family left in 1971, moved to the New York suburbs, and that is where we have been for the past 40 years.

Why I bring this up is the picture attached to this post. That is me, circa 1966 or 1967 or so, when I was nine or 10 years old. I often yearn for 1967, because that was probably the best time in my young life. I didn't have a care in the world, and the only thing I had to worry about was if I would do well on my next test in school.

I had seemingly hundreds of friends, and the only things that were important to me were my comic books and the New York Yankees and New York Knicks. Sure, my family was important, but mom and dad were always there, so, what, me worry?

Like I said, I often yearn for that innocence today. I am not knocking today--I have a great family, a great wife and super kids. But look at me in that picture--was this bald, overweight 52-year-old that I am today in this kid's future?

I guess so.

My sister just turned 50 at the end of December, so my parents, both in their late 70s, have two kids in their 50s. I am sure that they can't believe this, any more than I can't believe that this little kid you see here is this big kid you are reading about now.

Where have the years gone? Who knows!

Friday, January 8, 2010

Rant #168: Wrestling Rings Around Anyone Else

I have spoke about professional wrestling in previous entries in this blog.

This is a multi-billion-dollar business which has pushed itself into the mainstream by the maneuverings of one crafty, smart personality, Vince McMahon, the leader of World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE). He has taken what he has--a collection of athletes who are not good enough to be real professional athletes in legitimate sports (some have been pro athletes, but have moved on) but good enough to be professional wrestlers--and molded his brand into one that even non-fans know about.

Names like John Cena, Triple H, Chris Jericho, and Rey Mysterio roll off the mouth like fine gum. But this traveling circus is plastered all over television--worldwide--sells out all over--worldwide--and has made a billionaire out of McMahon.

Heck, his wife, Linda, is even running for office in Connecticut, and let's not forget Jesse Ventura, the former governor of Minnesota. He was "The Body" at one time, then he became "The Governor."

Anyway, the WWE has been, and still is, the top wrestling promotion in the world, and nothing is going to take away from that.

However, an upstart has started to steal some of the thunder from the WWE; and the ironic thing is that it is stealing some of the thunder using former WWE stars as its backbone.

Total Non-Stop Action Wrestling, better known as TNA, has a fast-rising weekly TV show on Spike TV, and it has promotions not only in the U.S., but on a worldwide basis.

Started just a few years ago, it is the No. 2 wrestling attraction right now, a poor No. 2 to WWE's dominance, but it has taken great strides to make itself a solid No. 2.

With a backbone of wrestling stars from the WWE--including Kurt Angle, Scott Steiner, and Kevin Nash-- and its own stars--like A.J. Styles, Samoa Joe, and Jay Lethal--it has solidified itself with fans who still watch the WWE but have wanted to expand their wrestling reach.

It also has in its stable Sting, a wrestler who has never wrestled in the WWE but is immensely popular.

But it has just signed probably the greatest prize in professional wrestling, the guy who put wrestling on the map in the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s.

Hulk Hogan is now part of TNA, and whatever you think about him personally, he is to TNA what Michael Jordan was to the NBA--a star beyond all stars, a guy that even non-believers know about.

Tonight, I am taking my son to our third TNA event. My son is very much like me when I was 14 years old--I loved wrestling then, but back then, it was nothing more than akin to a horse and pony show. It had its devoted following, but it was nothing more than a niche thing.

Today, it is a global phenomenon, so even a house show like the one we are seeing has a lot of significance--especially coming off the Hulk Hogan signing and TNA's recent TV show which went directly against WWE's sold RAW show this past Monday night.

It should be a lot of fun. As long as you take professional wrestling for what it is--a circus, athletic phoniness mixed in with some incredible story lines and a lot of pretty women, some of whom can actually wrestle--you will get its message.

The WWE, TNA, and a myriad of regional entities are bringing fans just what they want, and if fans get just what they want, they will spend lots of money. That was the idea years ago, and it is still the idea now, and the idea is working incredibly well at this point in time.

And you can take that to the mat.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Rant #167: Being Seizured By the Plight Of Gary Coleman

I just read that actor Gary Coleman was rushed to the hospital after having a seizure. I also read that he is OK, and survived whatever he had.

I like Gary Coleman, always have. People forget that prior to hitting huge fame as the wise-cracking kid on "Different Strokes," he was on "Fernwood Tonight" as, what else, a wise-cracking kid with a big mouth, one that you would swear was a midget but was only a real kid.

I watched "Different Strokes"--yes, I admit it--during its run, and I have followed the horrible stories of the other young cast members, Todd Bridges and Dana Plato, as they made one tabloid headline after another. Bridges seems to be on the right road now, but as you know, Plato died a number of years ago as down on her luck as a former child star ever was.

Back to Coleman. I have followed his career since his TV fame with a wary eye. I know he sued his parents for money that they supposedly stole from him, I know that he has had run-ins with photographers and has had many bad business dealings.

I know that he has had an up and down marriage, and I know that he has made more negative headlines than positive ones during the past 20 years or so.

I also know that this guy has been on dialysis for heaven knows how many years. It stunted his growth, and may have affected him in other ways that we'll never know.

He seems to have become a frantic adult with many mood swings.

But he sure was a talented kid.

However, like most other former child stars, once they get older, the public gets less interested in them. Sure, there are exceptions, like Ron Howard, but generally, former child stars that continue to pursue careers in front of the camera in show business generally find that their past fame can only go so far.

Using Howard as an example, he is still pretty recognizable as an actor in his younger years, but he knew early on that this was not what he wanted to do as an adult, and moved behind the cameras as a director--and a successful one at that.

Coleman loves to be in front of the camera, but unfortunately, he is 41 now, and not 11. There isn't much work for a little guy like this.

But you know, I feel for him, I really do. I don't want him to end up like Plato, old and worn out way before her time.

If I were speaking to Coleman, I would tell him this: "Sure, your name can open doors, but only so far. Write, direct, produce, and you will demonstrate that a former child star can move on with his life ... and be successful ... ."

... rather than be the butt of jokes like he is now and has been since "Different Strokes" left the air.

C'mon Gary, we know you can do it.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Rant #166: The Cold Facts

Here in the Northeast, we are going through a cold spell that has rattled the cages of most of us here. We are shivering, shaking, and are downright uncomfortable right now ...

But is it that cold, is it really that cold?

I said the other day to a co-worker that this is the winter, it is supposed to be cold, but his shivering body told me that he was freezing, so I thought that maybe I was crazy.

Now, AccuWeather said that sure, it is cold, but not cold like the brutal winter of 1976-1977, when we were near zero for a good part of the season.

No, they say, this is more like the winter of 2000-2001, when cold temperatures were felt early on in the winter in December and continued into January and February. Temperatures dipped two to three degrees during the first two months of the year, and they believe that that should happen again this year.

Then why is everybody so darn cold here?

I think a lot of it has to do with the amount of snow we received in December. We had one main "blizzard," where certain areas got more than 20 inches of snow, and we also weathered at least one or two smaller snow showers.

That is supposed to be a lot for December, and I think it is playing on everyone's psyche here.

However, I remember that as a kid growing up in Queens, things were much colder, and our winters were much snowier. Maybe it has to do with global warming, but I think we had more severe winters in the 1960s and 1970s than we do now.

So let's stop crabbing. At least many of us were kids back then, and could enjoy such winters. Now, as adults, we crab when it gets into the 20s!

Just put on your coats and bundle up. It isn't that bad, is it?

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Rant #165: A Lottery Good This Does

I don’t know if this news has come to your neck of the woods, but in New York, it is all the rage.

The winner of the $162 Million Mega Millions lottery ticket is just about ready to emerge from hiding.

Their lawyer has been out in force the past week, telling us sob stories about how the couple who bought the ticket out in Suffolk County have been down on their luck, and near financial ruin.

Of course, they found the money to purchase a lottery ticket, eschewing basic necessities, such as milk, eggs and bread, but they purchased the winning lottery ticket, so they will be awash in those things soon.

If they had not won, would they be able to eat the lottery ticket in the place of, let’s say, a sandwich?

Evidently, they were not on public assistance, so we can rest assured that they spent their own money on the ticket, and not ours.

Anyway, they will make themselves known later this week. Their lawyer said that they had to work out all the financials before emerging, and that is why it took so long for them to make themselves known.

He also said that he has been their personal lawyer for years. Somehow, I don’t think people in financial ruin retain a lawyer during times when they are so down on their luck. Have you ever heard of a poor person having a lawyer at hand? How can they afford to have a lawyer on retainer?

Well, good luck to them. Their lives will change, hopefully for the better, and what’s more, we won’t have to hear about these people ever again, which for me, is almost like winning the lottery … maybe a lottery for my overloaded brain, but the personal payoff to me is huge.

And it can’t be counted in dollars.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Rant #164: A Real Close Shave

Happy New Year to everyone!

Now I have to go into my first rant of the year. I have talked about this before, but I guess I will do so again.

I hate to shave.

I have hated to shave since the first day that I had to shave, probably when I was 15 years old or so.

It is boring, it is tedious, but if I want to be clean shaven, I have to do it myself.

I shaved today, which is a Monday, the first Monday of the new year. I usually don't shave on Mondays, but since I didn't shave for a few days because of the holiday, I figured I would come in to work clean shaven today.

It got me to thinking about all the time I waste while shaving.

I usually shave about three times a week, pretty much on Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday. Sometimes I deviate from that because of holidays or special occasions, but that is my schedule.

It takes about 10 minutes for me to shave, so I spend a half hour a week shaving, or about 26 hours a year shaving. That is more than a full day! What a waste.

What could I be doing during those 26 hours? Could I be reading a book, watching TV, kissing my wife, talking with my kids, taking out the trash?

Whatever I could be doing, it is time down the drain.

Sure, I could just not shave, you say.

But I have been down that route before, most recently, about three years ago. I had a non-cancerous growth removed from my face--it was as big as a pinhead--and the doctor told me I would have to shave around the spot for about a week or two. I decided that if I couldn't shave my whole face, I would just let it grow. Well, it grew, but I hated it. It looked funny--brown mixed with red mixed with gray--and it itched something terrible.

Consequently, I could not wait to get it off.

Heck, I even shaved when I had chicken pox several years ago (a stupid idea--one of the dumbest things I ever did).

It is even more annoying to me because I don't have hair on my head. I wish that hair would grow, and this hair wouldn't. Why does hair grow on your body only where you don't want it to grow?

So I am still stuck in this dilemma--I hate to shave, but I have to. What is a poor boy to do?

I guess the answer is to do the obvious--shave and shut up!

(And you ladies--how much time do you spend shaving? It has to be more than I spend a week, because I assume you have more places to shave than men do. I feel sorry for you ladies, I really do.)

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