Treacey

Father William Treacy celebrated his 97th birthday last week and I was lucky enough to be at
his side for one of the many celebrations.

He is an amazing man who has touched so many lives and he is excitedly looking forward to
another milestone in August—the 50th Anniversary of the inter-faith foundation that he started
with Rabbi Raphael Levine after the two clergymen co-hosted Challenge on KOMO-TV in
Seattle in the 1980’s.

Originally called Camp Brotherhood, the Treacy-Levine Center is going through it’s own major
passage: the beautiful 200-acre retreat near Lake McMurray is going to post a For Sale sign
and the Foundation is going to move to smaller headquarters.

The TLC board of trustees, including Yours Truly the Zookeeper, decided to get out of the
business of hosting camps and retreats to focus more specifically on it’s mission to encourage
understanding and cooperation between different religions and spiritual groups—“to bring
harmony to the human family” as Father Treacy so eloquently states.

Despite the tragic death of Rabbi Levine in a car accident 31 years ago, Father Treacy has
soldiered on and the TLC has hosted many events, such as Kids4Peace, in which Palestinian
and Israeli and American teenagers get to know each other, and Engagement Encounter, where
soon to be married couples get to know each other better.

The Tracy-Levine Foundation will continue to reach out to its many diverse neighbors, from
members of the Swinomish Tribe to Muslims and Christians and Jews, and offer a safe haven to
all of those seeking to fulfill Father Treacy’s dream of a more harmonious world.

The pristine property includes beautiful cabins, hotel rooms, meeting rooms, a chapel, a large
dining facility and acres and acres of athletic fields and peaceful wooded paths.

The TLC will continue to accept contributions to help get us through this transition and anyone
interested in donating time or money should contact Executive Director Thomas Howell in Mount Vernon, WA.

world_problems

Something has gone awry with the American Dream.

The signs are all around us. Drug addiction, alcoholism, disenfranchisement, disgruntlement, high anxiety and low self-esteem.

Being the news junky that I am, I think I have a pretty good perspective on what is happening around the world.  Barrel bombings and beheadings in the Middle East, religious and political intolerance in so many places, subjugation of women, exploitation of children, hunger and disease commonplace in so many parts of the globe.

Yet instead of expressing gratitude for the incredible good fortune we have to live in a free society with lots of toys, we are seeing many signs of disenchantment. We are in the midst of an election cycle in which traditional supporters of both major parties are begging for change.

Both the Trump phenomenon and the Sanders phenomenon are signals that many people are opting out of politics and policies that they can’t identify with.

But there are other signs as well. Addiction to heroin and prescription drugs is now epidemic and the demographics of drug abuse are becoming much more democratic: they are touching all of our communities, rich and poor, black and brown and white.

Let’s not forget another great societal ill, one that doesn’t get much publicity any more but is still extremely prevalent: alcoholism. I have met so many people in my little corner of the Northwest whose lives have been touched by a family member or members whose lives were destroyed by alcohol.

It may not be as sexy as talking about opiate addiction and even marijuana use, but alcohol is the granddaddy of home wreckers. Lately I have heard story after story about drunken parents, siblings, spouses and, needless to say, ex-spouses and the resulting child abuse, violence and depression that follow.

The fact that as a society we have stopped talking about alcoholism is great hypocrisy. Any one who says they are against legalizing marijuana better also be in favor of restoring prohibition, otherwise that person is a total hypocrite. I’m no more excited about the idea of smoking too much marijuana than I am about getting shit-faced all day and night, but so far I haven’t heard one story about someone smoking too much weed and then abusing a child or smacking around a spouse.

Personal health is another bellwether of the social storms we are facing. A recent study reported that the life expectancy for white women DECREASED in the last year. That is a shocking trend that has caused social scientists to scratch their collective heads to come up with an explanation for that anomaly.

Theories abound, starting with a general perception that many older women are finding that their lives haven’t panned out the way they expected. Divorce, financial challenges of living longer on a fixed income, the stresses of having to balance housekeeping, parenting and career challenges.

Again, alcoholism, prescription drug abuse, and even obesity are contributing factors both as causes and effects. Next time you are in a major airport, do an anecdotal study and I’m sure you’ll notice how many people are anywhere from ten pounds to many pounds overweight and that exacerbates diabetes and heart disease and those are major killers.

All of those dangerous trends are being driven by frustration and disappointment. The widening gap between rich and poor is no longer a dirty little secret. Wealth is now flaunted and greed goes unchallenged and the modern ethos is to accumulate as many toys as you can.

The problem with this is a monetary construct that requires a very expensive buy-in. We have a financial system that takes money to make money and in many cases produces nothing but more wealth.

It’s got to be a tough pill to swallow if you’re sitting on the sidelines while Wall Street and the Auto Industry get bailed out and then you and your kids can’t afford to buy a house in your neighborhood anymore because the one-percenters are driving up prices.

Talk about hypocrisy. It’s illegal to bet on a football game but the Wall Street casino keeps rolling along, able to use its great wealth to buy a seat at the head of the table at the White House.

I’m guessing Donald Trump or Bernie Sanders won’t win the battle of outsiders in this election cycle, but I’m hoping that Washington insiders are paying attention and realizing the the Times They Are A Changing and they better start paying a lot more attention to the everyday challenges and disappointments of their electorate.

3d render of various arrows with red unique arrow turning upward with text ready for change.

old-baseball-stadiums-south-end-grounds-1888

There’s a famous image with a sign outside of a ballpark stating Post No Bills.
There was an ethos back in the day that when you stepped through the turnstile, you were
entering a sacred space that honored the game of baseball, and that has changed very little
over the years.

post_no_bills

Of course, those were the days when player salaries were in line with blue collar workers and
teachers and players would often have part-time off season jobs. It was actually possible to
have a neighbor who was a pro ballplayer.

When my boyhood hero, Jackie Robinson, signed with the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1947, his salary
was $600 a month. That wasn’t because he was the first black ballplayer—it was commensurate
with the pay scale in that era.

There were sponsors of radio broadcasts and there were billboards on outfield fences. The
commercialization escalated when television cameras entered the stadium. Noel Jordan, a
former NBC exec and one of my grad school professors, told us that camera operators were
ordered to avoid those billboards if the television broadcast was sponsored by a competing
shaving cream brand.

So you would see an outfielder going back on a fly ball and the camera would only show his feet
as he made the last out of the inning or even the last out of the game so, God forbid, NBC
wouldn’t promote Barbasol instead of Burma Shave.

Last Friday night was Jackie Robinson night throughout major league baseball and every player
in every game wore Jackie’s number 42. That is the only number that has been retired
throughout baseball, although each team can honor their own former stars by retiring those
numbers.

They were giving out Jackie Robinson jerseys, so I had to buy a ticket and to beat the Los
Angeles traffic, I got to Dodger Stadium two hours before game time.

I didn’t want to miss the opening ceremony that featured Jackie’s widow Rachel and his
daughter Sharon and Dave Roberts, the Dodgers first black manager. The first pitch of the
game by Giants star pitcher Madison Bumgarner was hit into the left field bleachers by Kiké

Hernandez and less than half of the seats were still empty because of rush hour congestion on
the freeways. It was a fun and historic game, especially for Dodger fans, as Dodger ace Clayton Kershaw
bested Giants ace Bumgarner 7-3 and Kiké hit another home run on his second at bat. Dodger
broadcaster Vin Scully, in his final season, was honored as well and many consider him the
greatest in baseball history.

The Dodger uniforms haven’t changed much since my Dad took me to see Pee Wee Reese
night at Ebbets Field in Brooklyn for my 10th birthday. And the way the game is played between
the foul lines is still very much the same, as young players are taught to respect the traditions of
game, even if it means sometimes throwing a pitch at someone’s head.

But the atmosphere in the ballpark was so so different than those golden days in Brooklyn or
Fenway Park in Boston or Wrigley Field in Chicago. The ballpark used to be a wonderful place
to chill out and get away from the hubbub but Friday night, I thought I was in Times Square in
Manhattan and not Flatbush Avenue in Brooklyn.

From the moment I sat down, the Jumbotron scoreboard was featuring rock videos and the
noise was deafening. I jokingly asked the usher to please turn the sound down and she
laughed and had a look that said “tell me about it!”.

Neon signs flashed commercials everywhere you looked. It felt more like Bladerunner than
baseball.

dodgers2

I get it. The current owners paid a ridiculous sum of money for the team and players salaries
are enormous—I’m guessing you don’t have a pro athlete living next door. They are doing
everything they can to get a return on their investment and that makes sense to a degree.

But I think they’ve gone too far and this incredible commercialization of America’s Pastime
proves once again that nothing is Sacred!

dodgers

gong-show

You can say what you want about Donald Trump, and nobody seems to be an agnostic when it comes to The Donald, but can you imagine how boring this Presidential campaign would be without him.

The Usual Suspects just aren’t that compelling and don’t make for great television.  Neither Hillary Nor Bernie are particularly telegenic and the GOP team is made up of a lot of Ho Hummers.  There’s not a Ronald Reagan or JFK in the bunch that really Pops, as we say in television.

Trump Pops.  CNN is getting its highest ratings ever and should now be rebranded TNN, Trump News Network.  I would love to hear an accounting of how many times the word Trump appears on the 24-7 news cycle, compared to, let’s say, the word Obama, or even ISIS.  I’m guessing it would be a landslide.

The problem with all of this is that it’s one thing to be a candidate that can command a lot of attention, it’s another entirely to become Commander in Chief of the most powerful nation in the world.

Imagine, if you will, Trump vs. Putin.  Both men have expressed respect for each other and it’s not surprising.  They are both pugilistic and have tremendous appeal to a certain nationalistic segment of the their respective countries.

Despite the fact that Russian economy is in shambles because of low oil prices and US sanctions, Putin’s popularity is at an all time high because he has played the Nationalism card very effectively, demonizing the USA and the European Union.

Trump appeals to the blue collar white men MANY OF WHOM didn’t get to go to college.  They have a shared machismo which very much wants America to be the Greatest Nation On Earth.  And waving the American flag is a great distraction from the economic and social ills that have left this segment of the population feeling that they are stuck on the sidelines of the Great American Recovery.

The GAR has been great for the banks that caused the 2008 meltdown, and the Wall Street pranksters who exacerbated this whole debacle.  But it hasn’t done that much for Main Street and it fact, new regulations make it much harder to get a bank loan so it really favors the wealthy who can throw down a lot more cash in any transaction.

I used to watch some guys painting my house listening to Rush Limbaugh all day long and I was struck by the irony that somehow these guys identified with the Republican Party, whose policies greatly favored the Already Rich and did little to level the playing field.

Much of it had to do with social issues which united both groups and I’m also thinking that some of these disenfranchised workers would rather identify UP, with the ruling class, then identify DOWN, with the blacks and Hispanics who were overwhelmingly Democrats.

And of course, RACE is always the elephant in the room.  Like many, I thought America had turned a corner when Obama was elected President but actually I now believe it has inflamed racial tensions in this country and HAVING AN AFRICAN-AMERICAN PRESIDENT HAS FURTHER POLARIZED THE TWO RULING PARTIES.

Right now, Trump is tending downwards but there is still a chance that he will be the Republican candidate and that means there is still a slim chance he will be President.

Now imagine this:  President Trump squaring off against President Putin.  Two  schoolyard bullies who value BLUSTER over mediation.   The last thing the world needs is these two short-tempered men getting into a battle over who has the biggest hands.

So I think it’s time to say to candidate Trump, thanks for the A MUCH MORE ENTERTAINING PRIMARY RACE, THANKS FOR A boost in ratings and thanks for giving a voice to many disenfranchised Americans, but, wait for it……

GONG!

gongreject

 

 

 

 

 

 

the-academy

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has decided that the way to combat a lack of diversity is to disenfranchise older members so they can’t vote on the Oscars.

Their thinking is that these people have strong biases in favor of old-fashioned movies like Spotlight and won’t be as open to movies like Straight Outta Compton.

The result is that if you haven’t worked on a movie for the last ten years and you’ve never been nominated for an Oscar, you can still be a member but you can’t vote.

Brilliant. So brilliant that I think we should use the same strategy to reform the United States electorate.

Just like the Academy members, older Americans tend to be largely white, while future generations are going to be much more multi-ethnic. These older white people will tend to impose their more narrow, less diverse tastes on the younger, hipper generations by voting in old-fashioned politicians like Diane Feinstein, Jeb Bush and John Kasich.

If we take away voting rights at 65, us old folks can move over and turn over the future of America to future Americans. Makes sense.

Come to think of it, why don’t we take it a step further and impose term limits, so politicians have to call it a day at age 65. That will definitely guarantee new blood in the halls of congress and all of our statehouses.

By taking away the voting rights of the Social Security bunch, this will ensure much greater open-mindedness and a younger, more diverse perspective, so that someone very popular with younger, more diverse voters will elect someone they prefer, like Bernie Sanders.

Come to think of it, this makes no sense because Bernie Sanders is an even older 74-year-old white man. And Barack Obama, a black man, was voted into the presidency for two four-year terms.’

On second thought, maybe it’s not a good idea to insult our senior citizens without thinking this through. Let me give this new policy a little more thought and I’ll get back to you soon.

voter-suppression-your-vote-counts-not

peyton

“SAINT PETER DON’T YOU CALL ME ‘CAUSE I CAN’T GO
I SOLD MY SOUL TO THE COMPANY STORE”
lyrics from the song Sixteen Tons

I had mixed feelings about the Super Bowl this year. I used to live in Denver so, when they aren’t playing the Seahawks, I’m a Broncos fan.

Even though I was rooting for them, I bet against them because I thought that the Panthers were far superior. I figured winning 50 bucks would soften the pain of losing the game.

Now you know why I don’t bet on football. I played football, I covered it as a sports writer, and yet I’ve probably lost 70 percent of the bets I’ve made over the years.

Still, I was happy with the Broncos win, happy for Peyton Manning to go out as a champion because he always comes off as a good guy.

After the game, in the locker room, Peyton was asked if this had been his swan song and he gave what sounded at first like a thoughtful response. He said right now he needed to spend some time with his wife, and his kids, and also drink lots of Budweiser.

Say what? Did I hear what I just heard? Did this pitchman who is all over the tube selling many different products just take this poignant moment and turn it into yet another Budweiser commercial?

Later, he was interviewed by play by play man Jim Nantz and was asked the same question again, in case some viewers are home didn’t hear his answer.

I turned to my sister-in-law and said, “If he does the Budweiser pitch again, I’ve had it!”

Peyton started by saying that Hall of Fame coach Tony Dungy advised him to not make a big decision at such an emotional time. So instead Peyton told interviewer Jim Nantz that he was going to spend some time with his family and drink some beer…some Budweiser!

Holy smoke. He did it again. Turning one of the most wonderful and emotional moments of a fantastic career into a pre-scripted beer commercial.

I’ve been on the fence about football lately, after carefully following the latest research about concussions in the NFL and watching the amazing movie, Concussion, starring Will Smith as the doctor who took on the NFL over the issue.

This week the latest data came out and, despite all of the attention focused on the problem, concussions in the NFL were up 15 percent this season.

So that makes me an enabler, a well-informed person who knows that these gridiron warriors are the modern equivalent of the Roman Gladiators, willing to borrow from the future for some glory (and a whole lot of money!).

And if that doesn’t make me feel like a heel, add to my self-loathing that it’s not about competition or sportsmanship or pushing yourself to the limit and overcoming great odds.

It’s about selling beer.

Shame on you Budweiser. Shame on you CBS. And shame on you Peyton Manning.

You SOLD your big moment—your chance to go out not only as a champion, but a classy one at that.

You’ve just written your swan song, and it’s way off key.

swansong

 

colgate_vs_columbia_crop_exact
It’s amazing what’s floating around out there in cyberspace.

On December 11th, 1965 Colgate had a wrestling match against Columbia University in New York City. A very minor early season match featuring two small time programs witnessed by a hand full of fans.

The contest came down to the final match, with maybe, 5 to 10 spectators on hand. Most likely they consisted of a few family members and maybe a girlfriend or two rooting for Columbia.

There were no fans who braved the four-hour bus trip, just us wrestlers and coaches and managers. Bob Raiber, who grew up near me on Long Island, remembers that his father and his sister were in the stands.

I know, you can’t stand the suspense and I’m not going to torture you any longer. The Colgate Red Raiders defeated the Columbia Lions 18 to 14.

As minor an event this was, Bob Raiber recently found a write up via the New York Times online archives.

Even though the article says I won my match, I don’t remember anything that happened on the mat. What I do remember is that I wrestled in the 167-pound class for the only time in my high school and college career—I played football at 185-pounds—and I went through a tortuous routine to make weight.

What is most vivid in my mind is the image of Sandy Mintz and I standing by an open window in our cheap uptown hotel room spitting out the window, and laughing because we were so de-hydrated, our spit was just foam with no saliva and it just floated toward the ground.

Because of an injury to one of our wrestlers, Sandy had to move down from 167-pounds to compete at 160 and I pulled from 177 to 167. On the bus trip back to tiny Hamilton, New York, we kept making the bus driver stop so we could buy potato chips and whole quarts of ice cream with spoons so we could eat right out of the carton. I’m pretty sure I weighed 175 by the time we got back to our campus

And, as usual, Sandy Mintz, Bob Raiber, and I sang show tunes on the bus. You can imagine the reaction of our teammates who were trying to sleep and, let me put this nicely, considered it less than masculine behavior for college wrestlers to singing harmonies from West Side Story and South Pacific.

Sandy and Bob and I are still close friends and we get together for New Year’s Eve most years, even though Bob is a dentist in New York City and Sandy was until recently a clinical psychologist in Miami.

This year, each guest was asked to tell a story and I took the opportunity to torture Sandy with the story of Lou Gotz, who covered wrestling for the Colgate Maroon. Lou was particularly tough on Sandy, but very appreciative of Bob and Mel.

Sandy knew I wrote for the paper and kept asking me who Lou Gotz was because he wanted to find him and beat him up. I said for some reason we were never in the same place at the same time so I wouldn’t be able to convey Sandy’s message.

Twenty years later, I confessed to Sandy that Lou Gotz was a nom de plume because the Maroon editors couldn’t find anyone willing to cover wrestling matches, certainly not in New York, not in Pittsburgh or Philadelphia, not even home matches in Hamilton, New York. I was Lou Gotz and couldn’t pass up the opportunity to teach Sandy some humility now and then.

He’s forgiven me, kind of, but luckily I’m still a good twenty pounds heavier than he is.

Now I’m heading back into Cyberspace to see if I can find the article about when Roslyn beat Manhasset in football my sophomore year of high school for the first time in twenty years. Give it a try and see what kind of obscure personal history YOU can find online.

colgate columbia nytimes

tvwarning

Next time you turn on the tube, you might read the following disclaimer: “Television might be hazardous to your health. Please watch at your own peril.”

According to a recent study, long hours in front of the boob tube can rot your brain. I’ve felt instinctively that this was true but it’s nice to know there is some science to back up what I’ve been saying for years.

There is a great irony in that I am a guilty party here. If television is a mind-numbing drug, then I work at the pharmaceutical company.

I directed my first television show 40 years ago, and I feel very lucky that I have been able to work on some very high quality movies and series.

At its best, television offers a tremendous amount of information and let’s you travel around the globe from your living room chair. It can also provide a much-needed diversion from a stressful job or relationship.

It’s a matter of degree. If you zone out for six hours a day watching escapist programming that does not stimulate your mind and get your synapses firing, then you are probably going to pay a price, both physically and mentally.

A recent book by a University of Arizona professor was entitled “Get up! Your Chair is Killing You”. So it’s not just a mind issue, it’s a body issue as well, as the more you get off your ass and move around, the less likely it is for your heart to attack you. If you sit down at work all day, have a big meal and a couple of glasses of wine, and then plop yourself down in front of the tube for a few hours before hoping into bed, you can see how this can be seen as a devolution from being a hunter-gatherer!

Content is important too. Some networks that purport to be news channels shamelessly produce crap that is mind numbing at best. The coverage of the Republican primary is a great example. They’ve turned an important political process, a keystone of our democracy, into a laughable gong show.

Carl Bernstein, Washington Post reporter of Watergate fame, said of election coverage that television “programs the circus and provides three rings”.

The election is almost a year away, and history tells us the Iowa Caucuses and the New Hampshire primary and early national polls tell us very little about who the eventually nominee will be—do the names Newt Gingrich, Herman Cain, or Sarah Palin come to mind?

Jeb Bush and John Kasich have great resumés but they just don’t “pop” on television and it’s killing their otherwise legitimate candidacies.

Meanwhile, because of the entertainment value that a Donald Trump has provided, the faux news networks spend countless hours covering the pre-season as if it were the World Series.

And we’re stupid enough, or bored enough, to watch. And that goes for me as well. I swore that I wouldn’t watch the last Republican Debate but I started listening to it in the car and turned on ABC when I got into the house. As penance, I’ve been retreating to BBC World News to get some perspective.

Another interesting trend is that far from just reflecting on our society, television has greatly influenced our behavior. Not just candidates personally attacking each other but much more onerous activities. Many studies say that the amount of violence in the media has desensitized the last few generations to the effects of violence.

And this raises a very difficult question: what if they gave a beheading and nobody covered it? What if there was a mass shooting and the killers were never glorified so that they could become tragic heroes and role models to future copycat psychos? I’m still a journalist and these questions haunt me because we want to weigh these decisions in the context that our viewers and readers have a right to know what’s happening in the world—a key component in our democracy.

There is a much more frivolous consequence to the amplification that television provides. A story about a deflated football can generate hundreds of hours of coverage. Football and baseball players celebrate small victories with outrageous demonstrations that never occurred before there were cameras all over the stadiums.

When I played football, you made a great play and acted like that was your job and got right back in the huddle. You didn’t throw up your fists and look to the heavens or act like a two-year old in the end zone.

When Mickey Mantle hit a home run that won the final game of the World Series, he trotted around the bases and was met with some handshakes and hand slaps when he got back into the dugout.

Now a baseball team wins a regular season game with a walk off home run, generating a mosh pit on the mound that has actually resulted in serious injuries to teammates.

And all because there are cameras pointed in their direction. Marshall McLuhan warned us 50 years ago that the medium was becoming the message and that little box in our living room would manipulate our behavior in ways at the time we could never imagine.

turnofftv

paranoia

I have an restless mind and a vivid imagination and that can be a dangerous combination.

School was always a challenge for me because my mind would wander far from the subject at hand.

I would write notes or practice handwriting or just daydream. Sometimes the teacher or professor would notice that far off look in my eyes and ask me to add my two cents to the discussion and I would stammer and try to bluff but basically I was busted.

It hasn’t changed much over the years. That became very clear to me last week in Los Angeles on a night out with friends for dinner and a visit to the Philharmonic.

Of course, I chose a seat in the restaurant facing the door. I always tell people this is because I was a gunslinger in another life but actually it was a reaction to several mob killings in New York restaurants when I was a reporter there. I figured if I happened into the wrong place at the wrong time, maybe I would have enough of a warning to dive on the floor as the bullets started to fly.

Knowing that a lot of innocent people died in a Paris restaurant recently only reinforced my paranoia. It’s not that I can’t participate in the discussion, it’s just that I’ll always be glancing at the entrance for someone who walks in with mayhem on their mind.

With that in mind, I was a little surprised when we arrived at Disney Hall and there was no security at the entrances. Whenever I go to a Clippers basketball game nearby at the Staples Center, there is a metal detector at every door. Are they thinking that a basketball game is more likely to invite terrorism than a night at the Philharmonic?

The program was opening with Debussy’s Prelude to the Afternoon of the Faun, which is one of my favorite orchestral pieces. It’s breezy and uses the orchestra in unique ways and features an outstanding flute solo so I was very engaged.

But when the orchestra switched to a more fortissimo Mozart Piano concerto, my mind was creating images supported by the music. Usually we make the movie first, then add the the sound track, but this night I was doing things in reverse order.

Our seats at the Disney Hall were high up on the balcony. It’s a great view of the orchestra but also every entrance in the building. Scenarios played out in my mind of how the terrorists were going to storm the building and which exit I was going to lead my section mates to.

I could imagine bullets ricocheting off of tubas and piccolos and bad guys leaping from the Terrace balcony a la John Wilkes Booth.

Call me crazy but didn’t this just happen while people were watching a band from Palm Springs performing that recent rueful night in Paris?

Hey, it’s not always I have a mind like this. Once I was at a Giants baseball game in San Francisco and a young man left a camera bag on the little photographers balcony right in front of our seats.

The game started and the bag just sat there. Nobody showed to set up and operate the camera. I couldn’t focus on the game and finally went to talk to an usher, who assured me that Al Qaeda was not at the ball park that day.

Having a good imagination helps me as a filmmaker, but the ensuing paranoia can be tiresome. If America decides it wants amateurs to run the government, maybe Donald Trump will make me head of Homeland Security and I can put it to good use.

If not, I’m just going to have to do the best job I can managing the unmanageable. My high school girlfriend always said “You think too much” and my response was always “Unfortunately, my brain didn’t come with an off-on switch”.

onoff

Sid

Sid, our cat, is 21 years old and that translates to 100 in human years.

Last week, I got a call from a wonderful friend who has been cat sitting for me as I’ve been bouncing around in and out of town trying to line up my next gig.

It was clear that Sid was coming to the end of his days. He was all fur and bones and walked gingerly, stooped over.   He was moaning a lot and peeing and pooping everywhere BUT the litter box.

I started to do my homework and found out that it was a very simple procedure to put the poor guy out of his misery and that I could hold him in my lap while the fatal shot was being administered.

Most people I consulted with said that Sid had lived an amazingly long life and it would be humane to put him out of his misery.

When I went to discuss it with my veterinarian, I started to cry. In her waiting room. It was obvious that Sid might have been ready to move on, but I hadn’t achieved the moral certainty that was required for me to follow through with this.

Later that day, my youngest son arrived for a visit and argued forcibly for a stay of execution. He pointed out that Sid could still jump up on the sofa or the coffee table and still liked being held and stroked.

And he still loved to eat. And drink water. Constantly.

Charley, my son, offered to take Sid with him on the flight back to Los Angeles where he could stay with my wife and we could re-assess his future.

Because Susan still teaches, we worked out a routine that she would put Sid on the balcony of our LA condo with food and kitty litter while she was at school.

She would hang out with him after school and enclose him in the kitchen at night, again with food and a litter box. Any accidents would be contained to linoleum and not carpet!

I’m in LA now and happy to report that Sid is adjusting well and seems to have a new lease on life. Twice, he escaped through an open door, walked down a long flight of stairs, and was cruising the neighborhood.

The first time was the night before Halloween and I’m sure some of the early revelers were surprised and hopefully delighted to see an old black cat cross their path.

As I write this, he is chilling out on the balcony, and thanks to fact that he is deaf, he isn’t at all bothered by the whoosh of a steady stream of cars passing by and helicopters passing overhead.

So, yes, rumors of Sid’s demise were premature and this new centurion will be carrying on, all fur and bones, with hopefully some sweet moments still to come.