Check out the pilot I directed for “Working the Engles”

Watch Full Pilot HERE

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I drove 3.1 miles from my house, parked, got in a short line, showed ID, and walked into a brave new world.

Bellingham’s first pot shop. Their first customer was from Abilene, Kansas, and he arrived at 4:30 AM for an 8 AM opening. The first sale went down at 8:03. I showed up the next afternoon.

The vibe was hip industrial, like one of those coffee places where they roast the beans right in front of you.

There were two dudes with badges hanging around their necks. No uniforms. One guy looked like a surfer and the other looked like a bouncer. They were very friendly.

I asked for the cheapest, weakest thing they had in the store and I bought a small bag marked Cheese Quake. It had the lowest percentage of THC of everything on the menu—4.7—and it cost $19 bucks for a gram, including $5 for the governor.

Considering my heritage, I asked that it be renamed New York Cheese Quake, and of course they agreed. I could have asked for the salesperson’s first born child and she would have nodded and smiled.

It took me 9 minutes to get home. Halfway there, I passed Squalicum High School, about 5 minutes from the pot store, officially named Top Shelf Cannabis. This is going to be a tease for the high school kids because you have to have ID to prove you are 21 years old.

This means we are probably going to create a gray market. I can hear it already, “Hey, grandpa, can you pick me up a couple of grams of My Blue Heaven at Top Shelf when you’re heading back from the Shell Station?”

At home, I took pictures of the small baggie of pot, the historic receipt and the headline in today’s Bellingham Herald.

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Then I gave the baggie to my son because I don’t smoke the stuff and besides I don’t have rolling papers or a pipe and even if I did, I couldn’t roll a joint if my life depended on it.

So why did I do it? For history. For posterity. To experience something I could not have experienced before.

Actually, there is a very nice aroma emanating from my son’s room. I’ll catch up with you later.

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high-school-prints-yearbook-with-hitler-quote

If you’ve been reading my column for the last few years, you know that the one thing I can’t tolerate is Intolerance.

So much of the violence and conflict in the world is a by-product of social, cultural, financial, and religious differences in addition to the age old battles over land and property and power.

We tend to think of these things kinds of simple-minded prejudices happening halfway across the globe in Tibet or Syria or Africa.

But then something happens in our own backyard that makes us realize that intolerance and the ignorance and stupidity that fuels it are unfortunately among those basic instincts that must be discouraged and suppressed first through education and when that fails, the rule of law.

Recently, three graduating seniors from nearby Lynden High School chose quotes from Adolph Hitler to post under their yearbook pictures. The quotes somehow went undetected by the faculty advisor and the students were seemingly unpunished and allowed to graduate with their classmates.

To make matters worse, several of their classmates told the news media in interviews that they didn’t understand what all of the fuss was about.

The Bellingham Herald ran a very short piece about the incident with no follow-up. They did publish some letters from local residents who were very upset that the school allowed this to happen and seemed anxious to sweep the incident under the rug.

One woman wrote that her husband risked his life fighting Hitler’s Army in World War Two so that Der Fuhrer’s psychotic nationalism was not allowed to spread across the Atlantic Ocean.

Another woman wrote that she grew up in Holland and had to endure constant bombings that killed her brother and two of her childhood friends.

She wrote: “What made them do this? It was just for fun, they said. What were these children, now supposedly young men, educated and responsible, taught in history class? If they were told about everything Hitler did, and all that happened during this terrible war, this is incomprehensible!”

Rabbi Joshua Samuels of Congregation Beth Israel in Bellingham wrote in the synagogue newsletter that he’s disappointed “that the principal and the superintendent failed to make this incident a teaching moment.”

Rabbi Samuels went on to write “this IS a big deal. It IS news. People DO care. And there IS something to see and it’s disgusting and offensive. Where is the education? Can we count on parents and teachers doing their part as well?”

Washington State is considered to have a well-educated, progressive population.   However, one of the lessons of this disturbing incident is that there are pockets of hatred and intolerance everywhere.

In 2001, gravestones of Filipino and Japanese and Jewish Veterans on Bainbridge Island were painted with swastikas. Six years later, small American flags placed at the graves of Veterans on Orcas Island were vandalized and burned and replaced with swastikas.

Seeing an opportunity, Neo-Nazi groups in Oregon recently sent recruitment letters to Lynden High School students. Because of free speech, that is totally legal however despicable it is to me.

But the publishing of Hitler’s quotations in the high school yearbook is not protected speech. My editor Sandy Stokes can strike anything from my column that she thinks is offensive or inappropriate and that editorial control certainly holds for a high school newspaper or yearbook advisor.

It’s not always pretty to dwell on the past but if we ignore the lessons of history, we will let ignorance and stupidity reign!

teachablemoment

donald-sterling-media-shitstorm

He was born Donald Tokowitz in the Boyle Heights section of Los Angeles, where for many years Jews and blacks and Latinos lived together in harmony far from affluent Beverly Hills and Hancock Park.

He married Rochelle Stein and together they changed their name from Tokowitz to Sterling, saying that it would help them in business.

I would invoke an old saying I used to hear that you can take a person out of the ghetto but you can’t take the ghetto out of the person but that would be unfair association for everyone else who grew up in a ghetto,  including my relatives in Poland.

So Donald Tokowitz was a hater from the beginning, a self-loathing Jew who wanted to associate with the white establishment living in the more expensive parts of Los Angeles.  How he got Sterling from Tokowitz is beyond me.  Usually there is some connection between the original name and the modern westernized version but in this case Donald and Shelly tried to sound as WASPy as they could.

If you are getting the impression that this is a man who I despise,  you are correct, and this hate affair did not start just recently when the rest of the world discovered what an imbecile Donald Sterling is.

I’m an original Los Angeles Clippers season ticket holder, going back to 1984 when the San Diego Clippers moved to Los Angeles.

Tokowitz went to law school but in those days it was difficult for Jewish lawyers to get into prestigious firms and somehow the name change didn’t fool anyone, so Sterling did divorce and personal injury cases and earned enough to buy a building in Beverly Hills.

He built up a fortune in real estate and bought the Clippers for $12.5 million even though he knew absolutely nothing about basketball.  He became, according to the New York Times and Forbes magazine, the “worst owner in all of sports”, putting together the worst won-lost record including basketball, baseball, football, and hockey.

At the same time, he tried to evict people of color from his buildings, describing black tenants as “stinking and breeding vermin”.  This is a matter of court records as the sterling Sterling’s paid a huge fine and were ordered to clean up their act.

Unfortunately, nobody was making him clean up his act as a basketball owner.  Sterling figured out early that he could make a fortune with a bad team and didn’t feel compelled to pay top dollar for the best players and coaches.

My son Michael Damski and a close friend started a blog a few years ago entitled Fire Sterling, which was mostly about what a horrible owner the man is.

Now the world knows what a horrible person he is as well.

Sterling was caught on tape exhorting his young “friend” V. Stiviano that she shouldn’t be seen in public with Magic Johnson, one of the most popular and iconic figures in the Los Angeles sports world.

Stiviano was involved in a lawsuit with Shelly Sterling, who was suing Stiviano for the return of a $1.8-million Los Angeles duplex as well as a Ferrari, two Bentleys, and a Range Rover she said her estranged husband bought for Stiviano.

In the continuing soap opera that has been played out in the media in the last few weeks, Stiviano told Barbara Walters that she and Sterling were just friends.  Maybe I’m just a bit cynical but it’s amazing how much the price of friendship has gone up lately.

Also, there is an enormous irony in that Stiviano grew up in the same Boyle Heights neighborhood and attended the same high school, Roosevelt, as Sterling and is part black and part Mexican-American, yet he was caught on tape saying it was okay for her to sleep with black people, but she shouldn’t be photographed with the likes of Magic Johnson.

Sterling is now banned from attending games which is wonderful for me because I sit across the court and I no longer have to see him slouched on his court side seat mocking his players.  Baron Davis, UCLA star, recently retired, said he hated playing for the Clippers because Sterling would constantly raze him if he didn’t like the way he was playing.

We all love the American Dream because a person can rise up from poverty and become a monumental success but unfortunately class doesn’t come along with wealth.

In fact, it’s amazing to me that Sterling can be so stupid in so many other ways.  In his interview with Anderson Cooper, he said he apologized for what he said, but what was clear is that he was saying he was sorry that his true self was revealed to the whole world.

He then went on to say to Cooper that Magic Johnson was a poor role model to kids because he caught and conquered the AIDS virus and of course that became the most prominent sound bite from the interview.

You would think at some point the Sterlings would try to make a hasty retreat into obscurity and cut their losses but they have laid down the gauntlet and this is likely to end up in a very messy court case because it’s not easy to force someone to sell their business, even though the Clippers are a franchise of a league with strict covenants.

One thing is pretty certain, if the Sterlings still own the Clippers when it’s time to start the 2014-15 season, there is likely to be a huge boycott of players, home and away. Michael Damski was on sports radio this week saying if Sterling still owns the team on opening night of next season, he will no longer be a fan and he speaks for many of us.

Perhaps the cruelest irony of all is that the more publicity this gets, the price tag just goes up as people from Magic Johnson to Oprah Winfrey to Matt Damon say they are interested in paying half a billion or more to buy the team, meaning the Tokowitz-Sterling dynasty will be able to keep it’s dirty business afloat in a sea of infamy.

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retirement_road

To retire or not to retire.

The question has been floating around a lot in my circle of 60-somethings.

This decision isn’t as easy as you might think. The economy is struggling and life expectancy has risen dramatically so there are important calculations to be made in terms of how many years you can live on a fixed income without evaporating your savings.

To complicate things even more, two recent studies have totally contradictory conclusions about the effect of retirement on health.

One study said it’s better to keep working and keep your mind engaged and not worry about finances or get bored sitting around at home by yourself.

The other said your heart will be happy to be rid of the stress of the workplace..

Of course, in both cases, it’s bad science. There is no way to control a study about retirement because you can’t compare any two lives. If you study the person who doesn’t retire, there is no way of knowing how that person would have fared in retirement. It’s not only comparing apples to apples, it’s comparing apples to oranges to cantaloupe and kiwi fruit.

For instance, I’m a definite kiwi fruit. I love my job in the Never Never Land of the entertainment business. I love going to work in the morning and can’t imagine a life without telling stories with cameras and actors.

On the other hand, if you have a boring job sitting at a desk doing something that doesn’t really engage you mentally, I can understand why you would be counting the days until you can hang it up.

Or if you have been working in a coal mine or bent over day after day picking potatoes, I can totally understand that you would need a break for body and mind.

Then it becomes an issue of how you fill those hours. If you’re going to sit on your ass and smoke and drink and pretend you know all there is to know, both your body and your mind are going to wilt away and you’re going to be a burden to your kids and your country!

If you are taking on new challenges and exploring new frontiers, you are likely to extend your life. They have discovered in recent years that brain cells can be rejuvenated by challenges to your mind and your senses. If you break up your routines, take different roads, expose yourself to new people and new ideas, try the crossword puzzle or play scrabble or bridge, you have a fighting chance against the ravages of time.

Right now, as I write this, my good friend Dr. Jerry Eisner is floating down the Colorado River. Then he’s coming back home to wrap up a very distinguished career as first an internist on Orcas Island and then a dermatologist in Mt. Vernon.

Jerry said he is sanguine with the decision because he feels he leaves with a great sense of satisfaction that he has touched a lot of lives in a very positive way. He is an ornithologist, an amateur astronomer, and a terrific wildlife photographer so it’s not like he’s going to be sitting in front of the television which I don’t recommend, unless of course you are watching one of my shows!

My wife Susan certain has every right to retire. She’s been teaching at the same Catholic School for almost 30 years, keeping a tight reign on some very rambunctious third graders while teaching them language arts.

Nobody would blame Susan for saying she’s paid her dues and doesn’t want to hear that alarm clock go off at 5:30 AM any more, but she is an educator through and through and can’t imagine a life away from the classroom and the school yard and the faculty lounge.

For me, I’m certainly old enough to start using the R-word, and I just finished an exhausting 8-year run on a television series, but I can’t seem to get my engine to idle. I’m bugging my agents almost daily to find me a new series and I’m starting a film school, Cascadia Film Workshop, in Bellingham this June and I have a great new idea for a screenplay about old people who haven’t forgotten how to party.

So it really comes down to making the right decision for yourself. Every person is unique, no two lives are the same. Run the numbers, make your best guess at your life expectancy, figure out the metrics that will allow you to sleep at night without obsessing on your finances.

Everyone’s life is unique and this is a highly personal decision. No matter what you decide, make sure to keep your body as active as possible, keep your mind engaged and count your blessings for the miracle of life.

kiwiworkers

SeekingAnswersLogo

When something really tragic happens to people close to you, you want closure and you want someone to blame. When a jetliner disappears into thin air with no plausible explanation, there is no closure and no one to blame.

We have all witnessed many scenes of the families of the missing passengers railing out against Malaysian and airline authorities, but that has to do with poor communication as it is still impossible to know at this point what caused the disappearance of Flight 370. An entirely different scenario is playing out right now much closer to home in Western Washington after a huge mudslide wiped out a community. At least 25 bodies have been identified so far and at least some relatives and friends have had some closure but there are as many as 30 more people missing.

In this case, there are many people to blame. We have heard story after story and testimony after testimony in the past week from people who had predicted that this disaster was inevitable and yet their warnings went unheeded by government officials.

Some people are asking for heads to roll and others are saying that stuff happens and the people who lived in that community were willing to live with the risks.

I don’t buy that reasoning at all. First of all, even if you are willing to endanger yourself, is it fair to also expose the mail carrier who delivers in that neighborhood or your own kids and the friends they invite over after school.

One of the most important things government officials need to do is protect people from their own worst decisions. Otherwise we wouldn’t need speed limits. We wouldn’t need zoning restrictions. We wouldn’t ban driving under the influence. We wouldn’t create very stringent standards before new drugs are allowed to be purchased.

One radio caller pointed out that people in Florida build houses where there could be hurricanes and people in Oklahoma build where there could be tornadoes and people in California build where there are likely to be wildfires and earthquakes.

True. The path of hurricanes and tornadoes are hard to predict and you can understand people casting their fate to the wind so they can live in an affordable house in an expensive area.

And you can understand why a municipality would encourage as much growth as possible in order to increase the tax base.

But knowing now what the authorities knew in the little town called Oso appears to be a severe case of civic negligence, if not outright criminal negligence.

As in so many tragedies, we see the worst and the best of human nature. Volunteers have been flocking to Oso to help in any way they can.

Cyndy Bostrom of Shelter Bay couldn’t sleep after watching the grisly news reports from Oso. In early morning, she went over to Bob Skeele’s house in La Conner and used his well-equipped kitchen to bake 10 dozen healthy muffins to bring to the first responders–firefighters, national guardsmen and volunteers– who accepted the grim task of looking for bodies at the rubble.

What made it so much more difficult for those volunteers is that they knew so many of the victims personally in this very tight community.

In nearby Arlington, the Union Bank was coordinating donations and the Red Cross and FEMA were there to do whatever could be done. When Cyndy reached the Oso fire station, there were already a flock of volunteers and an abundance of food.

She met a young man who still hadn’t found his grandfather, but he and a friend found his grandfather’s tractor buried in the mud. They found an American flag in the nearby rubble and mounted it in a dignified manner as a memorial to at least 25 victims who have been identified so far and many more still missing.

There are things we can all learn from this. We need to count our blessings every day and never underestimate how important it is to be healthy.

And we need to really think about where we live. It’s one thing to be a free spirit and defy the odds, but do you really want to expose your family to those risks?

Today, if I were buying my house on a promontory at the tip of Shelter Bay, I would do a lot more homework and not assume it has been properly vetted by public officials.

More than anything, we have to do what we can for the people who lost everything in Oso. You have to be careful about how to contribute and it’s always safe to work through established charities like the United Way to guarantee the money gets to where it’s needed.

Or you can do a simple text to Red Cross on your phone to 90999 and that will make a $10 contribution. Those ten dollars add up.

Cyndy Bostrom spoke for all of us when she wrote on those boxes of freshly baked goodies, “With love, from La Conner”.

The Oso Community Chapel is pictured near the area where a landslide blocks Highway 530 near Oso, Washington

birdman

Hold on tight, but you don’t have to fasten your seat belts, as this is going to be a very short ride.

Perhaps you heard that a Malaysian Jet disappeared last week.  Either that or you were in a coma and in that case welcome back to consciousness.

For those of you who still have synapses firing, like me you have been exposed to many theories in the last week to explain how a large 777 carrying 239 people could simply fly into oblivion.

Every time you turn on the radio or television or pick up a newspaper, you have been exposed to yet another theory as to what could possibly have happened. Terrorists using forged passports, skyjackers storming the cockpit, enraged or suicidal pilot purposely running off course.

It could almost make you laugh at how hard the media is trying to make this into a great mystery instead of just the tragedy of a plane full of people going down because of mechanical failures. Except then your heart breaks when you think about the families of those on board who are still praying against all odds that the big jet is parked somewhere on a remote jungle island.

Unfortunately, I have figured out what really happened and even the most wild-eyed conspiracy theorists totally missed it.

The whole event was orchestrated by one of my favorite people, Vladimir Putin. President for Life Putin brilliantly created a distraction so that the story that he was starting another Cold War would get buried.

Remember, Putin is The Ultimate Cold Warrior.  A former KGB officer, it is in his DNA to hate free speech and western-style democracies.  The word glasnost makes him sick and the word perestroika makes him vomit.  He finally found an opening that enabled him to begin to reassemble the Soviet Union when Ukrainians tossed out a pro-Moscow leader who was not in favor of joining the European Union.

This made Putin see Red and he hastily called a sham election while massing troops in and around the Crimean region, sending a very definite message that there would only be one acceptable outcome to this rigged referendum on the region’s future.

Because Russia provides much natural gas to many of the countries in Europe, there will be a lot of hollering but very little in the way of meaningful sanctions.

Still, Putin cleverly created a distraction in Malaysia so the Western news outlets, the one’s he can’t control, and he managed to tilt the 24-7 news cycle towards the Malaysia Peninsula.

Thus, every hour, when a new faux news program came on CNN, there was another breaking news story about the latest faux evidence in the tragic case of the missing jetliner, constantly playing on the heart strings of the families of those passengers.

They had to do this at CNN and the other shabby cable so-called news networks because they need to draw viewers, to whom they can pitch their so-called drugs, diets, cures, and ED pills. Their ads promise that alcoholics can take a pill that will enable them to continue to drink and overweight people can continue to over eat and still lose weight and testosterone pills will help your sex life and on and on and on and all without a stitch of scientific proof.

After all, if you can sell that stuff despite disclaimers that the products are medically useless, then you can sell those same viewers on a never ending mystery about how a jetliner disappeared into thin air.

And so they have turned a tragedy into a travesty. Stanley Kubrick’s highly satirical movie Dr. Strangelove looks tame and quite believable by comparison, and saddest of all is the fact that I have to wrap up this column so, pathetic news junkie that I am, I can get back to breaking news about a flight attendant who just might have had a one night stand with an alleged terrorist who she might have just accidentally on purpose allowed into the cockpit.

Milene Hertug's Art

Milene Hertug’s Art

 

I never wanted to be famous. I’ve spent some time around famous people and it can be incredibly inconvenient to constantly have to be under scrutiny.

This has nothing to do with modesty. On the contrary, while I don’t want to be famous, I do want to be immortal. Yes, I’m two parts vanity with a touch of narcissism, so I want to think my life matters and that I will leave this Earth in better shape than when I first touched down.

Immortality is a consummation devoutly to be wished but not so easily consummated. At first I thought it was going to be achieved by the much heralded Damski Plan. In case you don’t remember, the Damski Plan stated that the United States military get out of Iraq but instead concentrate its troops in Afghanistan, where I posited there was actually a supportive local government that would welcome our help fighting the insurgency.

George W. Bush wouldn’t take my calls but later my good friend Nancy Stephens Rosenthal spent one Christmas at the White House and she must have whispered something into Michelle Obama’s ear because President Obama embraced the Damski Plan full on.

Needless to say, history wasn’t on my side on this one. The Karzai government turned out to be duplicitous at best and has taken down the welcome mat—some quibble about unauthorized drone strikes—and Afghanistan, like Iraq, looks like it won’t actually embrace our Western-style democracy and our troops are already starting to pack up to skedaddle by the end of the year.

This prompted me to ask to have my name taken off of the plan but not even Dick Cheney wanted authorship. As the saying goes, success has many fathers but failure is indeed one mean mother.

My next best chance for eternal recognition was my plan to rid the Los Angeles basin of its two greatest horrors: traffic and smog. The Damski Solution seemed so easy but isn’t that often the case with pure genius.

Every day, only the motorists with odd OR even numbered license plates would be allowed to drive. If your license plate had only letters, then there would be A through M days and N through Z days.

This would effectively wipe out the problem by keeping half of the cars off the road. No more smog, no more frayed nerves, no more bird flipping, no more road rage shootings.

Incredibly, the reaction from the populace was downright hostile. People said they couldn’t get to work, couldn’t get their kids to school, couldn’t get to doctor’s appointments and would, God forbid, have to carpool, or even worse, take public transportation. I was called a cretin and many more epithets that can’t be repeated in a family newspaper.

The outcry was enormous, amplified by angry libertarian talk show hosts who kept talking about Big Government. Only Rush Limbaugh said something nice about me when he told his audience “not even the Obama Administration could have come with a harebrained scheme like this!” And I thought I was the only one who knew that harebrained was a compliment until the rabbit haters tried to totally twist its meaning.

With the resounding cowardly failure to launch the Damski Solution, I’ve had to scale back my ambition. I’m still going ahead with my autobiography, entitled ME, which will be published posthumously or after the death of Monica Lewinsky, or whichever one comes first.

I have agreed to have a slough named after me in my home state of Washington. For you greenhorns who think it’s pronounced SLOW instead of SLEW, a slough is a body of water that would be called a creek in Colorado or a crick in Texas.

I will let you in on a little secret. There IS a street named after me in Palm Springs, California. Because I didn’t necessarily feel that my name belonged up there with luminaries such as Buddy Rogers and Fred Waring, I asked modestly that they just use my first name with the assumption that everyone would know it was me.

Once again, I’ve been reminded about that saying by PT Barnum that “some people are fools all of the time” as lesser Mels such as Tormé, Gibson and even Brooks laid claim to Mel Avenue. To be fair, they didn’t actually take claim to the street but none of them spoke out on my behalf.

I refuse to let any of this dampen my enthusiasm in my quest to leave behind a greener, mellower, more erudite planet.

Yes, probably, I won’t get the eternal gratefulness that I have coming to me nor credit for all of my accomplishments but remember that they laughed at Fulton when he invented the Follies.

So, for now, a slough will have to do.

MelImmortal

aging

Rachel is going through the terrible two’s—the terrible 92’s that is.

Rachel is my Mom and she’s having a tough few months as she approaches her 93rd birthday.  Her hearing is getting worse, her eyesight isn’t what it used to be, and she needs to spend a lot of time every day and night tethered to an oxygen machine.

This is especially challenging for a very dynamic woman who was driving her own car and living in her own apartment less than two years ago.

About two months ago, she seemed to be knocking on heaven’s door.  She was acting very loopy and was rotating between urgent care, a nursing facility and the hospital.

She told us that she didn’t want to go on living this way but my sister, Saint Janice, basically said, “you’re not dying and we’re not going to kill you so let’s work on getting you better.”

It turned out her symptoms had been triggered by a urinary tract infection and when the infection went away, Rachel was acting a lot more like her old self.  That is a mixed blessing!

Although Mom is now in an assisted living facility, her major caretaker is my sister, who lives nearby in Palm Springs, California.  Their relationship has come full circle, so that Jan is now the parent and Rachel is the sometimes-recalcitrant child.

They had it out recently about getting Mom a new hearing aide.  The one she has isn’t doing the trick and it’s very difficult to have a phone conversation or communicate with her in a restaurant or at a crowded dinner table.

Rachel doesn’t want to spend $4000 bucks on a state of the art gizmo, even though she can easily afford it, probably because she is thinking she won’t be around long enough to amortize the cost.

We say that if she’s not going to be around, then she is spending our inheritance, and we would rather she spent it on making life easier for all of us so we can enjoy her while she is still around.

But Rachel basically threw a fit in the doctor’s office and said “I am the Queen of myself and I’m not going to spend the money and you can’t make me!”

Ah, the terrible ninety-twos!

The next day she called my sister and told her, “I can’t find my old hearing aide that that probably makes you happy!”  None of that made my sister happy.

Then she called me to say that her friend Pat found it on the floor. “You know Pat” she said “the lady who lived in Canada” and I said “Yes, her husband played football for the Toronto Argonauts” and Rachel said “I can’t hear you!  I don’t understand what you’re talking about!” and she hung up in frustration.

I consulted with my college buddy, the eminent Psychologist Dr. Sanford Mintz, who said it is very typical in the cycle of life that the parent becomes the child and the child becomes the parent.

“There is a lot of karma involved”, said Dr. Mintz.  In other words, payback’s a bitch!   I’m sure we drove our mother crazy when we were kids and now it’s her turn.

Interestingly, my sister is part Cinderella and part Evil Stepmother and can’t get no respect.  I’m Prince Charming and can do no wrong—probably because I am the Man of the House now that my Dad and older brother have passed. Our younger brother lives on the East Coast so every now and then he flies in gives all of us a much needed time out.

Rachel has always been a source of strength in our lives—she was the first feminist in my world.  She always worked and had strong opinions and never felt she had to demure on anything.

That makes it much more difficult for us to witness as she becomes more dependent and crankier.  Like many in her situation, she feels more suspicious of others and more vulnerable.

Dr. Mintz puts it astutely: “In an examined life one attains some wisdom.  Later people can become caricatures of themselves because they don’t reflect as much and they become more and more hardened.”

This presents a problem for the growing population of people who are worrying about their children, their grandchildren and their aging parents all at the same time.

In our case, we are looking forward to March 19th, when Rachel will turn 93 surrounded by a very loving family optimistic that GG has grown out of those terrible ninety-twos and will be her new old self once again.

Holding-Hands

Richard-Sherman

Perhaps you’ve heard the name.  Richard Sherman.  Does it ring a bell?

Unless you’ve been spending the last week under a rock in a non-English speaking country, you might have heard about Richard Sherman.  A week ago I am certain that his name had more media mentions than Barack Obama or Edward Snowden.

Richard Sherman had the audacity to gloat after the Seahawks NFC final victory over their archrivals, the San Francisco 49ers.  Right after batting away a desperation pass that turned into a game ending interception, Sherman taunted some opponents and then went into an amazing rant in a postgame interview.

Among other things he proclaimed himself the best current player in his position in the World.

This made it very tough for me because, being the 13th Man, I was savoring this great victory and I love Richard Sherman’s story.  From Compton, a tough part of LA, Dad’s a sanitation worker, Mom works with disabled children, this is a smart kid who overcame all odds to get a football scholarship that led to a Stanford degree.

But then there’s Old School Mel.  When I played football (here he goes again!!!), you kept your mouth shut and let your performance on the field speak for you.  The only statement you would make was on the scoreboard, and that was a collective statement.  There was no “ME” in TEAM.

That is so Last Century—even I concede that.  All these cameras, all these drugs, legal and otherwise, amping up the players, it’s no wonder the culture has changed.  Cassius Clay became Mohammed Ali and proclaimed he was The Greatest and sports have never been the same.

Richard Sherman tamped down the rhetoric in countless subsequent interviews leading up to Sunday’s Super Bowl, and he was fined by the NFL for flashing the choke signal at the 49er Quarterback.

The fine was tiny considering Sherman’s salary, but I agree with the league that it was a bush league gesture and you can be sure the 49ers will be having it playing on a loop in their locker room before they square off again next season.

Just in the nick of time, Justin Bieber’s Wild Ride put the Richard Sherman story on the back burner and the pre-Super Bowl coverage turned to the legacy of Denver Broncos Quarterback Peyton Manning and how much boxes were selling for and how the weather might become a factor in the game in an open stadium in New Jersey in the middle of winter.

It didn’t take long for the pundits to realize that the two teams came from states that recently legalized marijuana.  The event has inspired a tremendous response on the internet and in social media.   I came up with the name The Bong Bowl only to find out that I was one of thousands who had the same (apparently not so) clever idea.

One thing is for sure.  Sunday night a lot of brownies are going to be consumed.  And on Monday morning there might be a lot of people calling in sick in Washington and Colorado no matter who wins and who loses.

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