Saturday, September 30, 2017
Cheaters never prosper?
Infidelity is the most specious of betrayals. It
lures one half with the delusion that there may
be something better out there. While unnerving
the other with the discovery that whatever they
have may not be enough. Now that we've back
in Manhattan one can't help but feel as if we're
cheating on Lewistown. While our hearts are
back "home" we're enjoying all of the benefits
of being back in civilization. Living once again
in a magical Alibaba treasure trove of delights
is if nothing both distracting and consuming.
Thus for the last few days we've been deep in
catch up mode. And enjoying every moment...
Yesterday we both got hair cuts. Frank hit his
posh chop shop that he has frequented on/off
for over three decades. Meanwhile I ventured
to a new yet reassuringly old joint to have my
ears lowered. Chelsea Gardens Barber Shop
has been operating in the same location for as
long as I've tread this town. Still run by fourth
generation experts - it's humbly hip in a very
New York sort of way. There I met Rudy who
also tends Anderson Cooper's coif. And for
twenty two dollars got the best haircut I have
had in ages. Hence by the end of the day we
two looked and felt much better. A cut above!
If nothing else our return to Manhattan is
a reunion with old friends. Yesterday we
dined at Ootoya, the Japanese equivalent
of a comfort food diner. However by that
night, we were once again confronted by
the reality that there can be too much of
a good thing. One certainly doesn't suffer
from a lack of options in the Big Apple.
However at least for these two inveterate
foodies - deciding on where to eat can be
challenging. Frank loves to explore while
his sedentary spouse prefers to stay close
to home. Decisions, decisions, decisions!
More or less
Back in Lewistown our eatery options are quite
limited. Often leaving us with no choice but to
fend for ourselves. Here in the city that never
sleeps one could dine at a different spot within
a ten block radius for a year or more. However
I prefer to limit my options. Which is very easy
when one shops their neighborhood market in
Manhattan. It has oft been said that size matters.
Like a major league hot shot - our local grocer
packs a wallop within a rather limited arena.
The difference between here and there is what
the locals consider to be staples. Think side pork
versus tripe. Crisco versus extra virgin olive oil.
We're blessed to have the Judith Theater in
Lewistown. However it's rare that they run
anything we want to see. It's obvious that
the locals want action and animated flicks.
Meanwhile all we've been waiting to see is
"Victoria & Abdul" starring Judi Dench. In
Montana that may only happen on DVD or
Netflix. Whereas here in Manhattan we can
stroll down to the other end of our block
where it's showing at the Paris Theater. And
even the matinee will be packed with movie
lovers. So happily we two fish out of water
are once again back in the swim of things!
East or west, home is best
Home is where the heart is. Yet post our
return to Manhattan it's become obvious
that we're torn between two lovers. For
the next month we'll enjoy the best of
both worlds while hosting transplants from
way out west. Shepherding friends and
family about town gives us great pleasure.
Seeing this city through their eyes reminds
us of just how lucky we are. By the time
Thanksgiving rolls around, we'll be ready
for a return engagement in Lewistown. In
the meantime we'll enjoy each and every
moment back "home" where we belong.
Friday, September 29, 2017
It's been said that opposites attract. No wonder
straddling two dramatically diverse extremes
seems to make both Frank and myself happy.
Call it yin and yang, near and far, big or small -
balancing our lives between rural Montana and
urban Manhattan just makes sense for us. It's
not that we're schizophrenics. Nor a couple of
discontents who can never seem to be happy
wherever we are. Rather we're two seasoned
gentlemen who have been there, done that.
We've found that a balance of two sides creates
the best of worlds for us. And so our nirvana is
neither here nor there but somewhere in between.
Right between the "I's"
The question is whether such a dichotomy is
such a bad thing? Could it be that the tension
that accompanies two extremes might insure
nirvana? I must admit our current political
climate makes me more than uncomfortable.
While gun toting candidates may appeal to
those far south of the Mason-Dixon line, they
terrify me. Yet such a stance is if nothing else
a rallying cry for leftist liberals like myself.
Radicalism by it's very nature draws a line in
the sand. And from whatever end one's stands -
a concrete point of demarcation which is if
nothing else a starting point. It gets us going.
In theory we all don't have to agree. However
inevitably it's in our collective best interest to
balance both side's priorities. The antics in
Washington DC have so far proven two things.
First that we humans are Pavlovian in nature.
Given the chance of a repeat performance, our
natural tendency is to show our true colors.
Some suggest what's good for the goose is
good for the gander. Yet little could be farther
from the truth. That's the only way to explain
those who promise to drain a swamp. Yet do
so far above from the comfort of a private jet.
You can't have it both ways. Or... can you?!
How firm a foundation
My second epiphany is that recent power broker
antics in Washington DC prove our forefathers
were damned smart. The governmental structure
they crafted two hundred and forty one years
ago is still working today. It forces both sides to
come together. Or when incapable of doing so -
facilitates a state of suspended animation. Said
political purgatory not only offers redemption
through cooperation. It provides the perfect
context for both ends of the spectrum to meet
somewhere in the middle. While said process
may not be the easiest - it ultimately insures
freedom, liberty, and justice for ALL.
Better the devil you know
The next time whatever side you're against
infuriates - be grateful. While most of us
may consider a devil's advocate demonic -
they're simply doing their part. And if I've
learned nothing during the Trump's rule so
far, it's that neither side actually believes
they'll win. Hence while evil specters such
as Steve Bannon make me uncomfortable -
said creep plays an invaluable role. Hate,
prejudice, and vile vitriol have a purpose.
They put everything in context. Meaning
that radical rightest rhetoric affirms and
strengthens our resolve. Evil isn't all bad.
Maybe the only way to appreciate all that we
have is to almost lose it. While at times I fear
our nation teeters on the edge of extinction -
I'm periodically reminded that all is good.
Will & Grace just returned to the airwaves.
Like most of us, the last decade if nothing
else put everything in context. We're older
and wiser. And like Karen - few if any of us
have time for fools. Watching my four old
friends vivisect our current political crisis
affirmed that I'm not alone. Hence it was
glorious to have someone else do the talking
for folks like me. But will America listen?!
The last laugh
All we can do is laugh at ourselves. There
has to be humor in all of this. The good
news is that both sides consider the other
nuts. Thus for many reasons I'm somehow
finding a sweet spot amidst our political
schism. So let them rant and rave. Who
cares if anything they say is true? In fact
the more outrageous the better! Now it's
on the record. We know from whence it
came and visa versa. If nothing else your
mania affirms my sanity. In the end I'm
confident common sense is the common
denominator. Ultimately we'll all win!
Thursday, September 28, 2017
While I hate to admit it - my Dad
was right. Daily I'm reminded of
the fact that my parents repeatedly
told me everything that I needed
to know. My issue is that I refused
to listen or absorb any of that vital
data. Instead I found it necessary to
hit my head against a wall at least a
thousand times prior to embracing
the fact that said action hurt. In truth
it could have been easier if I'd just
listened to my Mom and Dad. But
instead I had to learn the hard way
The good news is that I'm not alone.
Most of us spend a lifetime figuring
things out. If I'm certain of one thing
it's that obstinance must a key element
in my DNA. Natural instincts drive
our growth process. Leaving each of
us to figure ourselves out. Hence with
age naturally comes illumination. And
the older we get, the smarter we grow
and so on... etc. Yet within our culture
of youth few acknowledge the value
of élan, knowledge, and experience.
And what a waste of time is that?!
Historically most cultures respected
and venerated their elders. Yet why
is it that the majority of Americans
consider those of advanced vintage
a nuisance rather than a treasured
resource? Knowledge is power and
I'm certain that the majority of us
old folks already have the solution
long before those "kids" even have
a chance to gather their thoughts.
The problem is we make it look all
too easy. Hence it's easy to not place
value on our intellectual property.
The clock is ticking
The fact is that within corporate
America age discrimination is
rampant. "Succession Planning"
in theory prepares for the future.
Given that a hidden retirement
clock is ticking... most assume
that come age sixty five, you're
out of there. Therefore it makes
sense to line up a replacement.
At issue is that said "back up"
usually wants your job NOW.
And if they don't get it, they're
ready to move on immediately!
As we age, we certainly don't look
like the dainty dew drops we once
were. In a culture where looks are
everything, the extra padding that
seems to come with advanced age
subtly sends a message. While most
of us do our best to battle gravity,
our lack of loss is another's gain.
One's doughy demeanor may send
the message that you care for little
but donuts. Meanwhile I'll bet that
some slim young thing is plotting
to set fat cats like me up for failure.
Within such a youth oriented culture
of excellence, many prefer ingenues
to seasoned professionals. There's
little doubt that we oldies can still
dance circles around said newbies.
But at this point many of us simply
opt to not fight for what is rightfully
ours. Having already been around
the block- we'd rather pull over and
let the kids pass. Speeding just gets
you there faster. So why not enjoy
the ride, see the sights, and maybe
make some friends along the way?
I guess what I'm saying is that we may
have done this to ourselves. Having
graduated from the school of hard
knocks few of us have the need or
desire for much more than happiness.
After one has put life in perspective,
suddenly one's career path becomes
solely a means to an end. So while
it's innately unfair that naive energy
and bravado are considered better
than experience, calm and resolve...
so be it. Youth is wasted on the young
and at this point that's fine with me.
Wednesday, September 27, 2017
I'm not going to be negative. In addition
I won't name names. But let's agree that
while the names have been changed to
protect the not so innocent, we all know
of whom I write. True leadership requires
much of those who assume it's mantle.
Beyond responsibility for whatever task
is at hand, one of the key elements of any
successful leader is inspiration. And given
they are on top they must have the unique
ability to rise above it. To see far beyond
the struggles below. And even in the best
of times, chart a course to a better place.
Sadly, those who lead these United States of
America seem to be the ones who have lost
their way. In the process of ascending to new
heights they somehow have sunk to new lows.
But as promised, we're not going to discuss
the individuals themselves. Rather I want to
focus on what many consider to be the key
elements of leadership. Which in my opinion
should be the criteria for selecting or electing
anyone to a place of power. Few if any can
embody all of said attributes. And yet in order
to achieve great things whoever is in charge
must possess at least of few of the following.
Leading the fore requires that one is brave
enough to take a calculated risk. Bravado
alone is driven by ego not strategy. Which
some might argue is cowardice at it's best.
In order to win one must be willing (and
able) to occasionally lose to their advantage.
Only the most brave know when and where
to push the envelope - and not necessarily
button. However poking a stick in one's
opponents cage not only alienates, it often
eliminates any element of surprise. Better
to follow Theodore Roosevelt's adage and
"tread lightly and carry a big stick."
Nobody wants a sob sister in charge. All we
need is somebody at the helm who has been
there - done that. One who understands true
reality not some TV scripted fallacy. There
are times we can't help but lose. But when
confronted with human suffering, natural
disasters, or utter failure - the last thing we
need is to blame everyone but themselves
(note I didn't say "him") for the situation at
hand. Or even worse - place fault for said ills
upon the victims of circumstance. There is a
time and a place to make your point. And it
is NOT while some still struggle to survive.
It's been said the winner takes all. A good
guidance counselor knows that we all need
hope. Some extra incentive that will drive
our desire to succeed. Hence even in the
darkest of days the one leading our way
must see the light. And obviously chart
a course to "next". One of the benefits of
being in charge is access to information.
However one of the greatest disadvantages
of power is assuming that you know it all.
A great leader has the ability to see far
beyond the here and now. To avoid the
obvious and make our dreams come true.
One of the core accoutrements that comes with
power is a bully pulpit. Yet few if any want a
bully pushing their (not our) agenda. Like it
or not when one assumes a higher role they
are held to our highest standards. Thus any
true leader understands that being in charge
means setting an example for others. Profanity,
vitriol, anger, and hate have no place in any
public forum. Rather then unite, such actions
divide. Avarice makes us weak not strong.
Throughout history, those who changed our
world for the better were cool, calm, and
collected. Inspiring the same from us ALL.
Post achieving power many forget who gave
it to them. Successful individuals got where
they are via other's largesse. Much of said
momentum was positive. The balance being
beyond negative. Yet when challenged to the
extreme we all grow. And along the way even
the best of us forget who, when, why, or what
external factors drove our success. Arrogance
tends to be fueled by obeisance. An inability
to acknowledge what that made us who we
are today. A true leader never forgets that
they are a servant. Nor that their primary job
and top priority is we the people not them.
"Never give up" is often the rallying cry of hot
shots. There is a time and place for all things.
Short term gains rarely do more than stroke
egos. Whatever is easy isn't always what is
best in the end. Anybody who rises to the top
has won some - lost many others. Hopefully
along the way they learned that sans pain...
there is little gain. Which is why they must
focus on the big picture - not winning at all
costs. Otherwise one who is hell bent usually
ends up down and out. Who wants to end up
on the bottom? We need leaders who can rise
to the occasion and inspire. And who is that?
Tuesday, September 26, 2017
Recently someone posted this image (to the
left) on their Facebook page. Frankly I was
rather surprised to see such a sophisticated
image springing out of Lewistown, Montana.
Quite charmed I immediately forwarded my
compliments. Only to discover that I was
once again in the minority. Apparently few
"liked" it. Instead the bulk of feedback were
suggestions that such a "lewd" image might
not be appropriate for public consumption.
And suddenly I was reminded that within the
confines of my small town resides many small
minded folks who obviously can't think big.
Obviously anyone who reads this blog knows
that I'm anything but a prude. While I've NO
desire to publicly expose my limitations I do
feel there is nothing wrong with others doing
just that. The human body is a work of art.
Since the dawn of time artists have recorded
it's form and function for all to enjoy. Sadly
it seems that those most provincial struggle
with the idea of exposing one's body for all
to see. They can't seem to separate carnal
thoughts from artistic representation of the
human form. And in expressing their shock
they expose nothing more than their naivety.
Let's strip this issue down to the bare facts.
Each and every one of us have a body. In
addition the majority of us participate in
some form of sexual activity on a regular
basis. Usually involving another person.
Which often requires removal of garments
for better access. Thus in theory it makes
sense to link nudity with sexuality. And yet
what could be farther from the truth? Most
of the time that one is naked - they're alone.
Be that in the shower, bath, dressing room,
or boudoir. And if one is honest, letting it
all hang out feels rather nice. Not naughty.
Men by their very nature are nudists at heart.
Given a chance they're more than willing to
air their grievances. Whereas women are their
own worst enemies. My friend "D" is a style
expert. She reports that men look in the mirror
and see "Greek gods". Whereas on reflection
women accentuate the negative. Therefore it's
no wonder that most ladies abhor any blatant
form of exposure. They prefer to strategically
apply subterfuge in order to maximize what
they consider to be their liabilities. Thus boys
will be boys while girls prefer to be anyone
but themselves. And isn't that a SHAME?!
Show & Tell
Misery loves company. It's no surprise that
self-loathing is the root of much of what we
define as evil. The naked truth is that those
who find fault with themselves have issues
with any display of the human form. Hence
pernicious prudery is the ultimate cover up
of an attempt to make something pure and
beautiful ugly and sinful. Don't worry, I'm
not suggesting that in protest we all strip and
bare our souls. However at times it may be
necessary to expose an egregious attempt to
limit self expression. Nude needn't be rude.
It's all in the eye of the beholder...
Grin and bare it
At this point in life I don't like what I see in my
mirror. However after having spent many days
on the "clothing optional" beach I know that
I'm not alone. Strutting one's stuff en masse is
the best of common denominators. Proving
that we all have the same bits and pieces. The
only difference being size and scope. And so
theres nothing sexy about unlimited exposure.
In fact, post seeing it all one questions what
all the fuss is about. Rather than judge others,
why not celebrate what God has wrought? And
instead of hiding our faults - let's grin and bare
all that makes each of us so special and unique!
Monday, September 25, 2017
Loaded for bear
Recently while flipping channels I found and
oldie but goodie. Omega Man stars Charlton
Heston in all of his man sweating, gun toting
glory. Post his avid endorsement of the NRA
(and subsequent diagnosis of Alzheimers) he
lost some of his luster. But God... he was sexy.
However I digress - back to the saga at hand.
Omega Man is about a post apocalyptic world
where bio-warfare plague turns most survivors
into zombies. Charlton battles said creatures of
the dark while he develops anti-zombie serum.
Post sharing a vial of it with fellow survivors
he is betrayed and killed by zombies. The end.
During the seventies a plethora of similar
tales poured out of Hollywood. Many of
said science fiction extravaganzas starring
Mr. Heston. Since then several have been
remade one if not two times. Some have
a fascination about who might survive the
adverse destruction of an atomic conflict.
What once seemed fantasy might end up
with us battling evil apes or zombies in the
near future. Sadly our world is perched on
the edge of destruction due to the school
yard antics of a pair of megalomaniacs who
are hell bent on winning no matter the cost.
As of yet my basement is not filled with a year
supply of beef jerky and bottled water. Yet I do
find myself thinking about what I would do if
suddenly the world as we know it was gone. In
theory the chances of Montana being the target
seem slim. Yet in truth, the prairies surrounding
Lewistown are dotted with armed Minuteman
missiles ready to be pointed at any adversary.
If some over combed idiot pushed the button -
and the enemy targets said incendiary devices -
they'll be destroyed mid air over anyplace but
here. Leaving Central Montana all alone and
by itself. Which is actually quite normal for us.
Theres no doubt that Manhattan would be the
prime target. Given our apartment is but three
blocks from Trump Tower - it's highly likely
that should we be in town - we'd go down in
a blaze of glory. However being vaporized is
the least of my worries. Rather I often wonder
what would happen to our home back here in
Lewistown. You see, what I worry most about
is an invasion of the living dead. A stumbling
gaggle of rotting former friends and neighbors.
What kind of mischief will they be up to? Will
they break in and raid my great wall of china?
Or worse, rearrange the furniture?!
Far away from it all
I'm assuming that somehow Frank and I can
survive as will Lewistown. Next some local
smarties will figure out how to generate power
from Big Spring Creek. They'll reopen nearby
mines and dig up coal to turn up the heat. And
given almost everyone in town already owns
at least one gun - we'll be more than capable
of protecting our isolated oasis from marauding
mercenaries. Everyone will have a garden and
we'll learn how to can. In my imagination little
will change given honestly, we're already quite
self-sufficient. You see, we locals are used to
living on our own in the middle of no where.
All roads lead home
In my fantasy my kids and their families
escape destruction, pack their cars, and
travel to Montana a la Mad Max. Finally
our nuclear family is reunited as a whole.
And post surviving Armageddon we will
all figure out how to forgive and forget.
Together we'll rebuild the world as we
knew it into something much better. And
like the pioneers and homesteaders who
made Lewistown great - we'll have the
freedom to start anew. Ultimately good
comes out of bad. So why worry about
the worst when the best is yet to come?