Wednesday, November 30, 2011

It was more than 60 years ago. There was no rain, no thunder, no sun to prophesy my arrival in Greenwich Village, that quarter century before Grace Kelly and Jimmy Stewart discovered a murderer 125 West 9th Streetfrom their rear window just east of my apartment.

     Mother, a psychiatrist and the Regina of Jewish American Princesses, suggested to her internist father that she was in labor. As she was prone to histrionics, my soon to be grandfather declined her offer of delivery.

     He did so in Yiddish, classical Greek and, for mother’s benefit, sharp English. A physician of the old school, he felt best to let me arrive, as I now recall, on my own timetable.

     My schedule, mother later told me, was some 22 hours different than hers. Apparently she labored hard and long to release me. Grandfather, of course, finally recognized that mother was also a trained physician, though a woman and certainly without his experience, and, indeed, was appropriately ready for this task.

     He and my uncle, a Noel Coward clone and a surgeon, helped mother down to grandfather’s medical suite, just off the living room downstairs in our Greenwich Villageapartment. Fortunately, Grandfather hadn’t yet lost leg to diabetes, which certainly might have produced more confusion than the fact that neither Stanley, nor Grandfather were obstetricians. Of course, that wasn’t as much of a challenge as their constant thought that mother, though often self-characterized as the“surest bet south of 14th street,” was a virgin, as neither could even consider someone, even her husband, straddling the woman to let forth some combination of genes that included hers.

     But Grandfather had the challenge well in hand, so to speak, as he had a proclivity whether coincidental or with great purpose, to deliver babies throughout the Village, most of whom later became waiters, or in some cases restauranteurs. In both events, most were happily beholden to Grandfather who reminded them religiously of this act of kindness whenever we dined at Rattner’s, Moskowitz & Lupowitz, Marta, Peter’s Backyard and a raft of others throughout our lives. Though the delivery was eminently successful, mother died about 60 years later.

     I never thought about lighting a Yahrzeit candle for mother. It’s not so much that I’d never thought about, but perhaps that I never considered the time when it would be required. In retrospect, I suppose, I had never thought about it for my father, either, when he died a dozen years earlier.

     We had talked about Yiskor on several occassions, in our time together. It had been just a few years more than three decades since his hand jumped out from beneath the choopa and tapped me lovingly on top of my 16 year old head, flashing a mischevious smile, “I told you the first thing I’d do when I married your mother was to give you a hit on the head.”

     I remember him telling me “You must always say Yiskor for your family. It is all we have.” Odd how I equate those words with a movie; Ron Liebman responding to Sally Field’s question in “Norma Rae,” “Why are Jews different?” “History,” Liebman responded. I suppose there’s not much that hasn’t been said before, eh? And if someone says it well, give ‘em credit and use it.

     I suppose I am not a good Jew; a “mensch.”I have history, though. Some would say “Too much.” I believe it is not yet enough.

     Yiskors’ are problematic for me. Do you start the night before, the next morning, sundown on the day of? The Evangelical Christians make death a lot easier.

About the only Kaddish I can read is that of Allen Ginsburg. Even the transliteration of the Hebrew prayers eludes me. I get as far as “Vyiskadal, viyiskadash…” and revert to a Sid Caesar bluff language. And then there are candles. Until recently they came in those glasses that served so well for juice; now they’re in little tin cans. They’re supposed to last 24 hours, but generally go 26 or 27. It’s a reasonable lack of precision, but I often wonder if the extra hours violate some Talmudic law.

     I lit the candle at sundown with reflection that continued as I walked my dog that evening. How odd it seemed that I no longer had parents, only sons, a wife and a friend or two who would watch my back on a night patrol.
Chapter 2

She drank my drink and then she stole my hat. My life was like that, always I think.

Maggie was a perfectly dreadful woman. I didn’t see it immediately. In fact, it was difficult to see it at all, unless you’d had the remarkable bad luck to have her in you life for a couple of decades or more. You might see flashes of it, but they were ephemeral enough be perceived as aberrations, but they never were.

Every man has a “Maggie” at one time or another. Easy to bed with strings that you never see coming and are pulled with great, but decreasing subtlety and for a long, long time. Maggies are transition women; sometimes the affair where you get a blow job riding up 101 or in some dark bar. We all know them and we all think we love them and we all learn that their cost is almost incalcuable.

Maggie was around for two divorces, a year or so living together and nearly 25 years in an out of my life; with a price tag that probably topped a hundred grand, to say nothing of a dozen stitches or so.

When I first met her, she was a lithe, long haired, brown eyed, not quite drop dead gorgeous California girl living in a borderline rundown two bedroom with her young son in Venice, California.

I was an ex-reporter, with a witch of a wife and two kids, just in from the east coast and who’d just picked up a flack job in LA. She worked for me and when I first saw her I saw the pen in the company inkwell, as is often said.

Three decades later, I began to reflect on where Maggie had taken me.

On the 35 foot balcony of my Santa Monica apartment, I had plenty of room to walk about and a sliver of a view of the ocean. It was not far from where Maggie had lived years before. By now, she’d moved to the Pacific Northwest.

 It was a couple of years before my mother died that I realized I was on the shank of my life and the bad parts were flying in like Maine black flies in a July dusk. But it wasn’t Maine and it wasn’t dusk. It seemed the end of things and hard to see. I’ve mostly been an observer of others and never looked much at myself.

The dampness of the air fell around me as I paced the balcony. And I was still sore from the kitchen knife Maggie had caught me with in Tuscany a few months earlier.

Strong scotch in hand and my bones cranking from the dampness, I wandered back into the apartment. Probably should have collapsed in one of the Adirondak chairs on the deck. Inside there were mirrors everywhere. My landlord, a gay decorator was the exception to my philosophy that men die of stupidity. He’ll shuffle off due to vanity.

Staring into the one above the fireplace I saw tired eyes and my face, drawn hard, framed with short graying hair. I’d gone from white blond as a kid to gray early. Mortality. It had become an issue. Not the issue, just one to pile up in the stack. I was piling up issues now. No longer a sense of discernment or priority. I began to wonder if I was about to experience that one synaptic misfire that would send me over the edge.

Increasingly worried now about the remainder of my sanity, I breathed deeply and walked to the den where the computer continued to flicker a psychedelic pattern in its sleep. It was dark, save the screen. The plastic utility bookshelves stacked double deep with the library collected over the past 40 years were shadowy monoliths looming in the somber room. Books, papers, unfinished sketches and poems scattered about the two desks; the room too crowded with a couple of occassional chairs which, like almost everything else in the apartment, rescued from my business shut down more than a year ago.

Stumbling over the wastebasket into the secretarial chair in front of the computer, I wondered why I’d not just flicked the light switch. As the charred tobacco from a pipe resting on the desk spilled to the floor when my arm swept across the desk to regain my balance. I tapped the space bar to wake it and sat staring at the screen. It’s not time to write now, I thought. Never seems to be as my shin, bruised from the fall, ached when I walked back to the living room.

Dichotomies

"Stocks are soaring in early trading after major central banks acted to avert a credit crunch." Do you really care? This will have absolutely no impact on what's in your pocket.

"200+ arrested at Occupy Los Angeles, 50 in Philly"

What a dichotomy, eh? The rich continue to get richer; the poor, poorer…and arrested. Perhaps the "Occupy [you fill in the blank] is contemporary societies version of the Civil Rights Sit Ins of the 50s and 60s.

No matter what it's characterized as, to me it is the clear outset of that oft tossed about phrase, "Class Warfare."

As you're probably aware, there is little, if any Middle Class left and notwithstanding the consumer spending spluge on "Black Friday," incomes are way down, and with that, of course, disposable income is down. Look forward to another raft of personal bankruptcies next year.

Sure there's so-called "good news" out there, but it's really not. It's quite superficial. For example, that "Jobless Claims" are down could be extrapolated to mean simply that companies/businesses need a minimum number of employees to continue in business.

We could have a ton of new jobs if President Obama had started his term with, well, some sort of job stimulation legislation. Sure, the "Stimulus" is reputed to have saved and/or added a lot of jobs, but had he focused on rebuilding our infrastructure, roads, bridges and so forth, there would have been many, many more and longer term on a levels of work, from the laborer to manament professional.

By way of disclaimer, I still support the President and will vote for him in 2012. However, if an intelligent, moderate, middle-class, ingenuous Republican with a strong, long-term Congressional background were on the other side, that would cause me pause and futher consideration.

My business used to be quite good, strong, and frankly, quite lucrative. No longer, but it gets us by. Clients with dough, however, are late pay. What are you going to do? Dun them? There's little loyalty there, save one or two.

My wife's business is doing okay though…she undercuts everyone on price, but she's not getting the "personal shopping" and "errand" business she wants – again, there's not much discretionary spending out there.

I don't really fear that our nation is becoming a "third world" member, but it seems it's getting damned close.

I used to think the economy was, in a sense, organic and notwithstanding the efforts and actions of the government, would generally right itself.

That is no longer my feeling. There are far too many to make whole these days. We are heading, or even in a very dark place; a place where, and I don't mean to be histrionic here, we could see some rioting in cities, if there are any cities left…Detroit, after all, looks like a deserted war zone.

I am grateful that both my boys are working and do well. I am probably grateful to be "above ground."

However, I am constantly and inordinately despondent about the state of our nation; angry with our so-called Legislative Branch (Congress) and disappointed in our President.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Facebook

I am astounded that people post on Facebook ten or more times a day: Working on abs, switching it up, going to the drug store. I'm on there only because of clients, and my kids…it's a wonder to me how egocentric folks are. Well, perhaps I'm not so astounded.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Thanksgiving

It is Thanksgiving and for me, as I am sure others, brings back memories. The most recent are the easiest; those are the ones for which I did most of the cooking.

I cook turkeys on a Weber Kettle Grill, with "indirect heat." The grill, of course, limits the size to under 20 pounds. But they were always great; the last hour or so I'd throw wet hickory chips on the coals for a smokey flavor.

There are few memories of growing up and Thanksgiving…that was long ago. However, I remember some of the best were when I was a single parent and sole custodian of my boys. I did the whole thing then and we ate together, just the three of us, though sometimes we'd have a guest or two. At that time, I wasn't baking pies, which I do now and quite – none of those pre-made crusts, by the way…and I make a helluva pumpkin pie.

This year will be very different, as we're going out to dinner. My wife decided that's what she wanted. I suppose it's fine, but I wouldn't have minded cooking a bit. Why bother if there's a dissent.

I'm not at all certain we need to have a holiday on which to be thankful. I am so, daily. Mostly for my boys and my parents, grandparents and the few close friends I have.

I must say, there's not a day that passes, however, on which I'm not thankful, grateful for having extraordinarily wonderful parents and sons.

All the best to all on this day…but be thankful daily, if I may suggest.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Facebook: Do You Really Care? And Are You That Self-Centered?

What is it with Facebook? Okay, I'm on Facebook primarily for photos of the family, posting rarely and then only news items of interest. Yes, I have about 50+ friends, I know 'em all and fairly well, mostly from my client base.

I'm sure that no cares where I am at a particular moment, yet I see from my wife's feed the following drivel:

"So excited to start my new training today!!! Yesterday was an unhappy day for me. Time to work it out!!!"

"Momma needs a good night sleep! Have a great Monday everyone"

"Cardio today... Trimming it up!"

"So excited to start my new training today!!! Yesterday was an unhappy day for me. Time to work it out!!!"

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Days Seem To Just Pass

It seems as if I had a lot to say over the past few days, yet I didn't. Nothing, as usual, of great moment.

In about six weeks I'll be a year away from 70; 69 years old and I now begin to wonder, and I do mean wonder, if I'll hit 7 decades. Frankly, I never thought I'd get this far.

Don't misunderstand this statement, as it's neither a suicidal thought, nor a "cry for help." That noted, I question increasingly about the worth of life these days. I know surely that many, if not most have "fun," or "a good time," or find things, hobbies, in the vernacular, "whatever," that brings them joy, or happiness.

I believe my boys do that, though we communicate infrequently: We're believers that an occasional "Hello," "You okay," etc. is just fine via email or texts, unless there's something important to discuss, or just too much time, perhaps a couple or three weeks pass without verbal communication. I love them, and they me, so I don't worry about that.

But the world, the nation; as I think about them, seem awful, bringing little to my life and the life of others who truly consider our state these days.

I try distractions: My guitar, my banjo, but age has gotten to me a bit with these as a touch of arthritis is apparent in my hands. Hours of playing are no longer available to me. Once magic was a hobby. In fact, for a long time I was quite good a close-up magic and still have to kits of effects, as well as a collection of antique larger effects at the home of my youngest son.

Aside from work, I'm left with reading and television, the latter mostly mindless but keeps my attention. As for reading, I treat myself with fiction, mostly mysteries or thrillers. But, as I grow old, more and more, I've turned to classics that I get for my Kindle from Gutenberg. And, I have many of them in my library anyway. How odd for me that all these years of reading books have now turned to an electronic device. Don't get me wrong, I bought the original Kindle, the larger one (my analogy when people ask is whether or not you mind reading paperbacks – I'm not particulary fond of those), the week it came out.

I didn't figure that I'd actually like it and I think it was $400 or so at the time. But Amazon allowed for a 30 day return. Wasn't necessary at all, as I adapted that night. I enjoy it. I guess I've had it for almost five years. Yeah, I'd like an iPad 2, but there's no justification for it for me. I mostly use my desktop and have a laptop on which I work from time to time.

Well, that's it for me at this point…Again, nothing of moment.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Cars, Warranties and STP

So, there I was at Pep Boys picking up a couple of quarts of oil and STP oil treatment (my car has a sporadic oil leak and blows white smoke every now and then when I start it, so there's either a problem or my car thinks there's a new Pope) when I spied a remote to open the car.

Some time back, my wife had not only lost the remote, but also her key, which cost $60 to replace (programmed). In any event, I bought the remote last week, with the oil. It was $44 and fortunately I hadn't yet opened. When I got home, I checked Amazon and eBay, which is where I always (well, apparently almost always) look. Yeah, I'm one of the retail sales problems – I don't like stores much. On eBay, I found the remote for $12 and bought two.

They came today and I programmed both of 'em in about five minutes, something for which Pep Boys charges nearly $15. I like Pep Boys; they've been around forever and they've always been helpful, but I thought this was a bit much. Once I had to replace a tail light, which in my car is a royal pain (Tbird). One of the guys there came out and did for nothing. It took him about ten minutes and I tipped him a ten for his trouble. Would have done the same thing on the remote…

Now, I like my car, as far as cars go, but I think they're generally a pain in the neck. Mine's approaching 100,000 miles. Getting back to the "white smoke," in early August I thought it might be a good idea to pick up an extended warranty. Yeah, I know, never do that. However, I did for six years or an "additional 75,000 miles," whichever came first.

When I spoke with the scammy salesperson for the warranty I asked specifically if the company wanted to inspect the car. He said no and explained the terms of the policy, which seemed fine to me. For the first month, you can't make a claim if anything goes wrong, and that apparently covers them. The fellow didn't ask me if there was anything wrong with the car and, given that, I felt no need to tell him about the occasional white smoke.

So, in early September, the policy went in effect. Three weeks ago, my airbag light came on and one of the cigarette lighters didn't work…and, of course, I had the white smoke problem. So, I was sent a claim form to fill out and told to go to any certified AES mechanic.

To make a long post a bit shorter, the "Warranty" company said that my claim had to be reviewed by the "Fraud" department. Of course, I asked why and was told it was procedure. In short, they denied any claim, even the lighter and airbag issues.

I told them I wanted a refund. "It will be pro-rated and we'll send you a form to complete." Well, I completed the form, returned it and, much to my surprised, they issued a refund. However, it did not included August, when one could make no claims and a couple of weeks in September. The funds were credited to my credit card. I lost about $200 on the $1500 deal.

Well, they called and said, "You didn't fill out the 'Waiver of Litigation.'" I told 'em I didn't plan to and in the interim, before they called about that, I found a couple of major class action suits against the company – and applied to join both.

Now I've had a couple of extended warranties in the past; one on our refrigerator from Best Buy, which I renewed and one on our washer and dryer, same place, which I renewed. But you can only renew once, unfortunately. They were great and held to everything in the extended warranties.

But these auto guys, I "shudda" listened to a couple of people who told me not to. Granted, there was an issue before the policy went into effect, but they didn't want to check the car, nor did they ask me.

I'm equivocal about the moral issue of not volunteering the information, but what the hell, they wouldn't have paid anyway.

So, still a little white smoke, but no oil leak. Just in case, I can top it off in the garage and I've got some STP Oil Treatment which friends tell me stops almost anything.

And, on a worst case basis, my "shade tree mechanic" told me I get a rebuilt engine for about $2500 and he'll handle it for another $600.

So, that's it for me today.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

My “Wife”

All I really wanted to do was watch some movies today that I recorded. However, even while working, my wife's intrusive. While I "complain" here, I do it in order not to be intrusive with my friends. The fact is, unless it's the ridiculousness of Congress or some foolish politician, or something along those lines, I rarely complain.

It's complicated that while I do so with regard to "public" issues, personal ones, no. If one can't do something about a problem or issue one's experiencing, then I believe you just let it go, put it aside…

My wife, absolutely not. Daily she complains about her job. Now, she wouldn't need that job if she hadn't hocked some jewelry to buy designer clothes, but even that doesn't matter.

She's been suspended at least twice and today she called. First, "Oh, I'm so tired, I didn't sleep well…" I don't care. Then, she forgot to put her car in "Park" and it started to roll while she was getting out of it. Last week, she scratched. She's a limo driver and I'm surprised they don't can her, which they'll probably do today – the last call I got was that they were taking her for a "drug test."

Okay, it may be okay to marry an alcoholic…however, here's my advice: Don't get old and lethargic with one. Get out of it while you're young enough to do so. I could do it, but, as I've written before, it's just too much hassle at this stage of my life.

But, who knows…

Aside from that, there was a bit of Paterno talk today on the weekly news shows. My view, once again, whatever he did that was "good" is now thoroughly eradicated. What's more, he should have an asterisk by his name in the record books, as should Penn State.

That's it for now…I recorded "Harry Crumb," perhaps it'll make me smile.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Paterno – The Newest of Scumbags

I find it extraordinary that there is any support at all for Joe Paterno. Well, maybe not considering the amount of dough football brings into colleges these day. But look at 'em all going down the drain: USC a few years back, Miami on the verge and Penn State being flushed now.

In "Personal Foul at Penn State," Maureen Dowd draws an analogy to the Catholic Church's cover up.

But my issue is more than that. I don't give a damn how much Paterno donated to the school, if his ballplayers were decent students.

I give damn about the fact that he let all of this go; that he covered it up. He should have resigned when the story broke and I hope the guy is implicated in court.

Hell, we should call college sports what they really are, "Pro," and just pay the players. I have no sympathy whatsoever for the players, the students and certainly not the school.

The NCAA should immediately cancel the seasons of any school that violates the rules like the three mentioned. "PaJo," they called Paterno – better "Pederast Support Pat."

Monday, November 7, 2011

Miserable Bloody Morning

At 4:30 I was up. Many are and that's not the issue. It's arising feeling entirely unprepared for the day, for life. It's a continuing feeling of almost helplessness in this world today. In the 60s, and to some extent into the early 70s many, including me believed, ingenuously believed and perhaps even knew we were going to do something to help society that particular day. It might have been as little an event or action as picking up a piece of litter that would help the environment, but I no longer feel that way. There is no anticipation of the day…and far too much litter to pick up.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Ennui


I travel through the "blogosphere" and other such venues a voyeur who finds a nugget here and there, yet so few I find interesting are maintained regularly and I miss the thoughts of the writers.

It seems my life should be more interesting than that these days, but perhaps not. There is so little right with the world, at least in my view and outside of my personal life, which is more than a little askew.

Daily I seek something positive, aside from "being above ground." It was heart rending to me this evening to see the video recap of Andy Rooney's life. A fairly disappointing end to the day for me; a day spent prone watching mindless movies on television and an evening doing the same with whatever was on the networks or that I recorded earlier.

That says so little that I cannot recall what I watched less than an hour ago.

The ennui of my life. This is not a call for pity, but rather I wonder of others. Perhaps those who are younger just beginning their real lives so to speak.

It seems such an awful world environment in which to begin one's adventures. With a bit luck, perhaps the world will catch on someday soon and provide us with some lightness.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

The Problem With Our Nation

Andy Rooney: 1919-2011

Andy Rooney(CBS News)  Andy Rooney, the "60 Minutes" commentator known to generations for his wry, humorous and contentious television essays - a unique genre he is credited with inventing - died Friday night in a hospital in New York City of complications following minor surgery. He was 92, and had homes in New York City, Rensselaerville, N.Y. and Rowayton, Conn.

"It's a sad day at '60 Minutes' and for everybody here at CBS News," said Jeff Fager, chairman of CBS News and the executive producer of "60 Minutes." "It's hard to imagine not having Andy around. He loved his life and he lived it on his own terms. We will miss him very much."

Rooney had announced on Oct. 2, 2011 in his 1,097th essay for "60 Minutes" that he would no longer appear regularly.

Rooney wrote for television since its birth, spending more than 60 years at CBS, 30 of them behind the camera as a writer and producer, first for entertainment and then news programming, before becoming a television personality - a role he said he was never comfortable in. He preferred to be known as a writer and was the author of best-selling books and a national newspaper column, in addition to his "60 Minutes" essays.

But it is his television role as the inquisitive and cranky commentator on "60 Minutes" that made him a cultural icon. For over 30 years, Rooney had the last word on the most watched television program in history. Ratings for the broadcast rose steadily over its time period, peaking at a few minutes before the end of the hour, precisely when he delivered his essays - which could generate thousands of response letters.

There is no better way to celebrate Andy Rooney's work than to let Andy do the talking.
Each Sunday, Rooney delivered one of his "60 Minutes" essays from behind a desk that he, an expert woodworker, hewed himself. The topics ranged from the contents of that desk's drawer to whether God existed. He often weighed in on major news topics. In an early "60 Minutes" essay that won him the third of his four Emmy Awards, his compromise to the grain embargo against the Soviet Union was to sell them cereal. "Are they going to take us seriously as an enemy if they think we eat Cap'n Crunch for breakfast?" deadpanned Rooney.

Mainly, his essays struck a cord in viewers by pointing out life's unspoken truths or more often complaining about its subtle lies, earning him the "curmudgeon" status he wore like a uniform. "I obviously have a knack for getting on paper what a lot of people have thought and didn't realize they thought," Rooney told the Associated Press in 1998. In typical themes, Rooney questioned labels on packages, products that didn't seem to work and why people didn't talk in elevators.
Rooney asked thousands of questions in his essays over the years, none, however, began with "Did you ever...?" a phrase often associated with him. Comedian Joe Piscopo used it in a 1981 impersonation of him on "Saturday Night Live" and, from then on, it was erroneously linked to Rooney.

Rooney was also mistakenly connected to racism when a politically charged essay highly insensitive to minorities was written in his style and passed off as his on the internet in 2003.
Over the next few years, it found its way into the e-mail boxes of untold thousands, causing Rooney to refute it in a 2005 "60 Minutes" essay, and again, as it continued to proliferate, in a Associated Press article a year later.

Many assumed he wrote the screed because Rooney's longtime habit of writing or speaking plainly on sensitive topics had left him open to attacks in the past by activist groups. The racist essay was one of the many false Rooney quotes and essays bouncing around the Internet. The racism charge angered and hurt Rooney deeply, especially because as a young soldier in the early 1940s, he got himself arrested in Florida for refusing to leave the seat he had chosen among blacks in the back of an Army bus.

At the height of the AIDS crisis, Rooney had his biggest run-in with a group and it had dire consequences. In February 1990, the gay magazine The Advocate interviewed him after he associated the human choices of drugs, tobacco and gay sex with death in a CBS News special, "A Year With Andy Rooney: 1989." The magazine printed racist remarks attributed to him from the interview, which he vehemently denied making. A torrent of negative publicity followed, after which then-CBS News President David Burke suspended him for three months. The outcry for his return was deafening. Burke reinstated him after only three weeks, saying Rooney was not a man "who holds prejudice in his heart and mind." The ratings for "60 Minutes," CBS' only top-10 hit that season, dropped while Rooney was off the air.

But the negative publicity and suspension exacted a toll. Rooney said publicly he was "chilled" and admitted the new sensitivity led him to spike a later essay regarding the United Negro College Fund.
Rooney still spoke his mind, however. Thousands of angry letters arrived when he said Kurt Cobain, the young star of hit rock band "Nirvana," was essentially a waste of humanity for taking his own life. Native Americans demanded apologies when he belittled their efforts to stop sports teams from using names like "Braves" in 1995 and again in 1997 when he suggested Indian casino profits be used to support poor tribes. He reacted to the acquittal of O.J. Simpson in 1995 by offering a $1 million reward for information leading to the real killer - a reward he said he would never have to pay because Simpson committed the murders. His essay in 2004, in which he said God told him that the Rev. Pat Robertson and Mel Gibson were "whackos," resulted in 20,000 complaints - the most response any "60 Minutes" issue ever drew.

No group was off-limits for Rooney, especially CBS management and his own colleagues. Rooney poked fun at the "60 Minutes" correspondents on a regular basis in his essays, while he questioned CBS management on issues, such as layoffs and strikes, sometimes in his "60 Minutes" essays, but more often in his syndicated newspaper column for Tribune Media Services or in media interviews. During a Writers Guild of America strike against CBS, Rooney, though not in the union, supported it by not writing any "60 Minutes" pieces until the strike was settled. He publicly blamed CBS's troubles of the early 1990s on Chairman Laurence Tisch's cutbacks, daring Tisch to fire him.

Rooney was very popular with the public but drew criticism from the media for his controversial views and for the seemingly effortless style and content of his "60 Minutes" essays. He once took advantage of his popularity to get back at a critic. When Associated Press television critic Frazier Moore wrote that Rooney should quit because his material was getting old, Rooney took Moore to task by broadcasting the newswire's New York phone number, exhorting his "60 Minutes" viewers to tell the writer what they thought of his opinion. The Associated Press logged over 7,000 calls in 48 hours, the vast majority in favor of Rooney.

He rarely attacked his critics publicly, in fact, he sometimes embraced them. On many occasions, he read on the air their most cutting letters, sometimes admitting he was wrong and apologizing. The Cobain and the O.J. Simpson incidents were both essays he regretted writing and he said so on air.
Andrew Aitken Rooney was born January 14, 1919 in Albany, N.Y. He graduated from Albany Academy High School and attended Colgate University until being drafted into the U.S. Army in 1941, his junior year. After brief service in an artillery unit in England, he became a correspondent for The Stars and Stripes for three years. Rooney was one of six correspondents to fly with the Army's 8th Air Force on the second American bombing raid over Germany - a risky mission the enemy fully expected. He then covered the Allied invasion of Europe and, after the surrender of Germany, filed reports from the Far East. He was awarded the Bronze Star for his reporting under fire at the battle of Saint Lo.

Rooney wrote about his war experiences in his first three books, the second of which, The Story of the Stars and Stripes, was bought by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer for movie rights. Despite going to Hollywood and writing a film script, the film was never made, but the sizable sum he earned enabled him to write as a freelancer for several years after the war.

He was hired by CBS in 1949 after a bold encounter in the elevator with Arthur Godfrey. Rooney told the biggest radio star of the day he could use some better writing. His nerve moved Godfrey to hire him for "Arthur Godfrey's Talent Scouts," which moved to television and became a top-10 hit that was number one in 1952. He also wrote for Godfrey's other primetime program, "Arthur Godfrey and His Friends," and the star's daily morning show. He became Godfrey's only writer in 1953, before quitting the lucrative work in 1955 because he felt he could be doing something more important. But after a period of unemployment, with a wife and four children to support, he returned to television writing on CBS' "The Morning News with Will Rogers, Jr." in 1957. The best thing that happened to Rooney on the short-lived program was meeting and befriending CBS News Correspondent Harry Reasoner, with whom he collaborated later to great success.
He also wrote for "The Garry Moore Show" (1959-'65), helping it to achieve hit status as a top-20 program. Such regularly featured talents as Victor Borge, Bob and Ray and Perry Como spoke the words written by Rooney during this period. At the same time, he wrote for CBS News public affairs broadcasts, including "The Twentieth Century," "News of America" and "Adventure," and he freelanced articles for the biggest magazines of the day.
By the mid-1960s, Rooney's name was a familiar credit at the end of CBS News programs. "The most felicitous nonfiction writer in television" is how Time magazine described Rooney in 1969, a winner of the Writers Guild Award for Best Script of the Year six times.
Rooney had convinced CBS News he could write for television on any subject when he wrote his first television essay in 1964, an original genre he is credited with developing. Proving his point, he picked doors as the subject and Reasoner as the voice for "An Essay on Doors." The team - Rooney writing and producing and Reasoner narrating -- went on to create such critically acclaimed specials as "An Essay on Bridges" (1965), "An Essay on Hotels" (1966), "An Essay on Women" (1967), "An Essay on Chairs" (1968) and "The Strange Case of the English Language" (1968). Rooney also wrote and produced many news documentaries, including the most comprehensive television treatment of Frank Sinatra, "Frank Sinatra: Living With the Legend," in 1965. He wrote two CBS News specials for the series "Of Black America" in 1968, one of which, "Black History: Lost, Stolen or Strayed," won him his first Emmy and the Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Awards First Prize for Television.

Rooney also produced for Reasoner at "60 Minutes" during the broadcast's first few seasons and made his on-screen "debut." He and the broadcast's senior producer, Palmer Williams, appeared in silhouette as "Ipso and Facto" in a short-lived opinion segment called "Digressions." Then, after Reasoner left for ABC in 1970, Rooney also left the network briefly. Having trouble getting his material on the air, he purchased his "An Essay on War" from CBS and took it to public television to be broadcast on "Great American Dream Machine." The 1971 program was Rooney's first appearance as himself on television and won him his third Writers Guild Award. He wrote and produced more essays for the program, appearing in those as well.
He returned to CBS in 1973 after a short stint with Reasoner at ABC News and then wrote, produced and narrated a series of broadcasts for CBS News on various aspects of American life between 1975 and 1989. These included "Mr. Rooney Goes to Washington," for which he won a Peabody Award, "Andy Rooney Takes Off," "Mr. Rooney Goes to Work" and "Mr. Rooney Goes to Dinner." He also appeared several times in 1977 and 1978 on "60 Minutes" doing segments that included "Super Salesman," a look at the relationship between the Colonial Penn Life Insurance Company, the National Retired Teachers Association and the American Association of Retired Persons, in which he suggested the AARP was created as a vehicle to sell insurance to the elderly.
Rooney then was given the job as summer replacement for the Shana Alexander and James Kilpatrick "Point/Counterpoint" "60 Minutes" segment on July 2, 1978. In this first essay, "Three Minutes or so with Andy Rooney," he attacked the dark tradition of tallying the highway deaths during the holiday weekend. In the fall, "A Few Minutes With Andy Rooney" became a regular segment, alternating with Alexander and Kilpatrick. The following season (1979-'80), Rooney had the end of the broadcast to himself, holding forth in front of an audience approaching 40 million - the number-one television program in America.
The National Society of Newspaper Columnists recognized Rooney's rich body of work with its Ernie Pyle Lifetime Achievement Award in June 2003. Rooney was a friend of Pyle, the famous World War II correspondent felled by a sniper, whom he met while covering the war for The Stars and Stripes. The Overseas Press Club honored Rooney with its President's Award in April 2010 for his war reporting.
Rooney was a rabid New York Giants football fan whose 50-plus years of season tickets began in a seat behind a pole at the Polo Grounds. Attending such public events was often problematic for the recognizable Rooney, who didn't sign autographs because he thought it a silly endeavor linked to his television fame. Always proud of his writing, he would gladly sign one of his 16 books - provided it was sent to him with a stamped and addressed return envelope. In addition to The Story of the Stars and Stripes, Rooney wrote: Air Gunner; Conquerors' Peace; The Fortunes of War; A Few Minutes with Andy Rooney; And More by Andy Rooney; Pieces of My Mind; Word for Word; Not That You Asked...; Sweet and Sour; My War; Sincerely, Andy Rooney; Common Nonsense; Years of Minutes; Out of My Mind and Andy Rooney: 60 Years of Wisdom and Wit.
Rooney resided in Manhattan; he also kept a family vacation home in Rensselaerville, N.Y, and the first home he ever purchased, in Rowayton, Conn. He was pre-deceased by his wife of 62 years, Marguerite, in 2004. He is survived by his four children Ellen, Brian, the former longtime ABC News correspondent, Emily, longtime host of "Greater Boston," a local public affairs television program on PBS, and Martha Fishel; five grandchildren and two great grandchildren. He was also was pre-deceased by his sister, Nancy.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Drunk Wife Update

Well, she was not at all humble or apologetic last night when she called. "You have to take responsibility for some of this, a lot of it. It's your fault [to a great extent] that I drink."

Really now. So typical of drunks – someone else "made" them pick up a drink.

As I've said before, I may not be the easiest person with whom to live, but I've bailed this woman out of trouble since 1998, whether it be issues with her job, money, car, friends (only one or two left); you name it, I've helped with it. And, of course, the consequences of her boozing which this time cost $120 for a couple of locks that had to be drilled and replaced, $100 for a screen that was torn in an attempt to get through a locked door, another $50 or so for a new wall lamp and $15 for a temporary reading lamp for myself. And that doesn't even count what has to be at least $5,000, if not close to $10,000 for the hospitals. No, her health insurance isn't covering any of it.

In short, I'll probably do what so many do in these situations: File personal bankruptcy. Doesn't matter much anyway, as she's screwed my credit (married you know) over the years and I don't plan to buy a house or a car.

What the hell, as usual, I'll put it aside, but she'll be home today sometime. "I'm going to sleep in the guest room," she said in what she thought was an "ultimatum." Perfect I thought, perfect. If it were warmer out, I'd try to insist she sleep in the hammock.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

My Drunk Wife, Yet Again…And A Different Side Of The Bed


Well, after a 72 hour hold at a hospital, they took my drunk wife, presumably sober at the time, which was at 2 AM, to a state mental facility for a psych evaluation, which I thought they were doing at the hospital. But who cares, another day two out of my hair.

As drunks are prone to be when the sober up (temporarily usually), when she called today she defined "humble" and "apologetic," again. But never trust a drunk. Never.

Aside from that, another viscissitude of life last night, albeit a simple one. My reading light went out. Now, that's not a big deal, one simply replaces the bulb. However, that didn't work and it's apparently a problem with the socket. Bought a new one, but while I could remove the old one, I can't get enough purchase on the new one to install it.

It's a matter of the cord going around a few right angles because the lamp swivels.

I know, way too much information. I bought a $15 lamp at Office Depot and it'll work just fine.

All of this to say, for years I've read and slept on one side of the bed. It was modestly disruptive at the outset to do so on the other side. To my surprise, this morning, I woke up on the side on which I had been reading…and an hour later than I normally do.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

The “Adventures” Of My Drunk Wife

It all started after my wife was sent home from work and whether or not that was warranted, who knows, as all drunks are liars.
She appeared yesterday in the doorway of my home office and I knew immediately she'd been drinking. The rants and rages were not new. They were all directed at me and how her life was completely ruined because of me.
As the day progressed, so did she into one of those alcoholic spirals. The abuse continued for a couple of hours until she became threatening, at which point I called the police.
By this time, she had locked the house; every door and I had no house key with me, not even a key to the entry from the garage. The police were there, trying to talk her into opening the house, but she wouldn't.
They were going to break down a door, however, I've a handyman friend who came by and drilled the lock on the garage, then the bedroom door and finally the police were able to enter.
She tried to "escape" through the bedroom door that leads to the back yard, which is walled. Once outside, she fell into a cactus and fought off the police who finally got her back into the bedroom, at which the EMTs arrived with a gurney.
She, of course, tried to fight them off as well.
But off she went to some hospital here where she's being held for a psych evaluation, supposedly for 72 hours – I hope that long as I need the peace.
The physical damage is not good. I can't open the garage door as she somehow broke it; and I've got to have two locks and a screen replaced.
Drunks are just awful. And today I am remarkably stressed and tired. However, I am thankfully alone.

What It's Like To Have A Drunk Wife