GOTTA LOVE THAT UNDERDOG

 

0130161904a

All my life i’ve loved the Underdog!!

i wonder why, haha! So often the last guy picked on the neighborhood lot, never being matched by anyone in shortness of stature! (Oh, Yeah?! That made me unpitchable, especially when i added my crouch…always on base and so often to the plate!!! Only problem: i got plunked alot.)

From the moment i could wager (and shall i confess, even long before i could), summer nights throughout my teens, my buddies and i arrived early at Brandywine Raceway in Delaware so we could study the program and find that “Also Ran” who’d make us proud and a little bit rich ($20 = rich). Happy to say it happened more than once, the longshot victory feeling so much greater than the sure win’s win, with its 20 cent profit!)

My teenage Autumns were spent scrambling around the backfields with Francis Tarkenton. Nobody ever did it better than #10, though he never made it to the big prize. Three Super Bowls, three losses. More tears shed with each one. Underdog? i think not! Fran, you KNOW how many of us will always consider YOU the BEST of them all!!!

And although i swore and swore it could never happen, i was converted into Red Sox Nation in October, 2004 by the “NO WAY MIRACLE OF SPORT.” When i saw with my very own eyes that UNNNNNNNNNNNNBelievable Green Monstah Mash 0130161919

after an 86 year accursed drought and the Comeback to end all comebacks, my belief in Underdogs was rewarded like never before and never since.

But Biggest of all, for all my life, though very much in secret – so as not to get my butt kicked by whatever home-fans i was hanging around – i have made several thousand prayerful appeals to God and His Angels for the Underdogs of Underdogs,the Chicago Cubbies, dry and barren for 107 years. 2015 looked to be “the Beaut!” OR THEN, maybe next year??

There’s nothing… nobody, like an underdog. YA GOTTA LOVE ‘EM!

Well, the thrill of Boston ’04 – and then again in 2013, when so many of those old-time Red Sox fans were feeling their oh so familiar “agony of defeat” and were screaming, “The bums are back!!” And i said, NO, THEY’RE GONNA DO IT AGAIN!!!

That magical, mystical feeling for a most unlikely hero came back to me again, when the New York Times bosses looked through the vast crowd in Iowa and settled on the face of little (haha, little?! a wise and well-seasoned veteran in the business!!!) John Kasich of Ohio, saying that HE – not Trump, not Cruz – has what it takes to be the next Republican President!! “The QUIET Man of Ohio!!!” WOW! my UNDERDOG BLOOD is a-boilin’ again. Oh, Man!!! Finally some sense has returned to the Great Republic!!

10676302_785611651495246_2197701659964633145_n

Many believe they have as much chance as a Rainbow meeting a Lightning Bolt! Well, then i say, GO, JOHNNY, GO!!!! You CAN DO IT!! As the incomparable announcer of Brandywine Raceway, Roy Shudt, would’ve put it, “Heeeeeeeeeere they come…..There they goooooooooo!” Look at this, folks….movin up on the outside, it’s Go Johnny Go…

And so can those Cubbies…GO…Go…Never Give Up…GO!!!!!!

0130161907

Advertisements

A WORLD APART

0129161657

Just thinking…..

If the man on the right gets enough votes on November 8, these would be perhaps the TWO MOST POWERFUL MEN ON EARTH! i often reflect upon their platforms and persons, and i cannot imagine two farther apart. Each one’s “plan” calls for DRASTIC CHANGE – even to the very CORE – and at the center of each man’s plan is a 5 letter word that starts with M and ends with Y.

Donald Trump constantly holds as his “Trump-card” his ability to make MONEY, lots of it, as if that is the Be All and End All of Life. Americans’ Fascination with Millionaires and Billionaires is very much behind the great mob who march behind him, although his having ten billion has so little to do with their having any of it, just as a Washingtonful of rich people have never helped us make any. Do they REALLY think that a “White House North” in a Gold Tower in New York is REALLY gonna make a difference?!

POPE FRANCIS instead says over and over and over that it is all about MERCY. Mercy heals, Mercy brings true peace. And do you know what? MERCY even has a lot to do with money, as he repeats wherever he goes around the globe, when it has to do with the fair distribution of wealth (ya see, he is sooooooooooooo concerned with every man’s real life problems.) He’s not saying something new. In fact, what he says is in an old prayer i pray every day.

Every morning…and every night i say this same prayer, that everything will work out for my great nation. i bet the Pope would love it, too, if he knew it. Heck, you would think he EVEN WROTE IT, if you didn’t know better…that it was written by a man who was just informed that the Victory of War was his…written in a little house just a few miles away from mine…i can almost see his porch from mine.

“Imprint on our hearts now a deep sense of our obligations for those Incomparable Mercies that have been shown to us as a nation, preserve us from the arrogance of prosperity, and render this country more and more a safe asylum for the unfortunate of this world. Dispose us all to love Mercy and do justice, and to dress ourselves with the same humility, charity, and pacific temper of Him without a humble imitation of whose example we can never hope to be a happy nation, Jesus my Lord!” – General George Washington

i have never prayed this prayer without my body being covered in goose-bumps! It was written from the deepest depths of a man who had just visited Hell…and lived to tell.

0129161657

Interesting, Bernie Sanders does not want to see God-talk mixed with politics, and yet there is hardly a man, in Bernie’s opinion, who knows how to live or how to lead better than one of these men…Clue: he’s not on the right.

THE GREAT LISTENER

0124161141

  • Last known photograph of Abraham Lincoln

The other day, when the British Parliament convened to discuss WHAT TO DO WITH some UGLY AMERICAN, i was so compelled to write an apology to them for my fellow New Yorker.

i am equally compelled today to add a postscript.

This comes on the heels of just one more example of Mr. Trump’s “style of politic.” i am not a Conservative myself, nor am i a Republican, but i do know of Glenn Beck. i have read his opinions or listened to him for many years. He says countless BRILLIANT things! So, when Mr. Beck announced yesterday that he was not on the Donald’s side, Trump could do nothing more, nothing better, than to call Glenn a few nasty names. THIS, WE ALL KNOW ALL TOO WELL, IS PAR FOR THE COURSE for the man who should just stick to golfing.

This time i could only think back to so many times i stood and wept in the Peterson House across the street from Ford’s Theatre in Washington, D.C. i have made sure to take all of my children there, though it is far from our home. i have made sure that they stood in silent reverence by the bed, taking it all in, even to imagining THE GREAT ONE’S FEET dangling off the end!

If Mr. Trump cannot learn from the FIRST and the GREATEST REPUBLICAN, Mr. Lincoln, that you can’t just call people who have a different opinion than you TERRIBLE TERRIBLE NAMES; if the Donald cannot listen to his opponents; if – God forbid! – enough of my fellow Americans show up blind on November 8 and elect this man, the USA will be the laughingstock of the world, and i can only say, GOODBYE, USA! The Greatness, far from returning, will be Gone!

Interesting, how so many other Republicans at the time called ABE LINCOLN every hideous name they could muster up! And in the end HE SHUT THEM ALL UP – by his uncanny ability (call it humility and a lifetime of studying George Washington, George’s Biography being Abe’s second Bible) to LISTEN to them and TO EVERY ONE!!!

Secretary of War Edwin Stanton was one of the biggest name-callers of them all. And it was he who stayed by the President’s side, in the highest and most sincere respect, from the hour he was shot…all night long…in the Peterson house…until the FIRST & GREATEST REPUBLICAN breathed his last breath.

Shame on Republicans if they do not learn from history at least this simple little point that a man who cannot listen is a dangerous man. Yes, Yes, SUPER-YES, this country of ours needs MAJOR CHANGES!!! But RIGHT CHANGES will never come about through those who cannot LISTEN.

Pray for us, please, Mr. President.

HEROES & VILLAINS

1237398_523809397700361_1504632436_o

i’m writing this one in a hospital E.R., where my dear son is lying on a bed being stitched up after a brutal attack from his own buddy, our dog. Rudy is a rescue who continues to hide so many dark and ugly secrets of unspeakable abuse. No amount of love can cover or heal them all, and though they happened so long ago, they rise up in his old old age, even when a person is trying to be helpful. Like my poor loving son.

969087_480720688675899_108667878_n Of all our life’s difficulties i don’t think there is anything worse than watching one’s own children suffer. What AGONY, what TORTURE this is to sit and watch. And it does not ever get easier, as this has been only one of many trips to this hospital for him, beginning on the day of his bloody entrance into the world right upstairs on the sixth floor. More stitches now to that sweet, sweet face!!! OMG!

ON THE OTHER HAND, when something like this happens, and it gives them the chance to really SHINE through their “GOOD SUFFERING,” the HEROES rise from our kids. Agony for him, agony for me, yes, but each time he receives so much support and praise and love from his family and his friends (who have been cheering him by his cellphone through this “long and winding road” of the ER – signs on the walls call the service “Fast Track,” but that has only provided us with much needed laughter!!!) Hard as it is for me, how can i deny my children the opportunity to UP THEIR SPIRITUAL WATTAGE, which suffering does to one’s INNER LIGHT, if we do it right! As much as i dread so much as a scratch on my “babies,” i must never rob them of the chances to be HEROES, by extra-protecting them from life’s blows.

NOT THE LEAST OF WHICH is the often untested STRENGTH of FORGIVING the Beasts that might wound them. My son will go home now, and after he says sternly to our dog, “LOOK what you did to me,” he will go down on his knees again and hug Rudy, whose own wounds are so so very deep that they can never be fully healed until he reaches doggy heaven. For us that translates into MERCY being tested to its limit. But it’s all about understanding, and loving Rudy is great exercise for loving our fellowmen. i will never forget one of the most profound sentences i ever happened upon. It was not printed in any Holy Book or told to me by any wise or holy man or woman. Rather, i found it on the Old Route One,the original “highway” that connected the colonies. Known in the Bronx as the Boston Post Road, there i was, just sitting at a red light. A once white box truck pulled up beside me with PROFOUNDEST GRAFFITI painted on the side. It read, “If only we could read the secret history of our enemies, we would find in each person’s life sorrow and pain enough to disarm all hostility and prejudice.” WHEW! BLEW ME AWAY!!!! i don’t know who said it or thunk it, but it sure says volumes.

10153660_625625724185394_4655930681427172542_n (2)

Man, this life can be brutal! A long and windy road…with arrows coming in from even those we love the most. Because we’re all so wounded…

But what is needed most is not that we shield our children or each other, but that we just BE WITH one another – MERCIFULLY -along the way.

1118150922

 

AN APOLOGY TO MY MOTHERLAND

 

0121161213

When i started my little blog a while ago, i swore that i would never engage it in politics. At the present moment, however, i cannot hold my tongue. While i am an American through and through, my great-grandparents came from England and Scotland and Ireland, and as i just watched a Special Session of Parliament to discuss the words and behavior of a fellow New York American, i must say how proud i was of my Motherland.

It was from your BEAUTIFUL though often COMICAL, even WACKY, form of government – i.e. PEOPLE STATING JUST WHAT’S ON THEIR MINDS – that we got our own Congress. Today i feel that i must do the same. And to do so in the form of an Apology – along with a prayer request – to my fellow Brits. i am aware that this blog is often read “across the pond,” and i hope that many of the 600,000 who petitioned the MotherHouse will read it.

One of the greatest heroes of my life was Winston Churchill. The highest compliment i have ever received was after a speaking engagement in Lodi, New Jersey. An old soldier, veteran of World War II, approached me and told of the day when the Prime Minister arrived by surprise on the Western Front in order to give some encouragement to the troops. Then, the sweet man said, “You reminded me of Winston!” i have no idea how, but even now it encourages me to make this apology. Mister Churchill ran around for a long time…to so many places…asking the same question, “Are we blind? How can this all be happening? How can we not see such a clear and present danger????!!!!”

When we look back 80 or so years ago, we say it over and over and over and over again, almost as if it didn’t really happen…IT COULDN’T HAVE HAPPENED in a civilized world! One little tiny man, suffering from the most severe humiliation he received in a foxhole in World War I, had sworn REVENGE and pledged OUR COUNTRY WILL BE GREAT AGAIN!!! He was brought to his knees, and this can’t be! So, a master wordsmith with this raging, blazing spiritual fire in his belly, FIRE OF HATE, went on to accomplish something UNNNNNBELIEVABLE! We look back and say, “How could it have happened?” Especially when that one little man somehow put most of the blame on one group of people, the Jews??? The crazy man, who spoke even more convincingly than Winston, captured 1 vote, then 2, then 4. He doubled it to 8, then 16, then 32, 64, 128…do the math…and before you knew it, his fire and his words resulted in 50 million dead.

NO WAY DID IT HAPPEN, and yet, YES IT DID! But if that doesn’t surprise, it is happening again. An attempted rise of another reich! Another Nation Will Be Great Again! It has been brought to its knees, and this can’t be! Only THIS little man, though he’d surely challenge my adjective, whose speeches somehow draw more and more listeners daily, puts HIS heaviest blame on Mexicans and Muslims. His words are hardly masterful, but his Fire of Hate is very sure! If someone challenges him, he cuts them down with, “You’re an idiot” or “He’s a jerk!” And it works! i am wondering whether my America, which he undoubtedly would rename by his own name – when he makes it great again (he will feel that the new title is well deserved) – is my America destined to crumble into dusty memory like all of the empires before it?

That was the farthest farthest thing from the mind of its father, the Big Man who always considered himself just a little – and sinful – man, George Washington. As he sat – or more likely KNELT – in his tiny house in Newburgh, New York, with VICTORY surely within his grasp, he began to write (his letters always mixed with prayers) to the new nation. So so many were already calling him the New King George, but he would have NONE OF IT!!! To him it was perfectly clear that this nation owed everything to God and that it was, therefore, meant to be SOMETHING TRULY UNIQUE, a beacon and a refuge to the whole world. Prosperity, no matter how small or how ENORMOUS it became, was meant for EVERYONE! “Me,” your King? No, No, NO! He wept. He pleaded that they understood what it was all for, as he knew what inevitably became of every empire. Here it is, plainly and simply:

0121161213a

Interesting! How interesting that just down the road a bit from that little house, in between the George and Martha’s longest home during the Revolution and our great West Point stands the New York Military Academy FOR KIDS! His parents, Fred and Mary Anne Trump, sent their son, Donald, there, hoping it would knock some sense into his stubborn head. Maybe that was a humiliation for him??? i don’t know. i don’t know what happened, except that he must have missed class on the days when the teachers did readings from the Supreme Commander-in-Chief and First Father of this Glorious Nation under God.

The boy did not turn out to be a Statesman. He clearly does not have plans to negotiate. Diplomacy will not be high on his priority list. If they do not see it my way, they are just idiots, and idiots should be wiped out, obliterated. The whole Middle East should be leveled. Hey! what an awesome parking lot it could be for the world’s grandest casino-hotel, TrumpWorld International. If Mr. Trump cannot learn from the FIRST and the GREATEST REPUBLICAN, Mr. Lincoln, that you can’t just call people who have a different opinion than you TERRIBLE TERRIBLE NAMES, if the Donald cannot listen to his opponents, if – God forbid! – enough of my fellow Americans show up blind on November 8 and elect this man, the USA will be the laughingstock of the world, and i can only say, GOODBYE, USA! The Greatness is Gone! Interesting, how so many other Republicans at the time called ABE LINCOLN every hideous name they could muster up! And he shut them all up in the end – by his uncanny ability (call it humility and a lifetime of studying George Washington) to listen to them!!! Secretary of War Edwin Stanton was one of the biggest name-callers of them all. It was he who stayed by the President’s side, in the highest and most sincere respect, from the hour he was shot…all night long…in the Peterson house…until the GREAT REPUBLICAN breathed his last breath.

Once upon a time a very funny and odd, but very wise statesman named Winston Churchill kept asking his countrymen and anyone around the globe who could hear his voice, “How can so many be so blind? How can we allow this to happen AGAIN?” i swore i’d never use my little blog for politics, but to me this isn’t politics. There is a new “clear and present danger” to my beloved country and to the world. i can’t be silent. YES, YES, YES, YES, my country and yours, England, Scotland, Wales, Ireland….we are in very bad straits, we need much help, we need good, solid, and courageous leadership. We must take on those who would threaten our freedoms and our securities. So, as i write to you in APOLOGY, i write to you in PRAYER. Let us PRAY EVERY DAY for each other and for the world and continue to work together to find wise and reasonable and good solutions. God bless us all.

THE PERFECT MURDER WEAPON

10906368_777547368993228_7797500758501544188_n

Hey, fellow New Yorkers, we just endured two days of bitter, bitter cold. It always helps me to appreciate our northern neighbors, the Canadians! But, two days! Ha! Kid Stuff. Do you remember last winter…how long it went on and how much of the white stuff fell? i pulled many an icicle off of my gutters before they went down, icicles bigger than me.

Such a phenomenon always makes me think of Alfred Hitchcock, that funny but very very scary man who had us shivering in our boots when we were kids. “GOOD EVENING,” he would say so sweetly, only to follow it with another story, irresistibly so, that would give us nightmares for many nights after…There’s actually a wonderfully entertaining video on You Tube about his famous greeting (Good Evening, Mr. Hitchcock).

But old Alfred used to talk about “the perfect murder weapon,” the icicle, if it was big and strong enough. You could jab it in – do the dastardly need – and then it would disappear…melt away.

Hey, Molly,1614421_595125353902098_1428939696_o

ONLY KIDDING, FOLKS! Don’t be poking around my house for a puddle now.

THE THING IS: i have always believed this whole thing to be true…but more so on another, a spiritual plain, the killing of a human spirit, another’s soul. Such icicles can only begin to form when the “air becomes brutal.”  And these monsters grow SLOWly…drip by drip by drip by drip, ice upon ice upon ice upon ice. i have never actually heard of a single instance where someone tested Mr. Hitchcock’s theory. BUT i HAVE SEEN FIRSTHAND SO MANY TIMES when an atmosphere of “cruel bitter cold” was around and spiritual icicles were created slowly but surely by mean words, ugly names, foul remarks, a missed opportunity to JUST BE NICE, etc. etc. etc. etc. and some beautiful human soul was destroyed. How many times right in department stores or in my grocery store parking lot i have overheard a man or woman speaking to their little child with such vulgarity or unkindness, and i have looked into those children’s faces – and seen DEATH, just imagining, if this is what happens in public, what they must go through in their dear homes. i fear that far more frequent than physical beatings, little souls (and MANY BIG ONES, too) are being slain by powerful words.

To paraphrase Pete Seeger’s classic, “Where Have All the Flowers Gone,” Where have all “the Inner Children” gone!? Why, to IceLand, of course!!!!

It’s the little things that matter, the tiniest! They can either create the deadly icicle or MELT IT, those warmer, kinder, loving caring breaths of ours. We can make or break the Child.

KINDLIN’

1653944_594122357335731_1670054204_n

Hey! Rumor has it that “He’ll be Comin Round the Mountain” for REAL! Old Man Winter! Well, it IS Mid-January, for cryin out loud!

All of these extra warm days have been wood-chopping paradise for us New York highlanders. At my chopping pile i rarely take a swing without remembering “the Ole Man of our Mountain,” Pete Seeger. ANOTHER RUMOR has it that he passed into the Big Wood-Choppers’ Paradise just the way he had predicted – to me, for one – with the swing of his old ax. How honored we were to be part of the Greater Family of Mister Pete, my daughter Molly being a member of his Rivertown Kids, barely reaching the Giant’s heart.

54206_381724118575557_1023788327_o

Of all times of the year none was so dear to Pete as mid-January, when he sang his heart out and yelled for the Kids to “let it loose” in honor of his Number One Hero – and Friend, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. One of the rare white men among the Marchers, Pete Seeger actually co-wrote the very Anthem of Civil Rights, “We Shall Overcome.” i couldn’t believe the day he walked off to march in a parade and asked me to babysit his trusty banjo. There it was at my toes, “the Legend” itself.456728_332995713448398_574512653_o

Well, on another warm January day, while i was chopping away at my woodpile, thinking of Pete over yonder and of Martin, a little tune came into my head. While asking my kids to gather up all of the PRECIOUS kindling pieces, i reflected on Pete and Martin’s DREAM – to spread Peace Through Justice and a Better World through treating each other as equals. Both men, just like many GREAT men and women before them, knew that to accomplish such a task a KEY INGREDIENT would have to be CHILDREN. They are the HOPE of the World ALWAYS, as Gandhi famously said: “Every child is a Love Letter from God, saying, Look! I haven’t given up on you yet!”

Thinking of how the German word for CHILD is KINDER and how the FIRE of every Dreamer depends on CHILDREN as KINDLIN, i wrote this song for Pete and Martin and Gandhi and St. Francis and Jesus, who was Dr. King’s #1 inspiration. Jesus who said, “I came to start a fire on this earth. How I wish it were kindled.” And the same Jesus said, “Unless you become like Children…..”

After i got my fire red-hot blazing that evening, i jotted down the lyrics and sent them off to the Granddaddy of Folk (knowing that he was especially a lyrics man!) Not long after, i get a telephone call, and the man says, “Mike, this is Pete, and I love it – EXCEPT FOR any part about me!! You know I’ll never sing it, if it mentions me!” What a truly humble giant he was!169204_331849726896330_1048185657_o

But, then, he threw me the highest of compliments, when he said, “Now, I’m German, as you know, and when I see this Kinder and Kindlin, Children and the Fire, why did I never think of that??!!” LOL! Pete then asked whether there was a melody, and i said Yes, and he ran off to fetch his banjo and a pencil. He asked me to sing it through, and after i did, this 90+ year old sang the entire thing back to me – with banjo! To top it off, he told me that he wrote it all out on music paper and would drop it in the mail.

So, here it is, my piece o’ Pete:620366_348085485272754_1568205652_o

My next move was to send all of this to a wild Irish Troubador who had marched and sung with Pete at the Lincoln Memorial, my old buddy, Danny O’Flaherty. Danny had recently lost his home and many possessions to a monster named Katrina, but as long as he has his music and some kids to sing along, Danny is filled with HOPE! He was the man to take this torch. Danny touched it up with his own magic, and when i said, “It Must Be Sung With Kids!,” the Maestro even added the kids’ voices for now. And THEN to TOP IT OFF, Danny sent the whole thing to his buddy, a master video artist by the name of Jake Sager, another lover of Pete and Martin and Gandhi and Francis and Jesus and Peace and Justice and Mercy AND CHILDREN!!!

And in the end comes this tribute to TWO GOOD MEN for Pete Seeger’s FAVORITE holiday, Martin Luther King Day. May it NEVER be reduced to a day of big sales at various stores. May it rather be a day to IGNITE or RE-IGNITE the DREAM and the DREAMERS of the Earth.

Sing it, Children….http://www.dannyoflaherty.com/one-earth-for-me-and-you/ Check Out Danny O’Flaherty’s Wide Experience in Music and History, ESPECIALLY HIS UNIQUE PROGRAMS FOR CHILDREN!!!!