THREE LITTLE BIRDS

IMG_20160424_163452

i imagine that most families, like ours, have a Top Ten List of Favorite Songs that fell into place over the years of “good times” and “bad times,” some happy tunes, some very sad. Everybody has a different idea of “The Classics!” Most definitely in my family’s list, very near the top, would be Bob Marley’s “Three Little Birds.”

“DON’T WORRY ABOUT A THING, ‘CUZ EVERY LITTLE THING’S GONNA BE ALRIGHT!!!”

Such a catchy little tune by one of Earth’s coolest princes – IMG_20160424_163723405but a LYRIC that takes a lifetime to learn, unless you come from the Islands, mon!

What Bob promises might not be so, unless the listener has chosen and learned to live a simple life. It is just like Saint Francis of Assisi said to his little brothers about their living with “the Lady Poverty.” She was not just a “path to holiness,” meant for a rare few. But, she was also your basic COMMONSENSICAL path to SANITY, offered to anyone who cared to share it.12928119_2038123459746049_2000814875429971080_n

It was the wisdom which the most beloved of saints learned from his “three little birds” IMG_20160424_164349

Francis used to pass on, then, to whomever would listen, “If we have possessions, then we have to WORRY all the time about protecting them. And the more we have, the more we worry. But, if we live simply, as the little birds do, according to the Lord’s Prayer, there is a much better chance Brother Bob of Jamaica is RIGHT ON, mon!”

It is all in that encounter that Jesus had on the road with that rich young man, who was obviously very attracted by, even envious of, Jesus and the Apostles’ peacefulness and joy, though they clearly had so very little. He asked what he had to do “to get me some o dat?” It is one of those times, in the original text, where THAT WORD comes in, that word which i just love, expressing the Lord’s response, when a horror comes over the man at the very thought of giving up his things. SPLAGCHNIZOMAI!!!! Jesus’ Heart, Jesus’ GUTS BURST! So filled was He with sadness for that poor soul….and for all of the rich people of all time – or, that is, for the ones who could not let go. Jesus’ guts were exploding, because more than anything else Jesus wants EVERYONE to share the REAL TREASURE, which is not in things but plainly and simply in the Joy of Being Loved and of Loving in Return.

Everybody who loves St. Francis, which is just about Everybody. Period. in their love for him lies the same longing, even the same jealousy, for his simple peace. But to seek that peace sincerely means to acknowledge that all the other STUFF will always get in the way. Saint Paul was the most blunt of all about it. He called it – even the fanciest, shiniest, sparkliest bits of it – “GAAAAHHHBAGE!”

Now, don’t get these THREE LITTLE BIRDS, Jesus, Paul, and Francis wrong. None is calling these things we have around us in our lives EVIL or Bad. They are good, they are blessings, but they are also with us for a reason, namely to tell us we are loved, so loved, and – then – hopefully we will want to share them with anyone else in need. It is like the woman, whom the prophet promised would have all she needs, if she shared with him her last piece of bread. “Your Jug Will Never Run Dry if you do two things: Trust Totally and Share Totally! Can you do that?”

Can i do that? Well, there’s the question. There’s the CATCH to the Bob Marley Method. Yes, every little thing WILL BE ALRIGHT! if you live simply…When you live simply, freely, you are ready for the storms. They cannot really harm you. For you know where the Treasure lies…deep within, not without.

A TRUE BROTHER!!!!!on the Streets of Philadelphia

431785_10101483279083703_1521259339_n

One day this week it was my turn to be victim of a hack (not to mention a couple hundred friends who had to put up with crazy emails begging to SEND MONEY, PLEASE!!!) The FBI came to the rescue, though nobody could help me through the pit of fixing my accounts. At the end of a long long day of dealing with one more DARK human bean, i went to sleep with a great big smile and the silver-lined-HOPE in the Goodness of Humanity.

As far as i know, only one fell for the scam. And it’s not because he’s a dummy. It’s because all he needed to see, in the first words, was that his childhood pal needed help, and he jumped – and sent all he had in his pocket! His reason: “I JUST LOVE YOU, MAN!!!” He acted from the heart, not from the head. That’s my JOEY PERILLO – Or OUR Joey, as so many know and love him!

Joey was made in the mold of his precious mother – and of his “Other Mother,” Mrs. Robinson, my mom, who used to say, whenever we lost money, “It’s alright. Someone needed it more!” Two people who, too, acted much more from the heart than from the mind and who meant to teach us to always keep our “crazier selves” open to those in need.

473926_4205237973986_19041245_o.jpg

But, Joey, little Joey, my buddy on the diamond, would have more than our mommas to mold him. No one could ever have imagined through the joys of our youth what awaited this unique character, who was destined for greatness. Just after our little boy fun, but still in his youth, he would, as the Bible says, “be tried like gold in the crucible of fire” – truly! It was the first real tragedy that most of us kids ever had to face. Our pal, Joey, a young man on one of his first jobs, caught in an explosion, enduring one of the ultimate sufferings a human can face, burned over the majority of his super-active body. And then, with all of us forced to just imagine and PRAY from afar, Joey endured all of the treatments – worse than the fire!

Now, this Joey Perillo was already one of the toughest hombres in the Old Neighborhood of Edgemoor Gardens of Wilmington, Delaware, a Real, Live “Fonz.” i will never forget the time we were at a big party at Mary Ann Blake’s house on S. Cannon, and some gang was out to kill me and Jimmy Peltz. i was literally up against the wall, when suddenly the crowd parted, and Joey stepped in to save me. i never knew what he said or did – maybe nothing? That’s just how he was, the respect he commanded.But this catastrophe was way beyond the scope of even Joey’s strength or “Cool.” How can he take it? i must have asked myself, and God, a thousand times over those long months, helpless…

IMG_20160422_233206

Since Ancient Greece theatre has always been symbolized by two masks, one of agony, representing Melpomene, the muse of tragedy, and a smiling, laughing Thalia, muse of comedy. The two are always together, never apart, because that is the way life is. Kahlil Gibran in “The Prophet” said that “the deeper that sorrow carves into your being, the more joy you can contain.” But, all the words in the world cannot compare to one real human soul who takes such suffering and comes out with the same, only infinitely richer, laugh, and a limitless contagion of humor and of compassion. That is Joey Perillo. (i know, Joe, how loud you are laughing at what i write of you! But that, TOO, is YOU!)

How did he do it? There can only be one answer in the end. It certainly was not an easy road. There was agony upon agony upon agony in his life. However, Joey has known Great Love…be it his Mother’s or Father’s or Sisters’ or Brothers’ or Friends’ or Higher Power’s. Whatever the source, it was there. It became perfectly clear somewhere along the way of the Great Companions, of which i am so privileged to have been even the tiniest one.

Joey Perillo became an amazing actor – on the silver screen and the smaller screen, and especially on various stages in and around Philadelphia. He even landed a role as Denzel Washington’s assistant in the masterpiece, “Philadelphia,” chosen as the guy who must show IN A FACE the whole world’s fear and repulsion – at the time – of those, like Tom Hanks’ character, who suffered from AIDS. Our Joey NAILED IT, only showing what a tremendous actor he is, BECAUSE THAT IS NOT MY JOEY!!! He usually wears his heart on his sleeve. His Crucible – and His MANY Mothers – molded him into such a LOVER, of Life, yes, even with its angst, and of his BROTHERS, namely everyone who was hurting or laughing through the hurt. THAT’S my TRUE BROTHER – on the streets of Philadelphia, the City of Brotherly Love. The Beauty of it all is that JOEY doesn’t act when he loves.

940884_10208940722500067_1890781920967101244_n Now, there will be those who don’t seem to like my friend, but JOEY PERILLO, i LOVE YOU, MAN!!!

133452_1756376873989_7298023_o

 

 

The Man in the Back (and the beat goes on…)

IMG_20160421_091204

Sweet Tevye sang, “If I were a rich man…” And i myself AM a very very very rich man! Though my net worth, materially, the banks like to tell me, is way below zero, i am FILTHY RICH! Highest in those riches are SUCH GOOD FRIENDS, and one of them is a lifelong bud named Tommy Stanford. Tom is a Creator and Collector of Art and Autographs – & Tattoos.

405608_467931636621471_556628040_n A regular Whitman!

Tommy just SCORED A DANDY, and he knew that i’d be thrilled!!!!! Of all my rock n roll heroes – and boy, i had a bunch! – there’s been none so dear to me as Charlie Watts, the now 76 year old, or should i say 76 year young-and-still-drummin, still Rolling Stone, the classy guy in the back.

My pal sent Charlie a sketch of him in “Ancient Times,” and “the legend” responded with a Thank You to “Tommy Tattoo”IMG_20160421_082319

What is it that made this man so beloved of so many like me? Maybe it is that powerful, but most difficult, piece of wisdom, “The Ultimate Test of Character is the Temptation Resisted.”Charlie lived most of his life in the very heart of that world of temptation. Many many of his colleagues have openly, actively competed for the Grand Prize of Most Women Won, and that on top of most mind-altering-substances-consumed, while Gentleman Watts famously stayed true to One. Such a dirty word in the Biz but Charlie remained “FAITHFUL” to his wife of 52 years, Shirley.

THAT AMAZING FEAT when thousands of “pretty little things” threw themselves at him over a half century of ROLLING…THAT, and perhaps an even bigger reason why we love him so. What the heck is a song without the BEAT? Try to imagine, for example, “Painting It Black” without those sticks of the man in the back!!!??? Charlie Watts was – HECK, still IS at 76, THE BEAT, the Heart of the Beat, the quiet man, the humble man, the ESSENTIAL MAN. i always called him and Ringo and Steve Gadd “the Heartbeats of Rock n Roll.”

OOOOOOOHHHH! It wasn’t easy, such a feat. Charlie’s far from perfect, and sure, there were cracks, even MAJOR BREAKS, in that HEART, but he will always be known as one of the Classiest of Class Acts, for his Faithfulness.

IMG_20160421_080357

One point that Mother Teresa never got tired of making was that “in the end it does not matter if we are rich or famous, how many houses or cars or boats we had, or how lovely we appeared. All that counts in the end? Were we FAITHFUL???”

THAT DOGGY IN THE WIND,OH!

IMG_20160418_182627371.jpg

A dog is never happier than when it is riding in the car with the fam, head hanging out the window. The combination of the comforting love within and the Love of its Life outside, the Wind, make for sheer ecstasy.

Now, Wait! i spoke too soon. Maybe there was one place better in the life of our Rudy. When our son, Ben, was attending SUNY Stony Brook, we would visit him by way of the Bridgeport, Ct., Ferry across the Long Island Sound. Rudy was with us on one trip, and when the Wind went under his ears, he almost turned into Rudy Pan.

IMG_20160418_181606338

Often i have sung the similarities of Rudy and his Creator, but this might be the ultimate connection. The Biblical word for God actually means “Wind” in English, and just as a moth is so drawn to a candle flame as to be willing to dive right into it, so our pups are connected to the core with the Maker. A dog has the Wind in its soul. “My soul cannot rest until it rests in You,” wrote St. Augustine. GOD + DOG = ONE

So in love with the Wind is our Rudy that on breezy days we cannot get him into the house. Even when the night falls, he prefers to stay in the breeze. At the moment our family is trying to come to grips with the fact that a Wind is not very far away, which will be coming to carry our Rudy Pan away, the same Wind which once upon a time long ago delivered him to us – out of the grip of a monstrous abuser. We are savoring every day with him until that Wind shall surely sweep him back up and away.

Very soon we will look into his brown eyes and HEAR, “Please, let me go home now. I will surely meet with you later. Thank you for saving me long ago from a wicked man and for giving such a safe and cozy, loving home, both inside and outside. I will put in a good word for you, my Master Companions.” A Great Ferry is coming soon to carry him across the Sea of Death into the Land of the Free Forever.

IMG_20160419_175347779 (1)

SEEEEEEEEEEDS!!!!!

IMG_20160417_082814801 (1)

Mahatma Gandhi used to say, “Every Child that is born comes as a LOVE-LETTER from God, saying, ‘LOOK! I HAVE NOT GIVEN UP ON YOU YET!'” Gandhi’s Hero, Jesus Christ, seems to have felt that way about every seed. He spoke so often and so passionately about the POTENTIAL and the POWER of each and every one for bettering, beautifying, feeding the earth – and even, when referring to the seeds of FAITH WITHIN US, “to move mountains!”

IMG_20160416_190728651

Though at every moment of the year they are being planted somewhere, right now we are at THE SEASON OF THE SEEEEEEEEDS!!!!! As soon as i finish this reflection, i will be out in the dirt with my Rudy, trying to revive my lawn. i hold in my palm these little heart-fuls of seeds and actually see a dirty dead mess A NEW SEA OF GREEN!!!!

When i hear the horrors of this year’s presidential primary/fiasco, when i consider many of the words coming from the mouths of these “potentials” for LEADER OF THE FREE WORLD, i look back to 1896, 1900, AND 1908 when the Democrats’ candidate was William Jennings Bryan. WOW! THREE ATTEMPTS, but the Republicans then were so together!!!!!! Though he did not win, oooooohhhh, how Bryan did inspire!!! Oh, how he made people THINK and BELIEVE in our POTENTIAL…in what America could be! Even before Gandhi, he spoke so eloquently and lovingly of each person as a vessel of hope. And maybe no one – except Jesus – marveled at a seed more than William Bryan. One day he was asked by an atheist about “the mystery of God,” and the Congressman from Nebraska (who, by the way, “felt the Bern” way before Bernie, his lifetime goal being to break the banks with their “evil money power” and put more in the hands of the hard-working common man), William Bryan said to that man:

”Observe the mighty power of the watermelon seed. It draws from the earth and through itself 200,000 times its weight. When you can tell me how a tiny watermelon seed takes this material and out of it colors an outside surface beyond the imitation of art, and then forms inside of that a white rind, and within that again a red heart, thickly inlaid with tiny black seeds, each one which in turn is capable of drawing through itself 200,000 times its weight; when you can explain to me the mystery of one watermelon seed, then I’ll explain to you the Mystery of God.”

IMG_20160416_190523785 (1)

 

 

 

 

WHAT’S COOLER THAN COMPASSION?

IMG_20160415_083305

Always glad, though never proud, to surrender to the truth of my Knuckleheadness, i have used this blog on many occasions as a confessional. Today i’ll let loose a biggie. As my buddy, Tommy Stanford, likes to say, “Life’s a Gas, Let it Pass (holding crap’ll kill ya!)”

St. Augustine, one of history’s most famous sinners, thanks to his own admission, told us clearly from his first failing how one of the strongest roots is peer-pressure, as much so in the 4th century as in the 21st. That Ugly Ogre was breathing down my neck those days. It was long ago, back when minimum wage was $1.60 an hour. Though just a teen, i was offered $11.50 for a summer job, YIKES! Move over, Donald J.T.! i’m hot stuff! Not easy work, of course; here was a kid doing a man’s task, cutting pipes in the “Bathroom World of Speakman.” (i made 1000s of those pop-ups for your sinks.)

But, that being said, my REAL main occupation was trying to win over the “giant kids” inside the men of the crew, constantly engaged in practical jokes were they, which nearly even cost me fingers. But oh, how cool they were – and made me wannabe! So, i set out to prove myself.

The factory was in Delaware, and just behind it ran the B&O Railroad. And right there, smack dab in our faces, was a real live hobo haven, not a whole camp but definitely one cool stop on the journey. There was easy on/off access to freight trains and a perfect shady rest, a secret hideaway known only to them – and to the boys inside those windows.And there was one special area just perfect for the traveler’s relieving himself, well sheltered by trees and shrubs, but not safe from me and my 25-foot pipes. i found an even better use for them than pop-ups. How about creating a stampeding elephant right through hobo heaven in the city of Wilmington? As from their windows my pals would watch,  i slid my weapon out in silence, only to get it behind their heads and BLOW!!!  making these poor souls jump out of their skin, many a naked butt a-shining, many landing right in their brew. Forty plus years later i still see their horror – and still hear the laughter. i was a hero; i was definitely TOO COOL! at the expense of the hobos.

IMG_20160415_204840

BUT THEN SOMETHING HAPPENED! Or should i say SOMEONE HAPPENED! Then came a sharp turn in my tracks. THE GOD OF MERCY decided to give me another chance. That very same summer i would be rescued from myself.

And it wasn’t very far away from that B&O HOBO STOP. Up the road a bit there in Wilmington stands a very special hospital just for children. It is known as the A.I. duPont Hospital, and that summer a friend of mine happened to be a patient there. One day while i was visiting, another patient for some unknown reason (in time known as MERCY) had picked me out of all the other people in the place to be her pal – and to play a game of Peekaboo. She was really good at it, and while at first i had no desire to play, something made me go along. When i decided to put a stop to it once and for all, that’s when SHE DECIDED TO PUT A STOP TO ME!!! Right in my tracks. As i quickly caught her, i caught the reason for her game, as she did not think i’d be quick to receive her. This little girl only had a half of a face. It just might have been the first time i REALLY PRAYED, i mean, not some well-memorized old-time prayer but a real live straight from the heart – OR MAYBE FROM THE GUT, as that was where i was really aching at that moment. i prayed that i could stay there with her, really look her in her eye. i prayed, as if for the first time, TO SEE!

Isn’t that what she was saying to me? Or what God was saying to me through her? Saying about my hobos? “WAIT…TURN AROUND…GO BACK…LOOK AGAIN, boy! I Believe you have it all mixed up.” Think again. Is there anything SO COOL AS COMPASSION? And if you consider in whose image you were molded, IS ANYTHING MORE MANLY THAN MERCY?! Nothing!

My little girl-friend opened my eyes, the ones in my head and the ones in my soul. She taught me that people can be so so different from me, and this is REASON to CELEBRATE and to support them, rather than mock them or knock them down. Then, what a wonderful world this could be.

IMG_20160415_240243032 (1)

Oh, i do not mean by this that i fully learned my lesson or that i still don’t do stupid things, make knucklehead mistakes. i simply mean that from that point in my tracks ONWARD i could no longer excuse myself. i rely totally on the Mercy of God and live in awe of the ways in which He chooses to show it. Always AMAZING Grace.

MUSE

1017751_635080819906551_7182317074189536740_n (2)

Watching one of our favorite television shows, GRIMM, the particular episode was called, “The Kiss of the Muse,” having to do with that being whom the Ancients considered a goddess, providing inspiration to the artist. Grimm, of course, focused on how such beings might be very positive or very very evil. They’d have us ask ourselves, “Who’s my Muse?!”

i thought immediately of a man like Pope Francis, who JOYFULLY and frequently declares to the world that his MUSE IS THE ONE MUSE THAT MATTERS, MERCY, the very Heart of God. But then i recall the story that is so often repeated in sermons…of the little child who was screaming to Mommy from his bedroom due to nightmares. In her varied attempts to comfort him the mother said, “When you are scared, pray to God,” to which the child answered, “That’s nice, Mommy, but I’d rather have somebody with arms to hug me.”

Pope Francis is very much that boy. While he talks about this Mercy of God, he constantly uses – or BETTER YET, gives – examples of MERCY IN THE FLESH. i myself find this MUSE everywhere i look. The other day i blogged of how i found him by the onions in ShopRite!!! But, as my readers know, in fact the area they have best connected with me, i’ve hardly found a surer Muse of Mercy than in my lifetime of dogs, present company especially, my Rudy!

10310561_840351846046113_6263166302337314801_n (1)

When we think of the Muse of a Saint such as Francis of Assisi or John of the Cross, we speak of “Falling in Love with Love Itself,” and, well, That IS Life with these such Great Companions, our wonder-beasts. It is the common link with which i can so easily, effortlessly, connect with people everywhere on the tried n true proof of God, namely, this unconditional love we all encounter, this faithfulness no matter what, this vigilant watching over us, that joyous explosion of love upon our return after we’ve been away, even if it was, say, for ten minutes.

IMG_20160414_231009336

From my very first puppy to my very ancient Rudy, who, as we speak, is getting ready to return to the “Paradise” which loaned him to us as our perfect friend and muse, my favorite link of all to the Divine is this way in which they communicate with us. Every dog has taught me, far more than any priest or nun or spiritual master, that the Secret is in the SILENCE. Only those who learn the value – and the method – of Silence will ever learn to truly TUNE IN to the ONE TRUE MUSE, the Heart of God. And this attribute coincides with the ability to look beyond what we see with our eyes. Over the centuries in Art the most common image of the muse is that of a woman so breathtakingly “beautiful” in the ways that the majority of men define the term.

BUT, THEN, ALL OF A SUDDEN, YOUR EYES MEET HERS, or HIS, AND YOU JUST KNOW FOR CERTAIN

IMG_20160414_210745

THAT LOVE IS REAL and that REAL LOVE is all that matters, not money, that luxury, not fame, not a fancy house or car or boat, just companionship with a True Beauty known as Love.

 

ZUPPA DI VIT!

IMG_20160411_152715

My wife had been begging, or was it bugging, me, to write a book. My regular response was, “There is nothing new under the sun. It’s all been said.” Then she’d say – so wisely – that “maybe there’s nothing new in your discoveries, but nobody can say it quite like you, because no one’s been BLESSED with the same TENDER MERCIES (referring to that Tender film) as you have,” all the wonderful people who have taught me about Loving and Living and Dying and Suffering with Joy.

One such Mercy was the man into whose hands my parents placed me almost 50 years ago, Father Jude Duffy, Cappuccino. 10940501_764883133592985_1708382549530053818_nLucky me, to find this Irish Pot o Gold, who insisted that we seminarians learn independence, namely to do everything on our own, including cooking. i became quite the baker and learned to put together a “mean soup!” Yummmm! But, now i see what the wife is saying, “It’s Time to Make a ZUPPA di VIT!!”

Ha, ha! Yes, my wife is pure Italian. She knows a good zuppa, when she sees one. Her family is “Nabalidan!” (Neopolitan/of Naples), and they have this funny habit of killing their beautiful language. It sounds like they are all in this big hurry, so they chop word after word to pieces like onions or garlic, thus creating, for example, Zuppa d’Vit, the Soup of Life! It’s as if their words are in a hurry to be heard.

Hey, maybe she’s right! Maybe they ARE right, this great batch of Napolitans! Life is so short. My wife’s mother and father and brother ALL died very young to affirm that fact. And, well, look at me, at 62 carrying cancer and lung disease, arthritis and tinnitus. My own dear dad did not make it much further than me. If i’m gonna make this soup, i’d better get to it.

IMG_20160404_132306985

The ZUPPA of which i speak, of course, is not made of onions, potatos, tomatos, chicken, steak, or pesce, but of human lives, the ones i’ve been so blessed to encounter. (It is not about me, by the way, i’m just the mixer and the sharer.) There are countless recipes around the world for great meals, and countless recipes for good, successful, HAPPY lives. My hand will be very liberal with the laughter and with the tears. When i was 12, there was a guy named Rudy Martinez who called himself Question Mark, and with his garage rock n roll band, the Mysterians, he had one big hit called “96 Tears.” Well, that would be me and my soup…at least 96 doses of crocodile tears to spice it up right, but right on top of them 106 spoonfuls of laughter, and i mean big belly laughs!

A wonderful example is my wife’s cousin, Denise Knight. i have written about her before in this blog. A victim of a massive stroke about 25 years ago, she was TOLD BY DOCTORS (as if it’s theirs to tell) that hers would be a “NO Life,” she’d never be a “productive, viable member of society again,” as she was paralyzed over half of her body. BUT WHAT DO THEY KNOW??? Definitely NOT DENISE! She’s proven them wrong every day since. And i often say that her secret is her uncanny ability to laugh and to cry at the same time, thereby REALLY MIXING THE MIX. It’s like baking bread or cake. Unless it is really stirred and thoroughly blended, you are gonna have yucky chunks, that are both ugly and foul-tasting. The MIXING IS AN ART UNTO ITSELF, and Life has not shown me many mixers like Denise.

IMG_20160412_085204

OF COURSE there was GIGI STELLA, just about the purest example of Tender Mercy i’ve ever known, one of my wife’s enormous supply of aunts, each one a master-blend of the finest “spices of life.” Gilda was “the doll-baby” of them all, perfect love blended to perfection by a tough life, the worst of which came in her later years when she was totally mangled by arthritis. She could not come to our wedding, so we made our most important stop that day by “the CHURCH OF GIGI.” My wife herself, my Brigida, has now inherited some of her aunt’s miseries, but having also inherited her faith and hope and love – and having Gigi as her personal angel – my wife is one of these MASTER-BLENDERS of JOY and SORROW whose stories i am now so anxious to tell. As a little cappuccino i learned from St. Francis that the Greatest Gift Life has to offer is called “Perfect Joy,” the kind that comes when things just won’t go the way we’d hoped. A Cross Comes Instead, but with it all the Might of the Lord to help us “Lug it for Love…and FOR JOY!” Like Gig and Dee and Brigida and so many others i’ve known, i embrace my own one day at a time.

So, these are my ingredients, and this is my ZUPPA di VIT! And this is what i have decided to offer to, to dedicate to, Pope Francis in his Joyful Jubilee of Mercy. Like a “Chicken Soup for the Soul” mine is full of healing and strengthening properties which might serve the Holy Father well in his Church, which he now sees as “a field hospital dressing and addressing the wounded souls of the world.” My wife is so right! It would be a crying shame for me not to share these stories…of Mercy dressed in flesh and blood.

So, Mangia!  Eat and enjoy. L’Chaim! To Life!

 

A STROLL FOR STUPIDITY

IMG_20160409_181957853_TOP

There’s nothing like an evening stroll through the city to open up the eyes and the mind.

My mind was still reeling over hearing someone say, “OMG, What a Stupid Pope!” for his having Bernie Sanders address the Vatican. It was in that mindset that i set out with the fam for a walk on Main Street. The first thing i saw in a shop window made me seriously consider the notion of “STUPIDITY?” Lolol! But for some it seems just a question of STYLE!!??

A couple windows forward, and THERE’S THE MAN HIMSELF!!! IMG_20160409_184702291

His own Secretary of War, Edwin Stanton, for years called him a big “imbecile gorilla,” but when he died, Stanton saw Lincoln with a clearer head, in the proper light, and changed his opinion to “the most perfect ruler of men this world has ever seen.” Amen.

On our little journey we came to my favorite spot, a block full of giant sycamores, 90-100 feet high, and i realized that it will only be a few more days that we will be seeing them in their wonderful winter nakedness – and, thus, be able to spy that tiny dark spot near the tippity-top,

IMG_20160409_180255340

which is the MASTER-WORK of the guy that i so often call “Stupid, Stupid, Stupid!!!” THE SQUIRREL. i mean, he really drives me nuts sometimes, darting back n forth trying to make me crash my car.  Penetrating even the most impenetrable bird-feeder. Even bold and brazen enough to jump on my daughter’s lunch table and steal her graham crackers. And on and on, they frustrate me to declare them STUPID, when in fact that black dot in the photo tells what genius they hold, when 70-80 mph winds might snap whole branches off such trees – or even the trees themselves – but cannot move so much as a feather from out of that nest, so perfectly constructed. This “imbecile” just might be the greatest builder on earth.

IMG_20160409_080224 (1)

i came to the conclusion that we will so often throw names (like STUPID) at those we cannot fathom or figure out. More reason for many an evening, or morning, or midday stroll to clear or to open the mind….even if there are some things we will never quite figure out, like that dress???????!!!!!!!

Hey! just how dumb is a rodent who knows to take time to smell the flowers?!

IMG_20160410_094147693_HDR

My BERNIE Blog

IMG_20160408_175336663

i wasn’t planning on one, but then my Pope roped me in. Today, when the announcement was made that the Oddest-ball of the Oddest-of-all Campaigns was invited to the Vatican, my emails, texts, and Facebook SHOOK. Those who know that i consider Francis the BEST DARNED POPE since St.Peter were either praising him or calling him – AND ME – two NUTS! One of the first responses was, “OMG! WHAT A  STUPID POPE!”

And so, it’s Bernie Time!!!!!

Just imagine that little boy ONCE UPON A TIME in Brooklyn, being told the stories of his family in the old country. It might have been a reading from Grimm’s Fairy Tales, but it wasn’t. It was FOR REAL!!! They had been fed to the oven by a wicked Catholic maniac by the name of Hitler, who obviously had missed a big lesson on one of the greatest Catholic contributions to the world, its Social Teaching. But, it was at that very moment that a seed was planted in the little boy’s soul. Wonderful nurturing by his parents made sure that not just “A Tree Would Grow in Brooklyn” but a tree that bore fruit in a PROPHET. Whatever you think of Bernie Sanders, love him, hate him, he is a Prophet tried n true, one who has never rested since that day of the horror stories. And here now a Catholic named Francis, who didn’t miss that class, knows that religion is all about politics, and politics all about religion, until peace and justice are established once and for all – AND REALLY FOR ALL!

i am not sure that the U.S.A. is ready for Bernie, or whether it ever will be?! He has not exactly been in line with its values, whether you call them “New York” or “American.” Oh, sure, he has always been a dreamer of “the American Dream,” but he is also forever presenting challenges, especially until EVERY ONE has a chance to dream it. It is a whole different story, those who interpret the Dream as let us get big and Bigger and BIGGEST, CRUSH whoever gets in our way. This is obviously what draws Pope Francis to THE BERN. The two share this one common belief and goal, that every man, woman,and child should get a good piece of Life’s Great Pie.

IMG_20160408_175844135

Bernie HAPPILY went to jail for those who couldn’t get a taste. HE always MEANT what he said.

You know, if you’ve read my blogs, how i never get tired of repeating myself, with regards to the Great Daddy of our country. i’ll say it again here for Bernie’s sake. i’ve heard that the Bern is coming to my neck of the woods, to downtown Newburgh, New York. Though it is one of the most dangerous neighborhoods, right there smack dab in the middle of it all is a tiny house, where the Father of America lived right up til the end of the Revolution to set this nation free. On his knee in that house, overwhelmed by gratitude to God, General Washington wrote a prayer-full letter to the budding nation. i say his words every day as a prayer: “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!”

To me that letter is like the “Bible of America.” Abraham Lincoln, they say, held a Bible in one hand and a Life of George Washington in the other. And the Dad’s Dream became Abe’s Dream. Abe, so many screamed, was out of his mind!!! For example, to think that black people from Africa (who sure didn’t come over here of their own will!!!) should have every right of the white. Bernie often makes me think of Abe. Bernie says clearly that he wishes there were no talk of God in the mix (as he has seen so much horror committed in the Holy Name of God, including slavery.) Lincoln described his religion as, “When I do good, I feel good, and when I do bad, I feel bad.” Bernie has also said that a spirituality so lived as it is in Pope Francis, ACTIONS THEN WORDS…is one he’d be honored to live with.

IMG_20160408_175744509 (1)

Whatever you think of Bernie Sanders, there is no denying the Prophet. And he is Francis’ kind, for certain, as the Pope has made it clear from his own day one that what this world needs is MERCY, not MONEY, Prophets, not Profits, Servants, not Lords who lust for power. And this has been the simple gospel of Bernie since his first run for office in high school, determined to never ever let “the little people” be screwed or silenced or slaved or gassed or cooked again. These other candidates of 2016 have flip-flopped somuch over the years, while the Bern just kept burning the same old message ad nauseum. “Wacky” maybe, but tried and true!! “The little guy is the one who matters most.” The little guys apparently find Mrs. Clinton just about as trustworthy, or as interested in them, as Mr. Trump, their real goals being to see giant portraits of themselves on the walls by George and Abe. HECK, the Donald, who says he’s in it for “the little guy,” already plans to rename the White House TRUMP PLACE! i can just hear him, can’t you? “Hey, I might as well. I spent a lot of money on this campaign, my own money; lots of money! And I didn’t take a dime! I think I earned the right to change the name!!”

IMG_20160408_175639120

Mr. Sanders, by contrast, has an incredible, probably the record, majority who believe he is authentic, sincere, honest, and worthy of trust. And NONE so devoted as the YOUNG PEOPLE OF AMERICA, the hope of the future. Most likely Bernie Sanders will be neither Nominee, nor President in 2016. But even more likely Bernie Sanders will not be forgotten for a long, long time.

And the Pope? That STUPID POPE FRANCIS? Well, if stupid is defined as dull or dead in the head, what head has shown more electric than Bernie’s or Francis’, ever thinking, ever challenging, ever PROPHETIC!?!

IMG_20160408_180039614