A note I made for this column:
Sitting in a bar. Watching television news. Guy next to me, guy with plaster dust on his boots, sees something about former President Jimmy Carter's habit of helping build houses for the poor.
"You know why Carter did that?" the guy says to me.
I brace myself. I brace myself when anyone says anything even ...Read more
I am an American male. I gauge my general health with these five simple comparisons.
No. 1: My buddy Stan. He's dead.
No. 2: Anyone I've seen recently who was using an oxygen tank.
No. 3: Three guys I know who are drinking themselves to death.
No. 4: That guy I saw in Walmart last week who musta weighed 400 pounds.
No. 5: Anyone I ever knew...Read more
"Oh, I wish I was in the land of cotton
Down where they ain't fond of votin'.
Chip away. Chip away. Chip away at your rights."
"Dixie" as rewritten by a heretic.
Texas, the Lone Voting Booth State, is twisting itself into very small knots trying to pass some legislation aimed at preventing nonexistent voter fraud by outlawing mail-in ...Read more
I live in an urban area, which means my neighborhood sounds like the Battle of Midway on the Fourth of July, and for a week before and after. It scares the hell out of my cats, who spend the holiday under the bed.
Fireworks are illegal in the city and the state, which discourages no one. In fact, it encourages many people who view themselves ...Read more
A guy was killed not too far from my house the other day. He died on the sidewalk across the street from a park in a neighborhood where poverty and despair walk down the street holding hands, looking for new friends.
It used to be an Irish neighborhood, the city's best recruiting ground for minor civil servants, priests, nuns and cops. Right ...Read more
I live in the urban Northeast in a city that is the end of the line for tax money collected in other, richer communities. Oh, most of us work, but there are a lot of Section 8 certificates, and a lot of EBT cards, and a lot of senior centers serving free meals, and a lot of "programs" dealing with the violence and addiction that are the ...Read more
Many people, some of whom hold public office, want the death penalty for Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, one of a pair of brothers who bombed the Boston Marathon in 2013, killing three and injuring more than 200 others.
The bombing took place in the state where I live, Massachusetts, and, as a working reporter, I had my piece of the story.
The governor ...Read more
I sat on my living room couch today and told myself jokes. I'm semiretired, and I have time to tell myself jokes. Eventually, my wife came home, and I had to stop telling jokes and talk to her. That is love as it is lived. If she hadn't come home, I might still be there, sweating in the June heat, telling myself jokes.
What this little ...Read more
"Ordinarily, the death of a cat means little to most men, a lot to fewer men, but to me, and that cat, it was exactly and no lie and sincerely like the death of my little brother." -- Jack Kerouac.
Two friends, husband and wife, owned five cats. One of the cats died this week. His name was Fezzik, named after a character in "The Princess ...Read more
"Go down, Moses," are the words of the old spiritual, a song linking the American captivity of Africans to the captivity of Jews in Egypt.
Many centuries after the Jews left Egypt running, Moishe, and all the Jews who could be swept up in the swastika net, went down to Hitler's death camps. With them went an assortment of socialists, communists...Read more
When I was 14, my father, who'd pretty clearly had a few drinks, came home and told me he had great good news.
"I got you a job," he said.
It was a dishwashing job. It paid $1.25 an hour and was in the restaurant attached to the bar where he'd been drinking.
And, 50 years of jobs right in a line, and I'm working right now, writing this column...Read more
"You know why COVID is killing everybody in India?" the guy said to me, taking his attention off the ballgame for a minute, turning toward me on his bar stool.
I don't like baseball, so I was willing to talk.
"Why?" I said.
"Because all the Indian doctors are over here," he said.
On the screen, a player who grew up shoeless in the Dominican ...Read more
I know how to make coffee by putting coffee beans in a white gym sock, beating the sock with a hammer, and then boiling the sock full of crushed beans in a pot of water.
We do not do this because we are middle-class people. We own a Keurig coffee maker. We can't imagine living without a Keurig any more than we can imagine living without a ...Read more