“You hear about Stu?”
“Yeah, a couple hours after it happened.”
“It’s sad. So, so sad,” added Abbie.
“Yeah. Yeah it is.”
Start thinking now.
You’ve got a mere five years until the face of a prominent female figure adorns the $10 bill, to coincide with the 100th anniversary of the passage of the 19th Amendment, which granted women the right to vote. The Treasury Department is seeking input from the public via their website, Treasury.gov, and social media, #TheNew10. The department’s only requirements: that the candidates directly reflect the theme of democracy and that they no longer be living.
1. You weren’t actually sure the Apocalypse was coming, but then you remembered that both Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert’s “fake” news shows were going off the air…IN THE SAME YEAR.
2. You’re not worried about global warming because you genuinely believe today’s teenagers will figure out a way to put a giant plastic air conditioned biodome around the planet.
Last Tuesday night, after the Golden State Warriors won the NBA finals, I drove into downtown Oakland to see if anybody was celebrating. I didn’t expect much: the Warriors clinched in Cleveland, so I thought it would be relatively quiet out.
I was wrong.
(like this, but dark out)
There were dozens of police cars, hundreds of cops, streets were blocked off, helicopters hovered overhead…downtown was packed and loud and frenzied…and everyone was….happy, the cops included. On the city’s main thoroughfare, Broadway, which I could only glimpse from half a block away, people were jammed shoulder to shoulder, chanting “Warriors,” honking plastic horns, and dancing. Just to be able to leave the area I had to drive three blocks, backward, the wrong way, on a one way street, past cops. And no one cared: the cops just smiled when I gave them a “sorry, what can I do?!” glance.
And then I thought: this is a form of religion – a huge group of strangers coming together to celebrate something bigger than themselves and feel united.
“Hey Fredo, what’s going on?”
“Hey man, not much, man, it’s been a dog’s age, how are you?”
“Good. Good. ‘Viscous Daydream’s’ going on tour, and they’ve asked me to fill in for their drummer.”
“Ohmigod, that is so awesome, congrats!”
“Yeah, we’re playing the Den next Thursday. You definitely should come.”
“I’ll put you on the list.”
“Ah, man, no need.”
“Dude, you’ve bought me hella drinks in your bar. Lemme at least get you on the list.”
“Awesome. See you there.”
Who the hell am I talking to?
Nine African Americans shot dead in a South Carolina church. Twenty kids and six adults gunned down at Sandy Hook Elementary. The chokings, shootings and beatings of unarmed young black men this past year. The tiny notice buried in today’s paper, barely meriting coverage – the same one with a headline article on the South Carolina shootings – announcing “Man Pleads Guilty To Displaying Noose.” On and on.
There is no silver lining here. Only grief, outrage, despair. If 20 dead kids, most of them white, didn’t create enough momentum to change gun control laws, and didn’t motivate us to invest millions of dollars in mental health care, then this latest tragedy won’t get anyone to budge, either.
In “Cracking College Admissions,” the handbook written by SAT test-prep company Princeton Review, Asian-American students are given this advice: “If you’re given an option, don’t attach a photograph to your application and don’t answer the optional question about your ethnic background.”
Now why would this be the case?
Many centuries ago, when I was a high school student, the common wisdom was to do anything you could – short of flat out lying or wearing black face to your college interview – to identify yourself as anything but Caucasian. Had a twice-removed aunt from Korea? Good. An African-American grandmother? Even better. Could you describe yourself as 1/16th Cherokee? Perfect!
I watch pro sports for the same reason I watch shows like “Project Runway:” it’s just really impressive and inspiring to see people at the top of their game. As a kid, I “hated” jocks for being, well, jocks, and the most I could do in the sartorial department was sew on the odd button.
But now – it’s just a joy to watch people who are great at what they do.
The little odds and ends: how a competent pit crew can change four tires in less time than it takes me to dial AAA when I get a flat; the sculptural magic that can be pulled off with fondant; how gently and (seemingly) effortlessly 6’3” Warriors superstar Stephen Curry can toss up a rubber orange ball over the head of a 7’ defender and into a metal ring.
I have no intention of seeing the movie “Tomorrowland,” which Offender Anderson wrote about recently, but it does provide me the thinnest of pretexts to gush about the amusement park which inspired it.
I love Disneyland. Love it. It’s one of the few places where, without drinking alcohol or boarding a plane, I really feel like I can escape.
I’ve known Erik since seventh grade. That is to say, I’ve known him longer than I’ve not known him. Which is to say, when we first met, we were younger than our own children are today. In other words, he has been my best friend for 33 years.
And I just found out for the first time last week that he also happens to be a superhero.
I recently tutored high school students preparing for debates.
The five-person teams, comprised of freshmen, are each assigned a “controversial” topic: gun control, marijuana legalization, teacher tenure, and, in the case of my group, police body cameras.
The students do not get to pick whether they will represent the “pro” or “con” side of the issue – it is simply assigned to them, and their job is to do the best they can.
“For Mother’s Day, you can just get me another gift card from ‘Black Angus.’”
Thus began – and ended – the discussion my mom and I had regarding Mother’s Day festivities.
It’s how we roll.
We’re both actually very sentimental – we wax on about childhood Saturday nights spent eating grapes and watermelon together while watching sit-coms like “Three’s Company” and “The Love Boat,”…
…and we both shake our heads in disbelief and dismay at where the time has gone (I certainly don’t know – blink and a decade or two slip by) – but we’re also both very pragmatic about some things, and our irrepressible love of pared down emotional efficiency shines through: she is, after all, 100% German, and I’m 50%.
So, in keeping with the Teutonic spirit of efficiency, here is a bullet point list of some of the things that make me love my mother so deeply and so dearly.