Needed: Name For November



GORDONVILLE — October is now in the books. We’ve carved our pumpkins, gone trick-or-treating, raked our leaves (well, not me) and ushered in the start of the NHL and NBA seasons.

Most importantly, we’ve seen enough pink to make us think long and hard about the reason: Breast Cancer Awareness.

While we shouldn’t forget that men can conceivably get breast cancer, 99 percent of cases are women.

That’s our wives, our mothers, our daughters, our sisters, our dearest of friends.

That could be why the most macho of men let down their guard and wear pink shirts, ties, caps, etc.

While breast cancer owns October, in terms of awareness, there are other worthy causes — dental hygiene, disability employment, domestic violence and others – that often fly too far under the radar.

Once the calendar flips to November, the same holds true, but there is no clear-cut dominant cause.

Let us look at a few (alphabetically) – and exclude the lesser serious ones (National Georgia Peach Month, National Novel Writing Month, National Pepper Month, National Vegan Month) – that claim November to raise awareness:

Aviation Month: Yawn! Literally, since the glorified station wagons with wings often jar me from my afternoon naps as they fly into nearby Wing’s Field, I’m sleep deprived. Wake me up when they invent something that can reach outer space (Star Trek had us there already). I’ve seen enough Wright Bros. replicas in museums to last a lifetime.

Good Nutrition Month: When every corner has a pizza place or a fast-food burger joint, it’s hard to resist the temptation to less than healthy. Still, a little awareness can go a long way. Example: The U.S. ranks 31st in life expectancy, according to the World Health Organization, at right around 79 years old — after ranking at, or near, the top in the 1960s. There are a lot of contributing factors, such as the air we breathe and the stress we put ourselves under, but eating right isn’t a bad place to start. Tough to do it all the time, every time, but I try when I can to go with the healthier choice without being ridiculous – or annoying — about it.

Hunger Awareness Month: In what is supposed to be the wealthiest country in the world, too many people either go hungry or lack access to healthy food. It is called “Food Insecurity,” and USDA reports that 21 percent of households with children deal with what is defined as “lack of access to food” at all time for all family members. While hard statistics weren’t kept during the Great Depression, this is in the same ballpark.

National AIDS Awareness Month: AIDS has morphed into more of a chronic disease than a death sentence, and cases have dropped 8 percent between 2010 and 2015, according to Nevertheless, an estimated 1.1 Americans have AIDS and, more staggering, 1 in 7 are unaware. It is also more prevalent in certain regions, such as southern states (38 percent).

National American Indian Heritage Month: The ancestors of those who were here long before the Vikings or Christopher Columbus, prefer to be called Native Americans, Indigenous Peoples of the Americas or First Nation. They deserve that much, should a month honoring their heritage take off. The Trail of Tears has yet to dry, but there are rays of hope. On Tuesday, Sharice Davids of Kansas and Debra Haaland of South Dakota became the first two Native American women elected to Congress.

National Diabetes Awareness Month: I may be biased, since I am one of the growing number of Americans (1.5 million per year) with this “pre-existing condition.” When I was borderline, doctor’s orders were diet and exercise. Yeah and right. What deserves more attention is the way the American Medical Association has chosen to define what is or is not diabetes. What was borderline 5-10 years ago, is considered diabetic now. While I’m also happy to report that my own numbers are, more or less, more “normal” than when I was diagnosed, I will be forever branded as a type 2 diabetic. I don’t want to be saying there is a conspiracy going on with the drug and insurance industries to keep people labeled for their own ends, but it is worth discussing around your own sugar-free dinner table. Make no mistake, awareness is gargantuan. The American Diabetes Association estimates that of the 30.4 million Americans (9.4 percent) with diabetes, another 7.2 million are undiagnosed.

National Peanut Butter Lover’s Month: This one hits close to home. My daughter Sofia has a peanut butter allergy and, for whatever reason, she is far from alone in her generation. Studies reveal a 21 percent increase since 2010, with 2.5 percent of all children having a peanut allergy (accounting for more than half of food allergies in kids). This is almost like having a National Tobacco Lover’s Month, is it not?

National Red Ribbon Month (anti-drunk driving): I’m not a big fan of the word great, but great work has been done in this area the last few decades. Designated drivers, DUI checkpoints, bartenders cutting people off and calling a cab, etc. Attention seriously needs to either shifted to, and somehow be connected with, the scourge of distracted driving (estimated 3,200 fatal car wrecks a year, according to

Summary: While there is no overriding cause (i.e. Breast Cancer in October), take time to consider many of the above (even when a single-engine plane is waking you up from your nap). There are a lot of interconnecting parts in the area of food and nutrition. Those going hungry, or who are not properly nourished, don’t eat as well and put themselves more at risk for diabetes (the National Institutes of Health reports an increase of 1.8 in type 1 diabetes and 4.8 in type 2, which is less genetic and more the result of eating unhealthy and lack of exercise). Then again, while there are health benefits to peanut butter, let’s work to make school cafeterias peanut-free zones.

This column originally appeared in The Times Herald on Nov. 11, 2018.

Vermeil Had Long Reach




GORDONVILLE — When you’re born in 1965, you really can’t say you were at Woodstock hearing Jimi Hendrix play the national anthem or protesting the 1968 Democratic Convention alongside Abbie Hoffman and keep a straight face.

I am, for better or worse, a Brady Bunch-watching child of the 1970s.

As a sign of the times, my relationship with my dad – who I saw only on weekends as an interloper with his new family (the anti-Brady Bunch) — was a bit … odd.

Even though we shared the same birthday (March 23), we did not share the same wavelength.

Some of it was gender-related, as fathers and sons kept those stiff upper lips and “acted like men.” Some of it was just because, I don’t know, it was just … odd.

English was our second language. To really communicate, we had to press 1 for sports.

And if something was on my mind, or his, it was woven into a sports-related conversation.

Better than nothing, as far as conversation starters go, but there was still an issue not even a family counselor could solve.

The decade began with the Philadelphia teams we both loved so deeply were all pretty much pitiful, meaning most conversations were in the context of sub-.500 teams.

Yeah, by the middle of the decade, the Flyers were the talk of the town – and in my dad’s car when he would pick me up on Friday after school for the weekend – but he really wasn’t a hockey guy (even though it was, far and away, my best sport).

“I don’t give a damn about Rick MacLeish,” I remember him bellowing, while almost getting into an accident (a common occurrence, as he was the world’s worst driver).

The reality is that the sun rose and set with the Eagles.

For most of the 1970s, the NFL season was just 14 games (as opposed to 16 now). That was a lot of excitement for just a few Sundays of the 52 in a year.

There were some exciting moments, like when my father jumped up and banged his head on the ceiling of our den when Roman Gabriel found Don Zimmerman for a game-winning touchdown, but it was mostly as painful to watch as it was to listen to us try to talk to each like normal people (for example, that pass was the first win of a 1973 season that began 0-4).

Our relationship improved through the latter part of the 1970s and we able to connect better – not perfectly, but better – as the 70s morphed into the 1980s and beyond.

I can credit a lot of people for that, including myself for learning how to make use of defense mechanisms and to sometimes just be the bigger person.

The list of those who unknowingly helped would include Dick Vermeil, who Bridgeport’s Leonard Tose took a gamble on – pun intended – and hired in 1976 after Vermeil led UCLA to a 23-10 upset win over Ohio State in the Rose Bowl (future Eagle John Sciarra was the MVP of the game, throwing two touchdown passes to another future Eagle, Wally Henry).

Vermeil’s Eagles were not better right away, going 4-10 that first season, but there was a totally different vibe.

By 1977, the Vermeil’s Birds were more competitive than their 5-9 record indicated, as they scored more total points for the season than they gave up while enduring agonizing losses to the kind of teams that used to blow them away. They made the playoffs in 1978 and won a playoff game in 1979, both firsts since the NFL championship of 1960.

And we all know – or should – about the 1980 season, when the Eagles won the NFC title (only to lose in the Super Bowl, during which I saw my father drink a beer for the first – and last — time ever).

During that stretch of glory years, we cheered more than jeered and a lot of tension was lifted. While the other Philadelphia teams matched the pace (the Phillies won it all in 1980 and the Sixers in 1983), the Eagles were the main course.

We enjoyed each other’s company, laughed and shared inside jokes.

And English – not sports – became our first language.

Being in Veterans Stadium with my father on Jan. 11, 1981 – the 20-7 dismantling of the same Dallas team we had watch annihilate us so many times (like the fist-ever game there, a 42-6 shellacking) — was one of the best father-son experiences of my lifetime.

It was 17 degrees – with a wind-chill factor of about minus-114 — that day at the Vet, but hearts were permanently warmed.

That’s the kind of ripple effect a perfectionist/workaholic football coach, who came here with no draft picks and coached who he had until he cultivated some tangible talent to coach, can have on complete strangers.

And, with all due respect to Doug Pederson, Vermeil will always be the “coach” of the Eagles in Gordonville.

A young boy – broken home or not — only has one set of formative years, and Vermeil was the coach who showed us that Sundays don’t have to be as bitter as the weather.

What brings me back here from exile to share this? Well, it just so happens Vermeil will be at Presidential Caterers Nov. 20 for the 17th Annual Montgomery County Coaches Hall of Fame banquet (call 610-279-9220 for tickets) as the guest speaker.

As a longtime board member and chairman of the selection committee, I may have some access to Vermeil, but not as much as one would think. I certainly won’t be able to tell him all he did for me. At best, I’ll get in a handshake and a quick selfie (and I take the world’s worst selfies, so it will probably be of our shoes).

So, I’m saying what I have to say now.

Thank you, coach.

From both of us.

This column first appeared in The Times Herald on Nov. 4.

Gray Christmas


Gray Christmas

What we need is a gray Christmas
We got too much of black and white
Too much focus on how we’re different
Not enough on wrong and right

What we need is a gray Christmas
Might just keep you from those blues
No worries on sounding irreverent
Play this straight without the booze

Don’t matter how, if or when you pray
Even gray comes in many shades
Think you are wealthy, but you’re poor
Stand up for peace the other 3-6-4

What we need is a gray Christmas
Just forget about green and red
Give in and give us a lasting present
Give with your heart and your head

What we need is a gray Christmas

Honorable Mention

American Songwriter Magazine November/December 2018 Lyric Contest

Facebook Shows Our True Face

Dan May



Okay, so it seems that the latest Facebook scam is where you get a private message from one of your friends and it begins like this:

“Hi…I actually got another friend request from you yesterday…”

It’s supposed to make you think YOUR site has been cloned, when in actuality it is the person who SENT the message whose site has been compromised. What’s confusing about it, among other things, is their page has NOT been cloned, but commandeered, because the previous messages in the message thread are ACTUAL past messages from your friend. And if you search their name, only one of them comes up, where if they had been cloned, there would be multiple sites with their picture and name.


So am I.

So, what’s the point of this scam? I’m not sure, but it seems to be designed to create mistrust in the whole system. Because if someone can commandeer our site and start sending out private messages to our friends WITHOUT actually cloning our site, then the foundation of privacy has been destroyed. And as I’m typing this message, I just got another of the exact same message from another friend.

They’re dropping like flies.

So, is the objective of the people behind this scam to tell us that now we can’t trust anything we see on Facebook, even when it comes from our ACTUAL friends? That everything is under suspicion, everything is under scrutiny and we have to be careful what we say and what we do? And that no one, but no one is really our friend online? That it’s all a facade designed to take our attention away from the REAL world and REAL human beings? Is that the objective? Because if it is, I think they’ve wasted their time.

Because in our hearts, we already knew that.


West Virginia Plays The Fool



GORDONVILLE — Good thing I’m not a good Catholic – or Catholic at all.

I would have spent a lot of time confessing to the sin of taunting and teasing, with the only excuse being that they asked for it.

I didn’t make life hard for the kid with a physical disability or the kid with thick glasses or the one with acne.

They couldn’t help it, and I really tried to look past that stuff.

I was also aware of my own vulnerabilities. I had fuzzy hair that grow to the cloud instead of down to my shoulders like Roger Daltrey. I had some serious buck-ass teeth. And the occasional zit would rear its ugly head at the worst times.

We are all not perfect.

If I had been a state, it would have been an insignificant one – like one of the Dakotas (which should be combined anyway, but that’s another story).

Good for hockey, and not much else.

Who would have been open to my teasing?

West Virginia comes to mind.

Why? Because West Virginia – at second to the bottom in life expectancy — brings a lot of its troubles on itself.

It asks — practically begs — to be teased.

It’s not like it didn’t try to improve its lot in life – the equivalent of seeking tutoring – but going for JFK in 1960 and Bill Clinton in both 1992 and 1996.

You could argue that its self-made mattress on the floor would not full of bed bugs was not made any better by going for the Democrat winner, but you could also argue that it had the right instincts to continue its own momentum by going for Democratic losers in 1968 (Hubert Humphrey), 1980 (Jimmy Carter) and Michael Dukakis (1988).

Those guys didn’t win, and neither did West Virginia under Republican regimes rolling back what the Democrats tried to do.

Instead, by waffling back and forth, it finds itself where it is now – in an embarrassing scenario of fading into oblivion while worshipping at the altar of the current president it helped to elect with 68 percent of the vote in the most recent presidential election.

They most recently cheered him on like blind loyalists a high school pep rally crossed with a bible revival while he spoke of “falling in love” with fellow loon Kim Jong-un.

Maybe they saw a messiah in this bronze idol, and maybe you can’t blame them at the time – especially since their Democratic choice in the primary season, Bernie Sanders, wasn’t on the ballot (and Hillary Clinton had bad-mouthed coal mining beyond repair).

If their hearts were in the right place then, their heads need to follow now.

If not, they are living up to their stereotypes of imbeciles in overalls.

If not, I have no choice but to pull their chair out from under them when they go to sit down or stick that handy “kick me hard” sign on their ass in the hallway.

Turns out, the wool has been pulled over the eyes of the state that ranks 43rd in poverty and 45th in education.

If this state had a collective brain, the cheers should be turning to jeers, as several news reports – you know from the purportedly evil “Jew-run” mainstream media – reveal that things are getting worse under the current regime.

Last year, for example, West Virginia’s poverty rate went up (that’s not a good thing) to 19.1 percent from 17.9, making it just one of four such states.

What makes it ironic was that the president went to West Virginia with the plan to boast about his accomplishments that, along with his love affair with a leader who allegedly doesn’t defecate, are economic.

He proclaimed that he pound his chest about how he “turned West Virginia around.”

I guess he figured, after getting laughed at in the more astute UN, that he would find a more willing audience in West Virginia.

And he did – meaning some just cause for placing some pre-chewed bumble gum in its hair – in Social Studies class.

When liberals such as I like to point out conservatives – about 98-99 percent of them – who don’t vote in their own best interests, West Virginia is Exhibit A.

The nation is bitterly divided along all kinds of lines, and yet West Virginia finds itself in a vicious cycle serving as cannon fodder for a president while life gets worse there.

How so? Its workers – cashiers, retail clerks, service people – are the fastest growing in the state. It points to an upward arrow in employment rates – despite factors like inconsistent hours — but a downward spiral in the poverty rate.

Want the type of numbers that never get cited at these presidential pep rallies? A soup kitchen in Charleston, W.Va. served 9,700 meals in January. Come August, try 10,800.

“There’s a direct correlation between the hopelessness and the lack of jobs,” Director Tara Martinez was quoted as saying. “The jobs that are available are minimum wage and part time — they don’t have benefits. When you have that, coupled with the hopelessness of, ‘How do I get out of this cycle?’ and having to go to a soup pantry, it’s like a hamster wheel.”

And there is the elephant in the room – and the only social issue for which the president has shown any concern – that being the opioid crisis.

The brother of an addict, the president claims sensitivity to this, but has yet to make any really connection at the core of the issue. He remains too much of a single-issue president – almost a savant – with that issue being economic indicators indicating he is the “best ever.”

But poverty in places like West Virginia goes hand in hand with its ongoing battle with the opioid crisis woven into its culture as much as coal mining used to be.

Maybe I should take more pity on West Virginia. After all, it is in the hook of that wonderful John Denver song and all, but I can’t get past its infatuation with the president and the reasons it exists.

Consider that West Virginia is:

-Around 95 percent white. That, in and of itself, is not a crime. But we all know what base was played to during the election after eight years of Barack Obama allegedly holding the country hostage from itself.

-On the education thing, just 21 percent of the state’s residents between 25 and 64 have college degrees. Again, not a crime. However, whether you have a 4.0 in school or a 2.0, you learn critical thinking skills that make less gullible to con men and hucksters. Don’t think for a second that the president doesn’t keep biting into this like a KFC chicken thigh. This sad fact also puts West Virginians way behind the curve, in terms of joining their bronze idols alleged recovery that is weighted heavily toward those with any sort of degree beyond high school.

-Beginning this month, as the president exited from after chest-pounding routine, the state’s indigent face the burden of new work requirements for food stamps that will only mean longer lines with those in MAGA hats outside soup kitchens like the one run by Martinez in Charleston.

“It’s frightening and I’m worried and I’m doing everything I can to make sure our doors are still open,” she said, noting that she expects demand for meals to rise by 30 percent. “It’s going to be a lot of fundraising and pleading.”

And while I would have never mocked anyone getting a free lunch in my school daze or yore, I would have to mock them for not knowing enough to realize that they are placing their faith in a scam artist.

Don’t Look Away



GORDONVILLE — Tonight, one of the networks is airing a show about some former white nationalist type who has since reformed himself.

I think it’s going to be on MSNBC, but it could be CNN. I don’t know and I really don’t care.
It’s the not first time, and it won’t be the last, that someone tries to make the rest of us feel comforted and weepy-eyed about one rare case with a positive outcome.

For every one guy who de-clowns himself enough to start rid himself of tattoos with enemy flags (SS symbols, swastikas, Confederate flags, etc,) gets himself out, countless more clowns go into the hate machine.

A recent study came out, meant to coincide with today’s latest example of the drain getting more swamped, estimate that 24 million Americans hold alt-right beliefs. They are estimating low.

A whole lot more than that “wanted their country back” after Barack Obama was elected (not even sworn it), and a whole lot more than that call him “Obummer” to be cute and clever and call him the “worst president ever” with zero details to back that statement up.

Those may not qualify as alt-right beliefs by those taking the study, but they do in my book (the only book that matters, at least to me).

It’s a scary trend, and one we need to confront. I confront it every day on Facebook, trying to engage the MAGA crowd in logical debate, and bits and pieces of deeper hatred come oozing out like saliva on a rabid animal.

Maybe not enough to meet the standard of the survey that cut the number off at 24 million, but enough to tell me that there are more out there ripe to be plucked like the low-hanging fruit that they are.

Every time I earn a check mate in these “debates,” I get called a troll. My response is that if you don’t want anyone to disagree with you, don’t make a public post. I know I don’t expect everyone to agree with me, and I invite debate.

They do, too, trust. It’s all meant to incite and inflame and agitate, but they don’t like being called out on it in a logical manner. Any fact check, even from non-partisan entities, are meet with “fake news” trump card (and that is the only time you will see me use the word trump, as I refer to him exclusively as David Dennison, and you will note “trump” was not capitalized).

Then it inevitably morphs into me being called a libtard and/or a snowflake. Sometimes I’m told to go move to Denmark (not a bad idea, actually) or challenged to meet in person for some sort of dual in the public square (one such situation in Florida actually resulted in a shooting).

With the one year anniversary of Charlottesville – and the death of Heather Heyer, which has somehow been reduced to a footnote – upon us, that topic came up. A woman flat-out told me that it all started because Antifa was violent with “patriots” carrying the flag.

When I explained that the flags they were carrying were actually enemy flags, she said they were … paid actors.

You can’t argue with stupid – as much as I try.

The reality, according to another survey, is that most of these white hate clowns fall into predictable categories – poor, unemployed and uneducated (no wonder that most are also divorced).

That is pretty much the demographic – along with some Russian bots and the Electoral College – that helped sway the 2016 election.

There was a lot of coded hate speech used to make this fools feel empowered, and the results made them feel legitimate enough to stage Charlottesville under the nonsensical guise of protesting the removal of a statue of a traitor, Robert E. Lee.

Just because the clown of all clowns in the White House dances around the subject and won’t confront it, let alone denounce it, doesn’t mean we need to lower ourselves to that level and wear blindfolds.

On this the anniversary of the national tragedy — perhaps the largest in my daughter’s lifetime (born in 2007) -that was Charlottesville (a place we took her on vacation a few summers ago), take whiff of what is going to happen today in DC and let the stink sink in.

It’s more nauseating to me, as an American still waiting to still our potential for greatness fulfilled, than NFL players taking a knee during the national anthem (a common source of battle with daily deplorable sparring partners, even though I would personally never not stand for the anthem – even if should be “This Land Is Your Land”).

So go ahead. You can watch tonight’s show focused on one guy, all while dabbing your eyes with tissues, but the real time to watch is today.

That’s when you need to cry for we’ve devolved into, which something far from great.