Category Archives: Parenthood

Letting You Go

PETTY2

By GORDON GLANTZ

@Managing2Edit

GORDONVILLE – How am I feeling in the aftermath of the sudden death of Tom Petty?

I feel like I lost a family member.

That’s a pretty powerful statement, and I really yearn not to be easily given to hyperbole, but I don’t swing for the fences on the first pitch without have been under the influence of perhaps the best writer of first verses in the history of Rock and Roll.

That would be none other Petty, who will write no more songs – with historic opening salvos — but leaves behind unlimited masterpieces ranging from his best-known songs to deep album cuts.

To understand, you would have to understand the inner G2 and how music in general, with Petty’s music near the top of the charts, has shaped all I am – for better or worse and all points in between.

My wife and daughter certainly didn’t flinch when I was pretty much hysterical upon learning the news Monday – news that changed slightly, saying he was near death – to learning that he was gone.

It seemed an odd reaction on the same day as the indiscriminate mass killing in Las Vegas, which drew more anger from me, as a longtime gun control advocate, than sentimentality.

I mourn for those who lost their lives, and those who a scarred by the experience, and can’t really fathom the shock of their loved ones.

But I can understand the gut-punch of losing family. You live five decades and it gets to be hard to avoid.

And “family” is not just those who share your blood.

When the magic of Rock and Roll gets into your blood, your family tree takes a different form.

It can be a stranger whose art was such that he seemed like they knew you.

And it includes those who are there for you in moments of extreme darkness and light, moments when your range of emotions can be explained – or enhanced – by a well-written and performed song.

And not many combined those skills better than Petty and his band, the Heartbreakers.

They came along at the tail end of the Classic Rock era, which runs roughly from the arrival of The Beatles in America (1964) until the 1977 movie Saturday Night Fever spawned Disco Fever and seemingly forced Bob Dylan to ask Jesus what the hell was going on.

And yet Petty’s clan, with roots firmly in 1960s sensibilities, was easily grandfathered in as a Classic Rock act, although the raw sound on those foretelling first two albums – Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers (1976) and You’re Gonna Get It (1978) – made for a nice bridge between AOR (album oriented rock) and the burgeoning punk rock scene.

That status would be further cemented when he later joined forces with the likes of Dylan, former Beatle George Harrison, Roy Orbison and Jeff Lynne of ELO fame in the Traveling Wilburys for two albums (1988, 1990) and the deal sealed with an induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2002.

As honors go, it was as well-earned as it was deserved.

When Damn The Torpedoes came out in 1979 – and shot right up to No. 2 – that album’s classics (Refugee, Here Comes My Girl, Don’t Don’t Me Like That, Even The Losers, etc.) joined airwaves already populated by songs from his first two releases (most notably Breakdown and American Girl from the first and I Need To Know and Listen To Her Heart from the second).

At the time, I was transitioning into high school and was trying to find my place in a world where I was, for all intents and purposes, just another kid.

The songs resonated. No matter where I was, or what I was doing, I stopped in my tracks. It was a natural instinct. They just reached out from the radio and grabbed you.

I couldn’t quite explain how or why, but they did.

By the time of his next album — and my personal favorite, 1981’s Hard Promises – I began the arduous, and still ongoing journey, of putting pen to paper to try and make sense of it all.

And writing lyrics, for me, was a natural fit.

I listened to a lot of music, and pondered the messages being sent, to direct me on this quest.

For all the Prog Rock concept albums that made it almost easier to dabble in free-form writing that barely made sense – even to myself – I began to marvel at the way Petty, among others, who could keep it real with concise prose that pretty much told it all in a simply-stated way.

It was a knack I longed to have, and I marveled at Hard Promises songs like The Waiting, Letting You Go, A Woman in Love (It’s Not Me), Something Big, A Thing About You and most especially Insider (with Stevie Nicks singing background vocals).

I longed to be able to do it like that.

But the waiting was the hardest part.

To this day, in many ways, those are the types of lyrics I’m trying to write.

On our last SpringHouse Revival CD (check us out on Spotify and iTunes and shame on you if you have to “like” our Facebook page), co-writer Terri Camilari and I were going for the Tom Petty vibe, while keeping our own identity, in the offering Million Dollar Words, during which I was channeling my inner Petty telling someone who can’t get to the point to, well, just get to the effin’ point.

And with Terri’s vocals, I liked to imagine it was Stevie Nicks doing a Petty cover.

I had carried Petty with me a long time, and it was time for a homage.

Way back in my senior year of high school, a lot was going on. I had freedom with a car (1975 Chevy Malibu that dripped oil), a job as a dishwasher/bus boy to pay for gas and the Sixers won the title.

Petty was still at it, putting out another record to play in the backdrop – Long After Dark – and songs like Change of Heart, You Got Lucky and Straight Into Darkness continued to form the soundtrack of my insistence on having an existence to call my own.

I also had something else that year: An actual girlfriend (even the losers get lucky sometimes). But, lo and behold, she dumped me a few about six weeks before the senior prom.

I could have tapped into my long list of “just a friend” girls to take, but I was never really into going anyway.

I hatched a better plan with dateless running mates.

I returned my tux, and used the money (tickets were cheaper in those days, and there were no pre-sales 64 weeks in advance) for two concerts – Bob Seger and the Silver Bullet Band and Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers.

Seger was great, and Petty was even better.

Best proms I never went to.

And every time Seger or Petty came to town, I went back for more (plus their live albums put me in the house countless of other times).

Except the last time, last summer, when a pending vacation made me miss the Petty show.

It is now a regret that I will just have to live with, and one I mitigate with the bigger picture.

In college, I remember my friends and I performing a mock awards show in 1985 and naming Southern Accents – Rebels, Don’t Come Around Here No More, etc.— as the album of the year.

The concert, at the Mann Music Center on a gorgeous summer night, was surreal.

As for the album of the year thing, it still remains a silly tradition of mine, and a lot of Petty’s records – 1999’s Full Moon Fever (featuring  Free Fallin’ and I Won’t Back Down)  through to 1994’s solo-acoustic Wildflowers to 1999’s Echo and 2014’s Hypnotic Eye have pulled in the honor known as the “Gordie.”

During my college years, when I was earning my doctorate in Dylaniac studies (and writing some of my best-ever lyrics) – while barely maintaining a 2.0 in my real-world classes – I was able to see the Heartbreakers back up Dylan and Petty while trading off sets of songs (Zimmy took a few breaks).

Petty’s subsequent release, the underappreciated Let Me Up (I’ve Had Enough), best known for Jammin’ Me, wreaked of Dylan’s influence.

Petty was not too happy with the effort, but I still dig it.

As I allegedly matured, my musical tastes sort of solidified. My “Big Four” – Bruce Springsteen, U2, Dylan and Petty – has never changed.

I adore dozens upon dozens of other artists, but none – not even SpringHouse Revival – can break into that group.

Petty has earned that same stature with legions of other fans through a dedication to craft (you’ll note how quickly he rattled off those classic albums in lockstep with my formative years) that had to come at a cost for such a young guy.

Addiction cost him his first marriage and put his latter career in temporary peril, but he was still there – with new music just as brilliant as the classic songs that invaded my soul, dating back to when I was kid to being a parent.

Every year, when we get Sofia’s picture taken, we use a song title to give it a theme. When she was real little, it was not much of a fight. We used Springsteen’s “She’s the One” for Year 1, for example. But as music grows in importance to Sofia, she has had insisted on other songs more to her liking.

Knowing that Year 10 of her life would mark the end of the annual tradition, Laurie and I pressed her hard for American Girl.

Even though Sofia collects “American Girl” dolls, she was reluctant, pushing for something by her own family member, Taylor Swift.

But we made her listen to the song.

After a moment of silence, she said, “Yeah, that one is pretty good.”

Victory (although it helped the cause that Swift has her own nifty cover version of the song).

That picture just went up on the wall, and it takes on enhanced meaning.

I will think of our lost family member every time I look at it, knowing I can bring him back to life with the music that will last as long as skeptical kids also can’t deny what they are hearing.

During the shock of the news Monday, I couldn’t even get through Free Fallin’ without a breakdown.

Today, I heard Mary Jane’s Last Dance and I was good to go, playing his music all day, grateful for the years of lyrical inspiration and stone-cold grooves while driving down the road on a summer night with the windows down.

That’s the story of Tom Petty and me.

And it explains why I felt like I lost a family member, as overly dramatic as some may think it sounds.

On such a horrible day, with the tragedy in Vegas, I had to wonder why it had to happen then.

And I fell apart more than maybe I would have on another day.

I was, pretty much, inconsolable.

While Sofia hugged me up during my meltdown, she exuded some of her wisdom beyond her years and said that “it could be worse.”

One could take that many different ways, but you would have had to have heard her tone – and to understand how much on the same wavelength we are – to get it.

And I got it.

It could have been worse — way worse.

These ears ravaged by years of having a Rock and Roll heart could have not taken in the music of a dropout from Gainesville, Fla. who made his way to California to somehow buck the odds and strike gold.

What a loss that would have been, as that would have meant him not being a member of the family.

And that notion, of not finding him at all, would have been worse than losing him.

Way worse.

 

Can’t Shoot Me Down Now

Vegas Shooting

By GORDON GLANTZ

@Managing2Edit

GORDONVILLE – Nothing — outside of a Dallas Cowboys fan living in the Delaware Valley — is more annoying than a single-issue voter.

If that’s all you got, stay home. Please.

You need to have a lot of core issues, and be able to articulate the wherefores and whys – whether or not I concur – when asked to explain yourself.

As those who have waged war with me on Social Media know, I am not afraid to do so.

When it comes to issues, and prioritizing them, I’m an open book.

There is education, health care, environment, clear paths to citizenship for productive immigrants and a type of peace in the Middle East that means Israel isn’t obliterated in the process.

On most of those – and others (reforming the election system, from campaign finance reform to the way the primary/caucus schedule is laid out) – I am well left of center.

On others – like denying climate change equating to denying the earth is round – I am aligned with my man, Bernie Sanders, particularly on education and health care as human rights in a nation as plentiful as ours.

Only time I go astray is with the punishment fitting crimes like rape and child abuse (not to be confused with inherent injustices in the justice system with the “drug war”) and with supporting Israel (although those settlements are a bit unsettling when I consider long-range positive outcomes).

And on just about every issue, in general, I’ll meet you in the middle somewhat or be willing to agree to disagree and walk away on a handshake after a battle well-fought.

But not when it comes to my No. 1 issue.

And it’s No. 1 with a bullet.

There’s a hint even someone who thought Hillary Clinton was the lesser of two evils would get.

It’s gun Control.

You will never get me to agree to disagree.

And you will never get me to throw up my hands and say nothing more can be done about it.

And while we are sifting through the carnage from Sunday night’s mass killing (“mass shooting” is too tame), neither should you.

It has been said that if the horror at Connecticut’s Sandy Hook Elementary in December of 2012 didn’t do it, if didn’t change the stingiest of minds, nothing will.

It hit home for me because my prized possession — and .600 hitter in Fall Ball softball, Sofia — was roughly the same age at that time. I’ll never forget what it felt like dropping her off at school the next day and taking comfort in seeing police cars on the school lot.

This one at an a outdoor country concert hits home, too. I am a lifelong concert-goer, and the Tom Petty tragedy only reinforces my resolve to see all my heroes — and share them with Sofia — while we can.

The sad truth that the deaths of 20 first-graders and six adults at Sandy Hook only sent more people toward buying firearms, not less.

Probably of the same in the wake of Vegas.

Seems that what should make our hearts soft, turns them hard. What should make us find solutions, only leaves us creating more problems.

That’s kind of how and why we ended up with this slopstorm in the White House now, is it not?

But that doesn’t mean we give up trying.

Just sitting back and letting it all be is about as un-American as it gets, even for conditional patriots determined to make America “great again” (I’m still wondering when it was “great” to begin with).

How is that makey-greaty thing looking for you now?

If you still support America being the Wild West after all this, you are clearly a sub-human.

I don’t want to hear about banning cars because they kill, too. That’s just insanely inane.

Don’t tell me about the laws that are already on the books being sufficient, because they clearly are not.

We are as able to properly enforce them as I am of dunking a basketball (I’m 5-10 with a vertical leap of a half-inch) in the face of LeBron James.

Yes, some of the laws on the books, in theory, may give what equate to good lip service to generic concerns.

But we don’t need lips. We need teeth.

And doing the biting, with backing from our legislators, need to be the law enforcement personnel we are told we need to genuflect in front of with no questions asked.

I respect what they do, but they also knew what they were signing on for, which was to be soldiers on the home front.

And their country needs them.

Now more than ever, and just as much — if not more — than the troops in trouble spots like Afghanistan.

No one is going to convince anyone with opened eyes that our society is wired to be drug-obsessed because it helps lock up black and brown males at rates that dwarf those of freckled-faced kids named Biff in the frat house.

Therefore, we have drug task force teams – and their sting operations – from small municipalities to large cities.

It’s a noble effort, but don’t be deceived. I used to report on a lot of these in my newspaper days. There would be press conferences where the confiscated contraband would be laid out on a table, and most of it would be enough marijuana to have kept Bob Marley and the Wailers and Grateful Dead feeling mellow for several tours.

There might be a gun or two that were inadvertently gathered during the arrest of the largely “of-color” ring-leaders (who were usually just middle men taking the fall for someone else), but that’s it.

How about we legalize the marijuana – and include prostitution (another waste of law enforcement manpower) in that legislation – and focus all our efforts on undercover firearms stings?

Not saying they don’t happen, because they do.

Just not enough.

Needs to be a priority.

Priority No. 1.

And it’s dangerous work, going deep into the world of black market firearms wheeling and dealing, but it’s really the only way.

We can play verbal ping-pong over the validity of gun shows and how much closing loopholes would or would not do (my feeling is anything is worth a try). The truth is that the kind of firearms that most of these monsters acquire are done so through nefariously illegal means.

The Vegas shooter seemingly acquired most of his arsenal legally, and in the light of day, even while his mental state may have been visible to any arms dealer who gave a shit.

But we can find a way to regulate that a bit more going forward, while still letting hunters shoot Bambi, but the black market is still there.

Cut off the source, via undercover policing, and we may see a light at the end of the tunnel with a lot of these planned mass mayhem shootings – and gang violence on urban streets.

I’m not advocating disarming law-abiding gun owners, but I would like to define just what that means. It’s certainly not the gun owner with the gun loaded under their pillow.

Until he opened fire Sunday night, Vegas shooter Stephen Paddock, was likely a law-abiding gun owner – at least by the very loosey-goosey definition – and now he is the lone-nut triggerman in the worst mass killing by shooting in modern American history (probably a lot of Native Americans were wiped out in one horrific stampede of the white man in the now fabled days of yore that made our culture one tied to the gun, with Wounded Knee coming readily to mind).

At present, authorities are stumped about his motivation. He was filthy rich, he was A-political, had no FBI file (although his father did) and not really a loser with the ladies.

My initial gut instinct was that he lost big at the casinos, but apparently he was winning, big-time, before going out in an inglorious blaze of infamy.

The argument about it being all about mental health goes out the window, too. Clearly, he was not in his right mind at the time, but he was not diagnosed as being criminally insane. He clearly had some internal bomb ticking inside, but he still had his wits enough to meticulously plan this out.

In a nation where you can get your hands on multiple military-style firearms and ammo as easily as a milkshake and a burger, we should be more worried – much more worried – about the guy who looks like an average Joe who can snap and go temporarily insane.

That is any of us. Just this past Saturday, I can into it a bit too much with the coach of the opposing softball team (although it was nothing YouTube viral-worthy). I have never fired a gun in my life (and only held one once), but who knows who I was dealing with, right?

The way our country is now, we simply can’t trust than we can will this ongoing horror show away.

We need to peel away at the onion, wiping away the tears it causes, and get to core of the issue. The Second Amendment is clearly so misinterpreted that it’s unfathomable to believe our elected misleaders – from both sides of the aisle – are more concerned with keeping the NRA placated than the health and well-being of their constituents.

Maybe because they are so much in a bubble, they don’t realize how easy it is to get a gun right now.

Heck, we had a garage sale this past weekend (before the softball game and aforementioned incident) and several older men – probably around the same age as this waste of human plasma – asked if we were selling any firearms or ammo.

Really?

Really.

And the fact that they asked tells me that they are able to circumvent a lot legalities by going to garage sales and flea markets.

They were so cavalier about it that they must find plenty while scavenging around on weekends.

And yeah, 999 out of 100,000 might just be collectors who get their jollies by diddling around with guns once their ED sets in, but what about the one – the one who snaps one day and sets up a sniper’s nest above a concert (or any larger gathering) and tries to top Paddock’s kill number.

Won’t happen?

Don’t kid yourself.

Not a question of if.

Just a question of when.

Not comfortable with that, either?

Maybe you need to check your priorities.

 

A Cool Idea

hot_day_thermometer

By GORDON GLANTZ

@Managing2Edit

 

GORDONVILLE – It is a typical pastime in a typical American.

What will your child be when they grow up?

Not sure yet on Sofia. Many roads to travel, and passions to come and go.

However, it would surprise me if she wanted to be like her old man and be a writer – even if it’s a side thing while making real money in the real world with a real job.

How do I know this?

Because she loves stories. Not just to be amused, but to retain for future use. I can talk by the look in her eyes that it is being retained, kind of like bank deposits to retain interest (i.e. embellishment).

We drive through Conshohocken, and she queries her mommy all about her hometown with questions well beyond that of the average incoming missile of a ‘tween.

The other night, she asking me about old Atlantic City – the Atlantic City I remember as a kid around her current age; the Atlantic City before gambling made it the weird combination of glitz and the pits that it is now.

Among the stories was how my grandfather, Poppie, would wake up each day and, with a broad smile on his easy-going face, ask if it was a “beach day or a Two Guys day.”

Two guys, for the uninitiated, was a catch-all department store – a sorta pre-historic Target – where they had it all, from an arcade and a place to eat to a furniture department.

You could buy food, a new baseball glove or bell-bottom jeans for your platform shoes.

After Sofia drifted to sleep – these stories are often meant as biofeedback to cure summertime insomnia – an old idea resurfaced it what is left of my brain.

Beach day or a Two Guys Day?

That more or less sums up the forecast for every day from Memorial Day through Labor Day, does it not?

Especially here in the Melting Ice Age, the forecast is pretty much in the same octave range, is it not?

It is either going to be hot or very hot, with a chance of rain to varying degrees.

So, I wondered, why do we need met meteorolgists in the summertime?

No offense to them, or the profession.

And the world doesn’t need more journalists working at a coffee shop.

And the loss of eye candy – from any perspective — would mean less sweetness in the world.

All I’m talking about is a three-month furlough.

I’m willing to bet that nine out of 10 of us could care less, especially if the time is better spent on real news.

Seriously, why do we need to be told the obvious three times in a half-hour span – and all before the important news, like the sports?

Just throw a graphic up on the screen and the anchor can do a quick summary. Hot or very hot, and the chance of a thunderstorm by percentage.

In and out faster than Chris Christie at a burger joint drive-thru on his way to the beach.

And, since this is my idea, it must follow the rule of being after the sports, lest you run the risk of FCC fine.

I took the liberty of breaking out the calculator.

According the “fake news” on the “internets,” the average weather person makes $89,820 a year. There are four stations – the three networks plus FOX in Philadelphia, employing an average of three meterologists – which brings our three-month (Memorial Day to Labor Day) savings to $269,460 that can be donated to help causes more worthy than letting people know if it is going to be a beach day or a Two Guys Day.

 

In the Worst of Times

spockette

By GORDON GLANTZ

Gordonglantz50@gmail.com

@Managing2Edit

GORDONVILLE — Like many American families, we were watching the Election Night results in shock and increasing dismay into the early morning hours.

We flipped channels – from CNN to MSNBC to ABC to PBS – and watched each, hoping to hear some alternative spin to make us feel better, and turned away when we found their faces and voices too irksome.

Optimism turned to pessimism and pessimism into despair.

Meanwhile, our 9-year-old daughter, Sofia, had fallen asleep on the family room love seat before the ominous news became harsh reality.

A day that began with her going into the voting both with her mommy, who let her press the button to vote for what we all thought would be the first woman president of our internally wounded nation, ended with me carry her up the steps.

It used to be a common occurrence, me carrying Sofia to bed. I know it sounds strange, but it was always one of those small joys of parenthood that I not only enjoyed but where I made a small “note to self” to appreciate.

This time, it was different.

It had been a while. She was a lot heavier than she was a few years back, and I have developed more middle-aged aches and pains. Plus, I was more than tired. I was weary. Not only from the results but from the grind.

And from knowing my daughter would awaken to a different America.

I like to say I wear my heart on my sleeve. I wouldn’t call it a fatal flaw. It’s just the way I am. If I’m passionate about something, I can’t suppress it.  And I was passionate about this election cycle, perhaps more than any other in a lifetime of always being interested in politics.

My heart was heavier than Sofia’s body.

Even though her seeing a woman president so early in her formative years was an exciting prospect, I was more somber about who won than who lost.

Truth be told, I was never real high on Hillary Clinton – at least not at this point in time. She was facing a tall order, looking to push eight years of a Democrat in the White House into 12 or 16, and she really was not overly inspiring. That should not necessarily be a qualification for the job, but fact is that is a humungous one. And she picked a milquetoast running mate, which didn’t help her cause.

So, while I was “with her,” since her opponent was non-option for what seemed to obvious reasons, I was not the cheerleader that, say, my wife was during the campaign.

Manning my Facebook battle station, I spent way more time pointing out the infinite flaws of Clinton’s opponent and rarely touting her beyond the obvious, which was that she was so much more qualified that it was both a comedy and tragedy at the same time.

And despite some accusations to the contrary, it had zero to do with Clinton’s gender. I supported her, vigorously, during 2007-2008 primary season. I felt she was better prepared to lead us out the darkness of the Bush years than the new kid in town, Barrack Obama, who seemed to me more like someone who was more a future president than one ready to take the reins.

Once she was edged out by Obama, and once John McCain exercised horrendous judgment by tabbing Sarah Palin as his running mate, I supported Obama in the general election and remained a voice of support – whether in newsprint, here on my blog or in social media battles – throughout his two terms.

When these so-called media experts tried to frame the 2016 election as a foregone conclusion, saying it was going to be a showdown between Jeb Bush and Hillary Clinton, it rubbed me raw.

Is this the best we could do, going back to same two families, I wondered? And was America not founded, theoretically, on the notion of breaking from the concept of royalty?

Turns out, I would have taken that as a choice – even after being one of the few and proud Bernie Sanders backers of my age demographic in the country.

Yes, that’s how bad the end result turned out to be.

I could have lived with another Bush.

We are left with the person, whose name I can’t even bare to write this morning, as he is also part of American royalty but who lacks any political acumen whatsoever.

He was the flashpoint of the “birther movement” that actually had a high number of registered Republicans – people who actually wake up, dress and fed themselves each morning and operate a vehicle to go out into their small bubbled worlds – believing Obama was born in Kenya and a Muslim.

After Obama produced his birth certificate, something no Caucasian president would never have to do, Bill Maher did a bit on his political talk show saying the current president elect should produce a birth certificate saying he was not an orangutan.

And the thin-skinned mogul behind the “birther” push did what he usually does. He lawyered-up, and filed a lawsuit.

What will he do as president? He will be sworn in with multiple court cases and lawsuits – from the serious, to the benign and ridiculous – pending for and against him.

Will he react like a baby to every critique and lampooning sent his way? Will he be able to handle one-tenth of the venom spewed at Obama to last eight years? Are we headed toward a police state?

This, and so many other scary questions, overloaded my brain as I trudged up the steps with Sofia in my arms and as I laid her to sleep and placed a gentle and sorrowful kiss on her cheek.

Before waking her up, I had already received messages from other devastated friends wondering about we tell our kids this morning and what kind of world we are creating for them now.

I got up early and drove our dog, Rex, to his weekly visit to daycare. I tried to lose myself in the music on the radio. As I pulled into the lot, Don Henley’s “End of the Innocence” came on. I sat in my parking spot – with tears welling in my eyes — and pondered the question about ours, and about Sofia.

My innocence has long since been gone, but I already mourn the day when it happens to our princess with a heart of gold.

She is very much her daddy’s daughter, in terms of her emotions. I knew telling her wouldn’t be easy. I was not sure if her mommy would have broken the news by the time I got back home, or if she would be stealing a few extra minutes of sleep before school.

Part of me didn’t want to be there, part of me did.

All of me knew I had to be.

We have woken her up to bad news before – up to and including deaths of pets and family members – and she would immediately burst into tears.

Turned out, she was still in a deep sleep Wednesday morning.

When I whispered the horrifying result to her, she just looked sad and stunned.

“Oh,” she said after a few seconds, “really?”

When I drove to school about 30 minutes later, she was quiet. I asked if she was OK, and she admitted to being a bit sad about it. My gut is that she was more upset for her mommy than anything, but I didn’t push it. Instead, I thought I would lighten the mood. I told her that maybe she would be the first female president.

“Not interested,” she said, flatly.

The thing is, Sofia is a pretty cool kid. She will be OK.

The same TV where we watched the end of the world as we knew it is also one of these newfangled Smart TVs that I was too dumb to figure out for three months before an angel of mercy from XFinity took pity on me and went above and beyond just fixing a phone issue.

Together, on that TV, she has willing been indoctrinated into watching Gordonville classics like “The Wonder Years” and her clear favorite – “Star Trek.”

Sofia has quickly become such a Trekkie already that she has Googled how to make Vulcan Plomeek Soup and announced that we are going to Las Vegas this summer for the next convention.

She was a Vulcan – “Spockette” – for Halloween, and made me wear a yellow Captain Kirk shirt that was so friggin’ tight, even as an XXL, that I could barely breathe.

So I just told her this morning that the election was like a Star Trek episode where they land on a primitive planet and that we will have to think logically to get ourselves to resolution.

Problem is that this is four years – if he lasts that long – not one-hour.

She understood and accepted my logical explanation.

Problem is that we are not in the future, and present-day logic is on life support.

We could use a timely beam-up from Scotty, but all communication has been cut off.

Instead, I’ll have to carry her up the steps.

And even as she ages and grows to the point when I can’t physically do it anymore, I’ll continue to hold her close and carry her anyway.

Even in the worst of times – and it doesn’t get much worse than this – it is all I can do.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Olympic Shakedown

Handshake

By GORDON GLANTZ

Gordonglantz50@gmail.com

@Managing2Edit

GORDONVILLE — In a perfect world, the now-completed 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio should have been a rallying point in Casa de Glantz.

No more fighting for the remote when it is time to decide between “The Bachelor” or a sporting event. No more zoning out when an obscure topic comes up at the dinner table.

With Sofia now 9, these were to be the first Olympics when she really could fully comprehend what was happening up there on our new 60-inch screen.

And even though I’ve gained the smarts to work the Smart TV, I figured Netflix would have to take a break for the Olympics.

But something happened on the road to Rio (yes, I’m aware of the movie by that name).

HBO’s “Real Sports” kept it “real” and shed light on the dark underbelly that is the whole Olympic syndrome we buy into every two years (Winter Olympics come two years after the summer these days, so that we stay nice and inundated with the concept of good will through sport).

Exposing the exploitation tactics of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), Real Sports confirmed a semi-quelled inkling that sports journalism may now be the standard-bearer of the once great fourth estate.

And it turned me off, just about completely, to any interest in the Rio games, while serving as a stark reminder that an event designed to make the world seem perfect is a delusion.

But then I had to consider my 9-year-old ultra-precocious daughter, Sofia, who was going into the Games buoyed by a Lifetime movie on Gabby Douglas she had seen on Netflix after a long détente over what to watch once the Smart TV riddle rhymed.

She was deeply interested, and asking a lot of questions. When it comes to all things sports, whether I know or not, I’m the Answer Man around here.

As it was, the two most televised sports in the first week were gymnastics and swimming. Sofia, inbound for fourth grade, has been taking gymnastics since the summer after Kindergarten and has been taking more serious 1-on-1 swimming lessons this summer.

She was doing her own “routines” in front to the TV, and pretending to swim back and forth. It was too cute, and too reminiscent of what I used to do – often in full costume – when I watched sports. (Confession: I still watch the Eagles in a jersey and hold a now half-deflated football as a comfort toy.)

So I put all disgust from the “Real Sports” segment on the shelf and watched with her, even when Mommy and Nana slithered away from the scene.

This is what we Dads do.

Sofia was cheering for Douglas, after seeing the aforementioned movie, but I reminded my half-Jewish daughter that she needed to hold a warm thought for team captain Aly Raisman. We also cheered for Michael Phelps to make history, were amazed by Katie Ledecky and couldn’t understand how and why Sweden would be formidable in swimming when the other more “winter” countries (Norway, Switzerland, Denmark, Austria, Finland, etc.) were struggling to get on the radar in any event.

It brought back memories of my first real Olympics experience: the Munich Games of 1972.

I was 7, and my whole world was sports. I remember watching from the couch for much of Mark Spitz’s exploits. I also remember being on “vacation” in Washington, D.C. for the end of the Games, and trying to understand – as much as I could at that age – what was going on when the Israeli athletes were taken hostage and murdered by Palestinian terrorists.

At the time, I thought the subsequent theft of the basketball gold medal from the U.S. men’s basketball team was more egregious, but I soon came to learn that it paled in comparison. It came full-circle when I read a Doug Collins interview stating that what had happened to the Israelis pretty much dampened the spirits of the team and that they “just wanted to go home” as much as play that gold medal game against the former Soviet Union.

Olympic officials tried to separate sports from politics, but they were proven – just as Hitler’s Berlin Games of 1936 and the black power salute of Tommie Smith and John Carlos on a Mexico City medal stand in 1968 or the mass boycott of the Moscow Games of 1980 did – to be impossibly intertwined.

That’s the one aspect of the modern Olympic Games in which the spirit of the ancient Greek Olympiad cannot be recaptured. In those days of yore, with the likes of Plato and Socrates among the honored spectators, there was a mandatory cessation of regional hostilities to allow for safe passage of soldiers to travel and be able to compete.

How and why could that have been the case in a supposedly less-evolved time in history? Maybe because the ancient Olympics also had a spiritual side.

They believed the Gods were watching.

These Gods probably looked away in disgust sometime between the full-time modern revival in Athens in 1896 and the stripping of Jim Thorpe’s 1912 gold medals in 1913.

Although smoke-and-mirror productions – like the grandiose opening ceremony in Rio –  can put a proverbial bandage on a gunshot wound, the internal bleeding had already begun behind the scenes.

And it was clear there was no cessation of regional hostilities to allow safe passage – even to the opening extravaganza.

That night in Rio, members of the Lebanese delegation refused to share a bus with the Israeli team.

And so it began.

And continued.

A female representing Saudia Arabia, which has a poor record on women’s rights, withdrew from the judo competition rather than risk having to compete in the second round against an Israeli, Gili Cohen. (If the Saudi didn’t want to compete, her name doesn’t deserve to be mentioned.)

On the men’s side, in judo, Israel’s Or Sasson was graced in competition by Egypt’s Islam El-Shehaby. After Sasson scored what is the sport’s version of a knockout (or pin), Sasson’s fervent attempt at a handshake was rebuffed. While the crowd jeered, the referee ordered Shehaby to take the customary bow and eventually got a feeble nod.

The action was a post-script in most places. Given the volatile nature of the Middle East, who wants to take sides, right? Decried in the Israeli press and met with passing disgust in the U.S., excuses were initially made by officials (the IOC has a history of anti-Semitism going back to Hitler’s games).

In a delayed move, El Shehaby was sent home by his own country – likely to a hero’s welcome, which he will need to avoid the shame of losing to a Jew.

And make no mistake about it, this is what this all about.

Recognition, and treatment of the Palestinians, are just easy excuses. It is the same reason Israel has a harder time qualifying for the World Cup in soccer or the Olympics in basketball. Instead of competing against nations from its own region, it has to compete against European nations because neighboring countries refuse to compete.

Meanwhile, the “Real Sports” report delved into safety in Rio. During the games, there have been incidents, up to and including U.S. swimmer Ryan Lochte and teammates half-concocted their story about being held up at gunpoint (it was kinda sorta true, but not really, and yet another controversy that got a ridiculous amount of mainstream media coverage while Louisiana literally floated away).

According to Associated Press, these other incidents include the following:

  • An Olympic security officer was fatally shot after he and two others got lost near a slum near the airport.
  • A pair of Australian rowing coaches were robbed at knifepoint Friday in Ipanema. A day later, also in Ipanema, Portugal’s education minister was robbed at knifepoint.
  • Stray bullets have twice flown into the Olympic sports complex in Deodoro.
  • Two windows were shattered on a bus carrying journalists (local official say rocks, but those on the bus think bullets).
  • Bomb squads have set off several controlled explosions after finding unattended items such as the backpack near the basketball arena. Detonations also have happened near the finish line of a cycling race and of a Copacabana Palace hotel.

While all these actions pale in comparison to what happened in Munich, just think of the mileage – the positive international press – that would be generated if the animosity was dropped, like when there was a cessation in battle in the ancient games, if something as simple as a shared bus ride and a handshake and man-hug occurred.

We know that would play well in, say, the UK or Canada or Australia or the Netherlands. But it would be seen as a national disgrace in places like Lebanon and Saudi Araba and, yes, Egypt (treaty or not).

How do I explain all of this to Sofia, when she is watching with the same wide eyes I once had?

I want to tell her all, and one day I will, but Olympic moments – like the so-called 1980 Miracle on Ice (I personally don’t think it was quite the miracle it was made out to be) – should be coveted before her innocence is lost.

For now, I suppose I’ll keep it simple.

And do what we Dads sometimes have to do.

I’ll lie.

I’ll say the Gods are watching.

Long Walk Home

MacLeish

By GORDON GLANTZ

Gordonglantz50@gmail.com

@Managing2Edit

Been giving a lot of thought lately to what it means to grow old.

Being on the north side of 50, if only by a year, will do that to a guy.

More or less, I still love – or at least like, or am bemused by – the same music and television shows from my youth (while picking up some strays along the road of life).

I am still given to bouts of unabashed to immaturity, often manifested by practical jokes with Sofia serving as my assistant.

And that little girl, sometimes 9 going on 19 and sometimes 9 going on 19 months, keeps me young in so many ways.

Yeah, there are the physical reminders – less hair up top and more girth in the gut.

And I am mastering the art of small talk. I can do the wave and nod thing and the final plunge of discussing the weather and traffic patterns.

But I think we age as we lose drip on our youth.

Listening to Bruce Springsteen 24/7 won’t halt that that inevitability.

No one gets out of here alive.

We lose our grandparents, our parents, our aunts and uncles and we age with each loss.

By the time we lose our friends, well, you don’t need a calendar to tell you how old you are.

Rick MacLeish was not a personal friend of mine. I met the man twice. Once, I wait in long line at car dealership – Matt Slapp Something or Other (I think Chevrolet, but don’t hold me to that) in the Northeast – but they hustled us all through the line pretty quickly.

My heart pounded as I approached. He quietly asked my name and I stammered with a response. He proceeded to spell it incorrectly – G-O-R-D-E-N – which is actually amazing, considering the number of people named Gordon, like Gordon Lightfoot, from his native Canada.

Because of the length of the line, my impatient stepfather told me he would be back to pick me up. Because of the precision of the movement of the line, he was nowhere to be found when I was done. So, I did what any stupid 9-year-old would do.

I walked home.

By the time I got there, the late autumn chill had taken its toll and my mother put me in a warm a tub. I didn’t quite understand my stepfather’s panic when he got back to Matt Slapp, but I can only imagine how I would feel – actually I can’t – if the same thing happened with Sofia if she were waiting in line for an autograph from Becky G (her second-favorite teen idol behind Sabrina Carpenter).

When he saw me in the tub, he couldn’t get too mad. I was home. And, really, he should have waited and he knew it.

But this was 1974. Parents didn’t see child abductors lurking on every corner. We played, out of view, until dark.

My favorite sport to play was street hockey, pretending to be like guys like Rick MacLeish.

All was forgotten and I went to bed happy, despite any panic I caused. I had interfaced with my second-favorite Flyer – Bobby Clarke was like Secretariat pulling away from Sham in the Belmont Stakes – and I had his autograph (I had Clarke’s too, but it was not from a personal encounter).

The second meeting with MacLeish was a bit different. I was acting in a professional manner as working member of the press at the Philadelphia Sports Writer’s dinner in Cherry Hill. I walked out of the press room to look for Tommy Lasorda (I worked for the Norristown paper, and we were required to write about Lasorda whenever he passed gas) and almost collided with someone around my own size.

He politely said “excuse me” and timidly stepped aside. His face, like any of the Broad Street Bullies, was unmistakable.

“Rick MacLeish,” I pronounced, much more confident than when I was nine, introducing myself as he shifted his beer to his left hand and shook mine.

We spoke for about five minutes, tops, during which I did most of the talking in a quiet corner where there were so many other Philadelphia sports icons walking around that no one would have even noticed.  I told him he was my second-favorite Flyer, about the Matt Slapp incident and how I spent hours in my garage trying to replicate the quickness and power of his surreal wrist shot.

I also told MacLeish that whenever my father manage to get tickets for a game – no easy task in that time frame –  he always scored a goal, and that I even saw a hat trick or two.

He quipped that he would have gotten me season tickets if he had known.

We also talked about the goal he scored against the Boston Bruins in Game 6 of the Stanley Cup finals, which held up for the duration in a 1-0 win. He explained that the deflection was not an accident. He explained that he and Andre “Moose” Dupont tirelessly worked on it in practice. Dupont would shoot it about an inch off the ice and he would deflect it. By the time the situation arose in the game, it was like second nature. For the first time in a game situation, it worked.

He joked that the other power-play point men, Bill Barber and Tom Bladon, shot too hard to spend time on it with them but that “Moose shot it nice and slow, but accurately, and could only get it as high as around the ankles anyway.”

I saw Lasorda – actually, I heard him, too – from the corner of my eye. I was promised five minutes to do a power interview, so I had to excuse myself. MacLeish shook my hand again (hockey players were always gentlemen) and blended back into the crowd from which he came.

I spotted him again, alone in a corner of the VIP area, and thought about resuming the conversation. But I had a story to write, and wanted it out of the way before the dinner, and I didn’t want the man to think I was some sort of a stalker.

So, those are my Rick MacLeish stories. It might be a sign of age, but neither is ever told that often.

From time to time, I would run into someone from overnight camp or somewhere else in my youth, and they would luckily remember me more for my wrist shot than by buck teeth and Jewfro.

My response would be that “I got it from watching MacLeish.”

And I starting watching MacLeish again.

Part of staying young, I suppose, has been some small semblance of computer literacy. The Flyers’ first of two cups is recalled most by the final series, with Clarke winning Game 2 in overtime and MacLeish’s tally in Game 6 that goalie Bernie Parent would preserve, but they got there by edging past a New Rangers team in seven games that was probably better than Boston.

I found Game 7 of the Ranger series on You Tube and what immediately struck me was how dominant MacLeish was in that decisive contest.

And after he passed away this past week at age 66, I watched it again. The whole thing.

It made me feel young.

It made me feel old.

Most of all, it made me feel he was worth that long walk home.

 

 

 

One For My Baby

People ask why I don’t write a song about Sofia. The answer is that it is complicated. In many ways, I have, but not really. Not directly. Not until now.Bunnypie My lyrics are generally not about one particular person or experience. Additionally, they tend to be from the dark side of my brain – an outlet for my angst and negativity and quest for justice. Sofia represents the polar opposite, a light so blinding that I can’t help but smile in spite of the darkness. That said, long-time readers of my former employer are well-aware that she was a consistent topic in my Sunday columns — so much so that she was probably the most well-known toddler in Central Montgomery County. Sofia just turned 9, going on 19, meaning she is no toddler anymore. They have been the best 9 years of my life and, with me penning lyrics on a nearly daily basis, this is reflected in many songs in an ancillary way. In this song, though, it is more direct. As I patiently wait on the music to be written (hint, partner), let me know what you think.

Song for Sofia (Promise I Will Keep)

I got a bum thumb

From sharpening your pencils

Spend my Father’s Days

At your dance recitals

But what else would I do?

Where else would I be?

No one means more than you

This is what you’ve done to me

 

We’ll play catch

Till one lands in your glove

Keep getting pets

So you can share all your love

You are my promise

A promise I will keep

A light in the darkness

That is what you are to me

 

Drive you to school

Send you off to your world

Watching you grow

Still Daddy’s little girl

What else would I do?

What else could I be?

I do it all for you

You are the world to me

 

You are my promise

A promise I will keep

A light in the darkness

That’s what you are to me