Category Archives: Slice of Life

News Turns To A Snooze

joe-scarborough-trump-journey-groupie-resistance

By GORDON GLANTZ

GORDONVILLE — As I attempt to age as gracefully as possible for an otherwise graceless person, I have increasingly become a creature of habit.

One of those habits to turn on the TV every morning – sometime after the weekday alarms screeches at 6:30 — to watch “Morning Joe” on MSNBC. I don’t even really like the show, or the hosts and regulars (other than brilliant Washington Post columnist Eugene Robinson), but I watch anyway.

Much to my disgust, Joe and the crew tend to belabor two issues ad nauseam: The Democratic race for the nomination and the ongoing ineptitude of your president (not mine).

The psychobabble seems like a colossal waste of breath, considering the primary season is in its infancy and your president (not mine) is never ever going to be impeached.

If I hear the words “Mayor Pete,” followed by a long and drawn out discussion by a panel of “experts” about his electability – all while they skirt the obvious issue, unfair or not – I may hurl the remote at Joe Scarborough’s smug mug.

Why, then, do they spend so much time cherry-picking a poll that shows Bernie Sanders up a point and Elizabeth Warren down two – all while doing a poor job of suppressing a clear pro-Joe Biden agenda – or giving too much attention to some late-night Twitter post that would make a middle school grammar teacher wince in pain?

Easy answer. It’s easy. It’s right there, with low hurdles to scale.

Better than anything else on, all things considered, but far from good enough.

The thing is, I’m a news junkie. It’s why I majored in journalism (along with not having to take many math or science classes).

I’m naturally curious, and some would say I’m really just a total gossip. I plead partially guilty, but with an explanation. I’m really just in search of information – even if I’ll do little to nothing with it, like a fisherman tossing his catch back into the water, once I reel it in.

Which brings us back to the facts, or lack thereof.

These days, the whole earth can shake itself out of existence while I’m sleeping. Excuse me if I like to know what happened overnight.

CNN? No better than MSNBC (especially at night). It tries to get both sides of the story so perfunctorily that neither side is satisfied. I know I don’t want to hear another discussion on climate change as if it is open for debate, especially as it ignites forest fires in Australia and California with the verve of a serial arsonist.

The few remaining friends I have on the right don’t want any human interest story, like the border camps, told with any bit of sensitivity.

And don’t even mention Fox News. I’m OK with trying to stomach a little bit of the opposing viewpoint before wanting to vomit, but independent fact checkers have issued reports on the network’s accuracy that make the ones I used to bring home look like those of a Rhodes Scholar.

The sad truth is that I can find out more about what it is really going on with the local news from 6-6:30, followed by the national news from 6:30-7, than all day on any supposedly superior all-news network.

Newspapers have morphed into digital entities, but a second mortgage is needed to get around the pay walls needed to get what you need.

That leaves fly-by-night sights that may or not follow the ye olde rules of actually putting people on the record, as opposed to being anonymous, and having at least two sources.

All the conjecture leaves us, in this advanced day and age, prone to be less informed than we’ve been in the industrial age.

The only option is television, and the flaws are obvious.

Yes, the wall-to-wall coverage of our recent near flirtation with igniting World War III was relatively well-done, but so much more has been going on – locally, nationally and internationally – that much of it falls through the cracks.

And it happens at our own peril.

The more the masses are numbed up with dumbed-down messaging, the easier it is to go on electing sociopaths with the hellish belief they are heaven sent.

While we were looking at polls that really don’t matter until a week or two before voters in Iowa leave the wheat fields and reading too much into unreadable tweets, the wheel in the sky keeps on turning for a frightening tomorrow.

Example: Did you know that, since late December, more than 500 earthquakes have hit Puerto Rico. That’s the same Puerto Rico still waiting on $18 billion in aid from hurricane damage incurred two years ago?

Did you know that, just on New Year’s Day, there were 45 non-suicide gun violence deaths across America? Including suicides by gun, there were 177 deaths.

Speaking of suicides, did you know that there were 228 suicides by police officers in 2019 in what has become a silent epidemic?

Veterans? Try a suicide rate of 17 per day.

Did you know that Philadelphia had 356 homicides last year, just nine short of one per day? You can say you are safe here in the suburbs, but this is the city you border and crime knows no boundaries.

Did you know that hate crimes have increased dramatically since a certain someone who calls himself your president began campaigning in 2015 with divisive rhetoric?

I shouldn’t just dwell on the negative, as there are positive stories every day – from simple acts of human kindness to medical advances to big bad athletes going out of their way for a sick child — that get buried under the if-it-bleeds-it-leads approach that goes a notch underneath the analysis of paralysis of politics and of an orange nitwit that the lack of real journalism left us with.

Rant over.

This column ran in The Times Herald on Jan. 12, 2020

A Right Turn Down A Wrong Road

Rally Heads

By GORDON GLANTZ

GORDONVILLE — It’s that time of the year again.

Time for New Year’s resolutions.

With five-plus decades on the planet, I have been through them all – losing weight, gaining muscle, not losing my mind (as much) during Eagles games, gaining perspective, etc.

This year, I’m shooting for something a little bit different.

Instead, I’m going to see how the other half lives. I’m going to give it a go as a conservative.

No worries, fellow liberals, I’ll be back in time to vote against their president (not ours) in November.

New Year’s resolutions only last as long as the first whiff of a real Philly cheese steak (not what is passed off as such out here in the suburbs).

But, in the intervening months – or weeks, days or minutes – let’s see how it goes.

It is certainly a simpler lifestyle having this view, one where I can just line up all the talking points in a row and dutifully march in line behind them.

Example: Anything nasty their president (not ours) has done up until this point, before becoming president and since, can easily be explained away.

He was chosen by God.

Who can argue with that, right?

It implies he is not only absolved of all sins – past, present and future – but that all decisions are blessed by the almighty.

Sure, there is no tangible evidence to back this up. Usually, people who claim to be messengers from God are tossed into asylums, not the Oval Office.

And if any lefty wants to get into details about what he has done wrong, the new me can just say it’s all fake news and/or a witch hunt that’s all orchestrated by the same mainstream media that helped invent his campaign in the first place.

What about all the mounting evidence of incompetence, and incoherence, let alone evidence for impeachment?

No worries.

Deflect and distract.

Fight any forms of nuanced thinking.

That’s their job, not mine.

Don’t tread on me? Hell yeah, I’ll even buy that flag and plant it in my turf.

I’m the true patriot here.

Show empathy toward others, I’ll promptly call you a snowflake (while crawling toward my own safe space for being called a “deplorable” or if you recently wished me “happy holidays” instead of a “Merry Christmas”).

If they persist with their elitist check mates, I’ll lob a “What about Obama?” hand grenade.

When they ask for specifics, I’ll just double down and say “all of them.”

And then, when all else fails, there is the old standby: Benghazi, with a side dish of Benghazi and a desert of even more Benghazi.

Top it off with a “lock her up.”

See how easy this is?

See how much fun?

The next mass shooting? I’ll just shrug it off, callously, and say it could not have been stopped – even if there is evidence that it easily could have been with a routine background check, or waiting period, on the assailant.

Greta Thunberg? Ha. Too small to make a difference. Plus, isn’t she autistic or something like that there?

Plus, she’s Swedish, not American.

Plus, there is the old standby of waiting on a deep freeze and cracking wise about Al Gore (even though a cold snap in our little corner of the world is not reflective of all that is happening elsewhere).

Knowing that everybody plays the fool – sometimes – I can just say all the science isn’t in, or go to the slight moderation that there is no proof that the scourge is man-made. After all, there is always a crackpot contrarian at some third-rate unaccredited college still saying that the earth is flat or that there is not proof that tobacco causes lung cancer, right?

If those dogs won’t hunt, I’ll channel the mind of the average conservative who knows, full-well, that climate change is real.

“Doesn’t matter to me,” I’ll say. “By the time the planet is unlivable, I won’t know the difference because I’ll be dead.”

And that’s it, right there, in a nutshell.

I could go into being pro-life while being fine putting babies in cages.

I can just say they are “illegal” (when they are the children of parents seeking asylum in a country where the path to citizenship for brown people is vastly different than it was for white people during the industrial revolution).

Beginning in 2020, for as long as I can take it, I am going to be the synonym of being conservative, despite Bible quotes to the contrary.

I’m going to be selfish.

If all is good for me in my stock portfolio, all is good in the ivory tower.

Can I pull it off?

No, sigh, I can’t.

Upon further review, forget it.

As easy as life would be to trade being kind and sensitive for being blissful and blind, I don’t want to live that way for even a millisecond.

I’m good the way I am.

Happy 2020.

This column ran in The Time Herald on Jan. 1, 2020

Vick In The Thick Of It (Again)

Michael Vick

By GORDON GLANTZ

GORDONVILLE — Love and hate.

Two powerful words that are as used and abused as much as any in the English language.

For example, you don’t’ really love the food at a certain restaurant, and you don’t really hate when people act rude in public.

Love and hate has to be more personal.

I hate Neo-Nazis, for example.

I love my family, my friends, and the music that has been the soundtrack of my life.

I love dogs (cats, too, but particularly dogs).

And I love the Philadelphia sports teams, but the Eagles top the list.

This brings me to the great quandary, and controversy, still swirling around one Michael Vick, the former NFL quarterback.

While Vick made his name with his game with the Atlanta Falcons, the quarterback became a lightning rod when his role in a dog-fighting ring was exposed.

He went to jail for 21 months, and his name – as it should have been at the time — was mud.

Vick served his time, and was signed by the hometown Eagles.

That’s when things got pretty interesting.

Some fans turned in their green gear. Their love for dogs was so powerful that they could no longer root for a team that could employ such a person.

Others, figuring he wasn’t going to play much anyway, tried to shrug it off.

Myself, a lifelong Eagles fan? To say I wasn’t happy about it at the time would be an understatement.

For one, just from a football perspective, they needed a fourth quarterback on the roster like I needed a fourth hole in my head.

Plus, well, look what he did those poor dogs.

After one year here of saying the right things, while not really coming across as being overly convincing, Vick ended up not only being a standout on the field for the Birds in his second season, 2010, but a genuine good citizen off of it.

When he led an amazing comeback win in the Meadowlands, the one that ended on DeSean Jackson’s walk-off punt return, it kind of personified his comeback to being a productive and law-abiding citizen and family man.

Vick has since retired, gone on to be a better citizen than many others — including Donovan McNabb (two DUI arrests in Arizona, one of which caused an accident).

Vick has worked for the cause of animal rights while also establishing several charitable foundations for at-risk youth.

Vick has been a positive role model to those who have done wrong and now try to do right, showing that a life can be turned around.

For that, he was named an honorary captain for the upcoming – and relatively nonsensical – Pro Bowl on Jan. 26 in Orlando.

Firestorm instantly ignited. It was 2009, the year the Eagles signed him, all over again.

In my inbox, I received e-mails from Change.org (they have me on file for being a crazy radical who has signed petitions in the past).

One asked for my support in removing Vick as a captain.

The other was to support keeping him.

Even though a pickup game in the park between middle-school kids is more interesting than the Pro Bowl, the question was fairly significant.

And it has some resonance this time of the year, where families put aside differences and New Year’s resolutions are made.

Which petition did I sign?

The choice was pretty easy.

Keep him as captain, I said, lest we ski down an endless slippery slope – putting us into a gray area of serious issues of black and white and selective forgiveness – that we don’t want to get into but probably should.

In a country where the system of crime and punishment is broken (recidivism rate of almost 77 percent within five years of being released), Vick should be heralded as a success story of how it should work.

But, because his victims were dogs – and I love dogs, too – Vick is judged more harshly than if he, say, committed a violent crime against even a woman or child.

We live in a country where someone who bragged about fondling women was elected president, and where charges of sexual child abuse against Catholic priests and those using the football brand of Penn State – get swept under the rug.

People get all weak in the knees over stories about the few white supremacists who changed their ways so much that they want to remove their swastika tattoos.

But a black man in a white man’s world? Not a chance.

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, to his credit, has refused to yield to the pressure to remove Vick as honorary captain.

Good for Goodell.

How about you?

It is a true question of love and hate, and it’s a chance to let love in and let it win.

This column ran in The Times Herald on Jan. 5, 2020.

Common Enemies to Bond Us

Robocall

By GORDON GLANTZ

GORDONVILLE — So I’m sitting here thinking – a scary thought, pardon the pun – about ways we can become more unified in these times that are so divisive that we all may as well meet at Gettsyburg and get it over with already.

Before we go there, though, let’s go here.

Let’s think of the late Rodney King, who implored us all to get along in the midst of the Los Angeles riots of 1991.

We have some common enemies, true leeches on our collective hide.

Not matter our heritage or religion, let alone political leaning, they don’t play favorites.

I talk, of course, of scam artists.

I could let my mind wander over to the ultimate such being in the White House, but I won’t go there (even though I just did).

I’ll keep to those who are even worse, as they can ruin your life in a more direct and insidious way, hacking their way into your personal information.

These are some of the most inventive beings out there, lurking in the shadows, and it makes one wonder what would happen if they focused on helping society.

This time of year, especially in an era of Internet shopping, cyber-scamming is ratcheted up several scary notches.

It is not uncommon for “spoofing” sites to be set up set up to capture innocent shoppers looking for a bargain.

Also prevalent this time of year are charity scams, where the money you donate – along with your personal information – goes to the scammer.

While organizations like AARP warn seniors, no one is immune.

All day, and I mean all day, my phone rings with numbers I don’t recognize.

There is no way, and I mean none, that anyone at the other end is out to do you and your family any favors.

At best, it might be someone conducting a political survey.

Yeah, it’s harmless enough to vent to them for a few minutes, but they have your number in their database for life.

If I tell you I’m a Bernie Sanders guy until further notice, no reason to call again – until further notice.

Got it? Get it. Apparently not.

They will call again – multiple times – and it will never ever be at a good time.

Eagles in the middle of eating my heart out? They’ll call.

Re-watching Paulie and Christopher get lost in the Pine Barrens for the 194th time? They’ll call.

Dinner? You can bet tomorrow’s lunch on it.

Get Caller ID, they said.

It helps, but it doesn’t stop the calls.

And if the ID says “No Name” or “Anonymous,” you won’t be talking to me (until I’m in a mood to fight with someone).

Buy a magical thingamajig to stop them?

A) Why should we buy something extra to stop what the phone company should police better?

B) We all know it’s a matter of time before these PITAs find a workaround. It’s like an electronic fence. If Fido is determined, you are going to find him in your neighbor’s yard (if you’re lucky).

C) How do I know the sellers of the thingamajig are not scammers?

Do away with my home phone? I get just many unwanted calls on my cell phone as I do the land line, which I have admittedly unplugged (not a good idea with a kid at school) just to catch an afternoon nap with Rex.

Yeah, there is a mechanism to block that number. A day later, I just get another call from a number with one digit changed – and at the same time of day.

What do these people want? They rarely, if ever, talk anyway.

Before they got busted in 2016, after four years of playing their trade, there were these creeps who would call and say they were from the IRS.

I once decided to answer and play along.

The callers had very thick accents – from India or Sri Lanka – but were using names like John Smith and Tim Jones.

One time, I told the guy I was going to give him some advice on how to be a better scammer and not use those anglicized aliases, as no one will believe them.

But, sadly, people – particularly seniors on fixed incomes – panicked at the prospect of being in trouble with the IRS and turned over personal information.

The rules here are simple.

If anyone – in a phone call or e-mail – asks you to update credit card information, give them your social security numbers or anything else (bank account information for an alleged forthcoming deposit from an African prince), don’t do it.

It happened to me just this week, with an e-mail from Netflix, saying there was trouble with my account and to update my credit card information.

They even coopted the Netflix logo, so it looked semi-legit.

Plus, it was the third or fourth such e-mail in the last few weeks. From past experience of writing up zillions of scams in police reports, I called the Netflix customer service number.

Things are so bad these days, that I was a bit worried that the woman in the other end was not legit. However, it became crystal clear I was the target of a scam in the e-mails that she was the one helping me keep my account secure (while on the phone, I received several e-mails from Netlfix about re-setting my account, etc.).

This is an example of what it has come to, as we are even wary of people doing their jobs because others have nothing better to do with their ingenuity than to use it for malevolent purposes.

If we can all agree on that, maybe Rodney King’s question – “Can we all get along?” – is still a beckon of hope.

This column originally ran in The Times Herald on Dec. 8, 2019.

Thankful For This Guy This Year

Rex

By GORDON GLANTZ

“The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.” -Mahatma Gandhi

GORDONVILLE — I always have to laugh whenever a new multiyear study comes out proving that dogs show love.

That one has been proven, repeatedly, throughout centuries of their human counterparts not getting it right.

And yet, we have all these sayings – with negative spins – with dogs in the punchline.

-Lay down with dogs, you get fleas.

-So and so is “as crooked as a dog’s hind leg”.

-This place has gone to the dogs.

Sense a theme here?

Dogs, in terms of negative spins, are the new black (black mark, black sheep, etc.)

And considering all they give us, making houses homes, it would be fair to say that it shouldn’t happen to a dog.

That one, I’ll agree with.

Not to go all Sarah McLachlan on you here, but the way dogs are mistreated in America is all we need to see about how we see ourselves.

Because, as another saying goes, a dog is man’s best friend.

And we are, at least not as a whole, not always quality friends in return.

What does or does not qualify as animal abuse, particularly as related to dogs, is sketchy – particularly as related to what qualifies to varied levels of neglect.

Because dogs can’t speak to us, there is no way to know for sure. According to the Humane Society, human victims – those of domestic abuse – report staggering results: 71 percent say their abuser also targeted pets. The number goes up to 88 percent in households under supervision for child abuse.

While dogs in fighting rings get more media attention, there are an untold amount of cases wherein there is neglect ranging from being chained outside all day, in all kinds of extreme weather conditions, to being underfed.

I shudder at the thought that one of those dogs was our dog, Rex, but it is likely.

The other day, we were trying to do the math on just how long he has made our house a home.

This coming January will be six years. In mid-August, the mostly black U.S. Breed (Border Collie and Black Lab, who rank first and seventh in intellect) will turn 8.

We don’t know much about his past, other than a video – an appeal – from the shelter in Darlington County, S.C. (the same dot on the map that inspired one of the Bruce Springsteen songs, but I digress) asking for no-kill shelters up North to take pity on his soul.

Rex had been brought into the shelter in Darlington, and was physically separated from his owner, a female, who was beating him because he didn’t want to be left there.

Scared and shivering, he may not have survived the night had the workers there not kept him with them behind the counter, knowing that being with other dogs that were more aggressive could have meant disaster.

The next day, the video was made, seen and sent up to our area.

Not sure who was luckier, him or us.

On a bitter cold day in January while stopping by the local supermarket, an area dog rescue was showing dogs for adoption. His eerie likeness to our dearly departed Randall (1989-2005) caused me to stop and take notice.

Once he backed away, showing timidity, my heart went out.

Within a week, he was ours.

I’m not going to say we all lived happily ever after, because that would be a lie.

Rex was afraid to enter certain rooms in the house and he was about zero percent housebroken. Sure, if he was being walked at a time when he happened to need to do his business, he did it.

If not, he did it wherever (leading to a complete changeover from carpet to hardwood).

I can’t say I wrote the book on housebreaking a dog. I can just tell you that I got him from zero to 100 percent within months by just walking him so much that a neighbor at a cookout asked how many times a day I walked him (I always seemed to be passing by when he was grabbing a smoke outside).

These days, three walks a day, 8-10 hours apart, is fine. No accidents. Ever.

The only other requirement was a whole lot of TLC. That was the easy part. We gave him the love he did not get down South, and he gave it back to us.

These days, he is not only a long way away from Darlington County, S.C. in distance (8 ½ hours), but in how he lives his life in a home where he has three – yes, three – beds strategically placed around the house (including by the fireplace).

Sofia may give only one-word answers after being picked up from school, but she will immediately fall all over him – as he approaches, tail wagging like a propeller — when she enters the house.

His mama is his favorite person to curl up with, and I’m his daylong companion, as we read each other’s minds, including our favorite time of the day – the midday nap.

He just looks at me, gets the sense it must be time and runs upstairs and jumps up into bed. While some people have lap dogs, I have a nap dog.

We have three cats, and he has zero issues with two of them (the third is another story), and he doesn’t even seem to care that we have a rabbit, Buttons, living in the laundry room.

There are a lot of nasty clichés about dogs, but not here.

Sometimes, when the weight of a world in turmoil seems too much to bear, you just have to be thankful for the simple things.

We enter Thanksgiving thankful for Rex.

He can’t actually say thank you in return, but that’s not needed.

It’s just a crazy cool connection we have that makes it understood.

And it should happen to all dogs.

This column appeared in The Times Herald on Nov. 24, 2019.

Unique Coach Gets His Call To The Hall

LouSofia2

By GORDON GLANTZ

GORDONVILLE — The first time I met Lou Lombardo, I was a know-nothing twenty-something cutting his teeth as a rookie sportswriter.

Already a fish out of water as a natural slacker thrust into the workforce, I was playing double jeopardy because the sports editor sent me to an American Legion game – the Fort Washington Generals against someone — instead of one in my comfort zone of the Perkiomen Valley Twilight League.

There was this short guy coaching third base for the Generals shouting out weird stuff to his batters and baserunners, and I half-wondered if he suffered from Tourette’s Syndrome before I was assured by someone, perhaps a writer from another paper (back in those bad old days of yore, multiple papers would cover sporting events), who said, “that’s just Lou being Lou.”

I covered the game, and warily approached this strange Lou character after the final out.

Before I could even introduce myself, let alone ask a question, Lou took one look at me and proclaimed “it’s Gene Wilder!”

He then summoned anyone he could – assistant coaches, umpires, players, parents, dog-walkers (and their dogs) passing by – to seek validation in his assessment that I could be Wilder’s stunt double.

Other than that I would have gladly traded paychecks with the star of movies like “Young Frankenstein” and “Blazing Saddles” – among a litany of others – I didn’t quite get the connection.

Once Lou settled down, he was an amazing interview, breaking down the game in such detail that I wondered if we had just witnessed the same one.

It’s now decades later, and I look more like Telly Savalas than the curly-haired Wilder. It was a minor miracle that Lombardo – the longtime coach for both the Generals and the Mustangs of Montgomery County Community College – seemed to have even a faint recollection of me when I called him last spring for more information on his career to build a resume for what I believed to be a long overdue induction into the Montgomery County Coaches Hall of Fame (full disclosure: I’m the chair of the Selection Committee).

Two fascinating hours after what should have been a 15-minute conversation, Lou agreed to let me bring Sofia by his backyard training facility for a hitting “evaluation.”

She had fallen into a terrible slump, and I was desperate for an expert assessment. He cautioned that most of his clients were baseball players, not softball players, but he would take a looksee.

I brought Sofia over for what was to be a 50-minute lesson early last May.

About 2 ½ hours later, her whole approach was broken down and built back up with what he calls linear hitting.

She did so well, that he had her elevated – as a sixth-grader – as being a Division III-level college recruit.

I left feeling like I had flipped Andre the Giant off my back, especially when he agreed to take her on as one of his few softball students.

It was like getting an acceptance letter from an Ivy League school (especially when we added catching to the course load).

The only remaining hurdle was Sofia.

Lou’s passion and enthusiasm seemed to have left her rejuvenated, in terms of confidence, and she couldn’t help but chuckle at many of his antics.

Still, would she want to come back with this guy who claimed to be 79 years old and was encouraging work with a hula hoop to increase power and naming her bats?

That question was answered as soon as we got in the car, even before the doors were closed.

“Wow,” she said, without being prompted, “that was fun. … And I can’t believe he is 79.”

Lou – who is actually a decade shy of 79 — made it clear that he was really an advisor, and only needs to see her every now and then, christening me as her new hitting coach.

I was initially reticent, but I now feel that I can break it down pretty well when we practice in the backyard.

He not only can teach the players, but also the teachers of the players.

And this is just a small sample of all the players – of both sexes and of all ages – that he has helped become better ballplayers.

Ironically, Lou gives homework to his students – and their parents, who he makes stay for the sessions (I would anyway, being a helicopter sports dad) – and I gave some to him as nominee.

As part of his Hall of Fame nomination process, to sell it to the rest of the committee, I wanted him to put together a coaching tree.

What that is, in layman’s terms, is a list of former players and assistant coaches, etc. who have gone on to carve out their own impressive niches in the baseball world.

Football example: Doug Pederson and John Harbaugh, both of whom won Super Bowls, are among those from Andy Reid’s coaching tree (not that I’m rubbing it in Reid’s face too much that he is still chasing a ring down like the last pastry at the buffet table).

The first “tree” Lou gave me was a page, but he knew he was forgetting some people. The next was a page and a half, but the retired history teacher at Upper Dublin High still wasn’t satisfied. The final product was closer to three pages long.

I don’t want to tell Lou this, but the committee barely glanced over the list. His reputation preceded itself, and he was in on the first ballot and will be inducted as part of the Class of 2019 at Presidential Caterers on Tuesday, Nov. 26.

Lou touched a lot of people’s lives during his coaching career, and has privately expressed – more than once – how he would like to look out over the room and see a representation of his career, from different eras, looking back up at him as he delivers an acceptance speech that he promises will be nothing short of the Gettysburg Address.

Tickets still remain for the event, and can be purchased at the following link: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/2019-montgomery-county-coaches-hall-of-fame-banquet-tickets-72532381305 or by calling 484-868-8000.

Hocus Pocus Messes With Our Focus

McDonalds-arch

By GORDON GLANTZ

GORDONVILLE – There are several books I could sit down and write tomorrow: “Memoirs of a Street Hockey Legend,” “The World’s Greatest Air Guitarist” and “I Was Once a Heartthrob (In Fifth Grade).”

Another would be “Adventures in Fast Food.”

Yeah, I could fill a great portion of it up just with what I ordered going through the drive-thru windows and what I actually found in my bag, and my cup, when I got home.

Just the other day, some sort of road block because of a fire or car accident sent me so close to an unnamed place that I could smell the burritos.

On the ride home, I went for the cup holder in the center console and found it practically empty. There was lemonade, but not in the cup. A hole in the bottom of it had the lemonade bursting through the levees of the center console like it was Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans.

While I deployed hand towels as my National Guard, soaking up the damage, I immediately called the night crew and demanded to speak to the manager. He told me what they all do (Page 1 of their playbook). He said come back and he’ll make it up to me (albeit up to $10).

I went back two days later – around lunch time – and had to wait an inordinate amount of time just to get my free heartburn on.

And that was a good outcome, relatively speaking.

There have been numerous times where Manager X tells me to come back at a future time to have it “made it up to me,” and I return to find there is no Manager X anymore. His/her replacement, Manager Y, will reluctantly instruct Assistant Manager Z to take care of it.

It is what it is.

And it isn’t much.

The managers come and go, but the fast food joints remain.

Kind of like … leaders of terrorist groups.

They get hunted and killed – and the mainstream media swoons – and the threat is no less than it was the day before.

Sometimes, it’s worse.

Take, for example, this mockery of a sham that we woke up to a week ago today.

I checked my phone to see if Sofia’s softball tournament was called due to rain.

As suspected, it was.

I also caught a pre-dawn glimpse of the headlines and saw that your president (not mine), saying he would have a “big announcement” at 9 a.m.

Knowing a resignation — in the midst of an ongoing mountain of scandal — would be too much to hope for, I went back to bed only imaging who was going to be thrown under the bus after sunrise.

The “big announcement” came straight from an old bag of tricks made popular by an equally ineffective Republican president, George W. Bush.

The so-called big announcement was that some ISIS leader – after the ISIS hornet’s nest has poked back to life by a recent spate of flawed foreign policy in the first place – was killed overnight.

I’m not even going to bother to Google the dude’s name for a cut and paste here.

He’s ISIS leader X, only to be replaced by ISIS leader Y.

Towel Head

They come and go, often killed by our special operations forces — or often their own from the inside (like a coup from Assistant Manager Z).

And the terrorism – like the fast-food heartburn – remains.

I vowed not to bring myself to watch the 9 a.m. “I’m The Greatest” speech that pales in comparison to those of Ali.

The dreaded mainstream media already figured it out (we all knew an overnight mass shooting at Texas A&M, or California wildfires, would not spur him to the podium at 9 a.m. on a Sunday morning).

But I did check it around 9:01 last Sunday and stopped watching by 9:02.

I’d seen enough gloating.

Ironically, when my president (not yours), Barack Obama, pulled the trigger on an operation to kill Osama bin Laden, he was accused for “doing a touchdown dance.”

Knowing the lack of attention span for your president (not mine), I sounded an all-clear at 10 a.m. and went back to the news networks for analysis.

Instead, I saw your vice president (not mine), among others, being interviewed.

“Both America, and the world, are safer today” became the mantra.

No, America and the world are not safer today.

Someone else, whose name we can’t pronounce – and whose name we need not even commit to memory – will rise up in his place, just like managers in fast food joints, and they are only going to be more dangerous.

This column appeared in The Times Herald on Nov. 3, 2019

Rockin’ The Vote (while rockin’ the boat)

Rundgren

By GORDON GLANTZ

GORDONVILLE — I voted.

I not only voted today, but yesterday and the day before that and the day before that and the day before that.

And I’ll do it again tomorrow — and will continue until I can’t anymore.

These votes, which are allowed on repeat (and hopefully without Russian interference), are cast online for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

The Hall got over itself and allowed fan voting to become part of the process, and that led to some overdue inductions (Rush, Journey, The Cars) but inherent injustices remain because the playing field is still made uneven by a self-righteous group of know-it-alls creating the ballot.

The 2020 induction nominees include some who just became eligible (25 years since their first release, some who have been eligible but have not been on the ballot and others who are repeat nominees).

The list (in alphabetical order, with those I have repeatedly voted for in bold) includes: Pat Benatar; Dave Matthews Band; Depeche Mode; The Doobie Brothers; Whitney Houston; Judas Priest; Kraftwerk; MC5; Motörhead; Nine Inch Nails; The Notorious B.I.G.; Rufus featuring Chaka Khan; Todd Rundgren; Soundgarden; T.Rex and Thin Lizzy.

My first reaction to the ballot was one of both joy and disgust. I was excited to see Benatar, Rundgren and T.Rex but some of the others – Whitney Houston, The Notorious B.I.G., Rufus featuring Chaka Khan, Depeche Mode and MC5 – continue to cause me angst.

T_Rex_The_Slider

Over the years, the Hall has defined and redefined what is and isn’t Rock so many times that it is enough to make a statue dizzy.

Considering the varied genres that merged into some magical chemistry to make rock and roll what it became, it is understandable that some lines will get blurred.

But something stinks in the town of Cleveland, which is somehow home to the Rock and Roll Hall (should have been in Philly, but don’t get me started).

Either those who pull the strings from behind the curtain are tripping over themselves to be too inclusive, or something more subversive could be at play. They could be trying to monopolize all music outside of opera under one roof.

Since 1961, Nashville has been home to the Country Music Hall of Fame.

There is a Hip Hop Hall of Fame and Museum in New York City that was established in 1992.

There is a Rhythm & Blues Hall of Fame. Founded in 2010, it is currently a mobile museum with several cities bidding to be its permanent home.

Plans are afoot for an American Pop Hall of Fame in Western Pittsburgh and a Folk Music Hall of Fame with a broad vision and not many firm details.

Meanwhile, the R&R Hall continues to violate trespassing laws to fish in other ponds while ignoring many of its own.

There was not much criticism early on, as choices like Chuck Berry and Elvis Presley seemed rather obvious.

The shark was officially jumped in 2007, when The Dave Clark Five finished fifth in the voting, earning the final spot, but the spot was given away by self-appointed chairman Jann Wenner (publisher of Rolling Stone magazine) to Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five because of a perceived dire need to include a rap act.

The curious ballots and omissions ever since have landed the entity in a world where it is not taken seriously.

Me? I’m still trying. That’s why I still vote.

 

I grew up listening to AOR (album-oriented rock), which was gargantuan from the late 1960s through to the arrival of the MTV era of the early 1980s.

A band could sell a zillion records and pack arenas without ever putting a song in the Top 40. Those were the days.

But many of the artists and acts of that era – Bad Company, Jethro Tull, Foreigner, Warren Zevon, Foghat, Supertramp, Boston, Styx, Peter Frampton, Kansas, ELP and those I voted for (Benatar, The Doobie Brothers, Judas Priest, Rundgren and T.Rex) – are annually spurned.

Badco

Ironically, there is a channel on Sirius Radio – Classic Vinyl – that broadcasts live from … The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. You hear these bands, not past “pop” inductees like ABBA or Bee Gees, all the time.

And then there are the singer-songwriters that once owned the music scene. I’m talking about Gordon Lightfoot (pictured below), Harry Chapin, Jim Croce, Carole King (in the Hall as a writer but not a performer, despite her seminal “Tapestry” album that blazed a trail for female singer-songwriters for decades) and John Denver.

Lightfoot

And then we have the curious omissions of America and Seals and Crofts.

Not rock? That argument can only be made if The Eagles, Crosby, Stills & Nash, Simon & Garfunkel (and Paul Simon) and James Taylor were not among those inducted.

Music is subjective. I get it. But there can still be a measure of objectivity to it — just based on body of work and evidence and what fits the definition of rock in the most loose of terms.

This column ran in The Times Herald on Oct. 27.

Searching For A Lost America

CountryDiner

By GORDON GLANTZ

GORDONVILLE — If it is possible for a heathen to have a come to Jesus moment, I had one about 12 years ago when lost in the King of Prussia area.

It was in the dark days before GPS, and the directions we looked up practically had us driving off the road and into a ditch.

I did what was I taught to do – after learning reading, writing and arithmetic – and followed the long-held American right of pulling into a gas station to ask for directions.

No one there – not the cashier, mechanic or guy sitting behind the counter with his feet up – had a clue.

We barely found our way back home while feeling frustrated, having not showed up for a scheduled appointment, only to learn that we were a grand total of two turns and two minutes from the destination.

The tradition of getting directions at a gas station was clearly gone, as it was not the first time and not the last.

The type of full-service gas stations that guide you to the Yukon became an endangered species, going the way of using a phone book to call a movie theater on a pay phone for start times.

You can say it’s all a sign of progress, but we need to have progress with our souls intact, do we not?

While we have had the rise of a wonderful musical genre called Americana (an umbrella under which country, rock, folk, blues, blue grass – among others – can merge and mingle without the musicians feeling like traitors to their genres), many other forms of Americana are six feet under.

These deaths are not by a single stab wound, but by a thousand painful cuts.

Exhibit A: Sports.

What did we do as kids? We watched games on television, and then we went outside and mimicked what we saw until it was too dark (and sometimes when it was too dark).

Maybe we didn’t do everything fundamentally correct, but we played and played and played.

Sofia, now 12 ½, plays softball at the travel tournament level, and she has yet to ever watch one pitch of a game on television. We make semi-regular excursions to Reading Phillies games, but she doesn’t really pay attention there, either.

Everything she has done with the sport has been in a controlled environment with adults instructing her, either as coaches or individual mentors (or yours truly trying to act like one).

Truth is, though, she is a step ahead by putting down her phone long enough to put in the time.

Even if she did watch the Phillies and then looked to play outside – without adult supervision, leaving kids alone to develop skills such as conflict resolution – there would be no untouched open space anyway.

It seems every piece of suburban grass needs to have a house on it, lest western civilization turn into one big pumpkin by the pending stroke of midnight.

And then there is the sign of lost Americana, leaving me the most blue — the slow decline and gradual death of the neighborhood diner.

The operative word here is “neighborhood.”

I lamented this trend recently on a Facebook post, hoping my “friends” in that alternate universe would commiserate.

Some did, but others did not. Some suggested what I call coffee shops – places that open around 6 a.m. and close by the end of the lunch rush (2-2:30 p.m.) – which don’t qualify as a diner in my book (diners should technically be 24 hours, but that went by the wayside at the front end of the decline).

Others mentioned chain restaurants that are too big and impersonal – complete with elongated wait times – that don’t qualify.

Most fellow Facebookians chose to jolt me from my anger stage of the mourning process by letting me know of diners I could try out.

I was reminded of places in the city – South Philly, North Philly, Roxborough and my home ‘hood of the Northeast – that I already knew about.

No one mentioned New Jersey, where diner tradition is the next best thing it has going next to being the Bruce Springsteen state, but I’m not about to pay a toll and fight traffic just for a cheese omelet.

I also learned of diners in Pottstown, Reading, Collegeville, Warminster, Wyncote, Warrington, Wayne, Downingtown and even somewhere south of the Delaware River Gap.

That’s all fine and dandy. If I’m ever in any of those places, a diner will get my business 100 times before some chain joint.

It’s a way to soak up the local flavor, and get a feel for the community (often song fodder), as diners are – or were – a window into the soul of an area.

But I’m still a stranger in a strange land, and it often leaves me with an achy breaky heart (especially if the song is playing on the jukebox).

Every neighborhood should have at least one diner. It should actually be mandated by law – by the same municipal officials so quick to rubber stamp variances to overdevelop themselves into oblivion.

I know there are some diners around Norristown – in West Norriton, Audubon, etc. – but there is no way I can get there enough to be called “hun” by a waitress who already knows to bring me my decaf (caffeine kills) and large OJ.

I wouldn’t yearn for that so much if I didn’t have it, only to have it stripped away, one by one by one.

When we first moved to Blue Bell, there were so many diners within a five-mile radius that we practically kept a scorecard to make sure we were hitting each one fairly.

Once you achieve “regular” status, feeling like a regular on the cast of “Cheers,” you have a certain amount of responsibility to be a good customer.

And I was, tipping in the 25 percent range.

At least that’s what I believed while keeping faith in the dream of Americana more than the American dream itself.

This column appeared in The Times Herald on Oct. 13, 2019.