Monday, December 17, 2012


The first blog I ever posted, before they were called blogs (AOL has since removed it), was the day after a local tragedy in the Kansas City area. Three teenage girls, who went to my old high school, were killed in a car accident. I still remember their names, Amanda Bush, Alana Winn and Jennifer DeFranco. Three girls I never met. I was just a couple of years out of high school, so it hit pretty close to home. I ended up posting some of my thoughts online. A day or two after the accident, one of their sisters came into the Kinko's where I worked, to make necklaces that would contain her sisters’ picture. I gave them to her for free, and then showed her the site I had put up. She left a comment, which I’ll always remember. Columbine happened almost exactly a year later. And I went to the web again. A few days later a survivor was generous enough to stop by my site and post a comment, which was truly humbling.

There have been countless tragedies since, and there will be countless more, enough to drive us all to the edge of sanity. My wish is that we get close to that edge, and find the strength to move away from it. That all this senseless pain turns into something positive. And that can only happen if we open the lines of communication. It's not necessarily “politicizing” an issue just because you want to talk about it. There’s a time and a place for all conversations, but that doesn't mean that time or place is going to be overwhelmingly comfortable for everyone.

Adults, supposedly, are able to talk about the tough issues. These are the times when we should stop the name calling, or silly comparisons (planes were used on 9/11, should we ban planes) and voice our concerns. Share our hopes and our fears and, most importantly, listen to those who disagree. Put our politics aside, and put our children first. There’s no easy fix here. But if the senseless death of 20 children isn’t enough to convince us to at least consider every imaginable and unimaginable, idea on the table, then we’ll never do it. And then we’re all, at least somewhat, to blame.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

11-22: The Concert That Will Never Be

Last night, after catching up on “Dexter,” the better half and I flipped on the 12-12-12 Sandy Benefit concert. We came in at the end of the Bon Jovi set, and witnessed the Jersey-gasm all over the stage. I was reminded that I still believe the Stones and The Who are overrated, and while Clapton is still Clapton, someone needs to at least make all aging rockers dress age appropriately. At a bare minimum, they have to agree to keep all clothing on, and shirts need to remain buttoned.

Sometime between Alicia Keys babbling, while playing the same keys through three “songs,” and Kanye West sounding the portion of my brain that loves fantasy baseball and football became engaged. I love these kinds of shows. It might be what America does best: We know how to throw a party to raise money in the wake of horrible tragedy.  But I wasn’t thrilled with all the acts. So if I was able to organize my own benefit show, and disturbingly enough, I imagined it being for New York City and in the Garden, I started to think about who I would want. In true fantasy style, there needs to be some kind of stats, so the best I could come up with was picking 3-5 songs for each act. As an added degree of difficulty, I also wanted to pick who would introduce the various acts.

Without further ado (how come no one ever adds ado?) The 11-22 Show:

The show opens with Jon Stewart, who introduces The Fugees.
Fugees play: Ready Or Not, Fu-Gee-La, The Score, How Many Mics and No Woman No Cry.

Lewis Black introduces the Dave Matthews Band.
DMB plays: So Much to Say, Ants Marching, Cry Freedom, Stay and Tripping Billies.

Jimmy Kimmel then introduces OAR.
OAR Plays: This Town, Love and Memories, Heard the World, and I Feel Home.

Dave Chappelle introduces the Wu-Tang Clan.
Wu-Tang plays: Da Mystery of Chessboxin’, CREAM and Protect Ya Neck.

Russell Brand introduces Ryan Adams.
Ryan plays: New York-New York, Lucky Now, Come Home, Everybody Knows and Gonna Make You Love Me

Jimmy Fallon introduces Justin Timberlake. Obviously, right?
Justin plays: SexyBack, My Love, Rock Your Body and Senorita.

Jonah Hill introduces Mumford & Sons.
Mumford plays: I Will Wait, The Cave, Roll Away Your Stone, and Little Lion Man.

Chris Rock introduces Beyonce.
Beyonce plays: Ring the Alarm, Single Ladies and brings out Jay-Z for Crazy In Love
Jay Z stays and plays: 99 Problems, Never Change, Thank You and Empire State of Mind.

Louis CK introduces Billy Joel.
Billy plays: Miami 2017, Piano Man, and Scenes from an Italian Restaurant, The Downeaster “Alexa,” and of course, New York State of Mind.

The playlist is already available on Spotify:

Monday, December 3, 2012


I've now been in Kansas City for 24 years. Other than the Jayhawks, I haven’t adopted any of the sports teams as my own. In fact, I've often gone the other way, and cheered against them. That’s probably worth a post all its own, and maybe a session with a shrink. But after the tragedy this past weekend, I've gone through my own run of emotions. Like any other decent human being, I fully understand that this has nothing to do with sports. There’s countless people suffering in the wake of what transpired, and everyone should be concerned first and foremost with baby Zoe.

Now, I understand that Jovan Belcher is technically a “murderer,” as I heard him called on the radio this morning. And I’m not, in anyway, trying to lessen what he did. Belcher brutally took the life of another human. But I can’t help but wonder if he suffered from some sort of mental illness. Not that it would make him any less responsible. It’s just how my mind works. When someone does something so crazy, and so out of character, I can’t help but wonder why. Now, we’ll never know what happened in their relationship. Nor do we really have a right to. And there’s nothing, at all, that Kasandra Perkins could have done to deserve that fate. And I hate to make a statement and follow it up with a “but”, but…there are things that can happen in life, that cause a person to snap. Doesn't make the snapping right or just, and it’s not an excuse. But there is a difference between someone snapping and a homicidal maniac.

I think, sadly, that anyone of us, if the circumstances are right (actually, wrong) are capable of snapping and taking a life. Like a perfect storm. Luckily, most of us are never in that situation. And even if we are, and do snap, it’s never okay. But it’s always, absolutely, worth trying to understand. Compassion, even for the unforgivable,  is what separates us from being animals. It’s also the best line of defense against similar future incidents.

Anyway, when I first heard they were going to play the game, I was appalled. I understand life goes on, and in most cases, we’d all go to work the next day if it happened at our office. Although, I can’t imagine any boss being made to go in the day after one of his employees took their own life in front of said boss. But this isn't your typical office. There aren't 70,000 fans cheering, booing, drinking or giving even half a damn at my office. No cheerleaders, celebration dances or foam fingers either. What I do, while it isn't life or death, isn't called a “game.” And we don’t say we’re “playing” anything.

Turns out the players made the right call. They knew what was best for them. I've never been more proud of the Chiefs, or more impressed with any coach. I feel that the organization should donate all the revenue for the day to fight domestic violence, suicide prevention as well as set up a trust fund for Zoe. And while I understand some of the players still want to honor their teammate, who still did something completely evil, but just might have been a victim too, in his own way. Hate to speculate, but I can’t help but think he was suffering from some sort of mental illness. So wearing a patch with his number would be flat out wrong. Although a patch with “Zoe” would be fantastic.

It's just impossible to find any kind of silver lining in this story.