Skip to content

Gratitude

July 3, 2017

“He’s great, and he’s a cross dresser.”

Even if that hadn’t been the only qualifier we had for the ER surgeon, it registered to both my wife and me as an extremely odd piece of information to divulge under any circumstance.

“Do cross dressers make better surgeons?” we asked, which in turn confused the attending physician who had actually said, “CrossFitter.” Given we were at the Good Samaritan Hospital, I had visions of our surgeon being responsible for fitting little Jesuses on all of the crosses in the rooms, but she was appealing to my affinity for Triathlons and felt I would be comforted knowing the surgeon on call was a fellow athlete, a CrossFitter as in CrossFit training.

15 minutes later, disoriented, distressed and dressed in one of those little blue backless gowns on a gurney, I was signing pieces of paper in which I acknowledged that anesthesia takes out more people annually than base jumping.  In a few moments, I would be operated on by a surgeon I had never met, in a hospital I had never heard of. Read more…

Projectile Dysfunction

June 5, 2017

In the mid to late 1980’s, East Palo Alto’s crime rate was soaring, reaching a pinnacle in 1992 when it earned the auspicious distinction of having the highest murder rate in the United States. Paradoxically, East Palo Alto was perched on the northern stoops of Menlo Park, Stanford and Palo Alto, three of the most affluent zip codes in the nation.

The San Francisquito creek marked its southern border. By midsummer in the 80’s, the creek’s course past East Palo Alto to the bay was nothing but a series of last gasp ponds and puddles blemished with bottles, cans, syringes, car tires, shopping carts and the occasional corpses of a rare Steelhead trout cut off and beached between spawning and hightailing it home to the Pacific. Casualties of uptown overdevelopment.

“Because it’s only $400 a month” was the musician logic I had used to explain to my father why I had rented a home on the tip of East Palo Alto. “It’s more like a buffer zone,” I explained, 5 blocks on the preferred side of the 101 freeway. “It’s the other side of 101 where it gets really bad.” 

I had grown up on a street 6 miles west, one block and about 5 acres east of the 280 freeway, a buffer zone between the half a million dollar homes and the multimillion dollar ones.

 “Only $400 a month,” I had repeated, exasperated that my real estate coup had been met with so much skepticism. “2 stories, 2 bedrooms, a living room, kitchen, bathroom AND a yard.”  In the eyes of a jazz pianist squeaking by on sporadic club gigs and wedding receptions, it was the Ritz. Read more…

Health Care and the Gorilla in the Mix

May 5, 2017

I look at the confederacy of imbeciles running our country, and I listen to them blather on incessantly about health care.  And while I can pinpoint the moment it happened to the presidency, I wonder when exactly it was that the aggregate IQ of the House and Senate dropped into the single digits.  Then my heart stops as I realize it was us that voted them in, putting our respective intelligence quotients at an even lower level.

Like throngs of excitable lemmings, we have been duped by partisan posturing and self-righteous pontificating on a host of topics, most notably, health care. We swing wildly for the left or right wing fences but have taken our eyes off of the ball. 

Shame on all of us.

We have become so polarized over the issue of health insurance, that we have abandoned reason and critical thinking for whatever rhetoric it takes to win the argument. The bigger the accusation, the bigger the partial truth, the better the headline. To the unrestrained glee of the health care, pharmaceutical and hospital industries (all of which profit the sicker we get), we have missed the essential truth and tolerate a host of insanities that have inexplicably become the new norm.    

At the end of last year, my wife learned that she had tested positive for the BRCA2 gene, which when combined with the fact that her mother died of ovarian cancer at the age of 49, put her at an extremely high risk for cancer. We opted for preventative surgery. She had a hysterectomy in January and is scheduled for a double mastectomy in September.   Read more…

Escape Artists

March 9, 2017

Escape From Alcatraz Triathlon, June 12 2016, a Family Journey

alcatraz-in-distance

Photo of Alcatraz taken by Dylan the day before Escape From Alcatraz Tri, June 11 2016

 

Prologue

“JUMP. JUMP. GO.GO. GO. DO NOT HESITATE.”

The cadence and volume of the start coordinator at our exit from the boat was frenetic enough to suggest that “GO!” and “JUMP!!!” were only precursors to exponentially more calamitous communiques along the lines of “stampede,” “iceberg,” “abandon ship,” and “Jesus Christ, did you see the size of that shark!!!”

I had been expecting “Ready. Set. Go,” lightly seasoned with the soothing preamble of “good morning” and “have a great race.”

The Escape From Alcatraz triathlon is to your standard Olympic triathlon what Metallica’s single St. Anger is to Miles Davis’ My Funny Valentine. It’s The Shining compared to The Notebook, The Godfather to Mr. Ed, or more apropos, Jaws to Finding Nemo. If you survive the “1.5 mile” swim from Alcatraz to the sliver of a beach just west of the St Francis Yacht Club in San Francisco (you are allowed 60 minutes max), you continue with a ½ mile warm-up run to your bike, followed by an 18 mile bike ride (17 miles of which is uphill) capped off with a brisk 8 mile run (112 miles of which is uphill, through sand, and into the wind). Completely unreliable sources report the race course was designed initially in 1320 by someone named Dante and adopted later by the Spanish Inquisition (something I wasn’t expecting). The word Alcatraz, often confused for a Spanish word meaning “Pelican,” is more accurately translated from old Arabic to mean “dragged breathless into the gloomy depths.”

The entire premise of the event is a little off the charts. As a native San Franciscan who has spent hundreds of hours sailing inside, outside, and around The Golden Gate, I can tell you with absolute certainty that the #1 guiding principle under sail is “stay on the boat.”  The logic behind that adage closely aligns with the reason they chose Alcatraz for a prison. If the guards didn’t shoot you as you bolted over the wall, it was pretty much guaranteed that between the current, the bitter cold, the chop, and the occasional Great White (that’s a reference to a shark, not a large Caucasian), the swim would kill you.

And as for biking and running, should you actually make shore, San Francisco ranks second to the Himalayas as a geographic region least likely to be referenced as “flatland.”

Read more…

I Feel The Earth Move

January 22, 2017

The press limits and fixates its reporting of earthquakes to measurements on the Richter scale. They toss us a number, usually projected at the epicenter of a target behind them, and we take their dollop of science and run with it. The higher the number, the greater the pucker factor.  Done.

But the Richter scale is only a sliver of the seismic puzzle, only one data point in the more complex schematic of sphincter compression. For example, what the reports always omit is the duration of the event.  An earthquake of 8.0 that only lasts 3 seconds will spill your coffee and call for a new set of briefs, but not much more. On the other hand, a 5.2 that shakes for a full minute can bury you and take down a city and its gilded towers.

Reports estimate that about 400,000 people participated in the Women’s March in New York City yesterday. But while size matters, those numbers barely scratch the surface of the seismic power of the day. They have presented a Richter number out of context, providing about as much information and insight as reporting only the number of pages in War and Peace.

Read more…

A Tale of Two Men

January 16, 2017

Today we honor Dr. Martin Luther King. In four days, Donald Trump will become our 45th president.

It was the best of minds. It is the worst of minds. The juxtaposition between these two men boggles any mind.

 Dr. King was unmatched as a courageous visionary, a brilliant and enlightened man of peace who lifted the nation up from hatred, ignorance and fear. What a shameful contrast to see our president elect, a man of small hands and smaller intellect, luxuriate in his narcissism by fanning the embers of hate and fear, preying on ignorance, malaise and greed.

I listen to Dr. King’s “I Have a Dream” speech every year. I remind myself that the truth and power of his words still shed light on the shadows. They inspire me to speak loudly, consistently, peacefully and without hate. See it here http://bit.ly/2jBqzuC or read it here http://bit.ly/2jokkgs.

It took great courage and resolve to march back in 1963. It will take courage, tenacity and the conviction of truth over rhetoric to once again transform “the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood.”

A man can dream.

How Donald Trump Can Thank America

November 20, 2016

I imagine that Donald Trump is struggling to find the appropriate words to thank America for placing his apprenticeship at the helm and electing him into office.  Perhaps this letter will help him to express his gratitude.

To My Fellow Americans,

It is with feigned humility that I thank you for this incredible honor to serve as your next president of the formerly United States. I owe an incredible debt of gratitude to so many, so so many, that it is truly hard to know where to begin to say thank you.

But let me begin with a nod to America’s media networks for creating and fanning an environment in which rabid sensationalism has completely obscured any interest in perspective, measured discussion or thoughtful disagreement.  Thank you for valuing spectacle and speculation over substance, veracity, and integrity. God bless The Housewives of New Jersey and all of reality TV for fomenting an obsession with celebrity, mindless animosity and conflict, and for normalizing my candidacy.

How can I properly say thank you to the news organizations and their pundits and personalities that amplified my outrageous antics while so graciously muting even a whisper of accountability or insistence on the facts. You saved me millions in paid advertising, and together we elevated the antiquated notion of news to the riveting ratings-generator of reality TV.

And a quick shout out to so many celebrity news anchors and their mildly penetrating interviews that allowed me to slide on the minor distractions of foreign policy, my tax returns, and any inconsistencies between my words and actual facts.  After I name my cabinet, I will be putting together a softball team, and you have all earned your place as all-stars.

Next I have to say thank you to my Russian PR firm and WikiLeaks. Your relentless trickle of unsubstantiated documents was a Chinese water torture to crooked Hillary’s campaign. Tell Vladimir I look forward to working with him.

And then, of course, I owe an unfathomable debt of gratitude to James Comey. When things were looking bleakest, he took it upon himself to courageously disregard law and the long established FBI policy of not interfering with or affecting the result of an election. I am moved by the courage and duplicity it took to fan the flames of rumor without even the remotest trace of substance. Down the Hatch, my friend.

But to two groups I am most indebted. First, to many of the Bernie faithful, who despite his insistence and despite their alleged allegiance to the self-proclaimed revolutionary, stoically turned a deaf ear to his directives and opted not to vote for Hillary. I am dumbfounded but giddy, and applaud their protest votes for Johnson.  You are what you vote for.

But overshadowing them, Comey, team Russia, and our news networks, are the true lifeblood of my campaign. And no, I am not tipping my hood to those racists, fellow misogynists, or the undereducated that made up a large part of my constituency. There are roughly 231,556,622 registered voters out there. My heart swells with appreciation to the approximately 108,905,386 who didn’t vote. A wink to the Supreme Court’s ruling against the Voting Rights Act in 2013. But God Bless You! By malaise, indifference, disdain, or protest you took yourselves out of the game. You forfeited. You willingly abdicated your say in the Supreme Court, equal rights, the economy, foreign policy, climate change, woman’s rights, gun control, basic decency and civility, in essence – everything. By so graciously rendering yourself insignificant, which is what you did, I have been hired by just a sliver over 25% of eligible voters, fewer in number than those that voted for Hillary. I am sure you are as proud of yourselves and the Electoral College as I am of you.

Thank you.  God Bless America. Looking forward to putting the bully back into the bully pulpit,

Your President Elect