Running Down A Dream: NYC Marathon Adventure Begins

Yeah runnin’ down a dream
That never would come to me
Workin’ on a mystery, goin’ wherever it leads
Runnin’ down a dream

Tom Petty

Carolyn and I have been on a mission to enjoy life to its fullest and have had some memorable experiences along the way. Our latest adventure would become one of our all-time favorite trips as we had an adventure for the ages. Our journeys usually include a little craft beer and this one will be no different. Mix in Carolyn’s relatives, a marathon plus a presidential election and it becomes an epic adventure. I have tried to include links to places and events so you can see what we were experiencing. So it begins.

Carolyn has been running down her dream to participate in the NYC Marathon and after several previous year setbacks due to other events, this was to be her year. Carolyn had qualified for the NYC Marathon by running the Tucson Marathon several years ago in a phenomenal time of around 3:28 and some change.

It was Thursday evening, and me being me finally got my stuff packed up and ready to go. Would you expect anything other then that from me? (Carolyn had packed and been ready for several weeks) We had our boarding passes and were ready to go but first a stop at Sky Harbor Terminal 4 Four Peaks Brewery. Why not? 8th Street Ale for me and a SunBru for Carolyn. Thursday night football was on so it was fun hanging out just chilling.

Time to fly, except our American Airlines flight is delayed from 10 pm until 11 pm. Most may know that Carolyn works for Southwest Airlines so why would we fly on American? Very simple answer, we used our accumulated miles to fly for free with a guaranteed ticket. It’s a beautiful thing to fly for free.

Finally we board only to sit in the plane for another hour until we finally take off. I drift in and out of consciousness as we make our way to JFK Airport. Upon arrival, we are something like two hours late and we pick up our Uber for 35 bucks and head the 25 miles to the world famous Roosevelt Hotel. Oh my, the trip only takes us an hour and 40 minutes. Uber requires no tip, but in this case I’m throwing cash to our driver since it was no fault of his that our plane’s lateness threw us into a massive traffic jam that resembled the world’s largest parking lot.

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Carolyn getting her racing packet.

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Carolyn with her racing number.

Upon arrival, we check in and rest. I’m in full on dream mode when Carolyn wakes me for the start of our day in Manhattan. Since it is a beautiful day to be outdoors, we head on over to a Starbucks for some caffeine aka coffee walk the 1.5 miles to Javits Center to pick up Carolyn’s racing packet and hang out at the pre-race place.  Javits is fascinating, and there are participants and volunteers everywhere. We talk with many including a young lady from Tempe, AZ who was working in marketing in NYC. She recognized that ASU logo on my sweatshirt so I was glad I wore it. There were many exhibits and opportunities to spend money on a variety of merchandise plus some fantastic free samples to munch on. It really was something to behold. Our journey was moving along at a phenomenally.

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Heartland Brewery, Empire State Building

On our walk back to the Roosevelt, we stopped along the way in search of New York brews. This included a Brooklyn Lager at the Grand Central Oyster Bar, a favorite bar in one of my favorite shows Mad Men, and a dinner at TGI Fridays in Times Square. Fridays? Well lets just say I had a gift card that was about three years old that I could never use in AZ so why not? Finally a stop at Heartland Brewery for an award winning oatmeal stout in the Empire State Building.  Carolyn is of course going for the lighter stuff. Many years ago, Carolyn and I had a drink in a TGI Fridays that was located in the Empire State Building. I’m thinking that Heartland Brewery took its spot so it was sort of deja vu drinking.

Time for a walk back to the Roosevelt and one of New York’s finest craft brews, The Coney Island Mermaid Pilsner. This was soon to become Carolyn’s favorite New York craft beer. Carolyn still has a marathon to run so it is time to rest up as we are fading fast.

It was only Friday, but Sunday’s a coming.

Posted in Craft Breweries, Family, Road Trip, Running, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Counting Stars: Everything That Kills Me Makes Me Feel Alive

Lately, I’ve been, I’ve been losing sleep
Dreaming about the things that we could be
But baby, I’ve been, I’ve been praying hard
Said no more counting dollars
We’ll be counting stars
Yeah we’ll be counting stars
I see this life, like a swinging vine
Swing my heart across the line
And in my face is flashing signs
Seek it out and ye’ shall find
I feel the love and I feel it burn
Down this river, every turn
Hope is our four-letter word
Make that money, watch it burn
One Republic
Those lyrics speak to me frequently and are on on my mind as once again, Carolyn and I hit the road for our annual hike into the Grand Canyon for another life time adventure. It was our overnight trip for breakfast at Phantom Ranch.
Thursday evening of Labor Day weekend, and I’m way ahead of schedule compared to previous years as I packed and was ready to go as soon as work was done. That’s just not me but I’m learning. We arrive in Flagstaff and once again it is rainy but we decide on Smashburger. You know when you have the BOGO offer, who could possibly refuse. Plus it is sort of traditional now that we stop there, then grab a Dunkin Donuts coffee and head out.
But a detour is called for. We go to Williams first so can see up close and in person the newly located Grand Canyon Brewing Company. It is really something else. Now I’m not into grabbing a beer, yet, since we still have a long journey in front of us but the bartender insists that I sample anything I want so I will know what I want when we return. Great customer service. Let me tell you, they have a seasonal brown ale bourbon barrel based that it is fabulous. The coffee bean stout is pretty tasty as well. But small samples and off we go to the Canyon.
We arrive at the Canyon with plenty of time to spare and it is cold and rainy. The ground is wet, we are shivering but we are ready to head down into another spiritual sojourn in the depths of the canyon. Our start is earlier but it is wet and I’m just a bit nervous. The only light is our headlamps and I’m always concerned about slipping or turning an ankle you know old age related worries. (Everything that kills me makes me feel alive.) The sky miraculously clears and with no moon all we see are stars.
Not a soul on the trail but us. I’m anxious but I continue my trek. We see deer peering at us from the brush at Indian Gardens but not a person to be seen. As we were heading into Indian Gardens, Carolyn suddenly stops and there is an owl sitting beside the trail not more then 10 yards in front of us, watching us. We stand and watch for about 10 minutes and it finally flies off. In the native world, owls are not necessarily a positive vibe. My anxiety levels increase knowing that we have now had some supernatural encounter with this mystical bird.
What a lonely journey down, down, down into the deep dark depths of the Canyon. It is so dark that you can only really hear the Colorado River but seeing is out of the question. We finally encounter humans as we head to the bridge. Crossing the bridge in the darkness is beyond eery. We arrive at Phantom Ranch around 3:50 a.m. so we can rest on the benches by the creek until it is time for breakfast. They alway ring a bell to let you know that it is time to eat and after all we have paid good money for these breakfast reservations and I look up and see nothing but stars. It is beautiful and I dose off with visions of bacon running through my brain.
I wake with a start, and I look at my watch. It is 5:10 and I wake Carolyn and let her know we are late. No bells have rung and we walk in and everybody is eating away and there are our two seats waiting for us. I am so happy that I woke or we might have missed out on those fabulous pancakes, thick crispy bacon strips, scrambled eggs, and coffee that is just great. We indulge ourselves and enjoy conversing with those around us. Clearly they think we are nutty to hike overnight for breakfast only to turn back around and head up. Great group of people who had mostly hiked down the previous day, spent the night, and were now trying to figure out if they could get out of the Canyon. Duct tape was being used on various blisters and it was a sight for sore eyes and worth the trip.
I have decided that this year I am not going to overeat. So only five pancakes and nine pieces of bacon. And this year I did not line my pockets with leftover bacon strips. I have matured. (meaning my wife said no Tim) After all last year I ate 10 pieces and took a few more for the trip back up.
It is 6:00 and time to roll on out of here. The sun is coming up and we have got a long way to go. Carolyn reminds me that we will have some craft beer waiting up on top if we make it. So off we go, and we are doing ok. We pass multiple hikers and yet we get passed by hikers. By the time we reach Indian Gardens, the score card reads 8 passed and 10 passed us. We are losing but joy is straight ahead, all those who passed us minus three are laid out by the water faucet. We smoke ’em and never see them again as we continue our assault on the craziest climb. We pass and we pass hiker after hiker and our score card reaches 30 kills to 5 who killed us. We clear the top in 4:58. Not bad for an old man with his athletic wife.
I’ve made it! We get to the car and Carolyn pops the trunk and by golly Fat Tire collaboration beers are waiting on ice. We have only been up for about 30 consecutive hours and 9.5 hours of hiking 20 miles with elevation drops of 4,400 feet and another 4,400 hundred feet elevation increase. I’m beyond tired but feeling a high that needs no artificial or natural supplements.
We are living the dream and continue on for our traditional Grand Canyon brew while sitting on the porch at the world famous El Tovar hotel. The lyrics to one of my favorite songs are rolling through my head:
Old, but I’m not that old
Young, but I’m not that bold
And I don’t think the world is sold
On just doing what we’re told
I-I-I-I feel something so right
Doing the wrong thing
I-I-I-I feel something so wrong
Doing the right thing
I couldn’t lie, couldn’t lie, couldn’t lie
Everything that kills me makes me feel alive
Lately, I’ve been, I’ve been losing sleep
Dreaming about the things that we could be
But baby, I’ve been, I’ve been praying hard
Said no more counting dollars
We’ll be counting stars
I’m trying my best to move beyond counting dollars and instead counting stars. After all Old, but I’m not that old knowing that everything that kills me makes me feel alive and I’m alive.
We get to spend several nights at the Maswik Lodge and we even drive to Williams on Saturday for happy hour at the Grand Canyon Brewing Company. Can you imagine two dollar drafts on a Saturday from 2 to 6? Incredible.
Our time at the Canyon is always special. But I’m thinking just maybe, Carolyn can take me on a dinner date at Phantom and then hike after dinner to the top. Hiking down at night was a bit rougher on me this year and I’m thinking it might be safer for ankles hiking up at night. Just a thought.
Jordyn put together the following video with some of our photos. We didn’t take many this time but (I am praying hard, say no more counting dollars, we’ll be counting stars.) Just saying!
Posted in Grand Canyon, Hiking, Relationships, Road Trip, Spiritual, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Field of Screams

On Friday, August 19, 2016 the Payson Roundup sports section published an article written by Keith Morris concerning the condition of Payson High School Longhorn Field. Field of Screams by Keith Morris

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Morris hammers home the point that the field might not be a good one. Morris writes, “And just two weeks into practice this season, five players were slowed by knee or ankle injuries as a result of the poor field conditions.” If that is accurate then I would think some parents might be upset.

It must be pointed out though, that the field is probably no worse then previous years and it might even be better then some years. At last Friday’s game, the field was in better condition then many times I have been on it. There are fields across the state that are as bad or worse then Payson’s.  The field is as playable as it has ever been but it does need help. The article may be a bit embellished but it did what it was supposed to do and that was draw attention to a problem that has long been overlooked. The title might be appropriate for not only the condition of the field but just maybe people should be screaming about why it was never fixed as promised 10 years ago.

It has to be disheartening for Coach Swartwood and his football players to play year in and year out on a field that has limited grass throughout the middle. People can argue all they want but varsity football at high school is the biggest draw in rural communities. Friday night football draws more people then most events.  Even the band must beware of dirt patches if they are playing on the field. The stadium no longer has a working snack bar or restroom facilities on the Home side.  Payson Longhorn student athletes have been short-changed by not having a turfed field that was voted on and passed by the community in November 2006.

I first arrived in Payson in 1980 and I can assure you that some 36 years later, the football field has not improved but really isn’t any worse than it was 30+ years ago. I will point out that in the history of the field, nobody has been on the field for more games then me. I first officiated football on the field in approximately 1982. Youth football has played there as long as I can remember and I have officiated games on Longhorn field for 30+ years. I also coached on the field in the early 80’s and early 90’s. I officiated  middle school and  high school football games starting in 1992 and have worked many a freshman, junior varsity, and varsity game on the field. I’m guessing that I have been on the field for over 200 games during this span and probably many more then that.

As long as I can remember Longhorn Field has had its issues. The grass always gave out in the middle of the field and brown patches would appear everywhere and would soon turn to muddy patches when the rains came. By the end of October, there tends to be more brown (mud and dirt) then green. I can remember Coach Terry Nodlinski  placing new turf on the middle of the field in the 80’s and I don’t think that worked out so well. The sprinkler system had always been inadequate since it was first installed as many areas of the field would not receive adequate amounts of water during the growing season but that seems to have been remedied. But a total fix was a coming, or so we all thought.

In 2006, Payson Unified School District decided to hold a bond election for 33 million dollars and an advisory committee was formed. According to the Payson Roundup, the advisory committee membership included Craig Swartwood, Rory Huff, Steve Drury, Cari Day, and Kristi Ford. This group helped determine priorities for the bond that included building a new Julia Randall School and incorporating the old rock building into new school district offices and a board room. Part of the recommended 33 million dollar bond that was the inclusion of field turf that was to be placed on all high school athletic fields. This was in the bond language that was overwhemingly passed that November with a 73+% yes vote. School Board Explains Proposed School Bond Including Money for Turf Fields

I can remember the excitement at the high school for the prospect of having  “real” fields to practice and compete on. But things changed, and the 2009 school board composed of Rory Huff, Barbara Underwood, Matt Van Camp, Vickie Holmes, and Richard Meyer pulled the plug on having fields to be proud of by voting to eliminate the designated funding in March of 2009. Mr. Meyer had made it very clear that he was not about athletic programs and coaches and his influence may have persuaded others that the district didn’t need to spend the money that the voters had approved for turf. His dislike for Coach Josh Anderson had been quite apparent and I remember after Coach Anderson had resigned to take the head coach position at Dakota State, Mr. Meyer stating at a public meeting in the auditorium that “we” were not going to hire somebody who could be a coach but rather we were to only think about academics in the hiring process. We all know that the school suffered as a result of that thinking. I don’t even remember who we hired in a last ditch effort but it was a disaster. All of that thinking probably played a part in pulling the community backed funding for turfed fields.

When deciding against the turf, school board member Van Camp was quoted, “It’d be a waste of taxpayers’ money to put in fake grass.” (yes this is the same person who thought the town should use tax money to give employees a paid day off for their birthday instead of recognizing the national MLK Day as a holiday.)  School Board votes in 2009 to Eliminate Turf on Athletic Fields When the Roundup published the article there were those in the community that got quite upset that the funding had been pulled and some even wrote letters to the editor complaining of the pulled funding. (Any voted on bond money must be used for facilities, grounds, buildings, etc but cannot be used for salaries, adding staff, and so on.)

The Payson Roundup in their attempt to be “fair” allowed School Board Member, Barb Underwood to pen her opinion on why the funding was pulled. In the op-ed she writes, “I also feel a responsibility to the student athletes. I believe that with proper maintenance, and maybe keeping the football team off of the baseball field, the fields can be safe, playable, and something that we can all be proud of.”

“Many steps have already been taken to improve the fields and I believe we will continue to see improvements.” It is all right here and easy to read in the link that I have provided. Mrs. Underwood Responds to Criticism  (March 2010) Something we can all be proud of? In reading Mr. Morris’ article, I am thinking that many might not feel that way. Proper maintenance? How about short-sighted decision making?

The field issue was preventable and if people are at risk then the 2009 school board should be the ones held responsible. Remember Frontier Elementary School had been designated 1.5 million from the 2006 School bond for noise reduction and facility improvements.  Now mind you one of the tidbits you may not know is that the school board under the direction of Superintendent Casey O’brien used part of the “left over” bond money to provide added repairs at Frontier Elementary School and even installed a new playground and fixed up the parking lot. This all came about in 2010 and in 2011 the board closed the school and eventually sold the school for pennies on the dollar. As Mr. Van Camp, alluded to about the fake grass, that was probably a waste of taxpayer dollars.

My heart goes out to Coach Swartwood and his players. They should have and could have and would have been playing on an outstanding field. Instead the community voted upon funding was taken away by a short-sighted school board and I’m sure those board members do not want to be reminded of a their egregious error. I was talking with a person that helps out the high school baseball team and he was telling me that the gophers have returned to the baseball field. If the fields had been turfed as promised, there would not be a gopher issue.

One of the unintended consequences that came about from the decision of the PUSD school board was Payson would not be considered a site to host high school playoff games. I talked with an AIA in 2010 and his remark to me was that Payson blew it. His comments to me suggested that Payson would have been an attractive site to host playoffs since it is centrally located only if the powers to be had put in a turf field. The playoff games occur every November and we all know that traffic and visitors to Payson drops off during the Fall and this would have brought folks to Payson to spend their money while attending playoff games.

Reading in Morris’s article, we find out that the school district wants to use $50,000 to rip up the field between the hash marks and re-turf that area. (spring 2017) In the meantime, you continue to throw dirt on the grassless spots to make the field more level . Maybe an analogy  is appropriate so here goes on how I view the problem.

A deteriorating street gets pot holes so they fill up the pot holes with some kind of mix that may last until the next downpour. The road crew keeps doing this until they decide that the entire area isn’t doing so well and the next step is to rip that up and lay down a section of black top as a solution. So you have the old road, with this large 30 foot by 15 foot patched section. It seems to help temporarily but it never seems to work as a permanent solution. It is like throwing good money away since the road still is uneven and still needs replacement.

Are there other solutions? I think so. The town of Payson recently installed quite possibly the best field in all of Northern Arizona at Rumsey Park. It is a fabulous field and I think that there are few fields better then the one at Rumsey.

Why not use the $20,000 given to PHS for field improvement by the Tonto Apache Tribe, and move all bleachers to Rumsey Park and play games on the best field in Northern Arizona? If it supposedly costs $50,000 to fix the middle of the field, which in my opinion isn’t going to work for long, why not combine efforts with the Town of Payson and play on this great field?

Are there logistics problems? Yes. There are no locker rooms, limited public restrooms, etc at Rumsey Park but if the town is planning on their own bond to build a community center and other recreational amenities, why not build something with dressing room areas that can be used for major sporting events. Since there are no public restrooms or snack bar facilities on the home side of Longhorn Field why not build them at Rumsey. The biggest hurdle would be transporting the teams and providing some sort of changing areas. I get that but it would be better then throwing $50k down the tubes on a field that needs a total rehab and only a temporary solution. The school district would have to pay some for added maintenance since turf does need maintenance and the schools probably use the fields as much as anyone does.

Another possibility would be for PHS to contract with ASU and Camp Tontozona. They have a beautiful field and maybe they could put bleachers around their main field and what a venue. Ok, far-fetched but at least ASU and Payson would have a real connection. (Another one of my just saying thoughts.)

I’m a dreamer but you got to dream big and sometimes go against the wind to accomplish things. But one thing I do know for sure is that come this year’s Payson school board election, we have the opportunity to elect an intelligent young man, who graduated from Payson High School, has a finance background and was the valedictorian of Grand Canyon University, Mr. Shane Keith. He is the best candidate and one who understands finance and is not bought and paid for by those currently in power.  (That will be for another blog as we get closer to election day.)

In the meantime, you all can feel good knowing that Longhorn Field is no better or no worse then it has been for the past 10+ years. In reality it might be just a tad better then prior years. The grass that has grown is as green as I have ever seen it. With that being said, it is long overdue to get that field turfed or combine efforts with the town so nobody has to play events on the “field of screams.”

 

 

Posted in Community, Education, Football, Football, High School Football, Payson, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Colin Kaepernick: Sit Him or Start Him?

Most of you are probably like me when it comes to an upcoming NFL season. I am excited and always look forward to watching games and highlights plus getting involved in Fantasy Football and rooting for my favorite players and teams. I simply love watching the NFL.

Colin Kaepernick is actually relevant for the first time in along time. When participating in my fantasy football draft, I never even saw his name listed. Having been relegated to the bench while making tons of money, I can imagine that Colin was trying to find a way to get back in the spotlight.

If you have followed Colin’s professional career, you probably have noted that he is not known for being an advocate for social justice and social equality. After a high profile partying incident in Miami, his career has kind of gone south. In his case, after throwing more interceptions then touchdowns, he had been relegated to back up status.

Kaepernick had been hanging out on the bench without any real attention so I think he made a calculated decision in the hopes that somebody might notice him again. So what better way then protesting the National Anthem by sitting on the bench while all others stood. He has every right to do so because in America we have those freedoms. Just like all those blasting Kaepernick have the right to speak negatively about him because they have the freedom to state what they think.

An attention seeker does not care if the attention is negative or positive as long as the attention is received. Colin is no different then the student who acts up in the classroom just so they can get the attention of others. We all know them. (I suppose that would include me who was known as the class clown back in my day.) Most fans outside of San Francisco had forgotten about Colin Kaepernick but now he has become one of the most talked about and evidently disliked individuals in America. (I’m sure Hillary and Donald are jealous of all the attention he is receiving.)

Kaepernick says, “Yes. I’ll continue to sit. I’m going to stand with the people that are being oppressed. To me this is something that has to change and when there’s significant change and I feel like that flag represents what it’s supposed to represent in this country-is representing the way that it’s supposed to-I’ll stand.”

“Yes. I’ll continue to sit. I’m going to stand with the people that are being oppressed.” (Sit and stand in the same paragraph, wow.) Colin says he is going to do more to fight oppression but what it is he hasn’t figured that out yet. So I’m guessing that Kaepernick will continue to receive attention, something that he hasn’t received in many a month and think about this, how many benchwarmers get that amount of attention? Probably no one else. I believe this is just his way of trying to stay relevant since it wasn’t happening as a starting qb.

That’s my take away. A grandstanding stunt that has somehow made him relevant again and back in the spotlight. For him a brilliant move. Think about it; his career will probably not be worth noting for his play, but now he will always be remembered and his name known for sitting during the playing of the National Anthem at games.

Kaepernick has every right to stand up (or in his case sit down) for what he believes. But sitting for the National Anthem does absolutely nothing to bring about change. Judging from Facebook posts, he has alienated many Americans. I would think that it would be much better if he found a more meaningful way to implement the changes he says that he seeks.

But in reality, I’m guessing that most 49er fans would be happy if he can change his td to interception ratio. Until that changes, I say you just sit him. Just saying.

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Thinking Out Loud

Today, I find myself thinking out loud, rambling thoughts, missing my love, and just thinking about being with her again. So here is a glimpse into my soul. This one goes out to my girl, Carolyn.

A few weeks ago, Carolyn and I celebrated our 32nd wedding anniversary and we actually had a plan to sneak away into the Rockies but all our planning with the planes never got off the ground. Who could have possibly predicted a meltdown of a computer system that grounded all flights and kept us home. Disappointed but we scrambled and just had to visit a few local breweries since we had planned a brewery tour in Boulder, CO but Scottsdale was all we could do.

I’ve had some comments about still being married after all these years and even though I’m no expert, I have plenty to say but not all of it tonight.

Something sappy? Can I say it has been nothing but a fun ride? Oh what a piece of cake? The truth is, you can’t stay married for 32 years and have it just be some joyous ride. Marriage doesn’t work that way. Perseverance and the desire to stay married has probably worked for us more then anything.

When Carolyn and I got married back in the day, I’m guessing that there are many who probably would have bet against us still being married some 32 years later. It easily could have turned out differently but Carolyn and I have continued to keep moving forward. I would be lying to you if I said it was easy. It wasn’t and isn’t. We have gone through the valleys–the lowest lows but we kept climbing back up the mountain. We never quit even though we may have felt like quitting. Somehow moving beyond the present to look into the future has served us well. There is something about wanting to spend your golden years with the same person you fell in love with so many years ago. So tonight a little video on my Thinking Out Loud.

When your legs don’t work like they used to before
And I can’t sweep you off of your feet
Will your mouth still remember the taste of my love?
Will your eyes still smile from your cheeks?

And darling I will be loving you ’til we’re 70
And baby my heart could still fall as hard at 23
And I’m thinking ’bout how people fall in love in mysterious ways
Maybe just the touch of a hand
Well, me I fall in love with you every single day
And I just wanna tell you I am
So honey now
Take me into your loving arms
Kiss me under the light of a thousand stars
Place your head on my beating heart
I’m thinking out loud
That maybe we found love right where we are………..

Cause honey your soul can never grow old, it’s evergreen
Baby your smile’s forever in my mind and memory

I’m thinking ’bout how people fall in love in mysterious ways
Maybe it’s all part of a plan
I’ll just keep on making the same mistakes
Hoping that you’ll understand

by Sheeran and Wedge

These lyrics have added meaning to me as my legs sure aren’t working like they used to. I would have never thunk that I would be considering a hip replacement. As I close in on a sixth decade of life, my focus sure has changed. So Carolyn even though we can’t be together tonight, I just want to let you know I fall in love with you every single day.

You all got to know I will have more to say, and it might just be sweet like Sugar.

 

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If Dirt Were Dollars

I haven’t written in ages as I have struggled with what is going on and trying to put down in words what hangs out in my brain. In my own life, I find so much meaning by listening and dissecting music. So the other day, I found myself heading to Phoenix and I decided I haven’t listened to Don Henley in a long while. So I fired up my iPhone and I just so happened to have several Henley albums on my iTunes. Wow, I was overcome with how relevant his lyrics are in many of his songs but one song beat them all: “If Dirt Were Dollars”. The song is from his End of The Innocence album released in 1989.

As I was driving, it occurred to me that Henley has a gift of being able to articulate what many overlook. When the album was released, homelessness had become a major social issue. Henley starts out “If Dirt Were Dollars” writing about an interaction with a homeless man. It’s classic. I get this but I’ll let Don tell the story.

Walkin’ like a millionaire
Smilin’ like a king
He leaned his shopping cart against the wall
He said, “I been a lot of places
And I seen a lot of things
But, sonny, I seen one thing that beats ’em all
I was flyin’ back from Lubbock
I saw Jesus on the plane…or maybe it was Elvis
You know, they kinda look the same
Hey, look out, Junior, you’re steppin’ on my bed”
I said, “I don’t see nothin”
He just glared at me and said,
If dirt were dollars
I wouldn’t worry anymore

Now think about this. This song is from ’89 and somethings just haven’t changed and in fact maybe they have gotten worse. When you look at the underemployed employment rate and you realize that in Arizona, it is one of the toughest places to find a 40 hour a week full-time job according to the latest reports from the Department of Labor.

Driving through Phoenix is almost driving an obstacle course with the large number of people living out on the street and at one time they only visible on freeway entrance ways but now they are literally at every major street corner and some are fighting for space on those corners. In my way of thinking there is a major disconnect with how well the economy is allegedly doing and what is reality.

Henley wasn’t done exposing the hypocrisy of what what was going on. He closes the song with a bitter worldly view of the press and politics. He nails its and 27 years later it still rings true and is as fresh sounding today as it was in ’89.

We got the bully pulpit
And the poisoned pen
We got a press no better
Than the public men
This brave new world
Gone bad again
God’s finest little creatures
Looking brave and strong
Whistling past the graveyard
Nothing can go wrong
Quoting from the scriptures
With patriotic tears
We got the same old men
With the same old fears
Standing at attention
Wrapped in stars and stripes
They hear the phantom drummers
And the nonexistent pipes
These days the buck stops nowhere
No one takes the blame
But evil is still evil In anybody’s name

I just love the bitterness in Don’s word. How many do you know that are quoting from the scriptures with patriotic tears, yeh they are the same old men (women) who are spreading their fears. Yep these days the buck stops nowhere and no one takes the blame, but evil is still evil in anybody’s name. That is so, so true. We have got to remember that evil is still evil.

If you haven’t ever heard the song, it’s a good one.

Fastforward to 2016 and those lyrics are as meaningful today as they were in 1989 and I would argue even more descriptive of what’s happening right now.

Just some thoughts from a crazy man as I find sanity in the simplest of places, music. Today it was a dark one in my own world view and seriously Henley’s lyrics are screaming at me. Tomorrow might just be the end of the innocence but really if dirt were dollars, I wouldn’t worry anymore.

 

Posted in Financial Security, Political Unrest, Politics, President, Presidential Election, Road Trip, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | 4 Comments

Shot Through The Heart: Who’s To Blame? Game Day Adventures

It is game day. The New York Giants vs New England Patriots. Sunday has arrived and I’m ready for another great adventure in the land of the giants. Up and out, Starbucks is on my radar. It’s NYC but there is a Starbucks everywhere.

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My favorite NYC Starbucks Baristas

Carolyn and I head off with Jordyn to the closest Starbucks to the Roosevelt Hotel. I don’t know what street but literally a two minute walk. Just a window shop type of place. The city has this reputation of being cold and unfriendly. Well these two young ladies aka baristas made my morning. They were friendly and outgoing as I enjoyed talking with them. They have this tip jar out in front and they explained to me how this lady comes in and steals money out of the jar. It’s an elaborate scheme how she uses a napkin to place over the money and then snatch it while they are distracted. Ordering a hot water and then a money grab, out the door, and toss the cup of hot water on the street. It’s a great story and I listened intently. Just look at those faces. Fabulous young people.

We head back to the hotel. Jordyn leaves with Bryan and Caitlin to find the perfect bagel. Carolyn and I get ready for our train trip to the Meadowlands. The city can be intimidating when you are unfamiliar and it is worse for me as my sense of direction has disappeared. We have received great instructions and directions from Laurayne on getting to Penn Central Station and we head off for an early start. Along the way, we head into the original Macys and it is quite amazing. IMG_3693Seriously, there is like an entire floor of women’s handbags. This country boy, aint never seen anything like that. Something like 11 stories of retail. So we go in. I’m hoping that Carolyn doesn’t leave me because I’m not certain I could find my way out of the place. We get Carolyn the NY Giant hat after all we are fans for the day!

We are lost but not lost, finding Penn Central is sort of overwhelming and after a couple of false subway entries, we finally connect, get our tickets and on the train to the Meadowlands we go. IMG_3694I love riding the trains. You get all sorts of folks, from Patriots and Giants fans to some with big personalities. Train once again is under the ground but we exit the ground in Jersey. Switch trains, Dunkin Donuts call and on to the stadium. The ride is short but for me I’m loving the ride as the stadium comes into view. The Meadowlands sits out by itself and is appropriately named. In some ways it reminds me of the Arizona Cardinals stadium since they both sit away from the urban centers. Meadowlands, MetLife Stadium, has advantage of the train. What a convenient way to get to games.

Next stop is Kevin and Laurayne’s tailgate center. IMG_3700It is sunny, cold and blustery, but Kevin is grilling up some masterpieces. He has made some “onion” burger sliders and they are a touchdown! So good in fact, I eat like three of them. And of course they have brought some of those Coney Island Mermaid Pilsners. Just perfect. Bryan, Caitlin, and Jordyn have arrived to join the fun. While there, it is evident that Kevin knows a lot of folks that have a long time relationship with the Giants organization. We even meet Joe Morris, a former Giant running back, currently working with the NFL as part of their uniform police team. Very nice man. Great food, great time with the Crokes.

Kevin has secured three extra field passes for the game. So we head into the stadium down into the tunnel and on to the field. First trip through, Kevin takes Bryan, Caitlin, and Jordyn. Carolyn, Laurayne, and I stand over on the Patriot sideline area and watch the warmups and I’m pinching myself to see if I’m dreaming. After awhile, Kevin reappears and it is now our time to go. Caitlin and Jordyn discuss seeing Jon Bon Jovi. I know I’m in trouble because Carolyn is now all perky. Really, she’s saying seriously, Jon Bon Jovi is over there?MPM_8972

Football sight seeing has now gone to another level. As we enter the Giants sideline area, Kevin is just casually talking with some pretty big shot type of people. Once again I get to meet a former Giant, Harry Carson, a great Hall of Fame linebacker from back in the day. He tells us he has just returned from the Phoenix area and a conference on concussions. What a nice man. Kevin says “hey, you remember Plaxico Burress? Yep. Well your standing next to him.” You might remember him more for accidentally shooting himself in the leg at a nightclub while carrying a concealed weapon illegally in NYC. I thought about saying something but chose to remain silent. You see, I can use good judgment at times.

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Bon Jovi, Goodell, Steve Tisch photobomb

We see Roger Goodell like 10 feet from us.IMG_3707 He has security watching intently. I’m guessing this is his first Patriot game since the judge threw out his suspension of Tom Brady in the deflate gate fiasco. Then Kevin points out Jon Bon Jovi. Carolyn immediately begins hyperventilating. She starts breaking out in song with “Lay Your Hands On Me.” I’m like really? Am I chopped liver? As she faints and collapses on the field, and I’m trying to revive her, I’m singing to her as she lays on the ground “shot through the heart, and your to blame, you give love a bad name.” Kevin replies, “Tim, Keep The Faith.” I’m like, “Kevin, it must be Bad Medicine”.

Ok, maybe a bit embellished but after all, it is my story and I’m sticking to it. (All puns intended.)  It was fun.

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Kevin Cerar with Caitlin and Jordyn

We enjoy a great game after returning to our seats and NY Giants should have won. We say our goodbyes to our most gracious hosts, Kevin and Laurayne. Carolyn and I have sure enjoyed our time hanging out with them and the goodbyes do not come easy. We board the train back to the city. After multiple stops, we arrive and enjoy more New York pizza, head back to the hotel, and meet up with cousin Officer Kevin Cerar IMG_3725who is working. That is a very cool time as we get to spend some time with him. As he heads back off to work we head into the Roosevelt for another Old Fashioned, and finally we crash knowing that this adventure ends and back to reality we go on Monday morning.

We have been blessed beyond belief, from rehearsal dinner, a fantastic wedding, a great gathering at the Crokes, a night in NYC, field passes to the NY Giants vs Patriots game with those fun-loving Crokes, and a stay at the Roosevelt with some Mad Men.

Our time was short but we have made the most of it. Carolyn and I cannot wait to return and hang out with her cousins. I am most appreciative of the time we had and can hardly wait until we meet up again. But I was still shot through the heart. So here is Jon back in the day when he had blondish hair.

Posted in Craft Breweries, Family, Fatherhood, Football, Music, National Football League, Road Trip, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment