Archive for July, 2011

Captain Karma Does it Again

Tuesday, July 12th, 2011

By Bob Gaydos

If Derek Jeter had been the leader of a powerful Greek army in the fifth century BC, there would be no Greek tragedies.

Derek Jeter

Aeschylus, Sophocles and Euripides would have been out of luck, out of work, or trying to make ends meet by writing lyric poetry. And we know how well that gig still pays today.

If there had been Jeter Rex rather than Oedipus Rex, there would have been no patricide, no gouging of eyes. And who needs to marry his mother when he dates the likes of Tyra Banks, Vida Guerra, Miss Universe Lara Dutta, Jessica Alba, Jessica Biel, Victoria Secret’s Adriana Lima, Mariah Carey, TV personality Vanessa Minnillo and current flame, Minka Kelly, the cheerleader in TV’s Friday Night Lights and Esquire Magazine‘s “Sexiest Woman of the Year” in 2010?

You catch my drift.

Perfection really is its own reward.

If Jeter’s athletic skills had translated to football rather than baseball, the best college football player every year would be awarded the Jeter Trophy, not the Heisman. If he played basketball, we’d talk about Michael, Kobe, Wilt, Oscar and Derek. (Lebron still has some explaining to do.)

It could be no other way. That much is clear, finally and irrevocably. Derek Jeter, the Golden Boy of the New York Yankees, captain of the team, five time world champion, all-star, role model, Mr. November, Captain Clutch, and future Hall of Famer just told Messrs. Ruth and Gehrig to scrunch over a bit in Yankee Stadium’s Monument Park so they can make room for Number 2 when he retires, which may not be as soon as some mere mortals believed.

Sorry Babe, Lou. You, too, Joe and Mickey. The kid’s got more hits than any one of you. More than 3,000 now and you all know how hard that is to do. None of you did it. Oh yeah, Babe, you’ll like this. His 3,000th hit was a home run and not a cheapie either. He’s got that flair for the dramatic you used to have, without all that bravado. Yeah, he’s humble, too, which isn’t easy when you go five for five on the day you hit 3,000 and drive in the winning run to boot.

Even the other team applauded him.

Leo …? Hey, Durocher, you listening out there? You know that whole “nice guys finish last” theory you lived your life by? Jeter never heard of it. He is nice to what some people regard as a boring fault, which says more about them than him. And not just nice. He’s also respectful, hard-working, considerate, smart, diligent, reliable, consistent, classy and handsome. If he wasn’t so identified with the New York Yankees, he could pass for Minneapolis.

If he were a chef, his steaks would be succulent, his veggie omelet perfectly fluffy. If it wasn’t, he’d do it until he got it right. No charge for the misses.

There is a theory on how to live one’s life to the fullest. It used to be called the Golden Rule — do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Today, some people talk about doing the next right thing, or passing it forward and reaping the rewards. Indian religions — Hindu, Buddhist, Sikh — call it karma. Simply put, in a world in which every single thing is connected, every individual act, every deed, has a corresponding reciprocal effect. Do good things and good things will happen to you. Do bad things, etc.

Derek Jeter is Captain Karma. The exception that proves the rule. Most of us are too “sophisticated” (and self-centered) to embrace such a simple philosophy of life. Most of the time we give it lip service at best. Not Jeter. Play back any interview he ever gave after some outstanding play. “The important thing is we won.” “I just try to do the best I can for the team.” “Individual honors are nice, but the main thing is to work together, pick each other up.” “I just try to stay focused and put the bat on the ball.”

Over and over. The guy never misses a beat. It can’t be an act. Even the great Olivier strayed from the script sometimes.

Jeter has more money than Croesus and more Little Leaguers mimic him — getting set in the batter’s box or trying to master his jump throw from deep in the shortstop hole — than any other player of his time. No contest. His memorabilia is the biggest seller in sporting goods stores. People even name their kids after him — Jeter, not Derek.

And yet, as with all the tragic Greek heroes, there is a chorus sitting at the edge of the stage, just out of his spotlight, waiting for some slight slip, some chink in the Jeter armor. After all, didn’t Achilles have his? With Jeter, they say it is his age. (Makes sense to look there because if he had any flaws in his behavior, some scandal mag or blog would have found it by now, given the high-profile dating life he’s led.) They — the skeptics — say he will exhibit hubris when it comes time for him to let younger players assume his key role, in the lineup or in the field. No way Captain Karma, now 37, can keep it up, say the doubters. He is not perfect.

Maybe not. But did you catch what happened with that home run ball he slugged for hit number 3,000 — a ball immediately valued at six figures on the open market? A modest, young man from Highland Mills, N.Y., a lifetime Jeter fan, retrieved the ball and said he didn’t want any money for it. He just wanted to personally give Jeter the ball because “he earned it.”

Sounds an awful lot like good karma to me.

(With a bow to Jim Murray, simply the best.)

Bob@zestoforange.com

A Baseball & a Change of Mind

Monday, July 11th, 2011

By Jeffrey Page
There are some things that need to be said right here at the outset.

–I love baseball.

–I don’t like the Yankees. Never have. But among individual players, I liked Don Mattingly and Bernie Williams.

–Since he began his career at shortstop for the Yankees, I’ve liked Derek Jeter. To me – admittedly no dyed-in-the-wool sports fanatic – Jeter seems to play the game with an admirable selflessness. He talks about “the team” a lot, and I believe him. I don’t know if I’m naïve about this.

–For the last few days, I’ve been taken with Christian Lopez’s own selflessness, which seems to be at very least as pure and unsullied as Jeter’s. Lopez is the 23-year old guy from Highland Mills who is a Yankees fan, a Jeter fan, has $100,000 in unpaid student loans, and who managed to retrieve the ball Jeter smacked for his 3,000th major league hit, a home run to leftfield.

Much has been made of Lopez’s willingness to present the ball to Jeter without demanding a dime. Wow, I thought, this is a man to be admired. I still think so. This, I thought, is a man you’d be proud to call your son. I still think so. This, I thought, is a man who understands that there is more than money involved when you possess something that your hero yearns for.

I saw the convergence of Jeter and Lopez not as the meeting of one hero and one common man but as the meeting of two men of equal grace.

What Lopez did, I would do, I said to myself.

Then I started thinking about the economy, about that $100,000 Lopez owes for his education, and about the contract Jeter signed with the Yankees just before the start of the season, the contract that gives him $51 million over three years.

That’s $51 million to play a fun game and then take a five-month vacation. That’s $51 million – put another way, $327,000 a week – to do for a living what 300 million other people in this country only dream of as they struggle to make their mortgage payments, wonder if their jobs are secure, worry about the effect of being laid off on their children’s education, and think about this damned economy and whether they’ll survive as the president and the congress turn it into a game of chicken. All this while unable to afford a ticket to a Yankees home game.

I changed my mind. Had I caught that ball out in the leftfield stands, I would have made it available to Jeter for a price.

Because $51 million could pay off the $100,000 student loans of more than 500 people or buy groceries for people trying to make ends meet. Because it’s for nothing more important than playing a game.

This is no shot at Jeter or at Lopez. They did what they had to do.

I would do what I have to do. I would make a deal with Jeter and if I had a kid about to go off to college, I’d rest a little easier tonight. Jeter would have his ball; my kid would have her education.

Jeff can be reached at jeffrey@zestoforange.com

Google+, The Latest Social Network Craze

Sunday, July 10th, 2011

By Jason Poggioli
If you read the news at all you may know about the term “social networking” and if you’ve read the news at all recently you may have learned that Google has started its own version of social networking called Google+.

Social networking is simply a generic term for using the Internet in a way that allows you to share with friends or strangers whatever you wish. Facebook is the most commonly known social web site with nearly 750 million users sharing things with each other every day. With its user count rapidly approaching one billion people, Facebook is commonly accepted as the behemoth of social networking. In fact, it’s been said Facebook is to social network what Google is to search. This may start to change now that Google has entered the social networking arena.

Companies always look to ensure they have a defining characteristic that distinguishes themselves from the competition. For Google+, that market differentiation is what Google has called “Circles.” The concept is so simple and obvious it’s one of those ideas that has you smacking your forehead and wondering why it hadn’t been invented before.

If I decide to “friend” you in Facebook I send you a request to be your friend and I have to await your approval before we’re then “friends.” Once we’re friends on Facebook we can share things together. For example, I can post a picture and you can see it, you can post a status message like “I’m feeling blue today” and I can see and respond to it. Although there are ways to share things with only some of your Facebook friends it’s not very easy and definitely not intuitive. That’s where Google’s Circles concept comes in.

On Google+ when I want to “friend” you I just add you to one of my Circles. Google starts you off with one Circle called “Friends” and one called “Family,” but you can create as many as you’d like and name them however you please. In my escapades on Google+ these past couple of days I’ve created seven Circles. When adding people to my Circle I don’t need to ask their permission, I just add them. At first this may seem disconcerting, but it’s not.

Now that I’ve added you to my Circle I can see whatever you decide to share, but only if you share it with me (or the public at large). In other words, you have your own set of Circles (just as I do) and when you share something on Google+ you pick which Circles you share it with. If you’ve added me to a Circle and you share something with that Circle I’ll get to see it. But if you want to share something with a different Circle of people I won’t see it. Essentially this brings a level of privacy to social networking that has been sorely lacking for some time. If you want to share something with the world you can, but you can just as easily share something with a single person, too.

This differentiation that Google is bringing to social networking is probably the first feature to get noticed, but it’s not the only one. Google+ also offers a cool feature called “Hangouts” which allows users to create virtual videoconferencing rooms with the same control over sharing that Circles provides. I can create a “room” for a Circle or just two people. Of course, Google already has a slew of products online like its Google Docs and Picasa Web sites. Picasa is already tightly integrated with Google+ and I suspect it won’t be long before others are as well.

In the meantime, I’m on Google+ so feel free to follow me or ask questions in the comments below. I can also send you an invite to sign up if you’re looking for one.

Email Evokes Thoughts of Whitman

Saturday, July 9th, 2011

By Michael Kaufman

Ah, Walt Whitman. How ironic that on the day I complete my reading of your Specimen Days and begin writing my humble thoughts for a course I’m taking at Empire State College, I should receive an email from Robert F. Kennedy Jr. In his message he bemoans the present state of our American democracy you so lovingly describe in your works. I hasten to add that it is not a personal message from him to me (as you might have received from one of the lofty personages of your era, but rather a message sent to many thousands of recipients via the internet) a form of modern communication you may have only imagined (and probably did) in your wildest dreams.

You see, I recently read a book he co-wrote (The Riverkeepers) for that same course and I learned that Kennedy has great love for nature, much as you did; he has worked tirelessly for several decades now to protect the environment. In The Riverkeepers he writes specifically about the Hudson River and its environs, places that you too knew well and loved.  

A bit of background: In the years since your passing, our country’s waterways became so befouled that it became necessary to pass laws to protect them and make them clean again. You would have been proud of the way ordinary citizens all over the United States banded together to fight for their passage by national, state and local legislatures.  The most important was the Clean Water Act passed by Congress and signed into law by President Richard Nixon in 1972. (Nixon was a despicable character but regarding this and some other matters of import he at least had sense enough to be on the right side of history.)

 As you shall see from Kennedy’s remarks, the Republican Party has changed much since the days when you wrote paeans of praise for Abraham Lincoln, and even since the aforementioned more recent days of Nixon.  In his message titled, “An Assault on Democracy,” Kennedy writes that the Republican-controlled House of Representatives “is swinging a sledgehammer at a cornerstone of contemporary American democracy and undermining the most extraordinary body of environmental law in the world.”

He explains that a bill currently working its way through the House would “hogtie” the national government’s role in administering the federal Clean Water Act and give states veto power over critical water-quality decisions made by the Environmental Protection Agency. This, he says, would pave the way for “shortsighted and self-interested state politicians to dismantle their clean water laws in order to recruit filthy polluters.”

“Corporate polluters—through massive campaign donations and relentless fear-mongering—can easily dominate the state political landscapes. Their indentured servants in Congress…. are working to disrupt the existing balance between state control and federal oversight in our environmental laws by returning us to the days of limited federal supervision—a time when local government was on the side of polluters in a partnership that was stealing people’s livelihoods, their recreation, their health, safety, property values and their childhoods.” This is not exactly the direction you saw the country going in before you shuffled off this mortal coil, Walt, but that is what it was like before the Clean Water Act was enacted.

“The original drafters of the Clean Water Act were keenly aware of the problems inherent in leaving all responsibility to the states,” writes Kennedy. “Prior to 1972, that scheme had ignited rivers and firestorms and left Lake Erie declared dead. We saw the results first-hand here on the Hudson River in the 1960s–where hundreds of fishermen lost their jobs because their beloved waterways had become too polluted to allow anyone to safely eat the fish. The Clean Water Act, enacted shortly thereafter, created a beautifully simple yet powerfully effective tool to help address these problems: a federal safety net for water quality that guarantees a minimum level of protection to all Americans, no matter where you live. And for nearly 40 years this approach has been working.”

Now, says Kennedy, the Republicans in Congress seek to roll back the clock by promoting “an agenda that benefits only those who seek to pollute our waterways—not the communities that depend on them.” Would you believe they even rejected an amendment to protect water bodies that serve as drinking water supplies, flooding buffers, recreation destinations and habitat for fish and game? “Sponsors of the bill would have none of it—further revealing their disinterest in the protection of the American public from the threats of water pollution,” writes Kennedy. “The American people didn’t stand for these congressional attacks to our environmental laws in the mid-1990s. And we must not stand for them today.”

I don’t think it presumptuous to say that my reading of Specimen Days strongly suggests you would agree. Indeed, as you wrote in the concluding passage,  “American Democracy, in its myriad personalities, in factories, work-shops, stores, offices—through the dense streets and houses of cities, and all their manifold sophisticated life—must either be fibred, vitalized, by regular contact with out-door light and air and growths, farm scenes, animals, fields, trees, birds, sun-warmth and free skies, or it will certainly dwindle and pale.”

Michael can be reached at michael@zestoforange.com.

Joe Devine: Historian & Community Builder

Friday, July 8th, 2011

By Shawn Dell Joyce

It’s hard to accept the death of someone you love, especially when it happens unexpectedly. Joe Devine was loved by many and held a deep love for Montgomery as well.

Joe worked well with others and was a conservative Republican who often helped members of other parties, especially on important historic preservation issues. He was always there when the community needed him, and was scheduled to be the Grand Marshall of this year’s Montgomery Day.

He was a historian who delved deeply into our region’s prehistory, and was a resource for the archaeologists who excavated at Benedict Farm. I served on the advisory council for the development of Benedict Town Park with Joe, and forged a friendship born of respect.

Joe would point to a particular hill at Benedict Farm and tell me what type of points were found there, how many prehistoric layers of human habitation were found there, and date it back tens of thousands of years.

If you sat still long enough, Joe would tell you the history of any given village, building, person, or landscape feature. He was one of the most knowledgeable historians in our area, and was integral to many local projects including the Coldenham Preservation Society, the Mastodon Mural that hangs in Town Hall, and the Mastodon Museum proposed by Evan Galbraith.

Joe’s best story is the one he captured in his book “The Montgomery Mastodon” about Samuel Eager watching Charles Willson Peale unearth the first prehistoric creature ever discovered in the world — right here in little old Montgomery in 1801. I illustrated Joe’s book with my paintings, and he posed for me as Peale for my mural, which now hangs in the Town Hall on Bracken Road in Montgomery. Joe brought the story to life for new generations in Montgomery, including me.

The book was based on the life of Orange County’s first historian, but the inspiration was Joe’s grandson who helped him locate the site of Peale’s discovery in Montgomery. Joe was so delighted with his grandson’s work, that he asked me to paint him into the Mastodon Mural as the young Samuel Eager. If you look closely at the mural, you will see a boy sitting on a bridge and pointing at Peale. (Joe Devine modeled for me). Joe wrote the book in honor of his grandson, and gave it freely to our school district, along with many presentations about the mastodon.

Joe worked tirelessly with Evan Galbraith as well as doing public presentations on the Montgomery Mastodon and presenting Evan’s museum idea to the community. Evan had this to say about Joe:

“While history is filled with people who make incredible discoveries, we should also celebrate those who prevent great discoveries from becoming extinct. Joe did just that. His leadership and passion for Charles Willson Peale’s 1801 discovery of the first complete prehistoric animal in recorded history, a mastodon, kept that amazing part of our heritage permanently above ground. The site and history are now listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Moreover, he loved to share his work with so many, especially children, who I hope will never forget what he did for Montgomery and beyond. He was a good friend and will be greatly missed.”

Carrie’s Painting of the Week

Thursday, July 7th, 2011

Dawn on the Marsh, Essex, MA

By Carrie Jacobson

“In everyone’s life, at some time, our inner fire goes out. It is then burst into flame by an encounter with another human being. We should be thankful for those people who rekindle the inner spirit.”

So said Albert Schweitzer, and so say I.

I am still mourning my dear Kaja, but I had a show to do last weekend, and grief or not, I was committed. My heart was not in it, but I loaded the van, and I drove to Wickford, RI, and in the blazing heat and humidity, set up the tent, set up the display, and, on Saturday, waited for the show to open.

The sun beat down, the humidity closed in, and the people came. They came, and they talked, and they admired and they shared their stories with me. Shared their lives with me. Told me about the dogs they had loved, about losing their own parents, about worrying about their children, and seeking inspiration in lives that seemed to be going flat.

They shared their hearts with me, these strangers, and they brought me back again. They lighted that inner flame again.

Thank you, everyone who wrote, for your kind words and condolences. They helped enormously, as well.

If you would like to find out more about this painting, please email me at carrieBjacobson@gmail.com

Since When Do the Facts Matter?

Wednesday, July 6th, 2011

Casey Anthony

By Bob Gaydos

Here’s what we know for sure after a little more than a month of some of the most irresponsible, rush-to-convict “reporting” on the part of cable TV outlets and, sad to say, quite a few mainstream news organizations:

All powerful men are sex-addicted pigs … or not

  • Dominique Strauss-Kahn is no longer director of the International Monetary Fund.
  • DSK, as headline writers so cleverly dubbed him (the way they do serial killers) is also no longer considered one of the Socialist Party’s leading candidates to run for president of France.
  • Strauss-Kahn has a reputation as sort of a ladies man and some people say he has a fondness for hotel maids.
  • He lost his IMF position and his standing in France’s presidential politics because of an alleged rape of a hotel maid in New York City.
  • The allegation of rape became a virtual fact in ensuing stories in newspapers, magazines and on TV even though nothing had yet been argued in court.
  • Shortly after charging Strauss-Kahn with rape, Manhattan DA Cyrus Vance Jr. learned that the maid who claimed she was raped had been lying about virtually everything in her life for many years, including what she did after the alleged encounter with Strauss-Kahn. In fact, she could face criminal charges in several areas and might be a candidate for deportation for all her lying.
  • Vance had a legal duty to reveal this information about the alleged victim even though it put his high-profile rape case in jeopardy.
  • Lacking a confession or recording of the event, no one except DSK and the maid know exactly what happened in that hotel room. Sex may have occurred, but was it rape? DSK says no. She says yes, but the DA says she’s a known serial liar.
  • Shortly after Vance revealed the facts about the maid, the New York City tabloids launched an assault on her. She’s suing the Post for libel.

Casey Anthony was a horrible mother … fact

  • Caylee Anthony, 2-years-old, died a tragic death.
  • Casey Anthony, by any reasonable definition, was not a good mom. She and her family lie a lot.
  • The Florida prosecutor who charged Casey with murder in the death of her daughter, had no physical evidence, no confession, no witness linking Casey to the death of Caylee. It was all circumstantial.
  • The case took on national prominence because of hysterical cable TV coverage (Nancy Grace) centering on the question: How could a mother kill a young child? This coverage featured a procession of supposed experts, none of whom had any connection to the case or access to any of the testimony or evidence.
  • The jury was sequestered from all media coverage of the trial.
  • That coverage was prompted by the fact that Casey lied to police about her daughter going missing and that she partied while the search for Caylee (who was dead) went on.
  • The prosecutor, who says he was surprised at the jury’s not guilty verdicts on all the homicide charges, says he thinks the reason for the verdict is that he never proved how Caylee died. That is usually crucial in a homicide case.
  • An alternate juror who heard all the evidence and inflammatory testimony about the Anthony family, agrees with the prosecutor. The juror also says no motive was ever established.
  • There has been a huge outcry of injustice because of the verdict. As explained by Aphrodite Jones, author and host of “True Crime” on the Investigation Discover Network: “There’s a huge groundswell that thinks no one else could have killed this child.”
  • See above: Prosecutor says he never proved how Caylee died.
  • In a homicide case, when an accused’s life may be at stake, juries are instructed to be certain “beyond a reasonable doubt” that the accused did in fact cause the death of the victim — under the terms of one of the criminal charges actually placed.
  • Casey could have been charge with other, lesser, criminal charges in connection with her daughter’s death.
  • Casey was convicted only of lying to police, which Geraldo Rivera, a rare voice of dissent on Fox News, noted, is not proof of murder.

Nor does it mean a woman wasn’t assaulted. I don’t know if DSK raped the hotel maid, although I suspect something hinky happened in that room. I suspect that Casey was somehow responsible for her daughter’s death, but can’t be certain how or why. I believe both prosecutors overreacted to the cases at first and that the Manhattan DA at least had the good sense to realize the limitations of his case and react accordingly.

I also believe that what passes for news media these days went well beyond traditional reporting guidelines on both stories, passing along suspicion and speculation instead of facts, playing on people’s emotions and creating that “groundswell” for conviction that Aphrodite Jones mentioned.

Once upon a time in America, real life tragedy was not our only source of entertainment. And reporters had to use the word “alleged” if they wanted to keep their jobs.

Bob@zestoforgange.com

Robinson & Rickey

Tuesday, July 5th, 2011

By Jeffrey Page
Being a native of Bensonhurst and having spent my childhood in Queens, I know the Epic of Jackie Robinson and Branch Rickey as well as I know the preamble to the Constitution, especially those parts about forming a more perfect union and establishing justice.

In the grim, un-American days before 1947 only white ballplayers could hit, throw and run in the major leagues. Black players were relegated to the lower paying Negro Leagues. This made for situations that clearly illustrate the madness of racism. Such as the fact that a white guy named Bill Bergen, played 10 seasons in the majors in the early part of the century, racking up a career batting average of .170 and managing to hit a grand total of two home runs. And such as the fact that Jackie Robinson retired after 10 years with a career batting average of .311 and 137 home runs. Bergen took playing in the big leagues for granted; Robinson could not.

I knew the story of Branch Rickey, the principal owner of the Dodgers, breaking the color line of the “national pastime” and signing Robinson to a major league contract. He believed integrated baseball would be good for the players and good for the sport. Still, I picked up Rickey’s recently published biography by Jimmy Breslin (“Branch Rickey,” Lipper/Viking, $19.95) because no one tells a story or expresses moral outrage better than the great Breslin. As in: “Then some editors told me they never heard of Rickey. Which I took as an insult, a disdain for what I know, as if it is not important enough for them to bother with.”

Breslin tells us about Rickey’s insistence that Jackie Robinson, one of the game’s great competitors, had to agree never to lose his cool for two seasons, no matter what kind of racist crap was yelled at him by people in the grandstands and in opposing dugouts. It might be Rickey’s biography, but recalling the agreement, I realized I was more interested in another telling of Robinson’s story.

Breslin reminds us that while he was an army officer at Fort Hood, Robinson was court-martialed on charges relating to his refusal to vacate a seat in the white section of a bus and move to the back. Breslin includes some of the testimony of Robinson’s accusers and of Jackie himself. I had never seen this before. It’s amazing stuff, especially when you consider the time, which was 1944 (11 years before Rosa Parks made her stand in Montgomery, Ala.) and the place, which was Texas.

“I want to tell you right now, sir, this private you got out there, he made a statement. The private over in that room. I told him that if he, a private, ever call me a nigger again, I would break him in two,” Lieut. Robinson said.

Later, Robinson’s lawyer questioned the private.

Did he call Robinson a nigger, the attorney asked.

Why, heavens to Betsy, no, the private said.

So then why did Robinson make that threat against you?

“I don’t rightly know, sir,” the private said.

It took the jury 30 minutes to acquit Robinson.

Despite this encounter with Jim Crow on the bus, Rickey was satisfied Robinson was his man for the Dodgers.

I learned something else in Breslin’s book and only wish there was more detail to his account of the story.

Early in Robinson’s major league career, the Dodgers were playing the Reds at Crosley Field in Cincinnati. (Other versions of the story say it occurred in Boston.) Robinson was being heckled mercilessly by a stadium full of yahoos who objected to a black player on their green field. At one point, Pee Wee Reese, the Dodger shortstop and Robinson’s long-time friend, walked over and put his arm on Jackie’s shoulder and the crowd shut up.

No photographs of this gesture are known to exist. But in 2005, 33 years after Robinson’s death, a statue of it was dedicated outside the Brooklyn Baseball Gallery in Coney Island. Breslin reports that the Brooklyn borough president turned to Robinson’s widow, Rachel, and said, “This is so wonderful. You must be thrilled,” to which Mrs. Robinson replied, “Yes, it is.” But that was not the case.

“She hated it,” Breslin says, and goes on to explain that Jackie and Rachel always detested being patronized by white people. “The pat on the shoulder by Reese was viewed as a wonderful thing, as if to say: See, we like you,” Breslin says.

He continues: “The true record of the years of Pee Wee Reese and Robinson is contained in a photo of the two walking off the field side by side after an inning. They were looking down, ballplayers going to the dugout. Reese’s white left hand was only inches away from Robinson’s black right hand, but neither of them noticed.”

Jeff can be reached at jeffrey@zestoforange.com.

A Tax Cut? Uh, No

Monday, July 4th, 2011

By Jo Galante Cicale
It’s campaign season.

I know this by the all the political ads hitting FB, Twitter and those wonderful standbys, the print and broadcast media. And, there’s wonderful news as we approach elections.

Candidates everywhere are promising to lower my taxes. I can hardly contain my excitement or my cynicism. I base this combination on my naturally positive and hopeful personality coupled with my years of political experience in a myriad of positions as campaign worker, lobbyist/advocate, and community activist.

I’ve heard that if only we increase economic development our taxes would plummet. So look what’s happened in places like Long Island where development overtook every inch of space and where my family and friends now pay $15,000 or more in annual real estate taxes.

Political candidates on the island promised jobs, economic development and lower taxes.

In fact, jobs, economic development and lower taxes are the buzz words for all campaigns and all candidates. No creativity there, and none needed. Apparently voters still want to believe in the yellow brick road and the Wizard of Oz.

No matter who gets elected, our taxes will not diminish now or ever. I’ve lived through decades of political administrations on the local level and guess what? Not one – Democrat, Independent, Conservative or Republican – ever lowered my taxes. And economic development often occurred in spite of local bureaucracies, not because of them.

So what’s a voter to do?

Here in Saugerties, where I live, I base my vote on overall improvements to my quality of life.

I grew up as a tough street kid in the rough and tumble neighborhood of the Lower East Side of Manhattan. Now I like being a quiet peaceful country resident where I only have to fight off mosquitoes and bears, skunks and bunnies.

Vote for what’s important to you besides jobs, economic development and lower taxes. You’ll probably end up with a better political leader, less angst and, hopefully, a wonderful lifestyle for you and your family.

Jo can be reached at guestwriter@zestoforange.com.

Carrie’s Painting of the Week

Sunday, July 3rd, 2011

Morning, Essex Marsh

By Carrie Jacobson

I traveled to Gloucester, MA,  this week for a painting retreat. I woke early on Saturday, the last day in Gloucester, and made this painting. A new friend, Alicia Drakiotes, painted with me, and we enjoyed the beautiful morning and each other’s paintings.

Tired, filled with beauty and with painting, I headed home.

And once I walked in the door, I knew that my old girl’s time had come.

With distance, with fresh eyes and with a heart full of love and sorrow, I saw that it was the end for Kaja, and that I had to make it happen. I walked into the house, saw her, burst into tears and called the vet.

Three hours later, she was gone.

I am sad beyond words. I am bereft. Kaja was smart, and she was noble, and she had a sense of humor. She was one of the great ones. She was nearly 15, and she guarded me, and loved me and cared for me unfailingly, every day of those 15 years.

I only wish that death had come and taken her here, in her sleep, in the home she loved. But her heart was too big and too strong for that.

This dog, who had run across the fields chasing deer, this dog who had hiked and ridden and gone swimming with me, this dog who had been the friend of my heart day in and day out, could barely walk. She could barely stand, or sleep or eat. She looked at me and I saw sadness in her eyes. I saw the end.

Her big heart touches mine still, and always will. And while I miss her, and will miss her every day for the rest of my life, I know that she is free from pain and from anxiety and from the body that let her down.