Posts Tagged ‘Bob Gaydos’

Bob Gaydos

Wednesday, March 25th, 2020

THE REPORT …

Vlad, Rudy, Meryl, Rand and Joe

   I started writing this report, which I intend to deliver on a fairly regular basis, a couple of weeks ago. It was my latest attempt to keep up with the news in the Era of Trump without being caught up in the daily chaos and without ignoring items of interest in the rest of the world, including my backyard and even my own mind. Mostly my own mind.

  072F2413-04EB-42B5-8BE1-B11114B646CD   It turns out, turning off Trump is harder than it sounds. As I was compiling my first non-Trump report, the Dotard went and made it all about him again by declaring that a lethal virus roaring through China was no threat to the U.S. and, indeed, was another Democratic “hoax” intended to make him look bad. So coronavirus took over the news and I scrapped my first report. 

    But now, while staying in place as much as possible and simultaneously trying to maintain sanity, I find it more necessary than ever to look for other items of interest — local, national, international, even personal — that might be worth sharing with whomever decides to read it. I guess it’s the newsman’s DNA circulating in my veins.

      So I’m giving it another shot. I’m also using an approach I’ve stolen before. An old-time sports writer favorite of mine, Jimmy Cannon, used to occasionally sum up his take on world events with his “Nobody asked me, but …” columns. It’s a handy writing device. Covers a lot of ground and keeps the writer from getting too wordy. While I’m stealing Cannon’s idea, I won’t steal his signature phrase. I do have some scruples.

     So, “By the way ….” 

     — Did anybody notice that, while the rest of the planet was hunkering down to control the coronavirus, Vladimir Putin was busy rewriting the Russian Constitution to allow himself to continue as the country’s leader until 2036? He got the whole parliament to resign, rewrite Russia’s constitution, got the top court to agree with the changes, and set a nationwide vote on the new constitution for April 22. With or without the coronavirus. He says it’s under control and there’s no reason to delay the vote. This vote bears watching for lots of reasons you can probably deduce for yourselves.

     — By the way, is Rudy Guliani in self-isolation? Ukraine? Asking for producers at Fox News.

     — By the way, the creative genius who came up with the title for Meryl Streep’s latest movie — “The Laundromat,” on Netflix — didn’t do Streep, the film or its subject any favor in my humble, non-movie-critic opinion. There’s no laundromat for starters. The movie is about a whistleblower who uncovers an epic legal off-shore money-laundering, tax evasion operation in Panama. Millions of files.  Lots of political names. True story. Streep plays a swindled widow who, in the movie, blows the whistle on the operation. The director’s come-along-and-we’ll-tell-you-a-story approach is clever, but it trivializes the magnitude of the worldwide con job known as the Panama Papers. A news story that didn’t last as long as Michael Bloomberg’s presidential campaign. Movie’s still entertaining though.

       — By the way, Rand Paul, ain’t karma a bitch? After being the lone member of the U.S. Senate to vote against an aid bill that included free coronavirus tests for all Americans, he became the first senator to test positive for the virus. Of course, his test was free. And he admitted he had no symptoms. And he continued to go about his usual routine before his test results came back, including visiting the Senate gym. Now, typically, he’s criticizing the government system for testing, rather than acknowledging his own poor, individual choices. Apparently, his personal libertarian philosophy of individual freedom does not include individual responsibility. Putz. It’s Yiddish.

       — And finally, by the way, has anybody seen or heard from Joe Biden lately? Just asking for millions of Americans.

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Bob Gaydos is writer-in-residence at zestoforange.com

rjgaydos@gmail.com

A Tool Kit for Problem Gambling

Wednesday, March 11th, 2020

Addiction and Recovery

By Bob Gaydos

E8A71752-5BCA-4631-A888-1DFBF62002A6     March is Problem Gambling Awareness Month in New York State. One out of 12 isn’t great odds, but it beats zip, so it’s worth noting.

      In truth, problem gambling, especially if it rises to the level of a mental disorder, is not a joking matter. It is a serious affliction that can ruin the lives of many more people than the gambler. As with all potentially addictive behavior, knowledge is the key to recognizing the problem and taking steps to address it, both for the gambler and those affected by it, usually family.

      To help family members learn about problem gambling, the New York Council on Problem Gambling has produced a Family Toolkit with a variety of useful information. The section titles include: 1) Understanding Problem Gambling, 2) Information for Struggling Families, 3) Self Care Information for Family Members, 4) Resources to Give Loved Ones When You’re Concerned About Their Gambling Behavior, and 5) Is gambling affecting your life?

        The Toolkit is the result of a partnership between the Council and NAMI-NYS. NAMI stands for National Alliance on Mental Illness. Addictive gambling, now classified as a disorder, is a recognized mental illness. According to the Council web site, the “partnership aims to bring awareness, hope and help to families struggling with problem gambling.”

         For the record, and lest anyone think it’s just a bunch of killjoys out to close casinos and kill sports betting, the Council on Problem Gambling is a not-for-profit, independent corporation which says it is “dedicated to increasing public awareness about problem and disordered gambling and advocating for support services and treatment for persons adversely affected by problem gambling.” It has a neutral stance on gambling and is governed by a board of directors.

          Even more interesting is its origin. According to the Council’s web site, “In 1972, the Board of Trustees of Gamblers Anonymous in the New York City area requested their Spiritual Advisor, Monsignor Dunne, establish a Council on Problem Gambling to do what they could not do because of anonymity — call national attention and raise awareness of problem gambling in the United States. The National Council on Problem Gambling was founded at that time and in 1975 was chartered as a nonprofit organization.”

         So you can thank the people who knew best about the ravages of addictive gambling — the gamblers themselves — for the creation of this lifeline. Appropriately, a 20-question quiz from Gamblers Anonymous is at the bottom of this column to help those who think they might have a problem decide. Hint: If you think you do, odds are you’re right.

      The Family ToolKit and other information on problem gambling are available on line at nyproblemgambling.org. For more information about NAMI-NYS, visit their website: https://www.naminys.org/. 

    Locally, as always, if you or someone you know is experiencing any addiction that is affecting your mental health, call the Orange County Crisis Call Center at 1-800-832-1200. Advocates are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.  

 

Gamblers Anonymous 20 questions

1. Did you ever lose time from work or school due to gambling? Yes No
2. Has gambling ever made your home life unhappy? Yes No
3. Did gambling affect your reputation? Yes No
4. Have you ever felt remorse after gambling? Yes No
5. Did you ever gamble to get money with which to pay debts or otherwise solve financial difficulties? Yes No
6. Did gambling cause a decrease in your ambition or efficiency? Yes No
7. After losing did you feel you must return as soon as possible and win back your losses? Yes No
8. After a win did you have a strong urge to return and win more? Yes No
9. Did you often gamble until your last dollar was gone? Yes No
10. Did you ever borrow to finance your gambling? Yes No
11. Have you ever sold anything to finance gambling? Yes No
12. Were you reluctant to use “gambling money” for normal expenditures? Yes No
13. Did gambling make you careless of the welfare of yourself or your family? Yes No
14. Did you ever gamble longer than you had planned? Yes No
15. Have you ever gambled to escape worry, trouble, boredom, loneliness, grief or loss? Yes No
16. Have you ever committed, or considered committing, an illegal act to finance gambling? Yes No
17. Did gambling cause you to have difficulty in sleeping? Yes No
18. Do arguments, disappointments or frustrations create within you an urge to gamble? Yes No
19. Did you ever have an urge to celebrate any good fortune by a few hours of gambling? Yes No
20. Have you ever considered self-destruction or suicide as a result of your gambling? Yes No

 

According to GA, most compulsive gamblers will answer ‘yes’ to at least 7 of these questions.

Bob Gaydos is a freelance writer. He has been writing this column on addiction for more than a dozen years. 

rjgaydos@gmail.com

 

How to Live Life and Fight Coronavirus

Thursday, March 5th, 2020

By Bob Gaydos

  1C731039-1A6C-416C-8764-4A0518417310 If it’s not yours, don’t take it. If it’s not right, don’t do it. If it’s not true, don’t say it. 

   Rules by which to live a life.

  The one, two, three of how to be were shared with me recently by a friend of a friend over a cup of coffee. That’s how life is sometimes. I was struck by the simplicity and basic decency of the message. Sometimes, things aren’t that complicated.

   Donald Trump has a simple playbook as well: If you want it, take it. If it’s illegal or immoral, hire lawyers to bury it. If you don’t know what’s what, make something up. This philosophy has served him well until now, but it’s kind of hard to bullshit your way through a worldwide pandemic.

    Not that he and his shameless tribe of enablers aren’t trying. I gave up any hope for Trump many years ago. The moment he announced he was running for president, I thought, what a joke. Joke’s on me.

   Trump is what he always has been — a phony with lots of money (not as much as he says) who will do or say anything he thinks will impress his audience of the moment. It’s always about how he looks right now. Shallow doesn’t do it justice. There is nothing deeper at work than self-aggrandizement and self-preservation. Well, greed and revenge are also motivating factors.

      Of course, this isn’t news today to anyone but the delusional true believers at his campaign rallies. The rest are all in it for whatever they can gain out of it. They do this by sucking up to and covering up for their boss (all those unqualified people currently occupying well-paying government positions). Or they do it to hold onto their cushy elected positions (all those silent Republicans in Congress). Or it’s out of convenience (the evangelical preachers who can use the Trump-created chaos to stir up donations while they wait, comfortably, for the Rapture).

     I suspect the folks at Fox News, save for one or two, have been administered some mind-altering drug, had electric shock treatment or were hypnotized in the manner of “The Manchurian Candidate.” I honestly can think of no explanation for their posing as journalists while functioning as propagandists save one — they are just like Trump, phony and interested only in self-preservation. Rotten to the core.

      That may sound harsh to some, but consider the response to the Coronavirus. At a time when health officials and government leaders worldwide are issuing statements of concern, caution or even warning, this Trump/Fox/suckups coalition has gone out of its way to downplay the threat and defend Trump’s laughable effort to insist Americans need not worry, warm weather is coming, he has a “hunch” the scientists are wrong, the drug companies will come up with a vaccine any day now, Mike Pence will pray away the virus and, besides, even though Trump fired all those disease control people, it’s Obama’s fault.

      You want just one example of pure heartlessness at work? Health Secretary Alex Azar, a former lobbyist for drug companies, refused to say that, should a vaccine for Corona be developed, it would not be free or at least affordable for all Americans. Asked about this in a congressional hearing, Azar said, “We would want to ensure that we’d work to make it affordable, but we can’t control that price because we need the private sector to invest.” In other words, the drug companies will set the price. That is unacceptable when facing a possible pandemic.

        It’s really simple. At a time when calm leadership and clear information is needed, Trump silences the health officials and tweets insults at Democratic presidential contenders. By the way, don’t notice the stock market is plunging because of worries about how the virus will affect world trade. It’s all about image and it borders on criminal.

        The irony is, if the reaction worldwide actually was overblown, the best way to deal with it would have been to demonstrate a clear understanding of such threats, have a plan and team in place to deal with them and a commitment to make all information available quickly and to insure that all necessary treatment, etc. would be provided to those infected. Or at the very least, admit we’re playing catch-up with this threat and doing everything we can to protect all Americans. Meanwhile, wash your hands frequently, don’t touch your face and stay home if you’re feeling ill. Something.

        Which brings me back to my friend’s friend’s one-two-three rule for living life. Trump and his cohorts either never heard of it or, worse, don’t care about it. As I said, I’ve felt this way about Trump for some time. It’s how many others are willing to go along with him that is disheartening. Their version of do unto others apparently comes with the caveat, before they do unto you. And lie to protect yourself.

       I am far from perfect, but I am at least willing to try to live up to that one/two/three. So are many others. We have put up with a lot of self-serving and orchestrated praying from the Trump crowd, but when people’s lives may be at stake, it would be nice if at least one of them offered something close to basic decency instead of the usual B.S.

rjgaydos@gmail.com

        

Escaping The World with a Mani/Pedi

Monday, February 17th, 2020

By Bob Gaydos

A male pedicure ... good for body and soul

A male pedicure … good for body and soul

  I have discovered what may be the perfect antidote to the attacks of “the world has gone mad” that arise from time to time, leaving me restless, irritable, discontent, utterly disgusted with millions of people and uninterested in putting those feelings into words. A paralyzed pundit is not a happy person.

   The solution? A one-hour pedicure followed by a manicure, applied in a skillful, caring manner.

    Donald who?

    My most recent mani-pedi came on the heels of the sham Trump impeachment trial in the United States Senate and the Democrats’ Iowa caucus embarrassment at the hands of a faulty app. (Puns acknowledged.) Sometimes, a guy’s just gotta get away.

     What better escape than a place where no one ever  — ever — discusses politics or fantasy football? My escape place  is located near Middletown, N.Y. I am one of about a dozen male customers, according to the proprietor. I have personally seen another man getting a pedicure or manicure at least four different times when I’ve been there. And yes, each time it made me feel more comfortable with myself, with my fragile “manhood” I guess. See, Bob, you’re not the only one.

     To say that I was self-conscious and felt awkward on my first mani-pedi experience (at a different establishment) would be an understatement. I didn’t know what to expect. I didn’t know what to do. I didn’t even know what to ask for. How much do I tip? My partner took care of all that.

     She told the salon worker what we wanted and closely guided her through the whole process. Get those ugly nails in shape. Get rid of the calluses. Use the grinder on the tough nails. Be careful of the heel cracks. No color.

     I sat and watched. I fairly quickly stopped wondering what the women in the shop (there were no men) were thinking about me and concentrated on enjoying what was happening to me.

    So this is why they come here, I thought. This is great. Why don’t more men do this?

    In turns out, more men are. According to recent surveys, once they overcome the initial uncomfortableness, more men (especially younger men) are discovering the many benefits of mani/pedis and becoming repeat customers. But bucking stereotype takes a while.

      “It’s the best kept secret in the world!” proclaimed Tony as he burst into the salon on a recent visit and saw me sitting in a chair with my feet in the warm water, sipping on my hot coffee. One guy to another: “Hey, best thing ever, right?” Right. (Still secretly glad to have some male company.) “I try to get my buddies to do it,” he says, “but they don’t listen.”

        Tony’s a union guy who wears work boots all week. He says his wife and three daughters kept telling him to go get a pedicure. He finally did and loved it. He also gets his eyebrows waxed. He’s comfortable here, obviously a regular. “It’s so relaxing,“ he says.

         It sure is. But it’s more than that. It’s also a self-care way of paying attention to parts of the body that a lot of men, me included, tend to ignore. The feet. The toenails. Finger nails. A good mani-pedi should leave you feeling clean and neat and relaxed. I often say I feel a little lighter. Some may think of it as a little self-indulgent, but I think I’m worth it and I feel better every time.

         For the uninitiated male reader wondering what to expect from a pedicure, don’t worry. Ask your partner or good female friend to recommend a place. The process is pretty much the same every time, depending on the condition of your feet and nails. You sit in a massage chair (a bonus), roll up your pants, put your feet in warm water and relax as a (hopefully) skilled technician clips your nails neatly, trims cuticles, shapes the nails, removes dead skin and anything else hiding between your toes and files down those calluses. She will buff and peel and trim and grind until your feet are smoother than they’ve probably ever been.

      This is not just cosmetic. In addition to Trumpomania, a pedicure also helps fight fungal buildup, ingrown nails and painful cracked heels. Depending upon the level of pedicure you purchase, the nail technician will apply cream, oil, lotion, gels, or wraps in some combination. There will most likely be a brief massage of the feet and lower legs at the end of the treatment. So, while your feet and toes are now cleaner and neater and probably better smelling than they’ve been in a long time, your circulation is improved as well.

      The manicure is pretty straightforward. Clipping, trimming, shaping, a little grinding if necessary. Some lotion and a warm towel to clean the hands. No color for me. The nails look neat and clean. (People actually notice.) Thank Cristina for a job well done.

       “More and more men are coming,” said the proprietor. “Couples, too. The men are uncomfortable the first time, but they get used to it if they keep coming. Feet are sometimes difficult the first time (mine were), but they get under control with regular visits (mine are). You don’t know how good you feel after a pedicure.” I do now.

         And so do plenty of other men. One recent survey of 2,000 men and women reported that, among males aged 18-34 who said they had gone to a spa, 25 percent said they had gotten, not a haircut, but a pedicure or manicure. Another blind survey on spa-going got 1,792 respondents, 563 of them males, 77 percent of whom said they’d gone to a nail salon with their partner. Others said they’d be willing to do so.

     Of course, like everything else, overcoming societal stereotypes and image issues is more challenging for some than others. The proprietor said she noticed a man sitting outside the salon in his car for quite awhile late one day: “I finally went out and asked if I could help. He asked if he could get a pedicure. I said sure. He said all the curtains would have to be drawn. He was a judge.”

      Our lips are sealed.       

rjgaydos@gmail.com

Why Carlos Beltran Got Fired

Tuesday, January 21st, 2020

 

  By Bob Gaydos 

Carlos Beltran ... the gods were unhappy

Carlos Beltran
… the gods were unhappy

  The Greeks had it right. The gods are toying with us, letting us think we’re in control of what’s happening when, in reality (or what we perceive to be reality) the powers that be are teaching us a lesson. I don’t know what that lesson might be, but I’m pretty sure the gods are fed up with us.

      Also, that Donald Trump got Carlos Beltran fired.

      Consider. On a recent mind-boggling day that saw: a) the entire Russian government — with the notable exception of President Vladimir Putin — resign; b) a Ukrainian wise guy say on American TV that the president, vice president, secretary of state, attorney general, former chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, the president’s personal lawyer, a Republican wannabe, and some shady Ukrainians were all part of a plot to intimidate (or worse) the American ambassador to Ukraine because she insisted on doing her job by the book; and c) the House of Representatives presented articles of impeachment against that president, Trump, for illegally withholding congressionally approved military aid funds for Ukraine in an effort to get that country’s government to say it was investigating the business dealings of the son of one of Trump’s potential opponents in the 2020 election … on that very same day, the New York Mets fired Carlos Beltran, their new manager, before pitchers and catchers even reported for spring training.

        What does Trump have to do with firing Beltran? Connect the dots.

        Trump was impeached, in effect, for attempting to cheat in the coming election, undoubtedly because that’s how he won the first time. In the 2016 election, he got considerable help from Russian hackers who infiltrated voting systems in all 50 states to swing the Electoral College vote to him. Those hackers work for Putin, the former KGB chief famous for arresting political rivals (the ones who don’t die of poisoning), having several unrecorded phone and in-person conversations with his American counterpart, and now, for setting in motion the tear-up-the-Russian-constitution process to make him ruler for life. Putin’s Russia was also found to be cheating in the 2016 Olympics and stripped of its medals. More recently, Russia was banned from all international sporting competition, again for using performance-enhancing drugs. Cheating.              

         Beltran was fired for being part of a Houston Astros baseball team that won the 2017 World Series, being helped considerably, according to an investigation by Major League Baseball, by an electronically based system for stealing the other team’s signs. Cheating.

      The Astros won their championship in 2017, the first year of the Trump presidency. What that presidency and the way it was attained said to the world is that you can cheat, have people know about it, and still be declared a winner. At least in America.  Nothing has happened yet to change that perception.

      History has shown that it is too easy for too many people to become accustomed to the abnormal, the improper, the inappropriate, the unethical, the illegal, the immoral when there appears to be nothing to do about it and there is no price to pay for it.

      Everybody does it, is the cry of the apologists. They’re all crooks and cheaters and liars anyway, say the uninformed or just plain lazy. Move along, nothing to see here.

       Actually, there was plenty to see. Major League Baseball investigated complaints of the Astros stealing signs flashed from the opposing catcher to the pitcher. It found the team was using electronic video feeds to spy on the catcher and then having someone in the dugout bang a garbage can to let the batter know what pitch was coming. High tech/low tech. This is against baseball rules. The fact that Astros batters had significantly higher batting averages at home in the World Series than they did in Los Angeles, home of their opponent, the Dodgers, was exhibit A.

      The whole Astros team was in on the plot. MLB suspended the Houston manager and general manager for a year apiece and imposed a fine and sanctions on the team. Houston owners promptly fired the two suspended men. Then the Boston Red Sox (under investigation for similar charges) fired their manager, Alex Cora, who was a coach on that Houston team. And the Mets, next in line, reluctantly fired Beltran, who was a player on that team, but the only player named in the MLB report, suggesting he had more than a supporting role.

        Consequences. When there is a fear that you could be caught cheating, most people don’t cheat. When there is a greater fear that you will be ostracized for not going along with the cheating than there is of anyone caring enough to punish you for cheating, many, if not most, people go along. Human nature. Fear. Negative energy begets negative energy. The abnormal becomes normal. Everyone does it. I didn’t say it. OK, I said it, but I didn’t mean it. OK, I meant it. Who cares? Cheating for hits or cheating for votes. Same thing. Look at Trump. He cheats all the time and he’s the president. You don’t see anyone coming after him, do you? Remember, this was in 2017, when we were making America great again.

    The Astros went to the White House in 2018 to be congratulated by Trump, a cheaters photo op. Beltran didn’t go. He’s Puerto Rican and was unhappy with Trump’s response to the island’s hurricane damage, but Beltran didn’t give that as a reason for his absence. He said he wanted to spend time in New York City with his family, sounding like every Republican in Congress who finds some excuse to avoid criticizing some aspect of Trump’s behavior. Fear. It’s contagious.

        But now, here come the gods. I think they may have had enough of letting us think we’re running the show. In their universe of actions and appropriate reactions, cheating must inevitably be punished, not rewarded. The energy flow must be corrected from negative to positive, lest a species destroy itself. Interestingly, the people in charge of our games seem to have had that awareness — hey, this is not right! — quicker than those who decide on our daily lives. The Olympics, Major League Baseball, even the long tone-deaf National Football League, have cracked down to some degree on cheaters. And, yes, in the same week as Beltran’s firing, Congress began the process of holding a president accountable for serial cheating.

        But, you say, Trump is still in office and the Astros team got to keep its title. None of the other Astros players was punished for going along with the sign-stealing rather than trying to stop it. Why?

        Fair question. I don’t know. While I respect them, I don’t claim to have a direct line from the gods, aka the greater consciousness. But I suspect that the Astros players, while they have their World Series rings, are going to spend a lot of time hearing fans remind them that they cheated to get them. The Greek goddess of shame, Aidos, may be their new mascot. And who knows, maybe the baseball gods will see the wisdom and fairness of simply declaring no champion for the 2017 season.

        As for Trump, narcissist that he is, he is undoubtedly twisting in agony daily with the Greek goddesses of pain and suffering, the Algea, as members of the U.S. Senate are challenged to live up to the oaths of honesty they publicly swore to gods of their choosing. 

        And Beltran? He was about to start a new chapter in his mostly stellar baseball career with his first managerial job. Why would the gods have the Mets fire him? Well, other than the cheating, the gods of Ancient Greece were known to be fans of sport and also occasionally spiteful. Maybe today’s gods are Mets fans with long memories. Just maybe they remember Carlos Beltran, as a Mets player, looking at strike three with the bases loaded to end the 2006 National League Championship series against the St. Louis Cardinals. Maybe that’s why he needed someone in Houston to bang the garbage can.

        Clang, clang, Carlos. Here comes the curve.

rjgaydos@gmail.com

GOP: No Country for Young Women

Tuesday, January 7th, 2020

By Bob Gaydos

Megan and Greta, persons of the year.

Megan and Greta, persons of the year.

Perhaps you missed it, what with the holidays and all that Ukraine and Iran stuff coming out of Washington, but two young women, Megan Rapinoe and Greta Thunberg, graced the covers of two influential magazines to close out 2019. They were named, respectively, Sports Illustrated’s “Sportsperson of the Year” and Time Magazine’s “Person of the Year.”

     Perfect.

     The Deep State strikes again.

    On the scale of events guaranteed to stir the bile in the presidential twitter pot and bring the blood pressure to boil among untold numbers of aging, white Republican men this double-barreled salute to emerging young female voices ranked just below that of impeachment of the chosen one. To him, maybe it was equal. After all, an outspoken, equality-minded lesbian soccer player and a charismatic, 16-year-old climate activist with Asperger’s are not supposed to upstage the dotard-in-chief.

     But they did. And the insults, yelling, lying and bullying — the basic political weapons of today’s Republican Party — followed. Trump took to twitter to tell Thunberg to get some “anger management” assistance and “chill.” Irony is not one of his strong suits. Trump’s toadies on Fox News and other conservative news outlets called the Swedish teenager “mentally ill” and part of a Democratic Party plot to make the Donald look bad or stupid or callous or insensitive or crass or self-absorbed or cruel or totally inept. Pick one. All apply.

      The reactions from the Party of Trump to the magazine covers were mostly focused on Thunberg, perhaps because even Trump — who had a fake Time cover naming him person of the year printed and hung at his Mar-a-Largo country club — knew he couldn’t sell anyone on a cover of SI with him waddling around a golf course as sportsperson of the year.                              

       Also, Rapinoe, a leader in the push to sue for pay for U.S. women soccer players equal to that of the less-successful men’s team, had already given Trump plenty of grief by saying she wouldn’t come to the White House — before the U.S. women’s soccer team had even won the World Cup. (For the second time in a row.) Trump advised her to win before spouting off. She wasn’t waiting. Afterwards, having scored the goal that won it, she struck the pose. As she told SI, “It was kind of like a ‘F— you,’ but with a big smile and a s— eating grin. You are not going to steal any of our joy.”

        That’s the kind of in-your-face, you-don’t-scare-me-old-white-man talk that the old, white Republican men, most of the younger, white Republican men and, apparently, the women in their lives find rude and unacceptable and, I’m guessing, disrespectful to their elders. Because, and again I’m guessing, they’ve been taught that their elders know better and, besides, young people — especially female young people — should be seen and not heard (and straight and not, you know, difficult.)

        I find it hard to believe I just typed that last sentence, this being 2020, but it certainly seems to fit with what passes for a philosophy in the world of Trump and the Republican Party. It’s almost as if a whole category of people has devolved over the past half century. More likely, failed to evolve. In fact, we do have a vice president who doesn’t believe in evolution. Or having lunch alone with a female who is not his wife. Trump would have lunch alone with anyone’s wife.

     At first glance, this Trump/Pence odd couple pairing and the two men’s seemingly opposite views towards women may seem strange. But they are really both sides of the same coin. To them, women are merely objects of sexual desire. Either they can be easily seduced by a charming or powerful or wealthy man, or the women themselves are sexual predators, ever on the prowl for a charming, powerful, wealthy man. They are not, however, to be considered as equals, contemporaries, colleagues, persons with ideas, principles, beliefs that may differ from those of the male in the room. And above all, they are not expected to express their thoughts unless they agree with those of the male in the room. (Welcome, Betsy DeVos. It helps that you’re filthy rich.)

       Greta Thunberg is a smart, witty, outspoken mix of ideas and courage. She uses being “different” to her advantage by not letting it hold her back. She calls it a “superpower.“ As for knowing her place, it was leading a worldwide school strike to save the planet. And it was speaking in front of the U.N. General Assembly — a room dominated by males — challenging them on the need to change the way we live if we hope to save the planet from destroying itself. A proud moment for a (non-Republican only) parent to witness.

       Trump also addressed that body. He drew loud laughs (not sought). Greta famously stared Trump down at that session. She also drew applause and admiration. Whether she prompted action is yet to be seen, but no one doubted her right to be on the podium.

     No one except for Trump and most Republicans who unfortunately still think that women’s place — their daughters’ place — is in the home, in the kitchen, in the bedroom, on the arm or in the service of some “important” man, but not leading movements to better the world. Also, as we’ve seen, not in a meeting of national political leaders discussing women’s health issues. And definitely not on the coveted covers of popular national magazines. 

rjgaydos@gmail.com

 

Just Another Mob Hit

Sunday, January 5th, 2020

By Bob Gaydos 

Umberto’s Clam House, where Joey Gallo met his demise.

Umberto’s Clam House, where Joey Gallo met his demise.

    It had all the subtlety of a mob hit.

     The Don: “So what’s the story with this Soleimani? Why’s he still around acting like a big shot, messing around in our territory? He should show some respect.”

     Old Soldier: “Well, Don, when you tore up that treaty with his boss, this guy started acting like that territory was all fair game for him. I mean, he was always a pain in the ass, causing trouble everywhere.”

      Don: “How come nobody set him straight?”

      Old Soldier: “It ain’t that simple. His boss let’s him take care of business how he sees fit and his guys are really loyal. They’ve also been through lots of family wars and, to tell you the truth, I think they like hitting the mattresses and blowing people up. The Don before you felt it was more important to make the family stronger, expand its influence and not lose any more young soldiers. He kept an eye on Soleimani and warned his boss not to get too greedy. But this guy’s ambitious and a little reckless, y’know? Difficult. Kinda like Joey Gallo was.”

      Don: “Yeah. Was.”

      Old Soldier: “Whaddya mean?”

     Don: “I hear this guy likes to hang out at Amani’s Falafel House in Baghdad.”

      Old Soldier: “Yeah. Kinda on the QT, though.”

      Don: “Maybe we should surprise him.”

      Old Soldier: Nods.

      Don: “I hear you got a new house painter.”

      Old Soldier: “Yeah. Irishman, name of Droghn.”

     Don: “Ask him if he likes falafel pita. Tell him it’s my favorite. It ain’t, but he don’t have to know.”

      Old Soldier: “You sure, boss?”

     Don: “Yeah. The old Don was too soft. He let people walk all over him. The Korean boss, the Chinese. The only ones he ever gave grief was the Russians and they’re our best allies. We have to let our people know that nobody pushes Don around. They’ll go to the mattresses gladly for me. I’ll be at the golf club if you need me.”

                                              * *.*

       In the world of Donald Trump, repercussions don’t matter if they don’t impact on you directly. Foreign policy (Iran) is like domestic policy (health care) or campaigning — a matter of the moment. Instinct. Ego. It’s all personal. Learned at the elbow of Roy Cohn. Hit ‘em hard. Show them you’re tough. Be nasty. It’s just business. Ignore the doubters. Don’t listen to the “worriers.” Be a warrior. Yeah, others may suffer, but you’ll look strong. That’s the main thing. You pulled the trigger when the other Dons were too scared. You showed them who’s boss.          

      Just like in the movies.

rjgaydos@gmail.com

 

Addiction and Recovery: Holiday Tools

Saturday, December 21st, 2019

By Bob Gaydos  

“No, “is an acceptable answer at holiday parties.

“No, thank you“ is an acceptable answer at holiday parties.

OK, I know you’re busy because it’s the holidays and you don’t have time to sit and read about healthy behavior when there are presents to be bought, menus to be prepared and parties to  attend. So I’ll try to be brief and to the point.

This is a treacherous time of year for people in early recovery from addiction. People who have found their way to recovery, be it via a 12-step program or otherwise, have been given suggestions on how to survive the season of temptation without relapse. If they use these tools, with practice, they can even enjoy the season.

It’s the rest of you I’m mainly talking to here. You hosts, family members, well-meaning friends who want to be supportive and do the right thing, but aren’t sure what that is. And yes, to those who don’t get the concept of addiction at all, but can still avoid harming a relationship by following a few basic suggestions. So, some coping tools for the non-addicted, if you will:

  • “No thank you” is a complete sentence and perfectly acceptable answer. It should not require any further explanation. “One drink won’t hurt you” is a dangerously ill-informed reply. The same goes for, “A few butter cookies won’t hurt. C’mon, it’s Christmas.” Or, “Get the dress, Put it on your credit card. You’ll feel better.” Not really.
  • By the way, “No thank you” is an acceptable answer even for people not in recovery. Not everyone who turns down a second helping of stuffing or a piece of pumpkin pie is a member of Overeaters Anonymous. Not everyone who prefers a ginger ale rather than a beer is a member of AA. Not everyone who won’t go into hock for an expensive New Year’s Eve party is a compulsive debtor. But some of them may be.
  •  If you’re hosting a party to which people in recovery have been invited, have some non-alcoholic beverages available. Not just water. Don’t make a big deal about having them, just let your guests know they are available. The same goes for food. Have some appetizing low-calorie dishes and healthful desserts on hand. Don’t point out that they’re there because so-and-so is watching his weight. Just serve them. You’ll be surprised how many guests enjoy them and comment on what a good host you are.
  • If you’re honestly concerned about how the person in recovery is doing, approach him or her privately. He or she might not feel comfortable discussing it in front of other guests. If you’re just curious, keep it to yourself.

Honoring a guest’s wishes is a sign of respect. Anticipating them in advance is even better. Encouraging someone to eat, drink or spend money when they don’t want to is, at the very least, not gracious. Pressuring someone to partake of something when you know he or she is trying hard to avoid it is a good way to lose a friend. Addictions are not trivial matters. “No, thank you,” is a perfectly good answer. Members of AA, OA and DA will be especially appreciative if you remember that.

                                             ***

For recovering addicts, the tools should be familiar, but always bear repeating:

  •  Bring a recovery friend to a party.
  •  Have phone numbers and your own transportation available if you want to leave an uncomfortable situation.
  •  If you’re uncomfortable about attending a party because of who will be there, be it family or friends who are not supportive, don’t go. Politely decline. 
  •  Keep track of your drink. If you’re not sure, get a new one.
  •  Deal in cash; forget about credit cards.
  •  Don’t feel obliged to try every dish on the table. 
  • And, again, “No, thank you,” is a complete sentence. Don’t worry about hurting your host’s feelings at the expense of your recovery. There’s always next year.

    Enjoy.

For more information:

Debtors Anonymous: www.debtorsanonymous.org; 781-453-2743.

Alcoholics Anonymous: www.aa.org

Overeaters Anonymous: www.oa.org

rjgaydos@gmail.com

 

 

On Going to the Movies, or Not

Wednesday, December 11th, 2019

By Bob Gaydos

Poster for Martin Scorsese’s latest gangster epic.

Poster for Martin Scorsese’s latest gangster epic.

I’m about a half hour into “The Irishman” — the part where Robert DeNiro throws a gun off a bridge in Philly. I don’t consider this a spoiler alert because, after all, it’s DeNiro in a Martin Scorsese film and you have to figure it’s gotta happen sooner or later. Anyway, I decided to take a break to write, because you can do that while watching movies these days.

So, obviously, I’m watching at home on Netflix and not at a movie theater because apparently nobody does that anymore. Well, maybe not as much. I don’t know if it’s a good thing or a bad thing, but I do know there are fewer movie theaters than there used to be and people are not going out to the movies as often as they used to.

White Hutchison, a company that tracks attendance at out-of-home entertainment venues, says the average person went out to the movies 3.5 times in 2018, spending a little over $30 for tickets. That’s a 28 percent decrease from the industry’s high of 5.2 trips by your average moviegoer to the cinema in 2002, the company says.

White Hutchison also says the downward trend is the result of all the other new entertainment venues competing to try to lure people off the convenience and comfort of their couches. The competition has convinced many moviemakers that only blockbuster-type “event” movies can do this and, again, the figures bear this out. The 10 biggest grossing movies of 2018 accounted for a third of all ticket sales and eight of those movies were offered in 3D and all 10 at IMAX theaters. And no, as opposed to the word I used referring to “The Irishman,” there’s not a “film” among them. They’re stories jazzed up with lots of special effects, action and/or cartoon characters.

I started wondering about the state of cinema-going when I read that Netflix was making a blockbuster movie with Scorsese, DeNiro, Joe Pesci and Al Pacino, but was forgoing the usual 90-day window given to let theaters show the movie before offering it to Netflix subscribers, mostly streaming rather than DVD’s now. Instead, the movie would get limited release in select theaters and be available on your phone or tablet or smart TV in 30 days.

Wouldn’t theater owners be ticked off? I wondered. Yes, they would and are. Then again, Scorsese made the film 3½ hours long, which is tough to sit through without intermission, popcorn refill and bathroom breaks. Also, most theaters can only show it twice a day because of the length, cutting into potential profits.

Nonetheless, Netflix went through with this plan and “the Irishman” opened initially on eight screens in New York and Los Angeles. More were added a week later. It had good ticket sales and mixed reviews in select theaters. But it drew about 17 million smaller-screen viewers in its first week of release on Netflix.

What’s the point? I’m not sure, but this was certainly an “event” film because of the cast of characters in front of and behind the camera. Maybe that’s the point. What exactly do we mean by an “event” movie today? Forgive me here as I wander into a now-distant past to my introduction to movie-going. (It’s a long film. Let’s call this an early intermission.)

***

My mother loved to go to the movies. In Bayonne, N.J., where I grew up, there were six movie theaters in the 1940s and ‘50s. Not bad for a city of some 65,000. There was also lots of public transportation and the streets were safe to walk. If you wanted to see whatever movie was the latest hit, there was no problem. It was also cheap.

When I was old enough, my mom would sometimes take me along. She would also often buy whatever dish was for sale to continue to put together the full set. Gold leaf trim. I still have some pieces. For me — and my mom, I’m sure — going to the movies was an event, something to look forward to and enjoy a lot more than 3.5 times a year.

And star power? Here’s a sampling, in no particular order, of actors you could see on the big screen in the 1940s and 1950s: James Stewart, Elizabeth Taylor, Cary Grant, Marilyn Monroe, Henry Fonda, Orson Welles, Gary Cooper, James Dean, Jack Lemmon, Audrey Hepburn, Kirk Douglas, John Wayne, Tyrone Power, Rita Hayworth, Lauren Bacall, Humphrey Bogart, Paul Newman, Marlon Brando, James Cagney, Clark Gable, Ava Gardner, Gregory Peck. Grace Kelly, Yul Brynner, William Holden, Tony Curtis, Ingrid Bergman, Fred Astaire, Rock Hudson, Doris Day, Ernest Borgnine, Burt Lancaster, Frank Sinatra, Bette Davis, Barbara Stanwyck, Bob Hope, Bing Crosby, Dean Martin, Jerry Lewis, Debbie Reynolds, Danny Kaye, Laurence Olivier, Robert Mitchum, Errol Flynn, Spencer Tracy, Katharine Hepburn, Bud Abbot and Lou Costello. (Don’t bother checking. I didn’t repeat anyone.)

When I reached my early teens and could go on my own or with friends (remember, the streets were safe to walk then), I looked forward to Saturday matinees. It usually included two westerns (Roy Rogers, Gene Autry, Randolph Scott, John Wayne), at least six cartoons and a serial (“Flash Gordon” or “Don Winslow of the Navy”). For a quarter. Popcorn was extra. Now, that was an almost weekly event.

Times have changed. Television ended Hollywood’s Golden Age. Smart phones, etc. are killing television. The streets aren’t safe. Popcorn at the movies is a budget-buster.

But also, while you can watch football on a phone today, you cannot see someone “act.” There is an added dimension when you share an emotional moment in a movie with a theater full of strangers that is missing on your couch. While they have connected us as never before, in some ways smart phones have also made us more isolated. As for the movies themselves, rewriting comic books for the big screen can only go as far as the characters (Batman, for example) allow. And, though spectacular visual effects may be big box office, they can’t replace the feeling of watching a grownup story portrayed by talented actors.

Which kind of brings me back to “The Irishman.” I’m hoping Netflix and Scorsese are right, in the sense that you can still make story and actor-driven (male and female) movies and make money today. (I can enjoy, but have a limited quota for whiz-bang and fantasy.) The head of Netflix’s movie division says to relax. “If everyone would just be calm and talk through it, over the next few years we’ll be able to find the right answer for everyone,” Scott Stuber said recently.

OK, so I’m going back to the movie. Still waiting for Pacino to arrive on the scene. If you’ve seen it, don’t text me.

rjgaydos@gmail.com

 

Does Perry’s ‘Chosen One’ Pray?

Tuesday, November 26th, 2019

By Bob Gaydos

Is he praying in this photo? For what?

Is he praying in this photo? For what?

    Does Donald Trump pray?

    If he does, to whom or what or for what does he pray?

    I don’t think he prays. I know, he’s got all those believers laying on hands in the Oval Office all the time, but I don’t think he prays.

    In fact, until recently, it never entered my mind that he prays, nor did I much care. I think the Founding Fathers got it right when they separated church and state, prayer and politics. To me, it’s more important that a president have a solid moral foundation, a sense of right and wrong, a capacity for compassion and a generous dose of humility. I would hope it would be someone with the common sense to realize that, if there is a god, he or she is not it.

      But now I want to know. Does Trump pray? I want one of those “enemies of the people” to ask him next time he holds a press conference as he’s rushing to a helicopter: “Mr. President! Do you pray!? Rick Perry says you’re ‘God’s chosen one!’ Do you pray, sir!?”

      The questions would have to be shouted to be heard over the helicopter noise, which might seem a tad inappropriate to some, given the context, but given the noisy tenor of this presidency, it seems reasonable to me. I don’t think God would mind.

     Normally, I’d say a president has the right to some privacy on such matters, sharing or not sharing any religious practice or belief according to comfort level. But there is nothing normal about this presidency and Perry, bless his uncluttered mind, has made the issue relevant. The departing Energy Secretary and former governor of Texas (George W. and 1,2, umm 3, Rick — way to go, Lone Star) said in a recent interview that “God uses imperfect people through history. King David wasn’t perfect. Saul wasn’t perfect. Solomon wasn’t perfect. And I actually gave the president a one-pager on those Old Testament kings about a month ago. And I shared it with him and I said, ‘Mr. President, I know there are people who say that you say you were the chosen one.’ And said, ‘You were.’ I said, ‘If you are a believing Christian, you understand God’s plan for the people who rule and judge over us on this planet in our government.’ ”

     So, is Trump “a believing Christian?” Does he believe, as Perry and other evangelicals do, that God has sent an amoral dunce to foster chaos and violence upon the planet, so as to be able to ultimately deliver the “true believers” out of the ruins to the Kingdom of Heaven?

     This is, I believe, a legitimate question, since it is the rationale being used by so many of his followers (as in a cult) to justify their support for every act of his that is considered sinful, evil, immoral, blasphemous by pretty much every other religious doctrine and most non-believers as well. In fact, I think most non-believers were done with Trump a long time ago and have trouble understanding any god that would choose someone like Trump for any Divine purpose.

     While we’re at it, what does Trump think, as Perry alleged, is “God’s plan for the people who rule and judge over us on this planet in our government?’” That’s kind of an important question. Is all this corruption and dismissal of the rule of law to be considered part of “God’s plan?” Does one have to simply accept it, like it or not, as most Republicans have, because to reject it would be to forfeit any shot at being among those chosen at the Rapture? 

      Do you see how smart the Founding Fathers were to want none of this in their government?

       So, back to prayer. Trump recently hired a television evangelist to be a faith liaison in the White House. She happens to be an attractive blonde. God’s will, I assume. I think Trump’s true talent is being able to identify and recruit other masters of the con, charlatans who shamelessly make declarations that most people would dismiss, even ridicule, as absurd because they know that some people, enough people — “true believers” — will take them seriously.

      Send me your paycheck and reserve a seat on the flight to Heaven. Also, let me fly there on my own private jet as one of God’s chosen messengers. With my whole family, of course.

      They know it’s a con, these Falwells and Grahams and Osteens and Bakkers and Robertsons and new White House aide, Paula White. They know Trump knows. He knows they know. They know he knows they know …

      If they stick together, they succeed, on earth at least. If someone falters — the anointed chosen, especially — the con falls apart. So they lay on hands and bow their heads in the Oval Office. The messengers all pray, I’m sure, not to be found out. Also, for Trump not to renounce them if he’s got nowhere else to go.

      But Trump, if he’s truly the chosen one, to whom does he pray and for what? I ask for millions of Americans because Rick Perry tells me my future and that of the planet lie in the hands of this “imperfect” person.

     Ask him the question, reporters. Do your job. Is Rick Perry right? Does Trump think he is chosen by God? To do what? When did God deliver the news? Was Putin in the room at the time?

rjgaydos@gmail.com