An old friend lost, found, lost again

About a month before I got into the business of writing people’s life stories, I tried to reconstruct the life of my oldest friend – post mortem.

I’d known Barry Ginsberg since we were eight years old, playing little league baseball on the same team in our neighborhood in Bayside, Queens.

We were also on the same basketball team, as you can see in the photo above. That’s Barry on the far right in the front row, kneeling next me, when we were about twelve.

I’ve been reading a lot lately that 2016 has been a year of great loss, people citing the U.S. presidential election result and adding the death toll – Ali, Prince, John Glenn, Leonard Cohen, Arnold Palmer, Gordie Howe, Gene Wilder, Patty Duke, Garry Shandling, Carrie Fisher.

I could have easily written any of those obits with material available online. Piecing together my friend Barry’s life proved more challenging.

Barry and I had been out of touch for most of our adult lives. And just after we reconnected, began to catch up, he died on October 5th in northern California at the age of 70.

As I mentioned, we met as kids playing baseball. I was the pitcher. He was the catcher.

My dad managed our team. Barry’s mom, Flossie, was the team mother. That was an actual title – team mother. She was in charge of the drinks and snacks.

Barry and I became best friends. Our families became close, went on vacations together. But then, Barry and I went to different high schools and colleges, had separate sets of friends.

This was the mid-1960s. Hippies and straights. Barry was a hippie. I stayed straight.

I didn’t see him for a couple of years. Then, in 1968, the summer after the Summer of Love, I moved to San Francisco.

I knew Barry was in the Bay Area. I saw him once.

We met up on the Marin side of the Golden Gate. We each had girlfriends along, and he suggested a drive to the top of Mount Tamalpais to watch the sunset. Much alcohol and cannabis was consumed.

Walking back to the lot where’d I’d parked my Mustang, we spotted a biker making off with my hubcaps. “Let’s get him,” Barry said.

I tossed him the keys. “You drive.”

It wasn’t until we got to the bottom of the mountain, no sign of the biker, that I smelled something burning and realized Barry had neglected to release the emergency brake.

I didn’t see him again for nearly five years. In January 1973, I drove across the country – from New York to L.A. and up the coast – to take up a posting as the UPI correspondent in Vancouver.

I stopped a night at Barry’s place in Mill Valley. By this time, he had a wife and young daughter. I remember playing with the kid — and that Barry and I had nothing to talk about.

The last time I saw him was the spring of 1978. I was covering the Blue Jays, in Oakland for a series against the A’s.

The Jays weren’t playing that Monday in May. I rented a car and arranged to meet Barry in Sausalito.

We had a drink in the No Name bar. He told me he had been abducted by aliens.

That was it for me – until last May, 38 years later, when he phoned to offer condolences after my mother died. Barry sounded good, like my old friend.

It was a brief conversation. I was at my sister’s house in New York, and my family had a funeral to get through the next day.

After I returned home to suburban Toronto, we had a longer chat. He was in northern California, where he’d lived since the ’60s.

I learned he was married again, to a woman I never knew existed. We talked some sports, our original bond. But he spoke mainly of his ill health.

On August 1st, I sent him a HAPPY BIRTHDAY email. I figured we’d keep in touch, maintain a long-distance friendship through our declining years.

A little more than two months later, I got the news he was dead.

I phoned his wife, Alex, the woman I never knew, and asked her to fill in my blanks of my friend’s life.

I conducted the conversation like an interview for a profile I’d be writing. In this case, I knew the beginning and end but not the middle.

Barry started as a chef in the 1970s at The Trident, beside the bay in Sausalito, a hangout for the likes of Janis Joplin and Jerry Garcia.

From there, he moved up the coast to run the kitchen at the Pelican Inn, in Muir Beach. That’s where he met Alex when she started as a waitress.

“My first impression was – chef has a bit of a temper. I thought he was mean.”

But it soon became clear to Alex that the “big lion was really a pussycat – and he was funny.”

That was 1989. Barry was in his early forties, long divorced from his first wife.

He had raised his daughter Lucy, then 18, on his own, and recently dealt with the deaths of his father and his kid sister, Sharon.

Alex recognized the sadness in Barry’s “beautiful blue eyes.”

They flirted at work for months. “One day, he just moved himself into my apartment, lit a joint, and stayed.” They married four years later.

In the mid-’90s, Barry had a serious heart attack. “After that, it was extremely difficult for him,” Alex said. “He’d say, ‘I feel like a shell of a man.’ It took him quite a while to recover – physically, mentally, emotionally.”

Just after he bounced back, Barry found out he had cancer. Nine surgeries would follow. Last January, he had a kidney removed.

Barry and Alex lived in a little one-bedroom cottage in Guerneville, in beautiful Sonoma County. Barry tended his garden, medicinal marijuana, and watched a lot of sports on TV.

When he died in October – of a massive seizure, not the cancer – he was looking forward to the Giants playing the Cubs in the playoffs and seeing Kevin Durant with Curry & Co. on the Warriors.

It saddens me that I will miss the opportunity to again talk sports with my old friend, my old catcher.

Writer, Editor, Salesman, Flack

I’m going to be 70 on Saturday. Appropriate age to start my first business.

I was thinking of opening a ski resort in Kazakhstan or maybe running a cattle ranch in Montana.

But figured I better stick to something that involved stringing sentences together and avoided the outdoors in wintertime.

Anyway, as of today, the website is up and the news release is out.

The business is called Ken Becker, Writer/Editor, since that’s who I am and what it says at the top of the site.

I couldn’t come up with a catchier name, though I considered Ken Becker: Tinker/Tailor/Soldier/Sailor, and Ken Becker: Rich Man/Poor Man/Beggar Man/Thief.

And, regrettably, my two top choices – Exxon Mobil and Deutsche Bank – were already taken.

For those who resisted the temptation to click into the link above – in my incarnation as an entrepreneur I enthusiastically encourage the diversion – the essence of the business is what I call Life Stories.

I interview someone who has already lived a fairly full life and write a newspaper/magazine-style profile to pass on to family and preserve for succeeding generations.

I’ve done this before – for my father and my mother-in-law, Edith.

I learned a lot about them I never knew. And so did the rest of our families.

For example, I never knew the details of my dad’s disappointment in attending a mass tryout for the Giants at the Polo Grounds in the summer of ’41.

The young men were arbitrarily divided into groups of 10 or 15 and assembled at the right field foul pole. Each group was directed to dash to the left field foul pole. When they arrived, most – Red included – were told go home.

“They never even saw me pitch,” he’d tell me, more than 40 years later. “I was fast, I felt sharp, and they never even saw me pitch.”

And Linda never knew about her parents’ secret wedding.

Edith and Walter – he had converted to Catholicism – were married on September 5, 1936. Since married women were not allowed to work in the bank, they wed in a secret ceremony in the priest’s house at Assumption Roman Catholic Church.

“My mother was the only one who knew,” Edith said. “Even his parents didn’t know.”

As it inevitably turned out, I read excerpts of these stories at my father’s funeral in 1995 and at Edith’s memorial service in 2009.

Which brings me to a word my business adviser has insisted I shun – obituary.

These stories are in many ways advance obits for those of us who probably won’t rate a column or three in a major newspaper, whose lives will be summed up by a funeral director listing survivors.

(At my grandmother’s funeral, I recall, the rent-a-rabbi had to be briefed on who she was.)

Since you are reading this on my blog, and many of you are journalists, I know what you’re thinking: Why would I pay Becker to write about my mother or father, or grandmother or grandfather, since I can do it myself?

First, you’ll probably never get around to it. Also, if you do, I plan to hunt you down for a commission on the idea. There is also the possibility I’d do a better job.

And, while pitching to you, my marketing adviser says I have to figure out who you are, find my key demographic.

Are you millennials who will shell out some dough to learn about their grandparents and have a story to pass on to your kids?

Are you young boomers who want a profile of a parent?

Or old boomers and beyond, like me and my elders, who want to seal their legacy – that word is everywhere these days – in 1,500 words of priceless prose?

In any case, I’m hoping you will see the value of my work and either commission a life story, recommend me to family and friends, or give me some free publicity – spread the word.

Ken Becker, Salesman/Flack

Not going to take this anymore

I have already canceled my subscription to the Washington Post.

The New York Times is next on my hit list.

I stopped watching the news networks right after the doofus FBI director opened his yap and the top story became: There are more Clinton emails. We don’t know what is in them, but we’re going to talk about them for days anyway.

I broke my fast, sort of, on Monday night, with a couple of shows that promised satire to put a bow on the end of the world as we know it.

First, there was Samantha Bee, the Canadian export who has been pinning the tail on the jackass most consistently these past few months.

In her opening monologue was this: “Evidently, a critical mass of Americans find a normal, center-left policy nerd less likable than a vindictive, pussy-grabbing hate-Zamboni who jokes about killing his enemies.”

Q: Why don’t you like Hillary Clinton?

A: I don’t know. I just don’t like her.

Then, I watched a Saturday Night Live roundup of its election skits, introduced by Tom Brokaw, the sage from South Dakota, who said Americans had been assaulted with language that left them wailing, “Oh, my god, did he – did she? – say what I just heard?”

She? What the hell did she say?

Maybe one of Trump’s conspiracy theories is true – the media were plotting all along for the bonanza of having a certifiable lunatic in the White House.

I’d planned to watch election night – I’d gone the distance every time since Kennedy-Nixon.

So, Tuesday, at 8 p.m., I first sample CNN, have my fill of Wolf’s giddy hyperbole in about a minute, switch to MSNBC, chuckle at Brian Williams playing point guard for the junior varsity, and attempt to settle in with Lester Holt & Co. on NBC.

At 8:59 p.m., my daughter Lacey, down the road in Burlington, sends me a text: “Do you think he’ll win?”

“No. But still uneasy. Should have been a joke. It’s not.”

It’s early, but the chips aren’t falling for Clinton. Florida is looking funky again. Chuck Todd and Brokaw on NBC are cracking jokes about Bush v. Gore.

At 10:14 p.m., my daughter Kate phones from Tucson. “I’m nervous,” she says.

“Never underestimate the stupidity of the American people,” I reply.

She passes on my comment, with an uneasy laugh, to the party guests in her house.

“I’m going to watch a movie,” I say.

I switch from the election coverage to Tarantino’s latest indulgence, The Hateful Eight.

Let the bloodbath begin.

When Samuel L. shoots Bruce Dern, my computer flashes Trump wins Florida.

And so it goes.

Kurt Russell projectile vomits blood – Trump takes Ohio.

Channing Tatum gets his head blown off – Trump captures North Carolina.

By the time all the bad hombres are dead or dying, the headline is: Trump on the verge of an upset.

Upset? Who says?

Not exactly Clay over Liston. Villanova over Georgetown.

Did someone forget to poll the dimwits, patsies, incorrigibles, paranoids, nihilists, bigots and apocalypse enthusiasts?

Upset or death wish?

After midnight, it’s clear Trump is going to win.

Why am I laughing?

Anxious to see the future, I retreat to Mad Men on Netflix. Don is sleeping with his daughter’s teacher.

At 1:09 a.m., Kate sends a text: “I cannot believe it!”

I reply: “I’ve already canceled my Washington Post subscription. Will do the same with the New York Times. May block all news channels on my TV. Not kidding. I never want to see that man’s name in print again, see his face again.”

At 2:35 a.m., the AP calls the election – Trump Triumphs flashes on my computer screen.

At 2:40 a.m., Kate texts: “NPR fooled me.”

“They’re the fools.”

Some folks at NPR probably voted for Bernie. Or Adlai Stevenson.

And let’s have a big hand for John Kasich, who wrote in John McCain – Why not Dewey? Or Wendell Willkie? – and all the other Never-Trump fraudsters in the GOP.

On Wednesday, I start the day as I always do, at the computer in my home office.

There’s a text from daughter Jodie, in Toronto, a cartoon of a young angel with a tablet, talking to god. “The system has crashed, even the atheists are praying,” the caption reads.

There are more doomsday cartoons and memes in my email, from my cousin Ylain in Manhattan and Pal Hal in Vancouver.

Last time I talked to Ylain, she told me, “I don’t know anyone voting for Trump.”

Out of habit, I click into the Times, remember all the appalling coverage of the campaign, click out without reading a single story, and realize I’ll have to return to the site to cancel my subscription.

(Just after Trump announced he was running , I warned that the Times and the rest were playing with poison.)

It’s Thursday, and I’ve yet to read a story about the election, watch a second of TV news, see a single clip of Trump in victory or Clinton in defeat.

I return to Season 3 of Mad Men. It’s 1963.

The only black people are maids and elevator operators. The wealthy white people are drinking and smoking and screwing around.

JFK is shot.

Make America great again.

TRUMP TV launches January 19, 2017

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

November 9, 2016

Contact: @TRUMP2020

NEW YORK – Live from the Winter Palace in Palm Beach, Florida, PRESIDENT DONALD J. TRUMP convenes his Government in Exile on January 19, one day ahead of the felonious inauguration of Crooked Hillary Clinton.

The enthronement will highlight the launch of TRUMP TV, a 24/7 cable and satellite channel dedicated to the tens of millions of devoted Members of the Movement (MOMS) to Make America Great Again.

PRESIDENT DONALD J. TRUMP and Vice President Ivanka TRUMP will be joined by his cabinet and First Lady Melania TRUMP at the Winter Palace, formerly known as Mar-a-Lago – which means “sea to shining sea” – for the swearing-in ceremony.

Also attending will be:

  • Secretary of State and Ambassador to Russia Sarah Palin
  • Secretary of Defense Chuck Norris
  • Secretary of the Treasury/TRUMP ORGANIZATION Donald J. TRUMP Jr.
  • Secretary of Commerce/TRUMP ORGANIZATION Eric F. TRUMP
  • Secretary of the Interior (Decorator) Tiffany TRUMP
  • Secretary of Transportation and Ambassador to the Court of St. James Barron W. TRUMP
  • Attorney General and Secretary of Rage Rudolph Giuliani
  • Secretary of Agriculture and Fast Food Chris Christie
  • Secretary of Labor Joe “The Plumber” Wurzelbacher
  • Secretary of Health Dr. Mehmet Oz
  • Secretary of Education Jerry Falwell Jr.
  • Secretary of Energy Don King
  • Secretary of Veterans Affairs Mike Ditka
  • Secretary of Homeland Security Clint Eastwood

“This is the most diverse cabinet in history,” the PRESIDENT-IN-EXILE-IN-WAITING DONALD J. TRUMP said Wednesday. “You have the woman, the black, the brown.”

The investiture broadcast, from the Grand Ballroom of the Winter Palace, will be followed by a televised cabinet meeting and a round of golf at the fabulous TRUMP International club in West Palm Beach.

The eight-hour special, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. EST, will be a preview of the classy shows that will be the hallmark of TRUMP TV.

The 9 to 5 timeslot will thereafter be hosted by a rotating cast of A-list stars delivering the real news from such world capitals as TRUMP Tower in New York, TRUMP International Hotel in Washington, TRUMP International Hotel and Tower in Chicago, TRUMP International in Las Vegas, and TRUMP Doral in Miami.

From 5 p.m. to 6 p.m. on weekdays, PRESIDENT DONALD J. TRUMP will host I Called It, a wrapup of the day’s breaking news previously predicted by PRESIDENT DONALD J. TRUMP.

The rest of the TRUMP TV schedule:

6 – 7 p.m. – The Palin-Hannity News Hour: Straight talk on political disasters in Washington from Sean Hannity and the unfiltered worldview from Alaska from Sarah Palin, the Secretary of State and Ambassador to Moscow.

7 – 8 p.m. – Fire Away, with Wayne LaPierre: The executive director of the National Rifle Association (NRA) answers callers’ questions about protecting yourself, your loved ones and the Second Amendment, and how to form an armed militia in your community.

8 – 9 p.m. – Hunting Radical Islamic Terrorists with Rudy Giuliani: America’s Mayor and a brigade of militiamen crisscross the county, stopping and frisking suspected Muslims.

9 – 10 p.m. – Hunting Aliens with Sheriff Joe: Watch the famous Arizona lawman Joe Arpaio and his deputies accost suspected Mexicans and check their papers.

10 – 11 p.m. – Hunting Bad Hombres: Ann Coulter and other MOMS scour alien sanctuaries from East Harlem to East L.A.

11 – 12 p.m. – Border Wars: Armed militiamen patrol the Mexican border. See TRUMP TV’s Virtual Wall with Exclusive Border Cams from California to Texas.

12 p.m. – 1 a.m. – Hunting Big Game: Eric and Don Jr. shoot lions and tigers and bears around the world.

1 a.m. – 2 a.m. –Runway Confidential: PRESIDENT DONALD J. TRUMP hosts a behind the scenes look at TRUMP Model Management. Adult content.

2 a.m. – 3 a.m. – Who Wants to Be a Billionaire: Real estate seminars with disciples of the boss, PRESIDENT DONALD J. TRUMP.

3 a.m. – 5 a.m. – Real Time with PRESIDENT DONALD J. TRUMP: Get your phones and tablets ready as you watch PRESIDENT DONALD J. TRUMP tweet live.

5 a.m. – 6 a.m. – Unclassified with Julian Assange: A daily look into the crookedness of the Clinton White House with the WikiLeaks whistleblower.

6 a.m. – 6:30 a.m. – Preparing for the Apocalypse with A-list preachers and prophets.

6:30 a.m. – 7 a.m. – Wake up with Ivanka and Melania: The Vice President and the First Lady lead you in morning exercises.

7 a.m. – 9 a.m. – Thank you, Mr. President – Get your day started and your credit cards ready at a one-stop shop for TRUMP hotels, resorts, golf courses, signature clothing, accessories, home furnishings, fragrances, books and much, much more.

Weekend programming will include:

  • Morning Prayer: Un-separating Church and State with Secretary of Education Jerry Falwell Jr.
  • Dining Out with Chris Christie: The Secretary of Agriculture and Fast Food follows the feast from farm to fryer.
  • Miracle Cures with Secretary of Health Dr. Oz.
  • The Case for Concussions with Secretary of Veterans Affairs Iron Mike Ditka.
  • Back Alley Bare-Knuckle Boxing hosted by Secretary of Energy Don King.
  • Martial Arts for the Criminally Insane hosted by Secretary of Defense Chuck Norris.
  • Dirty Harry Film Festival hosted by Homeland Security Secretary Clint Eastwood.

***

TRUMP Productions is now hiring for TRUMP TV at all levels of management and production.

Employees are required to volunteer for service to the upcoming launch of the TRUMP PARTY and the TRUMP 2020 campaign.

A lifetime confidentiality agreement will be signed and a legally binding loyalty oath taken on the date of employment.

Ode to a pastrami on rye

I’ve been thinking about pastrami since I read recently that the Carnegie Deli is closing.

I have history with pastrami and the Carnegie.

I grew up in a New York where every Jewish neighborhood had at least one deli, when the words deli and takeout were synonymous. Now, there are reportedly fewer than 20 in the five boroughs.

In my New York, as in Herb Gardner’s wonderful 1962 play A Thousand Clowns, delis provide sustenance to the soul of the city.

“Irving R. Feldman’s birthday is my own personal national holiday,” declares Murray Burns, the play’s free-spirited protagonist. “He is proprietor of perhaps the most distinguished kosher delicatessen in this neighborhood and as such I hold the day of his birth in reverence.”

And no food says New York like pastrami. Not a Coney Island hotdog. Not a folded slice of greasy pizza. Not a New York steak, which isn’t called a New York steak in New York.

Pastrami is the fatty flavor king of the Jewish deli. Corned beef? A timid cousin. Brisket? Wishy-washy. Tongue? Feh!

It’s a pastrami sandwich George Costanza turns to when he discovers the orgasmic qualities of mixing food with sex and finds a woman to complement his appetite when she purrs: “I find the pastrami to be the most sensual of all the salted, cured meats.”

Milton Berle spoke for all of us when he said: “Anytime a person goes into a delicatessen and orders a pastrami on white bread, somewhere a Jew dies.”

That joke required no further commentary when Woody Allen had Annie Hall order “a pastrami on white with mayonnaise, lettuce and tomato.”

Given opportunity and mentoring, newcomers to the city can become associate members of the tribe, enthusiasts of the pleasures of pastrami.

Russell Baker, originally from tiny village in the mountains of Virginia, seemed to stamp his New York passport with pastrami references in countless Observer columns in the New York Times.

In one:

“That racket on the roof is too much,” said Mitgang, a connoisseur of Times Square pastrami houses who is not accustomed to the sweet country sound of rain on a tin roof.

In another:

“Why don’t we, just once, order the salami and eggs?” asked Mitgang after five consecutive days of pastrami on rye.

About ten blocks from the old Times Building was the Stage Deli. Opened in 1937, it was known for drawing celebrities.

And, sure enough, when I went there for the first time, when I was a copyboy at the Times in the mid-1960s, I was seated next to Tom Poston, the deadpan comedian from The Steve Allen Show.

The Stage named sandwiches after its famous patrons. When I returned many years later, all its 24 triple-deckers carried a nametag – from Alec Baldwin (brisket, corned beef and Swiss cheese) to Julia Roberts (chicken salad, hard-boiled egg, lettuce and tomato) to Barbra Streisand (pastrami, turkey, roast beef and Swiss cheese).

The Bill Cosby included tongue.

The Stage started going downhill in the ’70s, when it became known as a hangout for gangsters.

After that, the Carnegie, a block north on Seventh Avenue, was top banana in Midtown.

My first taste of the Carnegie came on a pilgrimage to my hometown shortly after 9/11. After the long drive from southern Ontario with my wife and daughters, it was comfort food – pastrami, corned beef, rye bread, knishes, pickles and deli mustard.

A couple of years later, doing a story for the travel pages of the National Post, I sat down for lunch with Sandy Levine, the Carnegie’s bald, beefy proprietor.

At noontime on a winter weekday, the restaurant was packed, all 160 seats occupied with chazzers chomping on the Carnegie’s trademark overstuffed sandwiches – a full pound of meat between slices of thin rye bread.

“Betcha I’m the only one in here from New York,” Sandy confided at our table in the middle of the small dining area – I held my tongue – then set out to prove his point.

He turned to a young couple at a table over his right shoulder: “Where you from?”

“New Orleans,” they said.

He hollered to another couple: “Where you from?”

“Michigan.”

People started shouting – “Texas” … “North Carolina” … “San Francisco.”

The demonstration appeared to support the idea of the Carnegie as a tourist trap, where rubes forked over big bucks – $13 then, $20 now – for a grotesque sandwich.

“The somewhat catty truth about the Carnegie Deli is that it is one of those New York destinations that actual New Yorkers visit once or twice and then frequently decide they have had enough of,” the Times wrote in its story that the restaurant is closing Dec. 31.

It also slipped in the line that the Carnegie “has been putting out cardiologically perilous fare since 1937,” piling on decades of heartburn and heart-attack jokes leveled at the city’s Jewish delis.

With the Stage having shuttered in 2012, Midtown will be a deli wasteland, pastrami out of fashion, gone in a world of takeout sushi and Szechuan.

I knew it was coming. As I wrote in my novel:

I picked up pastrami, rye bread, knishes, pickles and a cheesecake at the Carnegie Deli on my way back to Park Avenue. “When you said you’d take care of dinner, I thought you meant you’d take me out to a nice restaurant,” Jeannie said as I unpacked the food in the kitchen. “I haven’t eaten this stuff in … I don’t know how long.”

“It’s good for you.”

“I hope you packed your Nexium.”

USA conquers NATO allies

I viewed the Ryder Cup this weekend through the lens of Trump’s America.

Twenty-four rich white men playing golf on a private course.

No Muslims, no Mexicans, no blacks.

Thousands chanting U-S-A! U-S-A! U-S-A! Cheering the misfortunes of the foreigners. Heckling the losers.

The result: America first, NATO allies last.

Patrick Reed, a chubby Texan who flaunted his fine play like a crazed Sasquatch, led the Americans over the Europeans throughout the three days at Hazeltine National Golf Club outside Minneapolis.

“A hero for our country,” declared teammate Jordan Spieth.

“Hopefully, we made every American proud,” said Phil Mickelson.

This American, from his refuge north of the border, watched the proceedings on NBC.

Some observations:

  • The cancelation of the biennial event in September 2001, right after 9/11, bumped the Ryder Cup into even-numbered years. Thus, a golf competition hyped as a clash between Old World and New World cultures, is played at a U.S. venue at the height of election fervor every four years.
  • The Americans are the red team. Republican red. Red states. Better red than dead.
  • The Euros are the blue team. Blue EU flag. Seven of its 12 players are Brits. What happens when Britain Brexits?
  • During commercial breaks, there are a couple of Trump ads, none for Clinton. What does that say about the perceived audience?
  • Then again, there’s also a Jeep commercial, with Cat Stevens singing, “If you want to sing out, sing out, and if you want to be free, be free …” It concluded with the message: “What unites us is stronger than what divides us,” a minor twist on the Clinton campaign slogan Stronger Together.
  • NBC announcer Dan Hicks informs us the next Ryder Cup will be in “Paris, France.” Thanks for the clarification, Dan. I thought it was in Paris, Tennessee, home of the world’s biggest fish fry and a replica Eiffel Tower.
  • His partner, Johnny Miller, exhibits a firmer grasp of geography after a Sergio Garcia putt circles the cup and fails to drop – “that went around Spain and ended up in Portugal.”
  • Ads on a grandstand at Hazeltine are for Omega, Mercedes and Samsung. U-S-A! U-S-A! U-S-A!
  • A TV commercial for Mercedes, the Third Reich’s preferred carmaker, features the soundtrack of Hatikva, the Israeli national anthem.
  • Hicks refers to young Euro star Thomas Pieters as “the Belgian bomber.” Inspired by ISIS?
  • NBC announcer Mark Rolfing says, “I would think Europe has to make some kind of a statement.” Deutschland uber alles? Liberté, égalité, fraternité? The rain in Spain falls mainly on the plain?
  • The loudmouths in the galleries must be graduates of the Jesse Ventura School of Boorishness, betraying the term “Minnesota nice.”
  • The German and Scandinavian roots of many Minnesotans do not translate into fans cheering for Dusseldorf’s Martin Kaymer or Swede Henrik Stenson. Assimilation conquers multiculturalism. U-S-A! U-S-A! U-S-A!
  • At the closing ceremony, a U.S. military color guard lowers the EU flag while a military band plays Beethoven’s Ode to Joy.
  • I thought the European national anthem was Ole, Ole, Ole, Ole … Ole, Ole.

Josh Klukie: Warrior

The picture above is from Graeme Smith, who supplied this caption: “Here’s a photo I took of Klukie in September 2006, during Operation Medusa. He was a good guy.”

In my last piece, on Josh’s life and death, I included a couple of quotes and a nice passage from Smith’s Oct. 2, 2006 story in the Globe and Mail.

I sent Graeme an email, with a link to my blog. Besides the photo, he replied with a kind note and told me he is still in Afghanistan, doing political analysis for the United Nations in Kabul.