Archive for February, 2008



Bad Craziness

Four years ago, my son presented me with a longboard skateboard. A fully social-security-qualified senior citizen, I took up an activity better suited to pre-adolescents. Below is my progress in skating toward something like wisdom.

Longboarding Log:
2004 49 hours – 3 catastrophic falls
2005 23 hours – 2 horrendous spills (one included significant bloodshed)
2006 4 hours
2007 2 hours
2008 ?
With apologies to Eliot: I grow old., I grow old. I shall wear the bottoms of my cargo pocket camo shorts rolled.

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Schweik Laces Em’ Up

Just a few years ago, during a televised Penguins/Flyers game, I watched Jaromir Jagr and Martin Straka weave their way into the Philadelphia zone. Without really knowing why, I reached for my Hockey News Annual and started counting the number of NHL players originating in what had been Czechoslovakia. That country, an unhappy marriage of Czechs and Slovaks, split in 1993 into the separate Czech Republic and an independent Slovakia. In totaling up the number of Czech and Slovak players on NHL teams that particular season, I concluded that I had discovered a sports anomaly that dwarves the oft-noted over-representation of Samoans in the NFL.

There were over sixty Czechoslovak Players in the NHL, almost ten percent of that year’s approximate total number of players in the league. So what’s the big deal in that, you might ask. It’s not like the number of non-graduating NCAA basketball stars, but consider this. The population of just two U.S. states, New York and New Jersey, tops the twenty million mark, and at the time I did my counting, the only players in the NHL from those two states were Jim Dowd of the Devils and the Rangers’ Mike Richter. How then could little Czechoslovakia, with a total population of just fifteen million, come to account for almost one-tenth of the players in the NHL? Huh? It’s almost as likely as say, forty-five percent of American dentists coming from Dubuque Iowa, or two-thirds of all NFL linebackers having graduated from Haverford College. Continue reading ‘Schweik Laces Em’ Up’

The Tour Boat Diaries (with apologies to Che)

On the east coast of South Florida, stretches of interstate-95 are six-lanes wide in each direction, and it’s barely enough.

What a strange place. Packed into a strip of land and water between the Atlantic Ocean and what remains of the Everglades, South Florida is, according to native son, Carl Hiaasen, a great place to see “everything that’s wrong with America.”

Driving along A1A, between the Intracoastal Waterway and the ocean, should have prepared us for what we were to see later on a boat ride in Fort Lauderdale’s New River. Lining AIA for most of the length of South Florida are thousands and thousands of condo units, low-rise and high-rise with prices that start well above the half-million dollar mark. The single-family palaces along the ocean are priced in multiples of that. You find yourself wondering, “where does all the money come from?” Top-end cars, Mercedes, Jags, even Bentleys, are as common as dogshit. But A1A was nothing compared to what we would see on our tour boat ride. Continue reading ‘The Tour Boat Diaries (with apologies to Che)’

All The News From Deerfield Beach, Florida

We’re home after four nights in Deerfield Beach, just north of Fort Lauderdale. There were sunny days with afternoon highs in the eighties, complimentary full-breakfasts and happy-hours, and wall-to-wall senior seniors, some of them near, and at, the doddering stage. Lots of walkers and a few wheelchairs poolside, even a sprinkling of personal traveling health assistants. But there were also hordes of serious morning walkers and joggers along the sea-side, many in outfits that would leave the fashion conscious gasping. The coded rap on vacationing along South Florida’s east coast is that it’s “too New Yorky,” read that as “too Jewish.” We found the vibe just right. Our particular favorites were the two wonderful old souls, ladies of a certain age, certainly eighty-five or more, who did a daily early afternoon promenade around the premises. It probably took them all morning just to suit up. Both would appear, slowly, almost gliding, in their progress past the poolside loungers, decked out each day in a new and dazzling selection of upscale resort-wear including large, dramatic straw hats. Their shining, dentured smiles were surrounded by facial parts that had had the kind of work more commonly associated with the restoration of classic cars. They probably had a combined age over one-hundred and sixty, but their fixed smiles were almost beatific. I know we will never come close to matching them in their glorious and inspiring chutzpah, a bravery conceding nothing at all to the awful reality of the process.