Saturday, July 5, 2014

Why I Ride - 2014 American Cancer Society Bikeathon

Through my lifetime, I have seen too many friends, relatives, colleagues suffer and die, too young, from cancer.

It's a horrible thing to watch someone go through this - the initial diagnosis, the aggressive treatments, cautious optimism, remissions sometimes, wishful thinking, desperate attempts to extend the patient's life, then the realization that, in spite of everything, they are now in an end-of-life situation, a life ending too soon. Seeing the anguish on a person's face as they are telling me their story kills me, being unable to do or say anything to help. 

The good news is, a cancer diagnosis is not necessarily the death sentence it used to be, but we have a long way to go. 

For this reason, every year I get on my bicycle and ride 66 miles 90 degree heat in the Philadelphia Bike-a-thon to help raise money for the American Cancer Society. I have consistently raised over $1,000 for the past three years and have hit that mark again this year, $1,095 to date. I knew I could count on my friends and family to support my ride and help me fight this disease. 
No family should suffer the anguish of losing their mothers, fathers, and other loved ones to cancer.  Not one more.

The ride is Sunday, July 13, 2014. If you'd like to help out, you can click on THIS LINK to get to my fundraising page.

Thank you to all who have contributed so far.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Jackie Robinson's Autograph - Not For Sale

This story originally appeared in 2009 on CNN iReport, in response to the question, would you sell any of your prized possessions to pick up some extra cash in this bad economy. I have since been banned for life from posting on CNN because I complained about death threats from right-wing commenters. 

The years 1956 and 1957 were a one-two punch for my poor mother - in December 1956, she gave birth to me, and in October 1957, her beloved Brooklyn Dodgers announced they were moving to the West Coast. A bit too much trauma for one person to have to endure over one ten-month period!

The Dodgers' move to L.A. was one of those events, like the Depression and World War 2, that the adults in our house talked about so much I sometimes thought I actually remembered it. Mom was a rabid Dodgers fan, and refused, until her last day on earth, to watch any baseball, as long as the Dodgers were not in Brooklyn.

One of her prized possessions is an official Ford Frick National League baseball, autographed by the Brooklyn Dodgers. I am not sure of the exact year (1954/55?), but I know Mom got the ball thanks to an acquaintance of my grandfather, a sportswriter for the local paper picked it up at spring training.

The ball has the autographs of many Hall-of-Famers, giants and legends of the Brooklyn Bums, including:

- Gil Hodges, who went on to manage the 1969 Miracle Mets to World Series victory, and, in one of the most egregious miscarriages of justice in sports history, is not in the Hall of Fame.

- Pee Wee Reese, whose iconic gesture, putting his arm around teammate Jackie Robinson's shoulder, silenced a hostile crowd in Cincinnati.
(UPDATE: It is unclear as to whether or not this actually happened. Rachel Robinson, Jackie Robinson's widow, says it did not happen. But Pee Wee was still an iconic Dodger)

- Slugger Duke Snider, the "Duke of Flatbush".

- Roy Campanella, who was tragically paralyzed in an auto accident in 1958.

And of course, Jack Roosevelt Robinson, the first African American to play in the major leagues, and whose number, 42, is retired forever.

Jackie Robinson! This guy used to steal home! Who does that today?

The autographs are starting to fade. The ball belongs to my family, and I am currently the custodian, keeping it in the dark in an undisclosed location, taking it out occasionally to show anyone who may want to see it.

I'm not sure what this ball is worth in the sports memorabilia market, but I'm not selling it.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

My Long and Winding Life as a Beatles Fan

I’ve been a Beatles fan since February 1964, when they first came to the United States. I was in the second grade, sick with the measles, and spent about a week in bed with my transistor radio, listening to this band who sounded like no one else, and who the adults hated because they had long hair.
My first record was the 45 of Do You Want To Know A Secret?.  A “record”, by the way, was a black, flat, round plastic thing that you put on a machine, called a turntable, that made the record spin. You put an arm with a needle on the record, and somehow, music came out. (I still don’t understand how that works.) My iPod is now packed with Beatles music.
I remember watching the Beatles in A Hard Days Night and Help, and wanting to be them. Then, watching Let It Be, and wondering what was going on. I remember sitting in church, getting yelled at by a priest because John Lennon had said something about the Beatles being more popular than Jesus. I didn’t understand what the fuss was about.
I always wanted to some day go to the Abbey Road crosswalk, known in the UK as the “zebra crossing”, and get my picture taken walking in the same spot as the iconic album cover.
My forty four (now fifty) years of Beatles fandom hit a high point in August 2008, when I was in London on business. At the end of the week, I met my friend Paul, who lives in England, for dinner in London. He asked me “Did you get to Abbey Road?”. I said no, I didn’t have time. He said, “Let’s go now”. So we started up the street and followed the signs to St John’s Wood. By pure dumb luck, we stumbled on Abbey Road and the zebra crossing. We then attempted to take pictures of each other crossing the road. The photos are less-than-great because a.) it was 10:00 at night and b.) we had to wait for breaks in the traffic and duck the oncoming cars.
After taking the pictures, we walked over to the Abbey Road Studio, where much of the Beatles music was recorded. We stood outside the gates and gawked at the building for a few moments, trying to fathom that this was The Place, and we had found it.
Pilgrimage Accomplished. 
One of these days I will get back to London and take some photos in the daylight.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Some Reasons To Like January

As much as I hate winter and cold weather, I still like January. 

  • The end of the "Holiday Season". Hey, I like Christmas as much as anybody, but after having it shoved down my throat from mid-October on, I'm over it by December 26, and ready to stick a fork in it by January 1.
  • The NFL playoffs
  • New Years Day is a great day to just sit around doing nothing, or do something you like, if you're lucky enough to have the day off. Not sure what 'm going to do today. Probably take the ornaments off the tree.
  • The NFL playoffs
  • The new year gives us a sense of a clean slate, time to think of new things to do (or old things to stop doing). Don't torture yourself with New Years resolutions. Just take a mental inventory and re-group.

Did I mention the NFL playoffs? The Eagles are in but not the Jets this year, but I always enjoy the games no matter who is playing.