These past few weeks have had more than their share of what we can only call atrocities. You know an extremely cruel or evil act to be perpetrated. This crowd called ISIS seems to have them down pat. But they are not alone. Every manner of being has strayed across the line throughout history. It’s just our sensitivities tend to get piqued by the people or countries involved or to a large degree how much publicity it gets.

We had a story here in Denver of a woman’s live in boyfriend who threw a four month old infant against a wall because it was crying too much. Does that qualify? Or how about a drunk driver who goes down the interstate in the wrong direction and kills a family of four. How am I doing? Two trucks hit a motorcyclist at two in the morning, stopped to see if he was alive and then took off probably after knowing he would not survive. These are real life in our fair city and occurring everywhere else throughout the land of the free and the home of the brave.

I remember in Viet Nam when a Vietnamese naval vessel was blown up by sappers just upriver of us. Nine people were killed and the place we called home was the closest receptacle for the body bags to wait for transport. They sat there on the dock for three days in the blazing sun of the U Minh Forest. I recoiled at the smell and the fact that life meant so little to these people. Fast forward forty some odd years and I can’t help but believe things haven’t really progressed and the opposite might be the case.

This has been a tough week. I have run into every sort of negative thought and vitriol from all sorts of people. Maybe I am a magnet or caused it ? I hope not. So much centered around Ferguson. One fellow almost screamed the statistics of black crime into the phone. I told him I got it but he just wanted to pursue the evidence. I asked him a simple question. If you stopped and frisked every white person on a Saturday night or better yet pulled over every white person driving at that hour, how many arrests for drugs, DUI and even weapons would occur? What an absurd question TTG !

There is no question black neighborhoods are a seed bed of illegal activity. I really tried to imagine what it must be like to live there. No so easy. As a kid of five your first memories are of a drug deal, a shooting or a run down apartment and a mother who has two jobs or does crack. There is no male in the house or if there is it is because your mother is easy. You see the teenagers being rousted and the pimps and dealers making money the old fashioned way ….preying on people’s weaknesses. This is in every aspect a culture.

As you grow older you realize you are marked by those inherited flaws and a thing called skin color. The degradation you feel most days is humiliating. Sometimes this borders on paranoia. Everybody thinks you are piece of crap and you start to believe it. They say you need to pick yourself up and get out of this. You say if I am a male I better get a gun or join a gang. There is nothing more empowering than a weapon. You now have your way with women but stability is something you have never known. Love ’em and leave ’em just like they did to you.

I thought about the politicians promising everything and delivering nothing. I thought about neighborhoods being gentrified and then no longer affordable. The building boom comes and the poor are just collateral damage. You just run out of places to go. The bullshit keeps piling up and the resentment in your heart is dark. The things go kaboom and then true lawlessness takes place. The truly sad part is there are good people there. As in any place it is the few that make the good look bad. But nobody wants to look for the bright side. We just want to paint with wide strokes. You get the job done quicker that way.

I in no way condone a big black thug stealing a box of cigars and intimidating a poor owner. I also can’t abide by a cop unloading his revolver into even a six foot eighteen year old. One or two shots maybe. Seven, eight? I’ve got a problem. Bungling of stories and evidence? No excuse. A true crisis of management and leadership. The silence of the black leadership on things like family and illegitimacy is deafening. The system my friends on both sides of the fence( and there are definitely two sides) is really screwed up.

The upstart of all of this has been a notable lack of leadership by anyone. The elite can be smug and say the Democrats should take ownership of their constituency. We have a black president. Let him deal with it. Sharpton and Jackson can rabble rouse that the one percent or cops caused all this. Boehner, Reid, Pelosi, McCain? Haven’t heard bupkis. What was I thinking? Just like everything else in our Pandora’s box just wait until after the elections when there is not so much at stake.

We were all outraged at the gruesome beheading of James Foley. That was an atrocity. Boko Haram, Al Quaeda, Assad all can be described as evil. But I will hold out to you that right here in the US of A we have more than our share of problems not only in the ghettos of urban America but in the homes down the street. Bullying, verbal and physical intimidation, hatred of our fellow man and benign indifference happen in all walks of life. I hope that we have not become so soulless that we can’t see it and much worse not want to do anything about it.

As always

Ted The Great


In psychoanalysis, Sigmund Freud defined hate as an ego state that wishes to destroy the source of its unhappiness.More recently, the Penguin Dictionary of Psychology defines hate as a “deep, enduring, intense emotion expressing animosity, anger, and hostility towards a person, group, or object.”Because hatred is believed to be long-lasting, many psychologists consider it to be more of an attitude or disposition than a temporary emotional state. Wow!

Residential segregation is the physical separation of two or more groups into different neighborhoods, or a form of segregation that “sorts population groups into various neighborhood contexts and shapes the living environment at the neighborhood level.” This is an incredible dynamic in the effort to end poverty especially among blacks. Right side and wrong sides of the tracks.

Atrocities can be against people, the environment or religions. The Khmer Rouge in Cambodia during the early 70’s. Today people slaughter rhinos for their horns. The Crusades can be considered an atrocity. Obviously the Holocaust during World War II but others consider the Irish Potato Famine of 1845 and subsequent actions by the British to be right up there. Man’s ability to be so bereft of morals is quite amazing.

Fade To Black…..

You see it hundreds of times a day even if you only watch a scant amount of TV. It signals a transition from the guts of the program to the dreaded commercial. The screen goes black if only for a nanosecond. When you use a VCR and fast forward the ads it is your cue to hit PLAY again. Or if you are an old fart like me you watch it fly by and have to hit rewind. Such is life.

I got to thinking about our world and all that is happening and has happened over the last few years. As a culture we have the unique ability to fade to black on a lot of things. Remember the Arab Spring? A distant thought. Columbine? Sandy Hook? Aurora? We moved right on. How about Boko Haram? When was the last time 200 kidnapped school girls came to mind? There have been two crashes of Manila Airlines jet with over 500 people gone. We have dismissed the picture of rotting bodies in the fields of some God forsaken place called Ukraine. We have more important things to do.

And now we have a thing called Ferguson. There is anger, bitterness and a strife we can only imagine. We will watch the scene play out on TV for the next few days and then move to the next because after all a story has to have legs. I don’t say this with disdain or guilt. How we handle these things in a study in human nature and our own psyches.

You can take any life changing episode. Do I dwell on it or do I just move on? Now I can say I must get on with my life. There is nothing I can do about it. It’s history. I’ll hang on long enough to get the gist. Pay your respects and go out to dinner afterwards. I can’t figure out if I am resilient or just terribly uncaring?

There is one story I wish we would not fade to black on and that is the death of Robin Williams. I remember him as Adrian Kronauer in Good Morning Viet Nam. He was both whacky and poignant. His rendition of a traffic jam over the Ho Chi Minh Trail was a classic. He knew how to poke fun at the brass. He was irreverent. He was nuts. Wonder why in some strange way I feel a kindred spirit?

More importantly he put a very recognizable face on a thing called depression. Some have said he took the easy way out. If you know anything about suicide you know differently. He fought his addictions and his demons constantly. Not for weeks or months but for decades. All the while putting on a happy face. Just remember suicide is a not a quick exit. It is the acquiescence of some poor devil who has said I just can’t fight it any more.

You know I don’t like Hollywood types with all their self absorption. This guy was different. He was an everyman. If you ran into him on the street he would talk. If you needed help in anything he was there. People just reveled in his madness and to that point he was scary. Part of us wanted to be just like him. To be zany and outrageous and sat f__k it all. He played by a different set of rules and we all wish we could find the book.

It did make me think about the lifestyle. Kathy and I went to a concert with Santana and Rod Stewart. Usually when you go to a revival of sorts they are a letdown but this one was great. I watched Santana who has been doing doing this for a long time. How many stages and towns has he been to? How many times did he have to get up for a performance only to have to come down to get some sleep? His choice. His problem. He has made a lot of money doing it. But then again at what price? It’s a crazy world.

We live in a “what have you done for me lately” world. Fame and fortune are short and bittersweet. We fade to black a lot. We get caught in this vortex of life and just don’t know how to hit pause and smell the roses. We really don’t understand what life is like on the other side of the fence. We are somewhat of a hit and run society. We have to have bigger, better, faster without looking at the collateral damage. I guess that is progress but will we ever be happy?

Black is a color of many hues. I don’t particularly care for it but my daughter loves it. Ansel Adams found it very rewarding. So did Johnnie Cash and Gary Player. It is what you make it. Black can signal finality or even silence. If I fade to something I hope it is a bright green or red or at worst grey. Find your own remote control and set it any way you like. So much for this and now back to our story…life as we know it. and it is damn good.
As Always
Ted The Great

Sherwin Williams lists 137 shades of black. The Stones of course said “Paint It Black”.

One of black’s definitions list as “very dark, an absence of light.” Hmmm. Black humor is grim or distorted. Sinister and evil come right in there.

During Apartheid in South Africa you were subjected to a pencil test. If you hair was so frizzy that you could stick a pencil in it then you were black.

In 2011 there were 39,518 suicides and untold number of attempts. one ever 13 minutes. Men are more successful than women. The highest age brackets are 45-64 (18.6%) and 85+ (16.9) I am only 69.

By my calculation Santana has performed in concert at least 5,000 times.

Simple Things…..

I could write about the many crises we have in the world this week but for the moment I am putting off fixing the world’s problems for another day. Dropped the gang off at the airport. Next stop London. Man it is quiet around here. Thinking of Paris, Rome and all things Continental. One of our favorite things to do when we cross the pond is walk everywhere. The hell with the map. Guys never ask directions. You can get lost but still find wonderful things.

I love alleys and doorways. It can be the Rue de Whatever or a cobblestoned byway in Assisi or San Francisco. You peer down them and see dumpsters but also hidden troves. Perhaps a garage door with just so many layers of ebony paint and brass hardware shined with pride. I wonder if a Bentley or Jetta lays just beyond the wall ready to hit the road or maybe just a fast trip to the boulangerie?

The real fun begins when there is a courtyard ringed by a story or two. It sets the stage for what lies beyond. Rich man. Poor man. Doesn’t matter. It’s the beginning of a wonderful relationship. A man’s home is his castle and this is the moat. If I give you entry then I am opening my world to you. Should I take a chance and knock? Just some idiot Americano saying “Howdie”. The rap on the door is unanswered. Probably thinks I am selling bibles or encyclopedias. Do they do that anymore?

That door is a true window into the owners heart. Is is bright red or dark green? Is there a heavy wrought iron grill work that says keep out or can you peek through the storm door that is clear glass? Is it cold with aluminum and silica or warm with the earth tones of oak or alder? There is a picture in our hallway here with Number 10 Downing Street displayed. It is bright yellow and flanked by all manner of flora. What a pleasant break from governmental BS. It almost says “We are home and at your service.” What a novel concept.

I am not crazy about doors in condos. They all look the same. Hallways seem barren and boring. Many years ago when we lived in Stuyvestantown in NYC I remember walking by 7A and picturing some little old lady in her housecoat preening her cat and watching the Soaps, all the while worrying about some sort of intruder. She would probably run down to get the mail or a quick run to Dagostino’s. Then back inside before she has to interact. Triple and quadruple bolt the door. This is living?

Actually I have a thing about locked doors. Growing up in a large colonial there was at least four or five ways you could break and enter. That’s okay, with four boys they were never locked. Have kept that same philosophy even on the mean streets of wherever. We don’t have much we consider to be of value so if you need it that bad, have at it. Just don’t mess up my new paint job. Several years ago in Vail we had a lovely home on a hill. We were going to Hawaii for our 25th wedding anniversary. Had to call a locksmith because we couldn’t find a key to secure the establishment. Such is life.

Maybe I will just walk the streets and try to figure out this or that person’s idea of heaven. The windows always go a long way to figuring out who is inside. Fenestration is an art form….both inside and out. At our new digs we have floor to ceiling chunks of open space and we love them. At our old 1895 house the original sashes were humongous. Took a team of two or three to open them. Kathy loves to turn on lamps and unfettered they shone both inside and out. A passerby noted one time that they loved what we had done with the interior of the house. We thanked them and then took note of the fact that we had never had them inside. But then again maybe we had.

I respect people’ s privacy but I don’t know why heavy drapes are the rage. In the winter time maybe. In the spring and summer let it rip. Now sheer curtains and opaque shades can play a game. Sort of half and half. I’ll give you a little peek but not open the kimono all the way so to speak. Wait! Did I just say that? Just my sleaze ball self sneaking out every now and then. Gotta have a little fun, eh?

Now some of you are thinking, “Where the hell is bright boy going with all of this?” The answer is simple. Nowhere! I have ascribed this time to Random Acts of Writing. Reverie is one of my favorite pastimes. I know some of you are so incredibly busy or important that you don’t have time to do this. Others are so wrought up with problems and strife that flights of fancy are impossible to conceive. You have no idea how sorry I feel for you.

You can walk anywhere to find alleys, doorways and windows. You don’t need an transoceanic airplane. You can take a bus. They are right out there in front of your nose. You can’t see them if you fly by at 25 or 90. Texting and phone work dull the senses and prevent any sort of perception. You have to look to see. I just finished the morning papers before tickling the keyboard. Consider this my therapy. I hope it is for you in a way. On a day where a wonderfully creative and generous comic decided to end his life maybe that is the canary in the coal mine for our all too complicated way of life. Simple things are simply the best. Enjoy them.

As Always

Ted The Great


Alley is a great word. we have “Tin Pan Alley” One account claims that it was a derogatory reference to the sound of many pianos resembling the banging of tin pans. Another version claims the name stemmed from the way that songwriters modified their pianos so that they had a more percussive sound. After many years, the term came to refer to the U.S. music industry in general

Alley Oop was a comic strip for many years and probably still exists. It was about a caveman in a time warp.There was also a song “Alley Oop” which some of us remember by the world acclaimed Hollywood Argyles. The phrase is some sort of usage of “Allez” and “Hop” which was used by French trapeze artists and gymnasts and translates to Let’s Go.

We also have the Alley Oop pass in basketball which started as the center streaking down the court trying to make the best of a bad pass.

We have the Alley Cat which is an absurd dance done at weddings that I cannot stand probably because after one or two steps I am totally lost and feel like an idiot on the dance floor.

I was going to do some work on researching Kirstie Alley but I decided not to go there.

These factoids are about as whacko as this week’s blog. Hope you had fun.

I’m Conflicted…..

I was just driving to pick up my grandsons for their bon voyage before moving to London on Monday next. I am getting in practice speaking the King’s English. As I listened to the initial progress of the cease fire I heard first from Hamas and then from an Israeli as to what they thought of each other. Oy vey! Hamas said the Jews chopped up Christians to make matzoh ball soup. The Israeli mentioned the word terrorist three times in one sentence and he wasn’t referring to his mother in law. This can’t turn out well.

Without trying to solve the quagmire at hand I did try to take it up to 30,000 feet and just look at the whole concept of conflict. Obviously there has to be two parties at work with differing viewpoints on how the world or a company or a family should be run. Each side believes very strongly in his or her point of view. This could be a simple rivalry, unintended collision, tug of war or downright strife….as in very bitter.

Now anger is the result of the very bitter and is a truly visceral reaction. In a full blown cook off as your fight or flight kicks in big time. You are pissed and this change can be noted by the veins popping out of your forehead, something that resembles a gag reflex and then you are forced to put your tongue in motion far ahead of any rational thought. I have always felt it is better both physically and psychologically not to leave anything in the bag. I shake, methodically point a finger at nothing in particular and then can’t believe that everyone does not see my point. In a biblical sense I think this is weeping and gnashing of teeth. A little while later Kathy comes out of her bomb shelter when the all clear is sounded.

What triggers all this? The first ingredient is a lack of knowledge or understanding of why we disagree. I have this all figured out and why confuse the issue with facts? I also know exactly what you are thinking so why discuss anything? To this we add equal amounts of threats to my manhood. You have put me down and no one does that. You have made me look like a fool in front of my wife, kids and the guy across the street.

My self esteem is at stake. I have been hurt by whatever you said and there is no taking it back. Think this is silly? Think again. We move further and further down the road and then there is no turning back. Let’s really amp it up. Maybe add in gender? Culture or race? Education? Economic wherewithal? Or the grand poobah of all…..RELIGION! I am still at a loss as to why we are all so virulent in espousing our faith. Anointed ones, chosen ones, and the only way to salvation doesn’t leave a lot of room to maneuver. It’s my way or the highway and if I am right you are going to hell. Nice thought.

We in America are convinced we are not only the sole world power but that our way is right. Call it a religion of sorts. We are the policeman, role model and final arbiter when it comes to world problems. Since ’91 Putin has had this very large inferiority complex. Since 9/11 every cult or terrorist organization thinks they can take us on. I can imagine Germany, China, France and every small nation state deep down harbor some really bad juju towards us.

What to do? Probably in the rear view mirror it would help to keep things simple. This can be in the world, office or domestic politics. If you have a minor problem work at it. Don’t let it fester. It only follows that the more complex an issue becomes the harder it is to rectify. Avoidance in the hope it will go away does not work. The key is letting all feel they have a place at the table. Their beliefs and ideas have validity in their eyes and should be considered. This goes under another name…diplomacy.

Tom Friedman wrote a wonderful column before we went into Iraq. By then it was a foregone conclusion and he said we should show some respect for the people of Iraq. He said they were proud and wanted to be considered. As we roared toward Baghdad I think no one had gotten their copy of the New York Times. We took down Sadaam’s statue but not before raising the Stars and Stripes. It became about us.

I am not as dumb as I look. Conflict is a part of life. It’s when it dissolves into tantrums and intransigence that I have to take pause. Tell me when we shut down our government or we tear each other apart in divorce and dissension that we are not like a launcher of rockets or a leveler of apartment buildings and schools. Damn it somewhere in between lies a way to go forward. Count your victories as Phyrric if you will but I would much rather win the war.

Immigration. Global Warming. Social Security. Medicare. Obamacare. I can’t just stand there on my heretofore positions. I have to see if there is a way to not only compromise but now I really get scary when I say collaborate. You might take great joy in bringing things to a halt.Go ahead. Stand on principle. You too may say it is your way or the highway. I can’t. I have to listen to both sides with the same zeal you maintain your positions. I have to find a way to make this work rather riding on my high horse. It beats the alternative.

As always
Ted The Great

“Conflict” is a Parker Brothers board game. It is also a series of war games for X Box. How about a computer game called “Conflict,”A Middle East Simulator?” Not yet? You need to download “Conflict,” a song performed by Disturbed on their album, “Sickness” What a country!
There are thousands of titles on winning. Not too many on losing. As Leo Durocher said,” Show me a good loser and I will show you a loser.”

The three largest elements of conflict in a marriage ergo divorce are sex,money and in laws. Not necessarily in that order.I say it is because two people who liked each other stopped talking and their egos prevented any further development. Can be applied globally.

Webster defines conflict as a serious disagreement or argument, typically a protracted one. The antonyms are peace, harmony and calm. Unfortunately the latter are not what I would call visceral feelings. Too bad.