What if…Buddhism

lionWhat if there was a confused but entitled prince who left his father’s castle to seek himself amongst humanity and succeeded? What if he wondered why there was so much suffering, since his castle displayed so little suffering on the surface?

And what if he was a pretty bright guy, so as he travelled, sought and learned, he shared what he learned with the locals, wherever he was and then they went back to their friends and spread his teachings of the moment to their friends making them teachings of their lifetimes?

And what if he thought that the human suffering he saw everywhere was a product of the greedy desires people had and that if you could just extinguish those desires you’d be okay, but then realized that even the desire to extinguish desires is a desire, that desires are a part of the human experience of life, so he chilled out on that teaching, and talked instead about the desire to be happy, ‘absolutely’ happy, which doesn’t mean you go around like a clown with a big smile painted on your face but that you understand that obstacles are the way of life and learning how to deal with them on a daily, weekly, lifelong basis makes you in fact confidently, healthfully, groundedly,  ‘absolutely’ happy?

And what if he thought that every human being has this beauty in them which when they are spiritual and in touch with themselves as part of the whole, they are happy and have lives of value and when they weren’t they didn’t, and that there were endless ways to get trapped in negative karma ‘accidents’ but as soon as people brought their true heart spiritually to the fore they were okay again and realized there are no accidents just karma catching up with us?

So, what if he crafted a set of tools, stories and metaphors that spoke to the spiritual side of humans and that they could use to bring out their own goodness, and what if one of these was a story/metaphor about how children, left to their own devices, drink poison, and how this great physician, their father, had the medicine and tools to counteract the poison, but since children and people are so often headstrong and are trapped in their own negative greed, anger, foolishness and arrogance,  they said, “Screw you dad. I’m not taking that damned medicine”?

And what if the doctor/father was so upset at this that he gave out that he was dead, I think the word he may have used was extinct, and when that happened, you know how these things go, the kids were like “Oh gee Dad, I’m so sorry you’re gone. I do kind of miss you. I probably should have taken that medicine you offered me and now that you’re gone and all that candy I ate did not make me feel so good, I’m gonna”?

And what if when they took that medicine, they started to realize what the old man was talking about all along, in fact, they started feeling good, so good that they recognized their old man’s good spirits in themselves–I don’t know, maybe the way he’d smile for no reason and hum a tune, the way he treated other people with such deep respect and appreciation–and before they knew it, they looked in the mirror and saw their father, the good doctor, staring back at them and they liked what they saw; and so they practiced the tools he’d given them and kept taking the medicine so that they could feel good and encouraged others to do the same?

And what if the medicine was his last teaching, the Lotus Sutra, that says no matter what cave people wall themselves off in, they will always be connected to other people and the interconnectivity of the universe in general, which is essentially what science and the new physics now concur on,  and what if the most important tool was facing yourself in a kind of mirror that when polished through chanting minute after minute, hour after hour, with your heart as open as you can make it, that you discover the answers to all your questions inside, not outside yourself?

What if?

Warm Thanksgivings

“Happy Thanksgiving, William,” like William Bradford, first settler of the First Thanksgiving and what do you suppose his Thanksgiving truly was–savage red-skinned men and wild turkey and corn piled high at the table, the present of their peaceful Indian guests.

“Happy Thanksgiving, Benjamin” and little Benjy went running between Gilla and Alice, all the way to the carved oak dinner table where he set his load of squash down.

“What have you got Benjy?”

“Squash!” was the happy answer and he jumped and ran around the dining room having been released from his short but important arrival duties.

Will and Benjy were always the first, because Will was closest to Alice and both the sisters loved a little time in young Benjy’s company before the hordes descended and because Will’s coveted turkey basting sauce was needed to cleanse and flavor the bird just in its second hour of cooking.

“Who are we going to see today, Benjy,” Alice prompted. But Benjamin was still testing the pile of the carpets.

“Are you going to see Bob with the tummy?”

“Don’t say that Alice,” Gilla chastised, that’s really so unfair to fill the child’s brain with.

He started it last Thanksgiving!”

“But you don’t have to remind him of it! He may have forgotten!”

“Oh Bob loves it. It separates him from the pack, gives him a bit of prestige in this thin family,” and as she spoke Alice checked the merriness of her gaunt figure in the mantelpiece mirror. “Come on Benjy, let’s play chef with Aunt Gilla,” and the two went pretentiously into the kitchen to put Benjamin’s chef hat on from Halloween and smell and poke and judge the day’s viands as if they were County Fair judges.

The clock in the hall rang one and so did the clocks in all the other halls where warm Thanksgivings were being prepared. On Venice Blvd. the elderly rich were ladling out a Thanksgiving soup for the elderly poor, who took their brimming plates and cups and finally eased themselves onto the grass to face a full meal. Of course Venice Blvd. rarely saw the frost, and never so early as this. Sometimes California’s fire season was still raging hot and dry when the furs were pulled out, strictly for show, or perhaps so bystanders could distinguish between classes of elderly. Let there be no mistake. Some arrived on foot and some in Mercedes’. And not one of them had shot the turkey they ate.

But outside Gilla and Alice’s comfortable Newton home, the trees were blotchy with forgetting their habits and some leaves dropped for form’s sake only. Others, awaiting the cold snap, still kept their green smiles burning, and thought they had fallen asleep somewhere in August, and upon waking felt it was still August. In fact some of the bolder leaves advanced the notion that they could ride out winter, bracing for the dash to spring.

The grass here had also not felt the frost and was spongy as ever as Benjamin spilled out onto it, useless parka flung to the bushes, and somersaults were in vogue.

And just when the last one had fallen particularly hard on the flagstone step implanted neatly in the grass to limit somersaults of just this kind, Uncle Bob and Julie arrived, and so did Tamás and George, and the Curvingtons all at once. And all of them were happy to see all the others, and Will hearing the ruckus in the driveway came out to greet them and truth be told there was so much to say and so many relatives to hug, that the party could have gladly carried on there in the driveway by Gilla’s sensible tan Toyota for most of the afternoon, except that Gilla was so sensible.

She heard the outdoors tumult just as loudly as William and Alice had but she would not leave her post. The water for the little onions was boiling and if Will didn’t want to re-baste the turkey with his special sauce, she thought it crucial. Wasn’t it last year, or the year before, that the turkey had been so dry? And basted and boiled and cut carrot strips for the hors d’oeurves table since, though not yet physically here, the guests had indeed arrived.

So finally with questions turned to spirited shouts of “Where is Gilla” the whole happy menagerie and attendant dishes swarmed through the front door and into the kitchen, nearly knocking Gilla’s sensibility into December.

“Hello dear.”

“We brought the cake!”

“Good put it in the pantry away from all of this.”


“Really Bob I must finish the carrots.”

“I’ll give you a carrot,” And he took one stick, stuck it in his mouth and attempted to kiss Gilla.

“Stop it, Bob. Stop it.” Half the carrot snapped off, I won’t say how, and Bob took both halves and chewed them gustily.

“I will. I will stop it. How long ‘til dinner? The game’s in its fourth quarter.”

“Don’t get started Bob. I put the TV away.”

“I just have to know the score, it was tied in the car. “ And Bob went off to open the chestnut doors of the TV case and, with an early sample of the hors d’ouerve table well in hand, sat on the thin violet vinyl of Alice’s couch and purveyed the channels before settling on the beer commercials that he knew would soon transform into the game.

Tamás was lost. It always happened about this time. ‘Hellos’ were over and nothing substantive had arisen to take their place. And the clatter and chatter in the kitchen did not qualify as conversation. The draw of the television was enough, even for a sports hating Hungarian émigré and with an early whiskey in hand, he appeared standing at the divider between the living room and the TV room, pretending to be interested in the game.

“Tamás old man!” Bob waded through commercials, waiting. “How about those Hungarians!” Tamás winced, but hid behind a sip of whiskey and sours. “Are they getting a taste of Capitalism or what?!” He might have been talking about the game, his melody a football cheer, as if an entire nation had been reduced to the size of the New England Patriots.

“Dey are vinally opening up,” spoke Tamás. He had succeeded after 20 years in getting his brother-in-law to stop calling him Kissinger, and in fact he prized his different sounding words in the country where they flattened out differences with a waffle iron.

“Ve vill go in and vinally be able to deal vith the gov-ern-ment.” This last he said in three heavy syllables as if it had some weight, which it did in 1956 when he excaped it on the boy scout adventure of his young life.

“And now ve vill vait and see, to see if dis openink vill be permanent. If so, I can do much business vith Budapest.”

“Look at that, 4th down, 15 to go, the idiots,” and Bob’s serious conversation for the day was done.

Benjamin, sensing the company of men and the sound of the big TV, came running from some kitchen mischief and hopped onto the sofa next to Bob. Bob was warm.

“Come on pal. We’ll root for the wrong team, won’t we Benjy? Come on you idiots.” And somewhere in Minnesota the same phrase was shouted at the same TV to cheer on the opposing team–the TV hearth alive this Thanksgiving, or at least until the tie was broken. And Tamás sat down in the wing backed chair and Benjamin played on the exer-cycle and dinnertime crept upon them.

William had finished the last basting and in the calm before the storm of dinner was sitting with his favorite sister out in the porch swing.

“It’s Thanksgiving and you still haven’t taken this in.”

“Why should we,” said Alice, “It’s still so warm.”

“I know, but it’s Thanksgiving.”

“William, that doesn’t mean a thing!” and to the south next to the brown wetlands that run along Route 3, William Bradford bowed his head for a prayer and twenty-four other heads bowed in unison while the Indians just stared.

“I have a friend who is hiking in Maine with his whole family this Thanksgiving. Can you believe it? They were gonna go skiing, but there’s no snow in Vermont.”

“It’s a changing time.”

“Yes but we made it change,” demanded Will. “We’re heating up the planet. Just to drive over here and share a Thanksgiving dinner, we’re heating up the world. We’ve got to do something!”

“Well, you could have stayed home,” said Alice with a sly smile curling up into her eyes.


“Oh stop it Will, you can’t take the world on your shoulders and you can’t become a hermit.”

“I’m not trying to.”

“God’s creatures can take care of themselves.”

“I thought we were God’s creatures.”

“We are, and aren’t we doing alright? A lovely big dinner, a healthy family. What more can you ask for?”

“We’re not doing alright. We’re fouling the nest.”

“Personal foul,” cried Bob from the other room. “Look at that! You can teach ‘em to run, but you can’t teach ‘em to keep their hands off each other. Oh my God!”

“God is in nature and we are nature and nature is balance. It will work out.”

“It won’t. Unless we do something. Now.” Silence. Endgame. Will’s constant companion in these discussions.

“You may be right,” said Alice. “Did you ever think that just when Man has gained the knowledge to foul the world, he also gained just enough to fix it again? I cling to that hope. It’s either that or floods.”

“Forty days and forty nights,” William recited.

Alice smiled at nothing out in the quiet residential street and started calculating when the rains would finish if they started tonight. Maybe New Year’s Day.

“Well, I think I smell the turkey getting dry.”

And they called this brotherly and sisterly love, but this patch was worn.  John ignored the need to hug his sister and weep and make a family again, any family that stayed together and was not always in some danger of being rent apart.

And out came the turkey and off the onions, drained and buttered, warmed the squash, and spooned the dressing into the big china bowl and another filled with drier, crisper dressing from the pan in the oven and Gilla was there, moving at twice her normal speed, but still in her sensible glory enlisting Will’s help to bring things out to the table, who in turn subcontracted to Benjamin who could always find the center of excitement in the family and went right for it, bringing three extra serving spoons out to the table because Gilla had forgotten to put them in the dishes. And the cranberry sauce at the last minute opened from the can and chunked with a fork to take out the impressions of the can it came in and made to look homemade. And milk in the fancy glass pitcher because Gilla would not have something so common as a milk carton on her sacred Thanksgiving table and Benjamin sent round to call everyone to dinner. But not before Alice whispered something in Benjy’s ear and he smiled, knowing this ploy would get all the attention and ran, and did it too, and…

“Benjamin, they’re winning! Turn it back on!”

“Dinner time!” In high happy knowing female tones from the kitchen. “Come on everyone.”

“Benjy,” Bob chuckled. “I got to hand it to you. You know how to get my attention.” And Tamás trailed in, his ghostly wife behind him straining to see what she was missing this Thanksgiving and making sure that Tamás missed her all the more on this special day. He brought his whisky with him, too.

Of course by now the proto-type Thanksgiving had all but broken up. It got dark early this time of year and the snows were already encroaching on their little outpost, a kind of added incentive to get the Indians here in the first place. And William Bradford felt rewarded somehow with the savages’ presence and said so, and had smoked with their guests and this too was some kind of an honor. But now it was over, and the shadows deepened and the grain was stored and the peaceful Indians had smoked with William and all, at this moment of thanks, was right with the world and engendered the ‘giving’ as far as benevolent settlers could allow in this rough beachhead, this little incursion on the pine forests and the great hills of Massachusetts.

“To us,” said William at the head of the table.

“God bless us everyone” said Gilla who couldn’t stop smiling at her family arrayed about the table in her home for another Thanksgiving and bowed her nose deep in her sherry for Tiny Tim’s sake, and then they ate.




Always the best. The best I am eating right now. The best that can be! Laudable food in my stomach. Award winning little pearl onions. One to you and ten to me, in their soup of butter. Because I can smell it all. And taste it all. And the more the love that everyone’s dishes poured out onto platter and into mouths, the happier everyone got. The fuller too, and the more ruddy-cheeked and little Benjamin ate all his favorites and passed on all the rest, and today, that was okay. Will could barely see Benjy’s plate in the fog of delicate steam arising from the happiness at the table. Except of course when Benjamin needed his turkey cut.

And outside the world grew hotter as a warm front pushed up from the Gulf of Mexico and sent the moderately cool temperatures packing for the North. Another warm fall night ahead. Or is it winter yet, I can never remember whether winter starts at Halloween, Thanksgiving or Christmas.





Solutions for 2016


The Hippo Deduction

Problems with the IRS?

Become a hippo! That’s right. You’ve taken on a few more pounds than you should anyway. Hippos are not Americans. They are residents of sub-Saharan Africa. They don’t have drivers licenses. They don’t have to hire expensive tax preparers and fill out 1040s.

Just replace your Facebook and Linked in profile photos with the picture you took of a hippo last time you went to the zoo and you’re home free.

The IRS can’t take a hippo to court! Wrong habitat! They can’t be cross examined or plead the fifth because they won’t fit in the witness box. Their legal domicile is mud. Put them on varnished flooring they’ll lose their footing and take several government lawyers down with them.  Push them on a technicality, they’ll sue those pencil-pushers from here to Wakkerstroom Wetland under the Endangered Species Act.

So, when the IRS comes knocking, just put on your hippo mask and smile. You’re covered.

Virus Away!

Purchase this maladjusted magic wand for the price of a song (must be “Some Enchanted Evening” sung by The Harry Potter Gospel Choir). Wave it at your computer screen and all the malware, adware, virus ware, hardware and deck chairs disappear from your computer system. Also works on Excel formulas you can’t figure out and word documents where the margins seem to have a life of their own.

Self-killing Geese

No guns, no hunting license, no plucking or preparing. They know when it’s dinner time. Just open your front door and your oven and they flap in, pre-plucked. Try Teriyaki (they fly through a car wash that covers them with sauce) or Truffle oil.

Bad Breath? — Try Surgery

Global warming? Polluted planet? Wars of religion? No scourge is worse than the scourge of bad breath. But now, bad breath can be remedied with surgery. You heard right! Have your gums surgically removed and no food will ever get caught in them again! Plus, has the added benefit of turning your mouth into maracas. Just close your lips and shake those gumless teeth! Caramba!

Precursor Tie Spot Preventer

With deep prayer and a faith in your higher power, you will never have spotted ties again. Try Precursor with the active ingredient Natch. Here’s how it works. After praying, God will lead you to where your lunch’s biggest drips will end up BEFORE THEY HAPPEN! Just apply Precursor with a steady hand to those exact spots and not a millimeter more. And then eat. When the spaghetti sauce flies, it goes directly to the pre-treated, Precursor drops you’ve applied to your tie. The result? A perfectly spotless tie every time!

No Chin? No Worries!

Nothing below your lips? Is the distance between the bottom of your face and your mouth less than 2 cm? Now you can rest easy, Dr. Chindimple can help. His patented process of putting marbles next to your lower gums to stretch your face has achieved stupendous results on men, women, girls, boys, even salamanders. Why live with a jawline that stops at your front teeth? Make an appointment by calling 1-888-NOCHIN.

And, for serious cases, try Dr. Chindimple’s Roving Chin. This small fleshy marmot is shaved and made to look like a chin, then trained to cling to your jawline. For an extra fee we will train it to reposition itself from side to side based on jokes you might be telling, but only if it gets the joke. Comes with 6 plastic ziplock bags of marmot food and a Barbie Princess Suite to tuck your chin to bed in at night. Go ahead, scratch your chin in contemplation like Abe LIncoln.   (Not responsible for ticklish marmots.)

Reading Problems? Why not fuse your child’s spine to a Chair!

That’s right. Dr. Lev Solonoloff has written a paper on the effects of pediatric spinal fusion on a whole host of things including bedwetting (more), sedimentary wastewater (none), sympathy for Toulouse Lautrec (plenty), yen for string cheese (duh), all due to the newly discovered process of fusing your child’s spine to a chair. Most importantly, he has proven the link between your child’s poor reading habits and your bank account.

Imagine a life without reading problems. That is what this surgery will do for your child. Signs, books, texts, comics, even adult magazines, all can be read now, without the stress of knowing. You don’t have to know, and neither do they. You just put them in our hands and we’ll cripple them for good.

Dr. Solonoloff–‘Lev’ to his friends, ‘asshole’ to litigants–created this special surgery out of sugar water and string. Born with webbed feet, at the age of eight, he discovered the beauties of a soldering iron and never looked back.  If he had, he would have only seen the trees, since he lived in a forest; his parents having died in a parachuting accident. He had nothing, but what he DID have was…nothing. (I told you he had nothing! Why didn’t you believe me the first time? This is the problem with the world. Lack of faith. When will you ever grow up?)

Well, now you never DO have to grow up. Just sit quietly in a chair and read. And your twelve children? They’ll all be sitting next to you in their chairs, reading. What a perfectly lovely picture of order and value in the world. Just don’t stick around when they  ask to go to the bathroom.

Hemaroids? This will clear them right up. ADHD? This is perfect! Corporal punishment? Done. You have a chair and a spine now. Your butt is a thing of the past.

Don’t delay. If you have no time for your child, Dr. Lev has time for you.

Rules for Parents of a 13 Year Old

IMG_0472– Tell them to spend more time on their iPhone. It is teacher, friend, recreation director, novelist, film maker, shopping outlet.

– Do not speak to them until spoken to. They have much on their minds and running in their veins, don’t ruin their concentration. They’ll tell you when it’s time to speak.

– Give them the keys to the city. Make sure you open charge accounts for them at Starbucks, Forever 21, the joke shop and every store in the mall, that they can use to get whatever their heart’s desire.

– Give them the keys to the house. Two locks for their bedroom to ensure security for their valuable things, the key to the liquor cabinet in case they’d like to try new things, keys to all the doors, passwords to all your websites and accounts, especially Netflix.

-When they’re bored and ask what to do, tell them to play more video games and try to beat their past records.

– Let them win at tennis, bowling, Parcheesi, ping-pong.

If you do all these steps religiously, you will be GUARANTEED an arrogant, unfeeling and egotistical young American adult, who sucks value from the world like a weasel sucks eggs.

How to Embarrass Your 13 Year Old

Embarrassment is of the utmost importance for your 13 year old; as important as the right kind of diet and plenty of television.

– Turn off Rihanna on the radio and sing Barry Manilow tunes, preferably off-key.

– Drive them to Birthday parties and instead of just dropping them off outside, go in and say hello to the parents.

– Tell visiting family relations they are a cello prodigy and ask them to play a tune.

– Talk to their coach about why they were benched during the entire soccer game for just asking to play defense in a game they lost 9 – 0.

– Say hello to their friends when you meet them on the street and then make sure and go home and tell your 13 year old that you met their friends on the street

– Speak.

– Offer advice.

– Be.

-Ask them if they need help with their homework.

– Be yourself in public and private

You think I’m’ joking?

Conversation with a 13 year old

Me: Let’s go to the Street fair!

13: I’m going with a friend.

Me: Oh, who?

13: I haven’t set it up yet.

Me: Oh I see. And you don’t know who yet?

13: I’m setting it up.

Me: We used to have such fun at the street fairs. Would you rather go bowling?

13: Be inside on this nice day?

Me: Ok, how about a hike or a bike ride?

13: I have to be honest with you, that doesn’t sound so interesting.

Me: So basically anything to do with your parents is wrong for a 13 year old to do.

13: I’m almost 14.

Me: You’re not. You’re not even 13 and 1/2. Don’t grow up too fast. Are you sure you don’t want to go to the street fair?

13: Sure, I’m sure.

Me: Well then, Mom and I are going by ourselves.

13: Well, can you go later when me and my friend aren’t there?

Me: It’s a huge street fair! There are thousands of people there!

13: Well, just in case, don’t go ’til later, after we’re through.


Old-fashioned four legged TV set isolated‘Tele’ — from the ancient greek, meaning I can hear you all the way over here, and ‘vision’ — Middle English for a trance-like state where you think Jennifer Anniston is funny. Copernicus was the first inventor of television. Other inventors were Galileo, John Coltrane and Bette Midler. Each had an instrument that allowed them to see from a distance (or in Bette’s case to sing “From a Distance”).

But does television exist any more? Probably not. You want to see Jennifer Anniston, go to Netflix. Not to be confused with Netscape. Which is something like Firefox. Not to be confused with Fios. But closer to Safari. Not to be confused with Amazon. Unless you’re wearing a pith helmet.

You see what I mean? You don’t need tele-vision for that. What you need is a degree from MIT.

With television, the challenge was all in snack preparation. But once you had your bowl of chips and Squirt the instructions were simple. 1. Sit on couch. 2. Turn on TV. 3. Fall asleep.

Today, no one has tele-visions, what they have instead are explicit blood-spattered nightmares, tasteless but titillating sexual inn-u-endo (as well as the actual endo itself when the Inn fills up and the ends spill out into the lobby), and amoral capitalistic rampages.  Just take a gander at some of the new programs that will be on this year.

Monkey Go Home Homeless monkeys read Beowulf on the streets of New York while begging for spare change. With their Malaysian habitat destroyed by logging corporations, the monkeys hop a plane to the big city and the hijinks begin. The first episode ends with the monkeys getting wise and catching pedestrians unawares with the old banana peel trick, then taking their victims’  wallets and house keys–proving once again that you can never go home.

McDonald’s Copter Gunship McDonald’s corporate PR firm decides that a helicopter gunship is just the thing to sell more hamburgers but the pilot can’t get the obese thing off the helipad. With a final 1,2,3 they lift it several feet in the air only to be foiled by a ketchup salesman from DesMoines who gets caught in the blades. Stars Bill Murray as Willy Loman, the ketchup salesman who Hunts for Red October.

Knit for Gnat Reality TV show about which insects are the best knitters. The spiders win legs down.

Sing for Your Supper Reality show with celebrity chefs about giving free gourmet food to people who make $9 an hour working at fast food restaurants, but only after they have been made to sing songs that are personally humiliating.  

Grandbaby Guignol Quentin Tarantino, Martin Scorsese and the ghost of Sam Peckinipah are put into a pre-school nursery where they must eat strawberries and read Barney to three year olds. The one who signs an agreement to disavow violent imagery and become the new Mister Rogers first, is the winner.

The Original Channel A whole channel devoted to series’ by clever young writers and TV serialists who think they are making great new original TV series. What they don’t know is that their mothers sprinkled old videotapes on their Fruit Loops when they were kids. The results, while perhaps being original to them, are hardly original…

  • Seinfold – A quartet of cranky origami artists always seem to let the folds get the best of them.
  • House of Farts – Political intrigue and high-flying ambitions at a nursing home.
  • The Tenors – The mob makes patsy’s sing on a lower note.
  • Spar Check – When the USS Enterprise loses its main boom, Dr. Spock sets off on an adventure through the Whole Mast Catalog. When they send him rocket parts instead of the spars he ordered, he gives birth to a whole new Enterprise.
  • Al in the Family –  A bigot named Al, who is a penniless pauper, happens to knock on a working class, single mother family’s door one night, and is taken in by the family when they realize that they don’t have a bigoted father figure at their center.
  • Gomer Pyle CSI – Gomer and Aunt Bee track down Opie in the crack houses of Miami’s South Beach to investigate the death of innocence. Gollee!
  • The Gilligan Files – Agents Mulder and Scully investigate an island crash site where alien life forms are mixing martinis and putting on skits.

The National Fireside Dims

It was that moment I’d been waiting for. The big event. When together, as a family, we could share at the national fireside, (the TV) something we could all experience–our family and one billion others.

I’m not really a football fan or a Super Bowl fan, but there are so few public moments we share together. In my youth that’s all there was. Gathered around the television with Ma and Pa, drinking Diet Rite Cola and eating bags and bags of barbecued potato chips, we experienced something like national unity, night after night. “That’s the way it is, ” said Walter Cronkite each night, signing off.

That’s the way it was.

So now my teenaged children, who don’t get many chances to sit at the national fireside to experience this kind of family unity, would at the very least, if they’re not football fans, which they’re not, watch Katy Perry and Lenny Kravitz for the half time show. At least we would have that.

“It’s on,” I yelled as Katy entered on an enormous mechanical tiger singing, “Eye of the Tiger.”

“Look at that! Wow girls.  Look at that Hunger Games-style fire dress! Girls! You’re gonna miss it!”


“Whoa now she’s dancing with silver chess pieces doing backflips! Girls!!?”

“Oh my God, she changed into a beach dress in 5 seconds and she’s dancing with sharks and palm trees. Come down and watch!”

“Okay, in a minute!” I finally heard from one.

“But it’s on now! It’s gonna be over!”


Katy jumped around a stuffed dancing palm tree and my heart sank. They’re gonna miss it. This moment. What iPhone video game, what FaceTime phone conversation, what  Instagram photo share could possible be more important than this? I started to feel the blood rush to my face. They’re missing it.

I ran upstairs to my 17 year old daughter’s room. She was watching “Being Human” on my laptop.

“I hate Katy Perry,” she said, “She doesn’t stand for anything except crass American commercialism.”

“But this isn’t just Katy Perry, this is a global moment! The technology, the dancers, the pure bubble gum poppiness of it all. It may be popular culture at its crassest, but it’s worth seeing!”

“Not interested,” she monotoned.

I held my tongue and ran downstairs to ferret out my 13 year old daughter. She. Surely she would share this moment. She was on her iPhone with her friend.

“Don’t you want to see what all your school mates will be talking about tomorrow in the halls at school,” I ask.

“Not really. If I have to I’ll Youtube it on my iPhone later.”

“But you have to,” I demand.


Stumped and stymied I blurt out, “Come down to see the end with us or I’ll give you a consequence!”

She looks at me quizzically, shrugs her shoulders. “Alright Dad.”

“It’s on now,”I emphasize.

“I’ll be down.”

I return to the family TV, Katy is rapping about pedicures with Missy Elliott…but the joy has gone out of it.

“It’s almost over,” I yell. “You’re missing the best part,” I exclaim knowing that in this five minute tech orgy there really can be no best part.

Finally my 13 year old appears. Looks. Katy has silver eyeliner on and is flying around the stadium on a star crane with sparks coming out of every possible stadium orifice.

My 13 year old shrugs her shoulders. “Is there any cake left in the kitchen?”

So much for national fireside. Not Obama, disasters, moon landings, wars, peace, or as it turns out, Katy Perry being flown around a football stadium, can bring it back.