Philin’ In – Act Four

The saga of James Dolan, Phil Jackson and Isiah Thomas will bring new meaning to the phrase Triangle Offense.

Jimmy’s thoughts drifted back to the beach. Isiah was standing to his left, facing the minister who stood under a bough of roses formed into a heart shaped arch. The minister was speaking directly to Jimmy.

“James, have you prepared your vows?”

“Actually, I had planned to write my own, but decided that a song by my hero Eric Clapton perfectly expresses my feelings.”

With that, Jimmy lifted his guitar from its stand next to the alter and played the opening riffs to Change The World. As he started singing, the crowd was startled by his odd high-pitched falsetto.

“‘If I could reach the stars
Pull one down for you,
Shine it on my heart
So you could see the truth:
That this love inside
Is everything it seems.
But for now I find
It’s only in my dreams.

And I can change the world,
I will be the sunlight in your universe.
You would think my love was really something good,
Baby if I could change the world.

If I could be king,
Even for a day,
I’d take you as my queen;
I’d have it no other way.
And our love would rule
This kingdom we had made.
’til then I’d be a fool,
Wishing for the day…

That I can change the world,
I would be the sunlight in your universe.
You would think my love was really something good,
Baby if I could change the world.'”

“Hey James, I need you to sign off on this. Are you on board with the trade for Rose?” Jackson was shaking Dolan with one hand while he waved a paper and pen in the other.

“Rose?” Dolan looked puzzled, but continued, “Yeah, rose is good. I like rose,” he agreed as he signed, then handed the paper back to Jackson.

“Great! Then it’s settled.” Jackson rolled up the paper and stuffed it into his pants pocket. “One more thing…let me run this by you for the press conference.”


A mischievous smile spread across Jackson’s face. “What’s the difference between the New York Mets and the Titanic?”

“Phil…I don’t see what this has to do with…,” Dolan tried to interject.

“The Titanic hit an iceberg before sinking, and the Mets can’t hit anything.” Spittle flew out of Jackson’s mouth as he cackled at his punch line. “That should deflect the focus from our personnel moves.”

“I’m glad somebody’s having a good time,” the owner shrugged.

Jimmy delicately held a single rose as he stood facing Isiah. The minister was nearly finished.

“If anyone objects to this union, or feels threatened by the expression of heterosexual man love, speak now, before the NBA February 18th trade deadline, or forever hold your peace.”

A bright-eyed woman with dark, short cropped hair, pushed aside the crowd.

“What’s going on here? Who agreed to this? Have you all lost your minds?” She addressed the minister directly, “You better end this right now before I get everybody arrested.”

“I beg your pardon, Ma’am,” the minister responded defensively. “Same sex marriage is legal in this state.”

“I’m not talking about that, you fools…” Isiah realized what was happening and bowed his head sheepishly. The woman was Lynn Kendall, Isiah’s beleaguered wife of over thirty years.

“Isiah is already married to me! Let’s go Zeke!” Isiah obediently followed behind his wife as Jimmy fought back tears. First Anucha Browne Sanders and her trumped up accusations of sexual harassment against Isiah, and now this. Another strong-willed woman ruining his chance at happiness.

“‘Baby if I could change the world…,'” Jimmy slowly retraced his steps across the beach as he dreamed, along with millions of Knicks fans, of what might have been.

Philin’ In – Act Three

The saga of James Dolan, Phil Jackson and Isiah Thomas will bring new meaning to the phrase Triangle Offense.

Jimmy walked along the beach, making his way to the makeshift alter. This was the happiest day of his life. As he turned the corner, emerging from the row of sea roses, he spotted his beloved.

“Jim…James! I thought about what we discussed the other day and maybe Kurt Rambis is not the answer.” Phil Action Jackson towered over Dolan like a gaunt, enormous bird, as he roused him from his daydream.

“What is it Phil?” he asked, unable to conceal his annoyance. “What was the question?”

“About who should coach the Knicks?”

“So, you’ve finally decided to coach the team yourself?” Jackson now had Dolan’s attention.

“No way Jimbo! I already told you, that would be ridiculous. How about this?” Jackson’s huge hands framed the air marquee in the space between them, “Jeff…” he paused for effect, “Horn-a-cek.”

Dolan glared at Jackson.

“Well, what do you think?”

“Phil, you’re really testing my patience. As it is, I’m still paying Derek Fisher. What happened, you couldn’t find one of the Van Gundy brothers?” he asked mockingly. “Maybe we should call Isiah. His record at Florida International wasn’t a total disaster.”

Although Thomas’s record over three seasons at FIU was 26-65 and he never won more than 11 games in a single season, measured against the benchmark that is the New York Knicks organization under the leadership of Jackson, Dolan’s assessment was not totally off base.

“I already called Isiah’s agent, and was told he’s auditioning for a summer theatre production of Othello.”

“Isiah’s auditioning for the part of Othello?”

“No, Desdemona,” Jackson informed him as Dolan slowly nodded.

“I guess that makes sense. It is Shakespeare.” An idea slowly coalesced in Jimmy’s mind as an opportunity presented itself.

“Is the part of Othello still available?” “‘Put out the light, and then put out the light.'”

Jackson, who had already lost interest, turned on his heel and left the owner alone with his thoughts. Jackson lamented, “Why can’t you be more like Jerry Reinsdorf?”

Philin’ In – Act Two

The saga of James Dolan, Phil Jackson and Isiah Thomas will bring new meaning to the phrase Triangle Offense.

Dolan burst into Jackson’s office, his $500 loafers sliding across the carpet.

“Phil, I have an idea.”

Jackson, who had been lounging on the office sofa in his boxers, sat upright and grabbed his pants that were draped over the sofa arm. Pulling them up and tucking in his shirt, he rolled his eyes as he asked, “What is it now Jim?”

“I think you should coach the team,” Dolan announced.

“No can do James. No coach of my preeminence would manage this group. I’m waiting until we get Lebron, Durant, Hardin and Curry. I have a legacy to maintain.” Jackson walked over to the conference table in the corner of his office, rolled out one of the leather armchairs, and careful lowered himself into the seat. Empty food containers, left over from lunch, littered the table. Glancing over at Dolan, he folded his hands and waited for his reaction.

Dolan was agitated by Jackson’s dismissive attitude. “What makes you think you can sign all of those guys?”

“Because of these, baby!” Jackson held out his hands, splaying his fingers to proudly display his championship rings.

“Yeah, that’s great Phil, but…huh, what is that green stuff?”

Jackson sucked the mystery substance from the top of one of the golden rings. “That would be wasabi,” an amused Jackson grinned.

As Jackson chuckled at his back, the disgusted owner stormed out of the office grumbling under his breath, “Why can’t you be more like Isiah?”

Philin’ In – Act One

The saga of James Dolan, Phil Jackson and Isiah Thomas will bring new meaning to the phrase Triangle Offense.

“Phil…PHIL! Wake up!” Jim Dolan yanked his GM’s shoulders back to lift his head from the desk. A rivulet of drool escaped from the corner of his mouth. Dolan shook Jackson as he slapped his cheek.

“PHIL!…C’mon man, wake up now. It’s three in the afternoon for crissake!”

“Wha’, what’s wrong? What do want?” Jackson asked groggily. He slowly opened his eyes and straightened in his seat. “Did my package from Amazon come? I’m waiting for a trimmer for my soul patch.” He stroked the grey chin hairs between his thumb and forefinger.

“No, I don’t care about that. What are we gonna do about Melo?”

“What do you mean?” The Zen Master squinted at his boss.

“He’s telling the press he’s fed up with losing, that he wants to get traded to a contender.” Dolan was frantic.

“Fuck him,” Jackson spoke calmly. “Let him go.”

“What are you talking about? You know I can’t do that. I gave up half the team and put us back in salary cap hell to get him. It’s what Isiah wanted.” Dolan gazed wistfully skyward as he thought about his former team president. “You need to apologize to him and get him to re-sign. I don’t care what it takes.”

“Apologize? To who, Isiah?”

“Yea, no wait…you know what I mean.”

“Alright, I’ll pay him what he wants and tell him we’re negotiating with Lebron.”

“That’s better,” Dolan exhaled as he brightened slightly.

“Are we done now?” Jackson grunted.

“I guess so,” Dolan paused as the short-lived smile left his face. “Why can’t you be more like Isiah?” he asked.

Jackson answered as his head sank back into his long arms folded on the desktop, “I’ll see what I can do about that…”

Jimmy’s thoughts drifted back to memories of a simpler and happier time when he and the love of his life, Isiah, roamed the halls, offices and courts of Madison Square Garden. It was a magical place where they shared inside jokes and ruled like kings.

“Isiah, does this suit make me look fat?” Jimmy looked to Isiah for approval.

“Of course not. You’re perfect!” Isiah beamed.

“Do you think I’m pretty?”

“As pretty as you want to be.”

Jimmy was pleased. “Isiah, I wrote a song for you. Would you like to hear it?” Jimmy reached behind a cabinet for his guitar.

“Of course,” Isiah replied as he sat in the corner and looked up attentively.

“There once was a man, a giant among men, his achievements were the stuff of legend…”

“Mr. Dolan, please call One-Nine-Seven-Three…Mr. Dolan, One-Nine-Seven Three please,” the page blared over the loudspeakers. Dolan sighed and headed back to his office.


Got No Use For Love Songs

Got no use for love songs

when love is in my heart,

Got no use for trees and mountains

when they’re right in my back yard


Got no use for blankets

in my house that’s bright and warm,

And got no need for sturdy shoes

I drive everywhere in my car


Got no need for understanding

I don’t have much to say,

And got no need

for God…

or religion,

all things that I can’t see


Got no need

no need

no need…

no tears

no pain

no joy

no art


I search through the garbage

for something to eat,

I’m hungry.

Check the cracks in the sidewalk

for a blade of grass,

my garden.


The children run, and jump, and shriek

and laugh as they defy me

destroying my rules

set for them

and me


But children need to play

If you can’t beat them…

I run, and jump, and shriek

Got no need for rules

when the child is in my heart



Restoration Project – Singer Treadle Machine

I’m a jack of all trades with a soft spot for old radios, furniture, and great pieces of Americana like this Singer treadle sewing machine circa 1925. I picked it up for forty bucks at half-price sticker sale at local Goodwill, and hope to get it in working condition. It’s almost too well preserved to be considered a restoration project. The treadle is in perfect condition, with no rust or chipped paint, and fully operational. There is some fading and alligatoring to the paint on machine, but all of the stenciling is intact, as are the nameplates. The cabinet has a small water damaged spot that lifted some of the laminate, but overall the cabinet is original and in good shape.

So, restoration should consist of some light cleaning of the sewing machine unit, careful refinishing of the cabinet, and the biggest challenge will be getting the machine to work, especially since I know nothing about sewing machines.

Stay tuned…


Four-Letter Word

I discovered magic in a four-letter word. This is the second such experience for me and each time enlightenment was found through a seemingly irrelevant post to a message board, most recently in response to a comment made about a poem on a WordPress site which I follow. The poster noted that the poem reminded him of a four-letter word, to which I offered my own forgettable response. Days later my thoughts drifted to another poem on this subject, In Memory Of Radio by Amiri Baraka.

“love is an evil word. Turn it backwards/see, see what I mean? An evol word.”

I enjoy word play, but even to me, this seems like a bit of a stretch. Still, it did lead me to discover an interesting trait of my native tongue.

Sometimes these insights are humbling. The previously mentioned message board experience was on a fan site for the T.V. show 24. I submitted numerous well crafted posts and created what I felt were thought provoking themes, only to see most of them ignored, except for one which garnered over a thousand responses. Its subject? Favorite Word That Rhymes With Bump. I’m not sure how most current popular social media apps function, but “BUMP” is a device used on message boards to refresh a previously created topic by pushing it to the top of the message string. How little I understood, and how little I still understand, of what interests and motivates my fellow reader. But, there it was all along, right in front of my N-O-S-E, the magic in a four-letter word.

Love-Hate, Good-Evil, Rise-Fall, Lose-Find, Push-Pull, Give-Take, Open-Shut. Many are polar opposites, while others are complementary: Mind-Body, Trip-Fall, Risk-Loss, and from yesterday’s tragedy, Shot-Kill, Pray-Heal. Why do so many essential, emotionally compelling words in our language consist of four letters? Is there something intrinsic in the structure that goes beyond pure coincidence and this writer’s prejudice in seeking examples to support my premise?

Four letters, four squares, four sides, maybe there is something comforting and non-threatening about a square. My musings may add up to a hill of nothing, but I can’t help but notice that word is also a four-letter word, and wonder if there is some kind of da Vinci code tied to the origins of our language.


Time Traveler

My memory

is a heartless



It forgets

what I long to remember,

and remembers,

in excruciating detail,

what I beg to forget.



I like to play this little game; it’s simple math, but I must have some kind of instinctive need for perspective, a desire to understand my position in the universal timeline. It goes like this…We all walk around with our personal little history. For those like me, that history spans the launch of Sputnik to Hillary Clinton winning the Democratic nomination for President. Between these points is where the game is most intimately played as it draws from memory, experience and a couple billion heartbeats, but in no way am I limited by my brief existence. The Time Traveler recognizes no such boundaries. The present is the only thing constantly moving. The past, despite memory’s power to color and alter our viewpoint, is inherently set, prepared for our visit, and the future is waiting patiently for us to catch up.

You’re a seven-year-old kid in a time when the Beatles are on Ed Sullivan, the New York Mets are moving into a brand new Shea Stadium and the World’s Fair is in Flushing, Queens. If you took the subway to the fair grounds it cost you $.15. President Kennedy had been assassinated less than a year prior, WWII had ended less than 20 years before, and the musicals of choice at your elementary school were by Rogers and Hammerstein. “Ooh–w-w-Oak-lahoma, where the wind comes sweeping down the plain…”

Viewed from a 2016 perspective, all of these events happened a long time ago. WWII is ancient history, having ended more than 70 years ago, but in 1964 the Kennedy assassination was still an open wound, more recent than the Sandy Hook shootings are today. D-Day was fresher than the Gulf War is in our memories, and as for those old stale musicals, they were more contemporary than a Tupac rap would be today.

As part of a Shirley Temple film marathon a few months ago, I watched The Littlest Rebel and thought, “Wow! The Civil War…that was a long time ago!” But, playing my game I realized that at the time the film was made in 1935, there were people still alive who had experienced it directly, people who had been born into slavery, and that the distance from the end of the Civil War to when the film was produced was shorter than the distance from the film to today.

Michael Jackson’s Thriller was released 33 years ago. Does that seem right? That’s the distance from the Great Depression to the Vietnam War, from the Holocaust to The Killing Fields, the distance from a slide rule to the iPhone.


Six degrees of separation is the theory that everyone and everything is six or fewer steps away, by way of introduction, from any other person in the world, so that a chain of “a friend of a friend” statements can be made to connect any two people in a maximum of six steps.

In my infinite wisdom, I misinterpreted this theory as a generational link, whereby one could trace their lineage back to the time of Christ in six generations. Of course, this is absurd. Ma and Pa Kettle would be challenged to prove out this faulty calculation. However, stupidity sometimes breeds insight, in this case leading me to view generational connections, and our personal histories, in a different way.

I have always been amused by the circumstance by which I shared many of the elementary school teachers who taught my mother a generation before, most notably a social studies teacher named Abigail Babbitt, a spinster who taught in the Roaring 20’s and had teaching materials that outlined all 48 states in the union. So much fodder for my game!

The true spirit of the six degrees theory, I suppose, is to emphasize the closeness of mankind, but no amount of email and social network linkage changes the reality of the average person’s small circle of family, friends and acquaintances, or the transience of memory. Most of us have a close relationship with one or both parents, a good number of us have also been close to one or more of our four grandparents, and likely only a select few have memories of a great-grandparent. We share the rest of our life overlapping those of our extended “family.” As we pass, one-by-one, so does our memory and the imprint of our existence. This can, however, be liberating; the same limitations of memory assure that all failures, disappointments, and embarrassing moments will fade over time.

Wealth, prestige and fame provide only a temporary reprieve from this immutable law. What millennial can’t name the cast of Saved By The Bell? Is there a person under the age of forty who understands all the fuss over the passing of Muhammad Ali? Does anyone remember Mary Pickford? Who will survive to refute Al Gore’s claim that he invented the internet?


So far, I’ve expressed a typically American point of view. Despite that slant, I realize I’m not the center of the universe. OK, I really am the center of MY universe, but nobody else cares about that. We all know that Beyoncé is the center of the universe. It’s true! Twitter, Facebook, the television and newspapers all tell me so.

The life of an individual is short…American History spans only several hundred years, and the recorded history of Man only several thousand. Dust in the wind to coin a cliché, a pimple on a dinosaur’s ass. When you look at the estimated age of Earth and the universe as we know it, 4.5 billion years, now you’re talkin’! The passage of millions of years is hard to grasp and a billion years is nearly incomprehensible. Extinction events are measured in durations of millions of years. How can something that drags over that length of time be classified as an “event?” Beyoncé performing at Madison Square Garden is an event.

At absolute zero, allowing for a certain amount of resistance, electricity travels through a piece of wire, or a microprocessor circuit, at nearly the speed of light. The best visual illustration I’ve seen of the difference between a millisecond, a microsecond and a nanosecond, all very tiny measurements of time, was by a professor who used lengths of wire to show how far electricity would travel over each time interval. For a millisecond he held up a piece of wire a few inches long. For a microsecond, he lifted a long length of wire rolled into many coils. Finally to show how much further electrons would flow in a nanosecond, he open the classroom door and rolled in a huge, heavy spool full of densely wound wire.

Playing a variant of my game, a nanosecond (ns) is a SI unit of time equal to one billionth of a second One nanosecond is to one second as one second is to 31.71 years. This all still seems limiting for the Time Traveler; the concept is too linear. Luckily, time also travels in parallel paths, those paths being the tiny little histories, each of us carry through our day. If a bit more than half of the world’s population–at last count, over 7.1 billion–kept a diary for just one year, we would have the equivalent of 4.5 billion years of recorded history. That should keep someone busy reading until the sun becomes a Red Giant and scorches the Earth. No fear! I’m sure by that time, we will all be happily settled on the planet Beyoncé in the far away Western Kanye  galaxy.




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