Monday, June 18, 2007

Wizards Win Waldbaum's Cup!

June 17, 2007 Stony Brook, New York

The Oceanside Wizards capped off another successful season with a 3-2 victory over the very talented Newfield Wave of Selden to win the Waldbaum's Cup Championship.

It was a hard fought match from the opening whistle. Cheyenne opened the scoring in the first half, taking a great centering pass from Ali Cassidy and slamming the volley into the back of the net for a 1 goal lead. Newfield came roaring back to tie the game at the half, and then took a 2-1 lead early in the second period.

But the Wizards kept the pressure on. Cheyenne made a lightning-quick dash down the right wing and slammed a long blast high into the far corner of the goal to tie the match.

Then, showing the toughness that has made her the team's high scorer, Ali Cassidy beat her defender in the center and went in on a breakaway.

The Newfield keeper made an aggressive play to stop her at the 18 but Ali kept her balance, chipped the ball over the keeper and then slammed it into the back of the net for THE WINNING GOAL!

The Wizards then played smart and disciplined defense and got another stellar effort from goalkeeper Devin to bring the Waldbaum's Cup to Oceanside.

Great effort. Great Game. Great season from a truly terrific group of young ladies.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Father Knows Best, Again

In celebration of Father's Day today's post is a reprint of my very first blog attempt.

December, 2006

I very rarely read New York Magazine, but a cover story caught my eye last week as I scanned the magazine rack in Dr. Zaman's waiting room.

Authentic Happiness. Now there's a concept.

The author of the article, a New Yorker, treated the subject the way the Discovery Channel describes UFO sightings. They know UFOs are fiction, dammit! Why do so many people claim to have seen them? Happiness, authentic or not, is something that most New Yorkers experience through the eyes of others. Happiness, like alien visitors from another planet, is an illusion; a construct created by delusional fools to camouflage their misery. To a practical and prudently-maladjusted New Yorker happiness is simply unfathomable.

Unhappiness? Now there's something the author could sink her teeth into. What causes unhappiness? What can we do about it? Well, since happiness is an illusion and unhappiness is reality, why would anyone want to do anything about it? More to the point, since unhappiness is the default position and therefore uncaused, why is she writing about the causes of unhappiness?

I think she's stumbled upon something here.

The lack of wealth does not cause unhappiness, she claimed. Rather, it's a relative lack of wealth that causes unhappiness. Instantly, hundreds of conversations raced through my mind. The law partner who whined to me about how tough it was trying to make ends meet on $500,000 a year. My upper-middle-class friend from an upscale town in Westchester whose 17 year old daughter sobbed because her new Lexus didn't have the performance package (a $5,000 option). It's an interesting question. New Yorkers can't help but be bombarded with evidence of conspicuous and excessive consumption. Very few of us can look around and not see thousands of things we can't have. But is this the cause of unhappiness, or simply the trigger?

My father, in addition to being a man of immense intellect and courage, is able to place almost any situation in its proper perspective. Years ago, while fishing on my small runabout in Reynolds Channel I mentioned that it would be nice to have one of those fully-decked-out sport fishing boats that were buzzing past us. He pointed to the crowd fishing on the Magnolia Street Pier and said that those guys were looking at us and thinking the same thing. I was an adult at the time but this was an Andy-and-Opie moment, one of many that we've had over the course of the decades.

"Go after what you want in life," he taught me, "and don't look into anyone else's wallet." It was a lesson I took to heart at a very early age.

Basically it all comes down to this: If I get what I want, I'm a happy guy.

"Mr. Martini..." called Dr. Zaman's nurse. I put down the magazine, smiling, and went in for my yearly echocardiagram. "You're 100%," the doctor reported. "Keep exercising, watch what you eat and STAY OFF THAT MOTORCYCLE!"

"One out of three ain't bad," I mumbled.

The next morning I played the Red Course at Eisenhower Park and shot a 40 on the front nine.

Authentic happiness.

On the back, the course having somehow discovered my true handicap, double bogey followed double bogey followed double bogey for a 49. Yet just as I descended into sleep that night a wide-screen HD image emerged: A perfect swing with my 3 iron, my second shot soaring toward the Par 5 First Green and gently coming to rest 20 feet from the pin.

Before I could reach for my putter, I was fast asleep.

Happy Father's Day to all.

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Ich Bin Ein New Yorker?

You can't blame Illinois-ans for feeling a burdensome sense of inferiority these days.

The White Sox are languishing around the .500 level. The Blackhawks and the Bulls are playing golf again during the playoff season.

Even the most rabid Cubs fans are wondering why their team is still in the Majors. If this was the European Premiereship League the Cubs would have been relegated to Serie "F" in 1909, never to return. A T-shirt seen at Wrigley Field recently stated: "Hey, every team has a bad century once in awhile."

Okay, so the White Sox clobbered the Yankees last night, but that doesn't count. Everybody beats the vaunted Bronx Bombers.

I won't even pile on and mention the pathetic performance by Dah Bears last January.

A short-lived sense of euporia lifted Illinois residents for a short time when they found themselves with the two front runners in the Democratic race for the presidential nomination.

This should have come as no surprise since Illinois, the Land of Lincoln, has a long and storied (some say bizarre) political tradition.

Illinois, after all, is the only state in the Union that has three senators and was able, without the slightest giggle, to report that JFK received 160% of the vote in Cook County.

So why is it that the good citizens of Illinois in general and Chicago in particular still feel this underwhelming sense of inferiority vis-a-vis their big brother to the east.

Maybe a recent story in the New York Post has something to do with it.

While campaigning through the Empire State Senator Barack Hussein Obama declared himself a New Yorker to an adoring crowd of admirers. His rationale, curiously, was the fact that he attended Columbia University more than two decades ago. Am I nitpicking? I think not. Not until I hear him declare himself Hawaiian--or Indonesian for that matter--will I believe that his identification with NYC is anything less than evidence of the deeply-held sense of inferiority experienced by most, if not all, citizens of the Second City.

Gadzooks! Even the self-applied nickname is an affront. They could have called themselves The Big Shoulders Comedy Troupe, The Windy City Comedy Troupe. Jeez-Louise, even the Hog Butchers Comedy Troupe is better than Second City.

Tell me, do you know any New Yorker who attended... let's say... Union College of Barbourville, Kentucky who would declare to the world: "I am an Appalachian"?

No! New Yorkers are New Yorkers down to the bone and will tell you so at every opportunity.

Yes, I tell people that I graduated from UCLA (University on the Corner of Lexington Avenue) but that's a joke.

My own senator, Ms. Rob-Em Clinton, considers herself multi-lingual because of her ability to slide between Brooklyn-ese, Arkansas drawl and Midwestern nasal twang within the same sentence. Curious? Not if you understand her history. But then again, enlightened people should maintain expansive and inclusive definitions of both multi and lingual.

Just ask Rosie O'Donnell. I understand that she recently told a joke in the obscure Chinese dialect spoken only in the remote region of Ching-Chong. Talk about inferiority, here's a pathetic blob of protoplasm who tells everyone that her hard edge comes from growing up in New York, when she spent her formative years in a remote ex-urbian outpost known as Commack, Long Island.

I'll bet Commack-ians are busting their buttons over this dubious honor.

Sort of like Chappaqua being famous as the adopted hometown of Bill and Hillary. But then again, Chappaqua has long been known as the bedroom community of choice for every low-life dirtbag lawyer in New York, so what's new.

But back to the main topic. Why do Barack and Hitlery have this compulsive desire to be Noo Yawkers? I think it's the inborn sense of optimism and confidence that native New Yorkers radiate. By growing up in the most densely populated and frenetic community in America, one develops a hard-shell patina as a means of protection. But, by the same token, New Yorkers instinctively understand that a collective personality inclined toward tolerance, grudging courtesy and mutual respect for each other's space is essential for peaceful coexistence. Outsiders may believe that New Yorkers are cold and distant. I believe that we're incredibly good natured given the circumstances. But, you'll just have take our word for that.

When the burly truck driver in the diner bellows: "Hey Mack! I said pass the sugar!" as one did to me yesterday, we know that he means it lovingly. It's kind of like baseball signals or what Bible scholars call a shibboleth: language meant to be understood by a close knit community. And that's what we are; eight million plus neighbors who understand each other perfectly. Interlopers may chomp on a knish in front of the TV cameras then retreat to their gated compounds, but they will never understand what it means to be a New Yorker.

John Fitzgerald Kennedy proclaimed "Ich bin ein Berliner" and his words resonated throughout the world because he was affirming solidarity with people who had suffered isolation from friends and neighbors, brothers, sisters and cousins. When today's politicians proclaim that they are New Yorkers because they spent a four hour layover at La Guardia, to quote John Cleese, it is something completely different.