Category Archives: Uncategorized

Six Million Stories

I volunteer as a docent at Miami’s Holocaust Memorial. This is a book we have in the office there. A simple and profound book. The word “Jew” typed six million times creates an incredibly large tome (it’s as thick as an encyclopedia volume as you can see), but it is imperative to remember that each of those words represents a life cut brutally short. Each “Jew” has his or her own story to tell. I do my part to bring some of those stories to light, to honor the memories of those six million. Much of my own family was ravaged by the hatred embodied by the Shoah, and as the last of the survivors near the end of their lives, I strive to be a bridge to younger and future generations, passing on the critical message of NEVER AGAIN!

When considering the current COVID-19 crisis gripping the world, most people point to the Spanish Flu in 1918 to be the most recent example of a global pandemic.

Today, on Yom HaShoah, I challenge that assertion. The rise of Fascism, and in particular, the Nazis, posed a far more virulent threat to mankind…and make no mistake: The Nazis and all they represented, were, and continue to be, a virus…a plague on humanity.

Defenses were down after the War To End All Wars and its aftermath crippled the global economy, foisting our planet into the Great Depression. Germany, as the instigator and loser of WWI, was hit hardest. And so the Nazi virus began its invasion using a path of least resistance, enveloping central Europe in a fever-dream of swastikas and a promise to Make Aryans Great Again.

At first, a majority of Germans and their neighbors didn’t take the threat seriously. They had ample opportunity to snuff the early flames before it spread. But through a combination of denial, selfishness and policies of appeasement which focused on local problems (be it within one’s family or municipality inside of Germany, or on fellow countrymen and national strife beyond the German borders – particularly in England – I’m looking at you Chamberlain), they failed to take early decisive action.

In fairness, those who unleashed the virus on their fellow man were deceitful. They propagated a campaign of lies, slyly undermining any efforts to slow the spread. Propaganda ensured rapid infection by way of sleight of hand…the virus was…get this…hailed as the cure – the magic elixir that would solve all of Germany’s rampant and real problems: unemployment, stagflation, poverty…helping the once-proud nation and it’s people to a return to glory. How? By blaming all of these problems on the Jews, of course.

By the time the NAZI-88 virus annexed the Sudetenland and bulldozed Poland it was too late. The disease had mutated. Local populations with dormant but no less virulent strains of the insidious ailment actually helped spread the disease. NAZI-88 preyed on hubris. And the weak, the elderly and the disabled were ravaged. Certain members of society were quarantined, and forced to produce munitions to bolster and help spread the infection.

But millions of ordinary European citizens had a choice…they could help stop the spread of NAZI-88, or they could aid and abet the virus in its death march across Europe. NAZI-88 could not truly take hold throughout the continent without the help of the ignorant masses…both those who actively spread the infection and those who passively sat idly by as the disease ravaged their communities.

Let the lessons of NAZI-88 be forever etched in our minds. In times when the ground below us begins to crumble, and the flames of hell begin to pierce our foothold, it is up to the masses to join together and extinguish, not fan, the flames, and to reinforce the barriers that protect our weakest brothers and sisters from slipping through the cracks. For it is ignorant to believe the sacrifice of the old and frail, of the disabled and infirm or even of the Jews or some other minority will smother the raging fires below; rather, doing so will serve to feed those dying embers and erode the earth that protects us all from their grip.

#NeverForget

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When I Was A Kid, The World Shut Down…

HistoryBook

I don’t roll on Shabbas…and now, you won’t catch your author anywhere near a bowling alley any other day of the week either.

Bowling has to be one of the highest-risk activities to spread a contagious virus (maybe second to a trip to Chuck E Cheese’s?) Just thinking about reaching my fingers into those three holes (get your mind out of the gutter…see what I did there?) in any of those colored balls at a local bowling alley makes my stomach churn and the little hairs stand up on the back of my neck. Add to that the shared rental shoes, the touchscreen automated scoring apparatus, the arcade games, the bowling alley bathrooms and the other patrons (many of whom would fit right in on Tiger King) and you may as well reserve an ICU wing at the local hospital.

But I digress.

There are a number of distinct memories I have from childhood, both good and bad, that are forever etched into my mind, along with certain imagery…just thinking about the events below brings me back to a certain time and place in my life. And conversely, reminiscing about certain times in my life, I immediately recall these events which are forever associated with those specific ages and moments.

  • Gas station lines during the oil crisis in the ’70s
  • Phillies 1980 World Series Victory
  • Iran Hostage Crisis (in particular, the yellow ribbon – replete with its own song)
  • USA Hockey victory over USSR – The Miracle on Ice
  • John Lennon’s Assassination
  • Reagan’s Assassination Attempt
  • 76ers 1983 World Championship
  • We Are the World
  • Challenger Explosion
  • Stock Market Crash of 1987
  • Earthquake Disrupts 1989 Bay Area World Series
  • The Gulf War – “This Aggression Will Not Stand!”
  • Tiananmen Square
  • Exxon Valdez Oil Spill
  • Berlin Wall Comes Down (And the subsequent dissolving of the USSR)
  • Magic Johnson Reveals He Has HIV
  • Rodney King Riots
  • Duke Back-to-Back Championships 1991-1992 – (in particular, the UNLV game in ’91 and the Kentucky game in ’92)
  • OJ – The car chase and the trial

*The list is not exhaustive and shows a clear bias toward negative stories (one wonders if that is a human thing, a media thing or an IDROS thing). IDROS included impactful events from early childhood through college graduation. Also, please note these are all shared events. Obviously, like IDROS, all of you have personal memories and life-altering events of which only you and your closest family and friends might be aware. But this COVID-19 affair affects the entire planet and so this list includes only events shared by much of, if not all of, humanity.

IDROS would love to hear from any readers who have other watershed events to include in the comments below.

Thinking back on the list above, IDROS can’t help but wonder how his and all children will remember this dark and unique time in our world.

How will it be taught in schools? What will be the lasting images and photos of the pandemic that will fill the History textbooks? What would be the impacts on our world? Did humanity change as a result? And how so? Do we look back at this time nostalgically? Did any good come from this crisis? Did society learn anything from this? What, if anything, was forever changed by Coronavirus? Was our response effective? What could we have done better? Where did our efforts fail? How are we more prepared going forward for another such threat?

A few of IDROS’ stray observations so far from the Coronavirus Pandemic:

  1. No school shootings – an underrated benefit of this craziness
  2. My kids don’t realize the fears my wife and I have when doing mundane things like going grocery shopping or getting gas in this new world
  3. They also don’t know what we do once we return with our haul, or have it delivered – the hours wiping down all the boxes and packages with Clorox wipes, etc.
  4. If you weren’t a hypochondriac and/or germaphobe before this pandemic…you are now!
  5. IDROS fears even more than usual for all women and children living in an abusive home during this crisis (please read this great piece)
  6. Doctors, nurses and hospital employees are true heroes (as are grocery store employees, delivery men and women, and all first-responders)
  7. Yardwork is more fun when you are quarantined, but only marginally
  8. Little to no traffic on the roads is a pleasant and welcome benefit of these times
  9. IDROS believes the current situation must be especially difficult for anyone working a 12-step program (or similar) and prays for your continued strength – on the plus side: zoom meetings are available and the coffee is likely better
  10. IDROS is legitimately scared…for his family, friends, all who are protecting us and helping us through this time, America, and for humanity
  11. America’s greatest challenge in this pandemic, in IDROS’ humble opinion, is the vast amount of freedom the citizens of this country enjoy…to truly contain and defeat this enemy, a full lockdown is necessary and should have been instituted long ago (think, February). But Americans would never allow this en masse and will need to see much more devastation than a couple thousand deaths before allowing the government to claw back their freedoms. Nations with citizens who are more accustomed to dictatorial rule, or at least fewer liberties and freedoms in general, have fared much better during this pandemic.
  12. That said, IDROS is humbled by the overwhelming selflessness of the majority of American (and global) citizenry. Most people are sacrificing everything for the greater good, forgoing sanity, their careers, income and most that life has to offer outside the four walls of their homes to ensure the safety of the first-responders, medical professionals, elderly and immuno-compromised in our communities…and frankly, have done so with no real clear leadership. There is no precedent for this situation and still, by and large, the response has been amazingly awe-inspiring…at least so far.
  13. IDROS would like to thank all the kind people out there like John Krasinski who are trying to keep us focused on the good during these trying times.

Please be safe everyone. Humanity will prevail! Have faith and stay the f*c@ at home!

All the best,

IDROS

#FlattenTheCurve

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Forward

2020-March-Calendar“Beware the Ides of March,” they said…

“March Madness,” they said…

“In like a lion, out like a lamb,” they said (one can still hope, but unless it’s a lamb created by Dr. Moreau, probably not gonna’ happen)…

So fortunate we are to have had that extra day in February this year to prepare…

March!

Named for the Roman god of War…and now we find ourselves embroiled in a true World War.

The globe is united against a common enemy…an enemy so small it can’t be seen by the naked eye.

Time marches on, and so must we…

This is our March of the Living!

Thank you to all of those on the front lines, and everyone working overtime for a cure.

Stay safe everyone…and please follow the CDC guidelines. #FlattenTheCurve

All the best,

IDROS

 

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The Ultimate List

Funny_Fantasy-football-namesPumpkin spice surrounds us once again, and it is as inescapable as a crowded checkout line at Target. The kiddos are starting (or in the case of Florida, where IDROS lives, have already started) school. Halloween decorations, costumes and candies have flooded retail hubs across America. And so, by the transitive property, we can safely assume that FOOTBALL SEASON is upon us. And with it, Fantasy drafts have hijacked the productivity of at least 60% of society and have added stress and resentment to marriages across the land.  Polls and power rankings are honed and proliferated by pedigreed dart-throwers at major sports media outlets all over the nation.

Why? Because everyone loves lists. All things in life are better when boiled down to an ordered, unordered, random or deliberate list…especially when it’s ranked. Some of these rankings are serious, and help inform people’s choices for colleges, grad schools, private schools, mutual funds, new cars, doctors, lawyers, and a host of other products and professionals we are free to choose. Some are less serious, but nonetheless drive the music we listen to, the movies we see, the Fantasy players we draft, the “top” answers on a certain Game Show and more importantly, the relevancy regarding certain arcana such as the best songs from certain decades, the best movie roles for certain actors, the best quarterbacks of all time, etc.

IDROS enjoys a good list as much as anyone, and so what better way to “kick off” American football season (see what I did there?) than to proffer a very special list…the ultimate list.

Behold, the IDROS ULTIMATE LIST OF LISTS (top 25 answers on the board…revealed in descending order for the reader’s pleasure). As always, if you have any suggestions or additions, feel free to contribute in the comments:

25) To Do

24) Do Not Call

23) Endangered Species

22) Reading

21) Play

20) Wait

19) Christmas (Holiday)

18) Check

17) No Fly

16) Hit

15) Wish

14) Guest

13) Mailing/Contact

12) Most Wanted

11) Punch

10) A

9) Hurricane (Apocalypse) Prep

8) Shopping/Grocery

7) B

6) Sh*t

5) Wine

4) Bucket

3) Set

2) My (…of the best things in life…yes, the one your kiss is on)

1) Franz

Others receiving votes: Top 10, Phone/Contact, C, Short, Packing, Watch, Price, Honey-Do, Luke, Ingredients, UVA, Inventory, Results, Santa’s, D, Answer, Florida State, Drink, Song, Signature, Donor, Passenger, Thank You, Call/Emergency Call

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MARCO POLO

Marco Rubio

“If I believed an assault weapons ban would have prevented this from happening, I would have supported it.” Marco Rubio, CNN Town Hall February 21, 2018

We all remember the game we played as children, usually while swimming. Now imagine playing the game, but in a strange twist of fate, all the other children were replaced with doppelgangers who happened to be deaf. You call out “Marco….Marco….MARCO!” Your frustration grows as your playmates remain silent. Finally, unable to take it anymore, you open your eyes to make sure your friends were still in the pool. There they were, just as you remembered before closing your eyes. So were they ignoring you? You call out again, “MARCO!” Still silence. Like any child, you get real close and yell into someone’s ear, “MARCO!” Nothing. Finally, unable to take anymore, you grab a friend by the arm violently, screaming “Marco!” and shaking him or her. He or she responds, “what the hell? Stop grabbing me!” You begin to cry, and get out of the pool.

I am that frustrated kid. I am sure many of you feel similarly. How can these troglodytes live amongst us? Are they kidding? How did this guy get elected? How can this devil woman believe the venom she is spewing? How is this La Derrière character allowed to breathe the same oxygen I am? Can half our country really be this stupid? Why aren’t the more educated among the gun freaks not stepping in to slap some sense into their ignorant brethren? How many children have to die before things finally change? All of them? And if all of them is your answer (and believe me, after the nonsensical answers I have heard from your camp, I wouldn’t put it past you), then what exactly are you protecting with your prized guns?

And down the rabbit hole I go…again.

Look, kudos to Marco Rubio for even having the balls to show up Wednesday night. The governor and our Narcissist-in-Chief were clearly too busy polishing their extended taints (the space their testicles, which were sold to the NRA, once occupied). And good ol’ Rubio even showed sense enough to concede a few points…albeit minor points…on every White Supremacist’s favorite Constitutional Amendment. But look at his quote again (“If I believed an assault weapons ban would have prevented this from happening, I would have supported it.”) This is so insulting. How can you know if such a ban has never been enacted? Who cares what you believe? Facts save lives. Not beliefs. This is the same BS-laden venom anti-vaxxers spew that puts children’s lives at risk. And how dare you look the very children who miraculously survived the Rambo-like blitzkrieg of an assault weapon carrying 19-year old, and spew that garbage. YOU HAVEN’T TRIED EVERYTHING YOU CAN TO SAVE LIVES! And you know how IDROS knows this? BECAUSE YOU HAVEN”T ENACTED A LAW THAT MOST LIKELY WOULD HAVE PREVENTED THAT 19 YEAR OLD D-BAG FROM BUYING THE ASSAULT WEAPON!

In a recent Facebook post, when I called Bullshit on the NRA and their supporter’s entire platform vis-a-vis guns, many of my faithful friends and readers asked me…”So now what do we do?”

Below is IDROS’ playbook (this is not exhaustive):

  1. KEEP THE PRESSURE ON! Every day that goes by after a mass shooting weakens our leverage. But we can’t take our feet off the gas. Sandy Hook deflated all of us…we all have this horrible aftertaste in our mouths (it is actual throw up…we all threw up in our mouths a little) because “If nothing changed after 6 year olds were massacred, nothing will ever change…” IDROS is still in shock over the inaction. Thousands of young lives have been extinguished far too early since that awful day…and we all know that if even one of those lives could have been saved by common sense gun control measures…So keep writing on social media. Join a march. Call or email or write your Congress people, Governors, Council people, Comptrollers, DAs, ADAs, Attorneys General, Commissioners, Mayors, Sheriffs, Clerks and unwelcome residents of 1600 Pennsylvania. Boycott any company or business that supports the NRA. Write letters to large known NRA donors. Call those supporters out on social media.
  2. FIND TURNCOAT FORMER GUN NUTS – IDROS is certain there are NRA members who have lost loved ones in one of these senseless mass shootings. We must find these people and tap into the “Come to Jesus” moments. It’s so easy to brainwash the ignorant. But even the most devout cult followers can be easily deprogrammed when traumatized. And these people can expose the weaknesses in the NRArmor. There may be other former NRA members who have seen the light without experiencing trauma…we must utilize these gifts.
  3. GET OUTSIDE YOUR COMFORT ZONE / ECHO CHAMBER – Posting rants, sharing articles and blogs, and voicing disgust solely in our own networks, families and circles of friends is not enough. For the majority of us, most if not all of our outlets have similar political and social ideals. We must take the discussion to those who don’t already share our beliefs. Sure, my parable about the most frustrating game of Marco Polo ever looms large here, but if we can get through to even one or two people, have meaningful discussions and debates, and find some common ground in a forum where others like THEM might be watching/listening/reading, we may actually preach beyond the choir. The recent Townhall aired by CNN was great, but unfortunately, most of the people in our country we want to receive that type of message view CNN as the devil, and would rather have a family of Middle Eastern foreigners move in next door than tune in. So be sure to engage the one or two hard line gun fanatics in your network and/or family. Engage in a Breitbart or NRA message board. Find anything the likes of Tomi Lahren, Rush Limbaugh or Sean Hannity posts and respond. Sure, for the most part you will feel like you are playing Marco Polo in a school for the deaf. But it is vital to keep the lines of communication open.
  4. FUND THE ANTI GUN LOBBY – Unfortunately, IDROS does not think there is an equivalent to the NRA in terms of funding and influence that lobbies for sensible gun control. THIS POST is dead-on in much of its logic. It is a much more difficult task to influence a bureaucratic system awash in red tape to create new legislation, than it is to influence the same people to DO NOTHING. And since those who own guns and want to keep owning guns are much more motivated to protect their stance, even on a boring, garden variety Tuesday, than the opposition, who really only ever shows its teeth following a mass catastrophe…well, we get present day America. Michael Bloomberg and his Everytown For Gun Safety seems to be the best we have, and it is fairly new, established in 2014. IDROS would prefer to see money removed from politics altogether, as it is the root of all evil and corruption, but because so much money hangs in the balance of every major election outcome, unfortunately, this is unrealistic. So fund the opposition to the NRA. Solicit outspoken celebrities and wealthy friends and associates to do the same. Everytown is still in its infancy, but as the opposition to the NRA grows, the power of the gun lobby will shift. This article implies that money doesn’t matter. IDROS begs to differ.
  5. MARCH MADNESS – IDROS loves the idea of March For Our Lives. The surviving MSD students are giving our nation a clinic in how to enact change following a mass tragedy, and all of us who have been clamoring for change dating back to Columbine or any of the hundreds of shootings since owe these brave children a debt of gratitude. So get out there and support them physically, financially and/or any way you can. Colleges are promising not to penalize students who garner any disciplinary fallout relating to protests and marches. Here’s hoping companies will follow suit when hiring time comes. But as much as IDROS supports the student marches and protests, there is another option which may send a more powerful message, and just might get lawmakers to act more expediently. IDROS turned to his wife the evening of the Parkland shooting (IDROS’ wife is a longtime administrator at a school in South Florida) and said, “this has to stop, and I know how to stop it quickly. Unfortunately, it’s up to you. And by you, I mean all school employees, nationwide…pre-school through universities. Teachers, administrators, janitors, cafeteria workers, bus drivers, athletic coaches, counselors, nurses…all of you.” Please know that IDROS does not suggest others risk their financial security, their employment, their job security, their pensions, their futures, lightly…and anything IDROS is recommending, please know IDROS would be willing to do himself, along with his wife. Because it is all of their lives who are at risk every day. Because this is not what any of them signed up for when they made the incredible selfless choice to become educators and champions of our children. And because these are actual, current, registered voters whom the lawmakers actually represent right now, and for us to ask our children to do this alone may just be asking too much. IDROS recommends all school employees across the nation take the calendar at face value, and MARCH, starting in March. March 1, 2018, all employees strike until Congress enacts sensible gun control measures…PERIOD. All moneys forfeited, and jobs lost as a result must be guaranteed and made whole by a fund to be set up, like a GO FUND ME. And the rest of us will back this effort by A) Dealing with the frustrating and difficult repercussions of having our kids at home during this time period; B) Funding the GO FUND ME to make sure no person involved in this effort loses a single paycheck from doing so; and C) Offering support in any other way we can. IDROS believes this will work, and will work more quickly than any other tactic. Why? Because the opposition may have more lobbying money, but when push comes to shove, more than their precious little guns, they need their kids in school…and their politicians would not withstand the avalanche this kind of mass walkout would unleash.

Marjory Stoneman Douglas once said: “Be a nuisance where it counts. Do your part to inform and stimulate the public to join your action. Be depressed, discouraged, and disappointed at failure and the disheartening effects of ignorance, greed, corruption and bad politics—but never give up.”

Let’s honor her, and the brave students and faculty at her namesake school, by doing all we can to move the needle. We must not let these precious lives…any of them, from any of the tragic shootings of our past…be lost in vain.

As always, thanks for reading. Please share, and if you have any clout with the Teachers’ unions, the NEA, the Department of Education, the PTA, etc…let’s make this a MARCH to remember. Our children are counting on you.

Please let IDROS know if you have any other ideas to share that might help save lives.

Best regards,

IDROS

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SOTU

UNIOM

Uniom? The tickets for tonight’s State of the Union address by Don the Con contained a spelling error. Obviously this allowed at least half our nation of armchair pundits to pile on, saying something along the lines of, “no surprise…this administration can’t do anything right.”

But for IDROS, the mistake is glaring in that it highlights perhaps the biggest problem with our nation. Our country is no longer a union. I am not implying it ever truly was the perfect union glorified in the Preamble to our Constitution, but America certainly masked its divides much better at various times in our questionable past.

IDROS found Trump’s motto, Make America Great Again, to be complete BS from the get go…actually worse than BS…insulting on pretty much every level. America’s historical greatness only exists from one paradigm…that of a white, Christian male. Sure, America is and has been a beacon of light, on an awful scale of relativity, in a world of tyrants, despots, oppression, incessant war, famine, unimaginable poverty and general fear and insecurity. It has stood, pretty much since its creation, as a bastion of freedom in a pool of shit and misery. So it is, and has been, easy for many of us and our ancestors to puff out our chests and wave our flag at the rest of the world from on high.

But just because the US of A isn’t as awful as other nations and fiefdoms, doesn’t mean our societal fabric isn’t rife with its own warts, horrific history and ubiquitous problems. And many of these historic issues are currently boiling over the cauldron of Trump, and are poised to engulf us in something pretty terrible (and by that, IDROS means something more terrible than this first year of the House of Orange administration has already been).

So the error on the SOTU tickets…UNIOM…pretty much says it all. Our union has all but dissolved in the 16+ short years since 9/11, just after which IDROS would argue, our nation was as united as it ever has been, with the exception perhaps of the time just after the attack on Pearl Harbor (though at that time, our nation was still segregated in many places, Asian Americans were put in camps, and women were treated like second class citizens).

Trump has not succeeded in “Draining the proverbial Swamp.” He has flooded it, and the sewage has risen above the banks, destroyed the levees and is threatening to drown us all. I don’t mean to be such a Debbie Downer…hey, look…the Stock Market is soaring. Maybe we will all be rich in retirement. Oh right, by we all, IDROS means only those of us who had enough money before this incredible bull market to sock some away for the future without eating into our savings and retirement accounts during the bad times. So probably like 25% of us, more or less. Too high?

Unemployment is at historic lows…that’s good, right?

On second thought…IDROS has reconsidered. Stop with the politics! Now! Need air. Panic attack setting in. Bear with me for a sec. Deep breath. Second deep breath. Ok. Where were we?

Let’s talk about some other stuff.

Here are some brief comments on some other current events to distract your author and all of you from further ruminations on our comic book character in chief:

Super Bowl – Fly Eagles Fly. IDROS likes them and wants to put a ring on them.

Grammys – Not a great awards show…not that any of them are. IDROS particularly liked that Lorde didn’t get to perform after her ridiculous anti-Semitic decision to cancel a show in Israel. Really liked Ke$ha’s performance with Cindy et al…found that the choir eerily resembled the cult in the show The Leftovers. In Memoriam confirmed that way too many of IDROS’ musical heroes left us this past year…many of them way too soon.

Michigan State – Seems in line with the nightmare that was Penn State. It is clear, following scandals that have rocked pretty much every institution and organization that involves children, that children have been horrifically abused, and then neglected and ignored throughout our history…and most times, even after some brave souls have found the courage to come forward and attempt to end the abuse, the machine (i.e. whatever institution that has so much to lose, be it money, credibility, power, enrollment, attendance, endowment funds, recruits, prestige, image, etc.) uses its vast resources to quash the complaint and/or cover it up. IDROS threw up in his mouth a little just thinking about this.

USA Gymnastics – See above.

Aziz Ansari – If women believe his behavior warrants this public thrashing, we should listen. No, what he did doesn’t deserve his career to end, nor is it on a level even close to what Harvey and others have done. And it is incredibly unfortunate that a minority celebrity, someone who champions minorities in his show and in his writing room, who tackles minority issues and who brings things to light that, to be frank, White America needs to see and hear, is the one being dragged through the mud over this type of behavior. BUT, this should be a learning moment for all of us, because our misogynistic rape culture will improve if and only if all behaviors that are inappropriate are highlighted as such, AND we all learn them ourselves and teach them to our children.

Tennis – Congrats Roger. Mazel Tov and Siman Tov!

Poland – In the friggin’ face of the anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz, International Holocaust Remembrance Day, Poland is allegedly passing a law making it a jailable offense to associate Poland or Polish people with any culpability vis a vis the Holocaust. While IDROS agrees that Poland and many Poles were also victims of the Nazis, Poland and its citizens played an enormous and horrific role in the perpetration of the Final Solution. I am not sure people understand what it takes to murder six million people. A majority of Death Camps were located in Poland for a number of reasons. Sure, one of those reasons was that the largest Jewish population in Europe was living in Poland at the time. But to murder that unfathomable number of people, you need a lot of help. The Nazis had it. Many willing Poles. Nazis oversaw many of the camps, but the day to day workers executing the Nazi directives, in large part were Poles. Poles also ran the ghettos, and facilitated the transport of Jews from the many ghettos to the extermination camps. Please join IDROS in raising a middle finger and pointing it in Poland’s general direction.

People Complaining About the Judge’s Verdict In the Larry Nassar Trial – IDROS believes Judge Rosemarie Aquilina showed a lot of restraint. Sure, the judge probably knew millions of eyes and ears were on her in such a high profile trial, and so she wanted to milk her moment to shine for all it was worth…maybe even parlay it into a book deal and/or a television gig. But who could blame her? And as for the scum she sentenced, he deserved much worse. Settle down trolls. Save the venom for people who actually deserve it….like the sub-human she addressed.

The Golden Globes – Pretty unwatchable. But the winner for best television drama, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, totally deserved its prize. IDROS highly recommends the Amazon offering. Do it!

Anyway…that’s my four cents.

Let me know your thoughts on any of the above, or anything else you believe IDROS should address.

Hope 2018 is off to a great start for all of you. And for those of my faithful living in Northern climes, just think…only 50 days till SPRING!

Thanks for reading.

All the best,

IDROS

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13 Reasons Why

Earlier this year, my wife and I (yes, IDROS is married…sorry ladies) watched the titular Netflix show thinking it might be good for us, as parents, to learn a little about what the youth of today may be experiencing. Also, perhaps we could glean why the series became such a viral sensation so we could seem in tune with “Non-Fake News” topical subject matter at the proverbial water cooler, or while mingling with our counterparts at kiddy parties or activities. I can’t say I hate-watched it…In all honesty, IDROS was generally entertained by many aspects of it, and found some eerie similarities to Season One of Twin Peaks (which I might just discuss in another post)…but what your author enjoyed most about the series, hands down, was the music.

Which brings me to the much more interesting event of 2017, IMHO, that plays on our triskaidekaphobia for the low and totally worth-it price of 13 easy installments of $74.99 plus whatever applicable fees and charges various sources inexplicably get away with shaking us down for these days.

And I suppose now is as good a time as any to forewarn you. This will be a long(ish) post. Not quite as long as that Lawn Boy Supreme served up on July 25…but let’s just say it might run you a deuce and a half or even two jaunts.

This Baker’s Dozen run has been extraordinary from the starting gun. Even people who aren’t phans have taken notice, and if they haven’t, they should. Phish sets the gold standard for a live convert experience. This was going to be special from the moment it was announced.

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So without further ado, here is the MEAT of this post. 13 reasons why IDROS loves the foursome named Phish:

  1. It’s my thesis, man – Let me first say that I have never witnessed a full Gamehendge set in its entirety. Until TBD, the closest I ever came was a group of four shows I caught where they played all but 2 songs (non-consecutively). I don’t know how many of you faithful readers actually researched, wrote and defended a thesis, be it in college or grad school, but it is no joke. Still, when I think of someone writing a thesis I don’t usually harken back to my own terrible experience. I tend to conjure up images of the guy in PCU who apparently spent his senior year watching every movie that featured Gene Hackman or Michael Caine. When, toward the end of the cult favorite (which starred a young Ari Gold, obviously before he found a dentist), said thesis writer stumbled upon a movie that starred both Caine and Hackman, he yelled out “this is my thesis man!” It was pure comedic gold…but it was funny because to those who have toiled in the stacks for hours, coughing up dust from never before read tomes, scouring microfiche, developing blisters from banging on a Mac keyboard at all hours of the night, pumping our bodies full of Mountain Dew (or worse), blinding ourselves staring at the small endlessly blinking cursor on a screen the size of a pack of cigarettes, editing, re-editing, and then waking up in a cold sweat the night before our defense/presentation…we only wish our thesis could have been that entertaining to research…and that fulfilling when proven. We all know the plural of thesis is feces. But Trey Anastasio’s thesis at Goddard College, The Man Who Stepped Into Yesterday, is a masterclass in and of itself. If you’ve never listened to the Gamehendge chronicles from beginning to end, played a rare cassette tape until your car radio ate the tape, permanently scratched CDs from overuse, or were lucky enough to attend one of the rarest of Phish shows where the band played the rock fantasy operetta in its entirety…my advice to you is take an hour and do it. Oh…and read the friggin’ Book!
  2. Then Once More – every band has a gateway drug…a song that speaks to so many, inviting them in for further inspection with its pleasant beat, catchy hook and major chord melody. Bouncing Around The Room is a song guaranteed to bring a smile to pretty much every face at a Phish show because of all of these things. An early Phish tune, BATR has been reeling in Phish phans since 1990, but the thing I love most about the song is that it really encapsulates, and even showcases, the strengths (and to a lesser degree, the limitations) of the band. Fish establishes the beat from the jump and Mike lays down the bassline. With the structure in place, Trey and Page harmonize the vocals, with Page quickly demonstrating he has greater vocal range, but Trey, ever consistent (vocally), holding down the melodic fort. Page and Trey sprinkle in some keys and guitar as appropriate. The song slowly builds…Mike eventually spearheads the vocal and musical magnificence that ends the song in a round with his limited but deep baritone voice. Trey and Page beautifully layer both their voices atop Mike’s and begin to really unleash their respective instruments in what amounts to three minutes or so of pure musical bliss. All the while, the Wolfman’s Brother keeps the whole thing together.
  3. Deep Cover – Phish is a super talented band…not only do they prolifically write their own music, tour often, and sit in with other musicians…but all four lead their own side projects, experimenting in a multitude of musical genres, from funk to bluegrass to jazz to classical and even some dabbling in musical theater. It should be no surprise then that Phish, when together, is able to draw on these experiences as well as their vast talents, channeling their musicianship in ways few bands can. They play other people’s music with respect, but also have the courage and ability to take songs and give them a personal and unique take. I won’t say that every Phish version of a covered song is better than the original, and vocally, most of the time, Phish versions fall short. But musically, and occasionally, comedically, most Phish versions are superior, if not simply more entertaining. They have covered artists across pretty much every major musical genre, primarily alone, but a number of times on stage alongside the musicians they are covering. From Aerosmith to ZZ Top, BB King to Jay Z, Katy Perry to Chaka Khan, Miles Davis to Rage Against the Machine, Neil Diamond to the Beastie Boys, Jimi Hendrix to Bob Marley, Joni Mitchell to Elvis Presley…they are not afraid to take chances, and they have added hundreds of songs to their repertoire. And during this current TBD run, they are adding dozens (pun intended) of new and exciting covers to their songbook. Which leads nicely into…
  4. Ghost – One of IDROS’ favorite differentiators of the band has to be their Halloween costumes. Instead of dressing up in traditional costumes, however, Phish, beginning in 1994, has donned musical costumes, playing a full album of one of their inspirational musicians or bands. This has included the Beatles’ White Album, The Who’s Quadrophenia, the Talking Heads’ Remain In Light and The Velvet Underground’s Loaded, which IDROS was lucky enough to witness live. These musical costumes are stuff of legend…and for some lucky fans, unexpectedly in Utah in 1998, just after that year’s Loaded Halloween show, Phish played Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon, leading many phans to speculate that the band rehearsed both albums for Halloween and made a game time decision to go with the VU album. Many classic songs from these Halloween shows remain fixtures in Phish’s normal tour set lists.
  5. Say Yes to The Dress – With everything going on in the world today, and especially in our own country as it relates to discrimination, hostility and the giant step back basic human rights and equality seem to have taken this past year, Fish’s donut-laden muumuu, which has been a fixture for decades, seems to say to the LGBTQ community, “feel free to join us….you are safe here.” This makes IDROS happy.
  6. The Women Are Smarter – Phish have written some amazing songs about women over the years. From Suzy to Esther, Tela to Eliza, Reba to Olivia, Jennifer to the incomparable Landlady…and have mentioned many others (Liz, Millie, Jill, Vanessa, etc.). So here’s a shout out to the women of Phish. IDROS is partial to Esther, which is one of the most terrifying but beautiful songs ever written. A short story…Phish rarely plays Esther anymore. This has been the basic trend for over a decade. Many times, the band eschews the song for entire tours, even years. IDROS has attended exactly one Phish concert with his beautiful bride (who was merely IDROS’ girlfriend at the time). At that show, Phish played Esther. We were engaged the next day. To give you an idea of the odds – since 1998, there have been about 635 Phish shows. Phish has played Esther exactly 12 times in that stretch. That is once every 53 shows, or less than 2% of the time. Since our “engagement show” Phish has also played the song on my wife’s birthday as well as on another very significant date to us. In other words, the song Esther is very important to my family, and the cosmic Phish gods know this.
  7. Somewhere between Erie and Pittsburgh – Many great bands have at least one movie/documentary that captures them, realistically or fictitiously, at the peak of their popularity and creativity. From A Hard Day’s Night, to The Grateful Dead Movie, to Stop Making Sense to Purple Rain to IDROS’ personal favorite, The Last Waltz. Phish’s movie, Bittersweet Motel, came out in 1998, pretty much capturing the foursome at the height of their powers with footage from their 1997 tours. It is funny, filled with great live concert footage and captures the band members in rare candid moments most fans seldom see of their idols. In retrospect, the film is also aptly named as it is poignantly capturing the beginning of the end for the band, who would break up for the first time a couple years later. Fortunately for all of us, the band was able to put their differences aside, Trey was able to get the help he needed to move forward, once briefly in 2002-2004, and again hopefully for good in 2009-present. So now, hopefully a sequel is in the works, capturing Phish 3.0 in all its glory. Maybe it will be called Blissful Bed and Breakfast, or perhaps, just, JOY (oh, wait…).
  8. A Higher Purpose – There have been many articles written about the “religion” of The Grateful Dead and Phish. Loyal fans who follow them, an earthy way of life, drug based and sober “religious experiences,” and the artists themselves, assembled upon the pulpit or bimah, rifling through the newest testament of all…the music. Like the Dead, Phish has a number of spiritual and religious songs, both originals and standards, that they play regularly. From Daniel Saw the Stone, and of course Avinu Malkeinu all the way through Trey’s opus, The Man Who Stepped Into Yesterday, which is as spiritual a story as any you would find in the Bible, there is no denying that there is a large spiritual element to both Phish and its congregation of phans. Every time IDROS sees TMWSIY->Avinu live, your author hopes Fish or Mike would say “Tekiyah Gedolah” into the microphone, and TMWSIY would be played on shofars, or rams horns to kick it off. IDROS’ favorite version of a spiritual song ever played by Phish is Yerushalayim Shel Zehav, which ends their song Demand on the Hoist album, but has only been played as part of the song Demand once live. Phish has played YSZ twelve times in history (here is a favorite)…. And yes, to IDROS, Chris Kuroda is the Ner Tamid.
  9. Page side, rage side – IDROS plays the piano. Page plays the piano. IDROS believes Page is the greatest pianist in the world. Trey may be Phish’s “front man,” but for my money, Page is the MVP…a close race to be sure, but it is what it is. When given the choice IDROS sits or stands on the left side of a venue facing the stage…cause that’s where Page’s keyboard surrounded throne sits on the stage.
  10. A Festival to End All Festivals – Ever notice how SOAM can be a viable acronym for both Split Open and Melt AND Scent of a Mule? Yeah, I know I’m deflecting. There are not a lot of positive things to say about the great mudfest of 2004 (IDROS refuses to mention its name). The storm-ravaged fairgrounds resembled a third world country that had just been decimated by a hurricane…to those of us lucky enough to make it in. Thousands were stranded on a highway that could have been a scene right out of an apocalyptic movie where everyone is trying to flee the cities. And poor Cactus…the ace of bass was clearly forced to announce on the Phish radio channel set up for the festival for everyone to turn back and go home. Well my group persevered. We made it, came equipped with fly fishing boots we picked up along the way, hiked miles to and from the fairgrounds, slogged through the muck and the general malaise and melancholy that hung like a guillotine over the downtrodden faithful, and bid our farewells to our favorite band. Oh yeah…Phish was hanging their instruments up after this “Un-festive All.” Calling it quits for good this time. I mean, they say nothing ends well…that’s why things end. Well if this were to be the end for Phish, they were going out in a spectacular pool of vomit and putrescence. And for that, and because I had been to three other glorious Phish festivals, I got to see my musical hero, Page, melt down and cry on stage during Wading in the Velvet Sea, and because it wasn’t really the end…but rather an end to a bad time in the arc of the band’s story…I can include those three awful days in Vermont among my 13 (you can have good without bad…and sometimes it takes hitting bottom to rise up and attain true greatness).
  11. Dancin’ On My Lawn – Phish is an amazing band if you wanna dance. When the band is bringing the funk, almost any song could be an opportunity to showcase your Camel Walk. Some songs (like MOMA, SOAM, Jibboo, Boogie On) let you break it down from start to finish. Other tunes, like YEM, begin with a composed section, which is difficult to dance to (read: sober), but builds into a funkier, free-flowing dance party after a few minutes (think Bowie, Hood, DWD, the Lizards, etc.) Reba, in IDROS’ opinion, is in a class all by itself. While it seems to fit into the latter category of a song that builds to a dance fan’s crescendo (it does), the beginning is not so much the orchestral building block that is the staple of many other early (read: core) Phish songs. In fact, deep into Reba at the opening show of TBD, IDROS came to the following conclusion: Reba, as a song, is very much like the love scene in the move Armageddon. The whimsical silliness of the beginning is like the animal cracker-based foreplay, which gets more and more inane, until…even if Liv Tyler and/or Ben Affleck aren’t your thing, you get the idea. Out of the ludicrous comes pure, unadulterated bliss…some of the best dance jam music Phish ever unleashes.
  12. Atama Ga Shock – Because a long time ago, IDROS lived in Japan and developed a working knowledge of the Japanese language, your author was over the moon when, in 2000, Phish toured Japan and unveiled the Japanese lyrics to the chorus of their song, Meatstick. It would have been incredible to have lived in Japan during said tour, but I have seen Meatstick performed half a dozen (yes, we are counting in dozens for this post) since 2000, and every time I hear them break out the Japanese lyrics it brings a huge smile to my face.
  13. You Can’t Always Get What You Want – TBD has taken Phish’s unique live concert experience to new heights. No repeats in 13 days (this was posted after 12 shows but IDROS has faith) ensured not only every show was unique, but that every song was as well. Phish fans know, however, like Dead fans, that a lack of repeated songs aren’t what make this band so fun to see live…rather, it is the freshness of the setlists, and the trill of the chase. Phish has a number of rare songs that they play once in a blue moon. They also can be full of surprises, playing new covers, or old songs in new ways. We all treasure those shows where we can say “we were there when.” And just like the Stones forewarned all of us…we may not hear the exact songs we were hoping for when we had that ticket stub in our hand…but we always get what we need…and the Phab Phour always give us everything they have.

Phish – Thanks for a great three weeks, and for an amazing 35 years.

And to my faithful readers, IDROS hopes you caught at least one show during this outstanding Baker’s Dozen run.

Let’s all live while we’re young. We can still have fun!

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