Sunday, April 18, 2021

Out of Necessity

"Out of necessity: History, explained to a child"
To his adoring brood, Abe speaks of biblical facts:
Our elected officials
In service of
We who are free
Power driven classic wastrels they
They sit while pondering
Lacking knowledge to share
Void of imagination
Boredom reeks
Another day's performance
Bearing an infamous stink
Pernicious ways
Shared without care
These were selected brethren
Making promises they would not keep
What must we do Father
Abe’s eldest asks
Why not read that lyric to them, suggested good wife Mary Todd
The one your friend, da harv, wrote to you
When he too
Felt the die was cast
Good idea was Abe’s reply
"Vote them out, that’s what America's all about"
They said some bad stuff
Things I didn’t care to hear stuff
Like my country’s not good
Or my flag…take it down
You know, like always the kind of
"make a patriot mad" stuff
Without love, they expound
It’s in my heart to sing now
What the good book explains
I have to sing now
What this patriot has to say 
…and Mary mused, "da harv must set it to music one day." "He will, I am sure", thought Mr. Lincoln. And, of course, da harv did.
One day it will be sung as a reminder to all who are elected by us; you’re here to serve us, certainly not yourselves. It is our will, that will to be served.

Show us what you got
Do what you say
Tomorrow comes quickly
We can vote you out
God willing
That’s what America is all about.
Source for images: Google

Sunday, April 11, 2021

Batter Up

I was thinkingfrom things like feet, arms, legs, skin, breathing, and a few other parts, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera, mirroring all of us as human beingscomes now da harv’s most outstanding, but least remotely lucrative discovery of all time:
Baseball, a part of life, the greatest game we are permitted to play.

Let this game continue!
Dedicated to those who are encyclopedic with regard to having knowledge about the American game of baseball, and those who know absolutely nothing about the sport at all.
Drinking now
To what will finally be said
Free at last, free at last;
Listen, listen
Children of the world
Today we can all be on the same page,
With what LIFE offers next
Bravo, bravo
For what lies ahead
Outstanding they call it
If indeed they will listen
To what’s provided them
All the world’s children
Every dweller
Forever and ever
In every land
They’ll glean and glisten
Don’t take any pitch for granted
Swing at what’s thrown
At you, Every day
As hard as you can
Always swing, babies,
swing for the fences
Baseball lore for life


        And for dem who played the game, way back when it was invented, nothing was worse than taking the last strike…
When I say taking it, the last strike, it means you just stood there.
Someone hits you in the face and you don’t hit back, it means you’re taking it. And in baseball, if you don’t swing you’re taking the pitch…
        If you happen to take three pitches, and the umpire happens to decide they were all in the strike zone, as he sees it to be, then guess what…the umpire yells "you’re out!", while shaking his fist, or giving you another unfavorable gesture:
        And all because you didn’t swing the bat! It’s not because you didn’t hit the ball; you never gave yourself or your teammates a chance to win the game.
        A long time ago, one of our coaches was heard saying to a teammate who had just been called out after taking (not swinging) a called third strike, “Have you always been such a wimp?" A very embarrassing moment, don’t you think?

And that’s enough about baseball, except for how it applies to life…yours, mine, and just about everyone else!
        If you don’t take a chance, you never can win… unless somebody drops it on your doorstep; congratulations, you’re a winner without even trying. I don’t know anybody, or ever read about anyone who pulled that one offmaybe you’ll be the first.
        Sure, there are those of you who are saying right now, "what about inheriting a great deal of money, or winning the lottery?" Now that’s truly a bunch of crap. If something like that ever happens for da harv, I’ll print a retraction for you to read. Or come to think about it, if I had a big score, the first thing I’ll have to do is make room in our garage for my Bentley. Then it would be off to Gucci, in order to take steps towards reactivating my wardrobe.
Picture of my mom and dad on a warm Sunday morning circa 1953, sent to me as I served in Korea.
The caption reads: To Harvey, swing at life every day. 
They were both capable of doing anything at any time.
        Life and baseball have so much in common. There are good folks around every town. All you have to do is look for them, and not be afraid to swing that bat. We all find we’re provided with different abilities.
        In this life of ours, no two people swing the bat exactly the same way: different strokes for different folks. Where most people should lean is in a direction, not worrying about how to do it. If you keep swinging, one day, God-willing, you will hit that damn ball, no matter who's pitching it!

And one more thing, just to prove my baseball point of view:
        What follows is a drill I presented to a very special group of students while conducting a weekend seminar at the University of Southern California, circa June 1981, a mere forty years ago. I remember it as if it was yesterday.
        Today, we’re going to begin with a self-generating seminar. What that means, simply stated: I’m going to give you the subject, and you’re going to prepare a sentence or two explaining your choice. The subject for you all to write about are: winners.

Write about what winners have in common, in your opinion.


        As an example, regardless of how people become, winners have the strength and mental fortitude to stay the coursethey keep swinging the bat. They don’t stand still. Use as few words as possible. The fewer the number of words you write, the easier it will be for your listener to understand your meaning, regardless the subject. Make sure you only write and convey the truth. Try to write an example of a person who you might emulate within your own personal future.

A few of the submissions:

1. Winners never stop working out, striving to improve is their
most salient descriptive!
2. My mom and dad got it from their parents; they never complained to us kids about what life dished out.
3. Teachers like you. I love to laugh as I learn, it always feels like you’re talking to me.

        My premise then is almost exactly the way it remains today. Creatively, or just blah blah blah, in an account of something few folks will care about anyway. History is an agent of success, yours forever to acquire and use for betterment!
I told my students then, and it bears repeating, to all those with success aspirations:
Please open each day with a smile
The gist being your personal wish
By way of books and history
Seek laughter within what truth will bring
Honesty has lasted since forever began
Deceit deserts even the strongest man
And for all actors
Ever searching for success
Looking for an icon
Dreaming to replicate
It’s there before you
Your truth, won’t let you down
You above all people
Know it best
Be a glean machine
A book and some history
Small doses each and every day
A simple smile
Turns to laughter
Tomorrow morning
With a smile
A new actor, a new way
History in your making


Sunday, April 4, 2021

Through the Eyes of Gucci

27 March 2021
Ok, Ok, before you think da harv is absolutely nuts, pleasah, pleasah, (datsa Eye-tal-ee-on-no) listen to what I have to say.
I’ll get to Gucci in a minute.
        From the time I was a little kid I gravitated towards looking good, like dressing well; I got the idea from my dad. While I didn’t dress in a suit and tie when attending grade school, I definitely was a spit and polish kind of kid. For me, grade school was during the zoot suit era.
"The zoot suit originated in an African American comedy show in the 1930s and was popularized by jazz singers. Cab Calloway wore them, called them "totally and truly American"..."
Source: Wikipedia
Note: At the time, World War II was ablaze. Many immigrant families signified their extreme pride in the country. Patriotism was an all-equaling fact of life. And at the same time period our entertainment folks, particularly the film industry, were cranking out an ever-increasing genre of war movies.
        Believe it or not, at the time little da harv was able to sing many of Cab Calloway’s songs. My grandmother, on my dad's side, along with many of the relatives thought it was a blastespecially Cab's big hit, “Minnie the Moocher”; as the song goes, “Minnie had a heart as big as a whale... She was a low-down hoochie coocher”.
        But I do digress, Gucci on Rodeo Dr. in Beverly Hills is not where I normally do my clothes-shopping. Factually, I’ve never purchased anything from them; even after I had an extremely good earnings windfall. The old worrywart in me prevented the necessary courage to take hold of who I really am, although it’s not to say I didn’t want to shop there. Italian leather, in my opinion, is the finest, especially when used by Gucci to make their hand-made loafers. Up and until just the other day, the name Gucci was destined to remain, along with Bentley, on my bucket list.
The new Gucci restaurant, Rodeo Drive, Beverly Hills...
…and this, of course, is a far cry from the first Gucci operation founded in 1921, in Florence, Italy.

        At this point, you may be wondering why I chose to bring up the subject of “Gucci”. Well, the answer is easy enough to understand; I finally got to buy something with the Gucci name on itnot in a Gucci store, but of all places, Costco optometryI now have in my possession genuine Gucci frames for my eyeglasses.

        This morning, I noticed I was actually strutting around my balcony gardenyou guessed itwearing my newfound acquisition, my genuine Gucci glasses. Imagine the Puccini music backdrop for nature's lighting of the da harv’s latest balcony garden production. Without misconception, the morning sun coming through, pushed by a special breeze; plants were overheard, speaking of how well I looked to them. When I put those glasses on, instantly, da harv became that little kid again.
        The old guy would be looking down on a very personal moment he had helped to create so very many years ago in 1921. "Born to a simple Italian leather goods maker, Guccio Gucci was a porter at the Savoy hotel in London when he first became enamored with the glamorous suitcases that the guests arrived with from all over the globe."
Source: "History of Gucci - Charting the Evolution of Gucci"

And one more thing:
        My grandfather, Max Kalmenson, was born in the same era as Guccio Gucci. He, too, was a saddle maker by trade. My father, Charles Kalmenson, born in 1902, immigrated to the United States from Russia two years later, along with his older brother Ben, and my two grandparents, Ethel and Max. My father at age eighteen entered his own business as a leather craftsman in the manufacturing of ladies' handbags. My dad was accomplished at everything he endeavored: businessman, musician, artist, athlete, and family protector. My dad never went past the third grade in school.
        It’s good to have a gifted man as your best friend. My friend led a life of sacrifice.


Sunday, March 28, 2021

Books, Dreams, Meanings & Leanings

Books, Dreams, Meanings & Leanings
Disclaimer: I love television, it helps me sleep. Truth be told, it’s really not love; there are times when the characterization of love is better suited descriptively as escapism from the current world we all happen to be existing in today.
        Today, almost all of us as countrymen find ourselves singing the same song, perhaps a touch out of tune, but an abide-full harmony of thought patterns between us—
 1962: “Stop the world, I want to get off”. According to Oscar Levant, the play's title was derived from a graffito. The show, set against a circus backdrop, focuses on Littlechap from the moment of his birth until his death. Each time something unsatisfactory happens, he calls out 'Stop the world!' and addresses the audience.
Source: Wikipedia 

        …As an aside, watching Sammy Davis perform his medley of songs from “Stop The World: I Want To Get Off”, is as good an artistry of performance delights, imaginable. In sports jargon, an athlete is referred to as being in a zone.
        So, stealing from their book, there as I sleep in front of my television, good tastes of life are free to return; meanings and what can be gleaned from dreams far too short to be remembered, yet some way, somehow banked for another day.
For a moment or two, I have stopped the world, soon to awaken. I have chosen not to get off.

Sunday, March 21, 2021

The Malaise of Indecision and Fear

The Malaise of Indecision and Fear
The other day…
In deep thought
This man’s considerations
Of oneself
Of nature’s ways
Human imperfections
Too damn many to say
The usual forms, unable to be formed
All my fields,
A year without planting
No harvest will be found
Young things wilting
Just look around
Here I sit in contemplation
I am a teacher
Adrift without sound
Nothing in bloom
They ask for me to do the impossible
My children must not breathe on each other
They who ask must all be Mad Hatters                    
At best
Insane characters
Giving me riddles to solve
Professing love
An erstwhile endeavor,
If only they meant it
…And I take this time from your read
Offering some solace to those of us in need
Our children will all become rewarded
Recompensed with everlasting elation
Each heart pounding out an ever-stronger beat.
There will always be teachers to serve them.
Guaranteeing every child, a chance to succeed. 
Too far in my distant past, at the end of an arduous teaching day, I take this moment of recollection…thinking back to a most pleasant moment. My mind working for me, a little overtime, a person might say. After exchanging phone numbers and all agreeing to stay in touch, the class had come to an end of a six-week cycle. The students had all left the building except for one. Three things in a row followed as she walked up to where I sat at the front of the recording area. She offered her hand to shake, she handed me this little white box, tied with a red ribbon, and a tiny card, and kissed me on the cheek as she departed. I opened the box. It contained a bright “delicious” apple. The note read, “Always remain the teacher you are”! Enough said!
Often the times we live in, some would say we exist in, degrees of extremes, heaped upon us by the very people we are relying on to bring us from life’s doldrums to a higher hill in search of a flow of fresh air. We find ourselves depending on the very people we voted for, believing their promises as a guarantee, then discovering there is no working guarantee of a joyous lifetime to behold.

Sunday, March 14, 2021

Good times, just around the corner


“Old is when the liver spots show through your gloves.”
Phyllis Diller 

Phyllis Diller began her career in 1937 as a standup comedian at age 17.
Note: da harv still doesn’t require gloves—unless
I happen to be pruning my Bougainvillea.

      Phyllis had an enrapturing laugh. I was fortunate enough to have been able to hear it resound in person, although unfortunately, I can’t recall when it was.
…And then there was a young lady named Shirley Temple Black.
When I was fourteen, I was the oldest I ever was….I’ve been getting younger ever since.”
Shirley Temple
      Shirley began her career at age four, and she remains the biggest child star of all time. Little da harv was about ten years of age (that would be me) when his dad told him: he thought Shirley Temple did more than any politician ever to help our country come through the Great Depression. Da harv saw his first Shirley Temple movie at age six.
Little Colonel, 1935 - Bill "Bojangles" Robinson and Shirley Temple
      And though Shirley Temple and Phyllis Diller appeared to have great differences in their talent to entertain, and the enormity of juxtaposition in their lifestyle and attitudes, they accomplished great similarity within their abilities to bring joy to people during some of our country's most trying times. Both of these ladies were far more as references in aiding humanity than what the general population became aware of during their entertaining lifetime.

It appears to folks today that those days of the Great Depression were different than they are now, but…were they?
      It was the Great Depression from August 1929 to March 1933, a duration of 43 months. The reported unemployment rate was in excess of 10%. The United States/Population in 1933 was 125.6 M (and if you’re interested, we have tripled our population size during the course of the last eighty-eight years). The Great Depression was a severe worldwide economic disaster, everyone suffered by its toll.
Source: Wikipedia
      One of the things my mother and father agreed about in our household: laughing and smiling were all the ingredients necessary for stimulating happiness and some very deep conversations. Both Phyllis Diller and Shirley Temple Black were two of the more vibrant entertainers supplying grit for salvation during the misery engulfing our entire country. 
      Like most kids existing in a happy household, none of us were aware of the trying times our parents were going through for so many years; forty-three months in our case. As a very little kid, I took great joy helping my dad shovel snow during the early evenings when he returned home from whatever job he was able to find. I was never told he was being paid to shovel that damn snow. I remember seeing my mom and older sister rubbing dad's back. I was far too young to understand as a three-year-oldthey told me they were playing a game.
      And then one day, the shoveling of our neighbor's snow came to an end. It was time for World War II to enter our lives; little da harv had matriculated to the seventh grade, junior high school. Little da harv was now a ripe thirteen-year-old.
 1941: Good-bye Depression, Welcome World War II
      The enormity of our American spirit proved unequaled in the history of the world; everyone suffered by its toll. Over sixty million people died in World War ll.
From then and up until now, historians all agree, without the United States of America, the world we know today would not exist.
In windows throughout our great land
Many mothers with stout hearts
Replaced blue flags with gold
Settings left beset
Lives to be lived
Choices to be made
Life’s unwanted vacancies
Somehow being dealt with
Sorrows remain
Sorrows abound
And those at home
Men, women, boys, girls
All together
Those returning
Though some remained seated
They all stood tall
They managed to overcome
Theirs was a different war than ours
Our people remain
Our people
Some seated, all standing tall
Many more hands today
Extending hands
As we did yesterday
No stirring waters
Will create a wave
With a height
Or strength
Beyond ours

All Photo Sources: Google Images