The World According to Keitho

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Archive for August, 2011

Moammer Qaddafi: The early years

Posted by keithosaunders on August 29, 2011

Much has been written about the dictator, Moammer Qaddafi, but people have often wondered what he was like in his formative years.  At last it can be told…

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Posted in New York City | Tagged: , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Hurricane

Posted by keithosaunders on August 28, 2011

It’s been a full year since I moved out of New York City.  It was my home of 26 years, but I can’t think of a time that I’ve missed it more than right now.  With hurricane Irene bearing down on the city there is nothing I can do but play voyeur and follow it on TV and the internet.  

I was living in Brooklyn in 1985 when hurricane Gloria just missed the city, veering off and doing a lot of damage on Long Island.  I remember there was a lot of wind and rain and that the air had a feeling of electricity.  There was not much damage in the city — everyone got a half day out of it, though, and it came on a Friday so it made for a long weekend.

A dozen or so year later (maybe more) there was a nor’easter that tore up the coast.  That was much more dramatic, but aside from a lot of downed trees the damage was minimal.

I lived in Queens on September 11th, which was the worst day ever in New York.  Although there was a feeling of camaraderie,  it was a nerve-wracking and horribly sad day, and these feelings persisted for months.

The blackout happened in 2003.  This was another event that brought people together, but this time the mood was festive.  People were barbecuing in the streets, and impromptu parties popped up all over the place. 

The thing is that dramatic events like these serve as markers for your life.  Where were you when…?  I will never be a part of the conversation when it comes to hurricane Irene and this bothers me, not because I want to be in the city during its blackest hours, but because it serves to drive home the point that I am no longer a part of New York.  At best I look on from the periphery.    

That said, I hope that this hurricane really is mostly hype, and that years from now New Yorkers will be able to look back on it as an exciting diversion, and not a weekend of vast destruction.  I’ll be rooting for them…from the sidelines.

Posted in New York City | Tagged: , , , , | 2 Comments »

R.I.P. pennant races

Posted by keithosaunders on August 24, 2011

It seems like only yesterday that I was waxing rhapsodic about the possibility of an epic four team National League Central Division pennant race.  I had Pirate fever and was envisioning playoff games from PNC Park.  Braves-Pirates would have been a fun first round matchup — a rematch of the 1991 and ’92 NLCS, and a chance for the Buccos to have reaped revenge. 

Alas, what a difference four weeks make.  Not only are the Pirates dead and buried — their hopes of breaking their 19year consecutive losing season streak all but dashed — the entire division has been taken over by the ascendant Brewers.  Mind you, I am happy it’s Milwaukee, rather than the Cardinals and their insufferable skipper, LaRussa, but I would have preferred a good old-fashioned dogfight.

In fact, there is only one pennant race this year, and I am lucky enough to be residing in one of two major league cities that is still hosting meaningful games.  By all rights, the San Francisco Giants should be buried, but it is their good fortune to play in the NL West, which contains a broke Dodgers, and a broken down Rockies.  The Diamondbacks are a feisty, young squad, and they are the surprise team of 2011, but I don’t see them winning more than one playoff game, if that. 

The Giants, with their pitching, would at least have a shot.  They have been a walking M*A*S*H unit this year — at this writing they have nine players on the DL — and yet have managed to remain in the race.  They picked up Carlos Beltran from the Mets, who did his best to blend in with his teammates by immediately going on the DL.  What is it with Beltran — the man can’t stay healthy.  He is a great player, but his entire career is based on the 2004 post season. 

A September devoid of pennant races is a bitter pill for me to swallow.  Once October begins, so does my personal hell, which consists of sweating through another Yankee blitzkrieg.  It’s torture watching them grind their way through playoff run after playoff run.  Yes, I know they’ve lost a few first round series in recent years, and the Redsox look formidable, (as does Texas) but something tells me that the Yanks will not be an easy out this year.  I dread another Redsox – Yankees ALCS — those five hour marathons which end when some obscure Yankee hits a homerun.  

All I hope for at the beginning of each baseball season is for the Yankees to miss the playoffs.  This has occurred once in the last 16 years.  It has been a reign of terror and there is no end in sight. 

The fact that there may be no pennant races, thus cutting off my last enjoyable month of the year, is a bitter pill to swallow.  Football, you can not start soon enough.

Posted in baseball | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Throw out the pitch count and adopt the Keitho system

Posted by keithosaunders on August 17, 2011

Do you remember, back in the dark ages, before there was such a thing as a pitch count?  Until I was 25 I had never heard of such a thing.  Pitchers remained in the game until they were no longer effective.  What a concept. 

You didn’t see Don Drysdale or Bob Gibson exiting the game when they reached the 100 pitch count.  Who would have dared? 

I suppose I’m a little too young to remember those guys in their prime.  How about Tom Seaver or Steve Carlton?  You can even go a decade later than that into the mid ’80s.  Jack Morris and Nolan Ryan didn’t come out of the game unless they were out of gas, which they rarely were.

I want to know who was the genius that decreed that 100 pitches was the number of pitches that could be thrown by any one pitcher, regardless of stature, arm strength, or moxie?  Was it LaRussa?  Come on, it must have been LaRussa, that delicate genius. 

Why 100 pitches and not 110?  For that matter, why must it be an even number?  What if the real number all along has been 97, and it turns out that managers have been ruining pitchers for all these years.  Think of how many more quality starts you could have gotten out of Mike Pelfry had he been throwing three less pitches a game.  Check it…Pelfry has never had a quality start.

If owners and managers were smart they would listen to me, for I have the solution.  Here’s what you do:  

When a young phenom comes up from the minors, don’t baby him — throw him into the fire and let him pitch until his arm falls off.  Look, they babied Joba Chamberlin and Phil Hughes and how did that work out for the Yankees?  Don’t baby these guys — turn them into men.

The worst case scenario is that the young pitcher blows his arm out and has to pitch middle relief for the rest of his career.  This is not a bad thing!   Think of the money you have saved — you just avoided having to shell out an 80 million dollar contract. 

And what does 80 mill buy these days?  If you’re lucky you get a few good years and then the rotator cuff goes.  Or worse.  The pitcher gets his money and becomes Dontrelle Willis.  Either way…

As I say, don’t worry about blowing out arms.  There are tons more in the minors — just call up the next guy.   Move ’em in, move em’ out.  Rawhide!

Now let’s consider the potential upside of the Ketiho strategy. (tm)  You throw your young stud out there for 140 + pitches a game, and he does not self destruct, but learns to pitch out of jams.  He builds up his arm strength, and develops into an iron man good for the next 15 years.  You’ve got yourself a stud who is not afraid to face adversity.  You still have to pay him the big bucks, but now it is money well spent.

It’s a win-win situation.  You either save the money, or reap the benefits.  

You’re welcome, MLB.       

Dontrelle Willis

Posted in baseball | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments »

To spend or not to spend

Posted by keithosaunders on August 14, 2011

I managed to avoid the radio for the majority of my cross-country drive, but there were a few times where I succumbed to the lure of talk radio.  I guess the left-wing media has yet to permeate the talk radio business — 100% of the shows I encountered were hosted by rabid right wingers.  A particular low light was when I stumbled across Sean Hannity interviewing Ann Coulter.  Hannity was flirting with Coulter throughout the interview, which lent it a creepy air.  I would rather imagine my parents having sex than have to picture a Hannity/Coulter tryst.  My god, I just threw up in my mouth.

Most, if not all of the shows, bemoaned the liberal compulsion to spend the country’s money.  Apparently the deficit is the number one problem we have, and should we balance the budget, all of our troubles will be solved.  Forget about unemployment — they do not so much as pay lip service to job creation, except for it being a direct by-product of tax breaks for the wealthy. (read, deserving)

All of this talk of cutting spending got me to thinking…we’ve got an election coming up next year and there is a tangible chance that Obama will be defeated, opening the door for fiscal responsibility Republican style.  I began to wonder what would happen if the Republicans got everything they wanted.

First, let’s assume funding for schools will be slashed by fifty percent.  After all, they are run by the corrupt teachers union and their funding is squandered on things like paid holidays. (and luxuries such as text books)  

All programs related to job training, college loans, and food stamps would be cut by at least 80 percent.  NPR and funding for the arts?  Eliminated. 

This brings us to cutting defense spending, but we all know this is a non-starter.  This leaves Social Security and Medicare, which I  assume would be drastically scaled back.  The health care bill would be repealed, but heck, that may even happen under the Obama administration. 

So what is the upshot?  I envision mass poverty.  With no jobs and rising expenses the middle class would be surviving on a wing and a prayer.  The lower middle class would become homeless, but since funding for shelters would have been all but eliminated, there would be an epidemic of homelessness on the streets of our cities and suburbs. 

Crime would skyrocket and prisons would be overflowing.  Disease would be rampant and emergency rooms would become triage units.  Eventually there would be rioting in the streets and martial law would be declared.

Now, I admit that this is a worst case scenario, but I am assuming that every possible spending cut would be achieved.  Is it so much of a stretch to envision chaos in a society virtually devoid of government? 

My point is that by listening to radio and TV pundits you would think that all of our problems would disappear if only we would cut spending.  I believe that our problems would be exponentially worse.

Posted in Politics | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , | 16 Comments »

Let’s hear it for the west

Posted by keithosaunders on August 11, 2011

I’ve driven across the country three times.  The first time, in 1989, took me across on I 70, which meant, Kentucky, Illinois, Missouri, Kansas, Colorado, and on into Nevada and California.  Contrary to what most people had to say, I loved the rolling hills of Eastern Kansas, followed by the stark, pancake-flat western half of the state.  Eastern Colorado was impressive, not for its scenery, but for the fact that you could make out the Rockie mountains from hundreds of miles away. 

Last year we took a northern route — I 90.  This saw us through Wisconsin, Minnesota, South Dakota (the Badlands!), and Wyoming.  We turned south through a corner of Idaho and came down I 15 in northern Nevada, picking up 80 into Cali at Reno.

This year has me splitting the difference, taking I 80.  Contrary to last year, when we took our time and spent a few days sight-seeing, this year we’re trying to get home in a reasonable amount of time.  80 goes from the George Washington Bridge to within a mile of my house in Albany, California, so it is a direct route.

In regards to I 80, the country does not begin to get interesting until you cross the Mississippi River.  Sure, Pennsylvania is a pretty state, but it’s long, and there is so much country ahead of you that you’re mostly concentrating on getting your sea legs for the trip.  Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois, at least the parts that can be viewed from I 80, are bland and chock full of fast food restaurants and factory farms.  Also, the fact that you are tolled every ten miles puts you in a surly mood, negating any beauty you may happen to encounter.

But once you cross the Mississip — BAM — it’s as if the country emerges, Wizard of Oz-like,  from black and white into Technicolor.  The most striking thing is the sky, and how much of it you can see.  It’s as if a giant blue dome has been lowered. 

I love the old Plain States towns — beat up, way-gone, and bursting with character.  You can tell that they were once great places to live.  People built homes and buildings with loving care, and there is still a whiff of that feeling, even in their ghostly modern state. 

Chappell, Nebraska

 

Kimball, Nebraska

 Wyoming…is there a more beautiful state in the union than Wyoming?  Last year we were in Grand Teton, which was a mountain paradise.  This year we are in the southern portion of the state, but it is no less striking.  We pulled off the road at Medicine Bow national forest at a park called Turtle Rock.  We spent an hour among gorgeous rock formations, which we hiked up. 

On the way west there was a thunder-storm which we could see in the distance for miles in advance.  The storm was to the north of us, but we were able to make out a small tornado.

We are currently staying at a hotel in the Rockie Mountains in Rawlings, Wyoming.  Tomorrow we have 250 more miles of Wyoming before we turn south-west into Utah.  We plan on stopping off in Salt Lake City for a respite to view some Mormons before continuing into Nevada.  

This is the life!

Posted in life | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 6 Comments »

Cajun food and land locked islands

Posted by keithosaunders on August 10, 2011

There’s no doubt about it, when it comes to driving, I am an animal.  I could make this trip once a month.  If i had another driver I could do this in three days, but with my kids with me, and being that I’m the only driver, I am not pushing that late into the evening.  Still, I managed a good 500 miles today, and tomorrow, if I get an early enough start, I envision doing 600. 

To me, the country appears smaller when you drive its length.  Smaller as compared to flying, that is.  Flying never feels real to me — it’s almost magical, the idea that you can traverse the country in a matter of hours.  I’m always pleasantly surprised at how many states you can cover in one day from behind the wheel.  It makes the country seem more tangeable.

The other great thing about road trips is that you’re your own boss.  (assuming the wife isn’t along for the ride)  I decide when to stop, how far to go, and where to stay at night. 

 There’s nothing as infantalizing plane travel — being told when you can stand up, eat, or go to the bathroom.  Not to mention the demeaning aspect of having to remove clothing while being cattle prodded through security. 

 I love seeing these old, beat towns that you would never get to see from the air.  Des Moines, Iowa  has a  beautiful old state building with a golden domed roof. 

 We stopped took a walk around downtown Des Moines.  Even though it’s fairly well maintained, it has many vacant buildings, and aside from a street with three or four nice looking bars, there isn’t much by way of commerce.  You can see from these old towns that the America of todaydoesn’t produce anything.  There are no jobs.  Places like Detroit, Syracuse, and Des Moines, once thriving cities, are now practicallyghost towns.

We had dinner at a Cajun restaurant in Omaha, Nebraska.  I had the shrimp etoufee, which seemed like a good idea at the time, but ten minutes after we had resumed our westward drive, I exited the highway at the first rest stop I saw and sprinted into the MacDonald’s bathroom.

Omaha

Fully revived I pulled back onto route 80 and began scanning around the AM dial for some baseball games.  I was able to pick up games out of Chicago, Kansas City,Colorado, and Minnesota.  We’re in the plain states now so AM reception, particularly at night, promises to be impressive.

We are in the plain states now and everything will be flat as a pancake for the next several hundred miles.  Most people think of these states as being boring and monotonous, but I have always found a kind of stark beauty in them.  I loved the rolling hills of Kansas when I drove through it several years ago.  There is something about how much sky you can see out here that is amazing.  The sky goes all the way to the horizon and it makes the light beautiful and intense.

We’re bedding down at a Super 8 in Grand Island, Nebraska.  Don’t ask me why they call it an island — I’m as land locked as can be.

Posted in life | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

On the road again

Posted by keithosaunders on August 7, 2011

Almost one year to the day that I moved out of New York, I have left on a cross-country road trip; my second in as many years.  Living at my friend’s house in the Bronx for two months while my kids went to camp was great.  I played several gigs, reconnected with old friends, and confirmed that, yes, New York is the greatest city in the world. 

We crossed the George Washington Bridge at 1 PM and eased onto intersate 80.  There we will remain for another 2,800 miles until we hit Buchanon St in Albany, California. 

I am writing this from a Motel 6 in humid Youngstown, Ohio.  I played at the college here twice.  Once with a quartet led by a drummer — Fred Lite — that featured Youngstown St alum, Ralph Lalama on tenor.  The other time I played here was with my band, the NY HardBop Quintet. 

Earlier this evening I was able to pick up staticy radio broadcasts of the Pittsburgh/San Diego game.  The poor Pirates:  After charming the baseball world with their unexpected great first half of the season, they now seem doomed to continue their streak of sub .500 seasons.  I had hopped onto their bandwagon bigtime, but now it seems I will be getting off at the next stop.  I hope they are able to recover, at least enough to be able to end their losing season streak.  At the very least it seems like better times are ahead for this once proud franchise.

I’m driving with my two younger children.  My oldest boy is still at camp where he is a counselor.  Next stop:  Palatine, Illinois, just outside of Chicago, where we will spend two nights and one day at my brother’s house.

Posted in life | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Misdirection

Posted by keithosaunders on August 6, 2011

How interesting that we never once heard the phrase, ‘debt ceiling’ uttered while Bush co. was bankrupting the country giving tax breaks to the obscenely wealthy, and starting wars with five trillion-dollar price tags. We know now that the fix is in and the deck is stacked.  The middle class is screwed and the poor may as well be serfs.

It is a simple case of misdirection. Our most dire need is job creation, yet stunningly the deficit has become the battle cry for an obstructionist Congress, and president Obama, for reasons unknown to me, has been all too happy to accommodate.

To hear the media report on the debt ceiling deal — a deal that will gut social programs, and decimate Medicare —  you would think that there was a sound argument for balancing the budget at the expense of the needy.  Though there is no basis, Tea Party Congressmen are not portrayed as incompetent hacks, but capable, altruistic politicians.

Yet somehow Obama is considered a liberal.  I’m hoping he will be challenged from his left flank next year. He needs a wake up call, as does the country.

I shouldn’t sell my countrymen short, however. People can recognize a bum steer when they see one.  The trouble stems from a complacent media — a media that all too willing to give credence, in the interest of fairness to  arguments that are, at best,  skewed, and at worst, a clear and present danger to the working class.

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