Saturday, September 30, 2006

Odds And Sods:Fewer Sods, Greater Odds

Well, I have to say good riddance to September! Although I have gotten many visitors to this blog, I was unable to post as much as I wanted to, for a variety of different reasons. But the month of October promises to be a good one with so many things to post about. Not only are the Mets and Yankees in the MLB playoffs, but the NHL season starts on Wednesday, also we get closer to the very important mid-term elections, and finally at the end of this month The Who release their new CD Endless Wire, which I am eagerly anticipating.

So where to start...

I find it to be quite transparent when I hear politicians bashing Venazualen President Hugo Chavez for bashing President Bush. Anyone who is in this country is protected under the Bill of Rights to be able to say what they want, within reason. I don't agree with what Chavez said, but the Democrats have been saying the same stuff that Chavez said about George W. for the last five years. I also find it interesting that these are the same people who are so worried about protecting the rights of terrorists, but are upset about what Hugo had to say. Well, let's set something straight. Those who spoke out about President Chavez saw a political opportunity. Most citizens were appalled that this man came to the United Nations and put down our President. So the Dems correctly believed that they could not possibly side with Chavez so they instead, for once, defended George W.

But we all can see through this, I think. The Dems are poised to at least gain control of the House of Representatives so they know they can't say anything to screw things up.

Why is it that every time former President Bill Clinton squints his eyes and wags his finger he can't help himself and tells a lie?

Once again a man we once supported is now our enemy. At one time Gulbuddin Hekmatyr, a powerful warlord and the former Prime Minister of Afghanistan, received funding from the United States. This was in the 1980s when the Afghans and foreign fighters ousted the Soviet Union's troops. Then it was realized that he was our enemy as he sided with the Taliban. Now it is believed he is sheltering Usama bin Laden somewhere between the border of Afghanistan and Pakistan. Amazing! So many people we have supported over the course of time have ended up being our enemy. We even fired and missed a Hellfire missile at him back in 2002. Now we are hunting him and our number one sworn enemy: UBL.

UBL and Hekmatyr have been rivals in the past, but now intelligence reports say that they are working together. That is something to remember. Quite often people say that so and so couldn't possibly work together because at one point they hated each other. But things change. The U.S. supported Iraq when they were fighting Iran in the 1980s. So I ask you why can't it be that al-Qaeda and Iran can work together, even though they represent different sects of Islam. Same goes for Iraq and al-Qaeda.

I am so tired of seeing this John Mark Carr character on television. One thing, doesn't he resemble the psychotic killer in the movie Seven. Eery, very eery.

Congratulations to the Mets and their fans for winning the NL East Division Title. However, I am also saddened to hear that Pedro Martinez will not be available for the playoffs. I hate seeing guys get injured, especially at such a critical time in the year. I would imagine that any Mets' fan telling the truth would tell you that it is a huge loss. Still I hope the Metropolitans rally and do not lie down in the wake of adversity. That is the mark of a champion!

Ditto goes for the Yankees! Another AL East Division Title, but bad news accompanies this team. Plagued by injuries most of the year, now on the eve of the playoffs, Randy Johnson is thought to miss at least one start if not the entire playoffs with a herniated disc in his back. Johnson has been inconsistent for the Bombers but it still is a big loss for the Yankees. Hopefully, they will rally around one another. I believe they will but will it be enough. Time will tell...

Can the New York Giants just shut up and play?

Does Chad Pennington have moxie or what?

Of all the teams that would have difficulty with the salary cap, you would most likely never think it would be the New Jersey Devils.

Good to see goalie Mike Dunham back in the New York area. He signed as a backup for the Islanders.

Evgeni Malkin is skating with the team and his return to the Pittsburgh Penguins appears to be imminent.

In an absolutely brutal match last week on ECW, Rob Van Dam defeated Hardcore Holly. Also, Big Show crushed The Sandman to retain his ECW title. It doesn't seem apparent that anyone will defeat the Big Show in the near future.

Believe it or not, I am still reading Blood and Gold by Anne Rice. Don't know why it has taken me so long to read this book. It's pretty good, but it just hasn't moved very quickly. I am also looking forward to Rice's paperback release of Out Of Egypt:Christ The Lord in late October or early November.

An excellent book that I would highly recommend is Charlie Wilson's War by George Crile. This book should be made into a movie. If you want to learn about the birth of al-Qaeda, this is one to read. It details the role of the United States in helping the Afghans to ouster the Soviets.

It took a few weeks to set in, but I have to say that The Bonfire of The Vanities was an outstanding read. A long book but looking back it was quite enjoyable.

I stayed up very late one night to watch David Letterman because The Who were on. They did one song, a new one, which was pretty good. I have seen some pretty good reviews about their upcoming CD. I hope it is good for the simple reason that I hate to see some of these old rockers put out stuff that is not as good as when they were in their prime.

I gotta say that I never quite got Janis Joplin, but on the other hand I think Grace Slick of Jefferson Airplane/Starship has one of the most powerful voices I have heard. I don't like to put down musicians, so I am not saying anything bad about Joplin, I am just saying that I never warmed up to her.

So what is it these days with people calling each other "the devil?" Well, most recently a preacher called rapper Jay Z the devil and referenced a song of his that if you play it backwards sounds "satanic."

Just when you thought it was safe to put away your pocket protectors...Revenge Of The Nerds (2007) has just begun filming. Yep, Hollywood can't come up with new material so they go back to something old. By the way, I saw the first one and the sequel. But did not know until recently that there was a third and fourth edition of the trials and tribulations of the Tri Lams.

Finally, for a place that was supposed to be deserted the folks on Gilligan's Island sure had a lot of visitors!


Sunday, September 24, 2006

A Little Pub...

Speaking of links, I wanted to give a little publicity to a guy I have mentioned on here before. Monty Delaney will be performing this Saturday night at the grand opening of the Golden Apple Coffeehouse at 7:30. The locale is St. Mark's Episcopal Church, Route 117 in Mt. Kisco, N.Y. This according to Monty's website schedule. I have both of his CDs and really enjoy them. The first listen I gave to Changing Shoes had me instantly hooked to about four or five of the 13 songs on the CD. Definitely worth a listen.

If you want further info you can check out his site which is in my links section.

Also, according to the Bridgeport Sound Tigers' website, the Tigers return to the Danbury Ice Arena to take on their rival the Hartford Wolf Pack in a preseason game Tuesday night at 7:30 p.m. For more information you can call the Danbury Ice Arena at 203-794-1704. The Ice Arena is a great place to see a hockey game by the way.

Where's Leetch Going?

So who should we believe? The Buzz on Hockey which you can find in my links section has been pretty reliable in terms of who is going where in the National Hockey League. Well, according to their recent postings, an imminent decision is expected from Brian Leetch regarding his future.

However, the New York Post(also in my links section) and "Leisure Suit"Larry Brooks says Leetch was working out virgorously in August, but for personal and family reasons has stopped skating the last three weeks. The Brooks' story, in today's paper, makes me think Leetchie is going to retire. The Buzz makes me think he is going to sign a deal with the Blueshirts this week.

I kind of have a feeling he is going to retire. By all accounts, the Rangers are the only team to express interest in Brian Leetch. So why wouldn't he jump at it? Unless, of course, he waits until January, and really gets an idea of who has the best chance of winning and then signs on for the remainder of the season. Or perhaps he is doing what his old buddy Mark Messier used to do and avoid the drudgery of training camp, only to sign a deal at the last minute.

Somehow I don't think that will be the case. Either way Brian Leetch was one of the best defenseman of the last 25 years and is going to the Hall of Fame. I have very mixed feelings about Leetch coming back to New York, but I hate so see the guy leave the game without a worthwhile playoff appearance. Stay tuned...

Random Ramblings

OK so I have officially given up on Walter's in Mamaroneck, N.Y. You know that hot dog stand that I have ranted about. I tried again yesterday. This time I sat in my car and watched as the line moved nowhere in the course of 15 minutes. I happened to be in the area and was really, really hungry. I figured why not give it a shot. Well, no more shots for this world-famous hot dog stand. Yep, the dogs there are good. There milkshakes are what I really like, though. I wonder if they hired one more person if that would help to move things along. I wonder how many folks there are like me who drive past Walter's and decide not to stop because of the seemingly endless and motionless lines? I wonder if there is ever a good time to go there? Well, that's it for me. What will probably happen is I will just happen to pass by there some day and see no one on line, at that point I will probably have given up hot dogs and milkshakes. I know they are very successful there, but I just wonder if one extra employee would make there business more profitable. Oh well, what do I care?

Whenever I watch television the same movies are on all the time. Let's see... Jaws, Good Will Hunting, Dirty Dancing, and Revenge of the Nerds. Just wondering if they show them so much because someone hasn't seen any one of those flicks for the umpteenth time? How about some new stuff, huh?

The next month or so should be really exciting in New York sports. High expectations for the Yankees and Mets. The Giants should be very exciting and at the very least the Jets are a compelling story. The three area hockey locals get back in action with some big changes and promise to be exciting. What's that you say? Who? The Knicks? What, does anyone really still care!

Have a nice day!

Show Me The Body

So another rumor swirls that Usama bin Laden is dead. Well, I have to see it to believe it. I am wondering why this information is being put out there. A journalist perhaps getting some attention?

Perhaps, UBL or one of his henchman started the rumor. But why? Not sure what this is all about. But the question is raised if he is dead or dies from some sort of disease, is this better for the U.S. than if we capture or kill him? Do we make him a martyr by killing him and thus increasing his popularity? Do we embarrass him or take the risk of UBL making a mockery of our court rooms by capturing him? Do we appear weak if we don't capture or kill him and allow him to die of "natural causes"?

The best thing, however, I believe for the world, would be for him to die, one way or another. UBL has a federal indictment pending against him in the Southern District of New York for his role in the 1998 U.S. Embassy bombings in Africa. Do we really want to see him in lower Manhattan in court? Probably not...

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Something Light To Read

Today I make the difficult transition from the things I wrote in regards to the fifth anniversary of 9/11 to writing about some things that are quite unimportant in this world. So I decided to start with some pretty light hearted stuff.

First off, I played golf on Monday at Willow Ridge in Harrison, N.Y. All in all I played pretty well. However, there was a tremendous amount of trash talking that went on. Here are a few samples of some of the bantering that went back and forth:

I hit a pretty good drive on one hole and I was asked where it went. I said "Deeeep to center field!" So the next hole I hit a real monster of a drive and one of the guys I was playing with said derisively "So where did that one go Sean? Deeeep to center field!" I said, "No, further. It's in the black at Yankee Stadium." That was comment one from me that really got two of the guys annoyed. The next one came when Bobby had a 35-foot putt, which he left about 20 feet short of the hole. I said "It looks like you still got a little bit of meat left on that bone." That caused Frank to say "Hey Bobby do you believe this stuff. OK let's play a match." So it was Bobby and Frank vs. Cal and myself. We ended up tying but had a great day nonetheless. By the way this was some of the more printable things that were said.

Pet Peeves of mine include, but are not limited to....Being called Seanie. Yep, I don't know where it started. Actually, I do. But I don't like it. I wish it would stop. I know it's not an end of the world type of thing. But it still is annoying. If it were once in a while I wouldn't mind, but for a while it seemed as though I was going to have to change my name on my birth certificate. I don't recall every introducing myself as "Seanie" and I try to stay away from calling people anything other than what they introduced themselves to me as. In fact, there are not many people who call me "Seanie" anymore, it seemed to have peeked some time ago and thankfully, to most, I am Sean.

So the other day I am in the supermarket buying some grapes and as usual I see someone, in this case a woman, reaching into the bags and having a grape here and there. Now this is stealing is it not. I know one would probably say that it is only one grape. OK, so is it alright if I go and open a package of cookies and have just one cookie. To that I am sure one would reply but it is just one tiny little grape. OK so can I go open a container of peanuts and have one tiny little peanut. Don't mean to be a stickler but I would like to see shoppers keep their paws off the food. Even though I wash everything and that was before the whole spinach thing. But I have to say it really looks pretty low class actually when I see someone reaching into the bags of fruit and having a free sample.

Last night began pre-season action for the New York Rangers with a win over their cross-river rivals the New Jersey Devils. The Rangers used a lot of their prospects against the Devs. Good to see that the Blueshirt organization is now focused on developing players rather than stockpiling free agents who have already made their bones elsewhere.

Well, for now, that's all folks!

Friday, September 15, 2006

9/11:The Blame Game

This is my final post which directly comments about September 11, 2001 as we have just marked five years since that awful day. My next few postings will turn toward the sometimes innocuous world of sports.

I definitely try to mix things up on this blog. I have been writing some poems lately and am hoping to iron them out and get them posted withint the next few weeks. Oh yeah, some of you may have remembered that short story I was working on. Well, I have made some changes again and hope to have that posted in the near future. But don't want to make any promises.

Of course, hockey is coming up and so I will be spending quite a bit of time on the NHL. So basically what I am getting at, is that I hope to be posting more to this blog than at any other point in the last few months. Being that I will have so many topics to post about.

The thing that gets me about 9/11 and the last five years is all the blaming that goes on. I don't know if it is human nature or just the world we live in, but it seems to me that so many people either blame themselves too much or point the finger at others. We have to remember that the terrorists committed the heinous acts of September 11, 2001. If you read my blog, you probably get a sense that I read quite a bit. That is true. You probably may also get a sense that I have read quite a bit on the subject of 9/11. That is also true.

I have read and listened to a great deal about 9/11 and also what has occurred in our world since. I can say that I have not seen one credible piece of information that the worst terrorist attack in the history of this country was an inside job or that the folks in our government had any prior knowledge.

One night I was watching C-SPAN and there was a panel of "experts" talking about how the attacks on the World Trade Center were triggered by bombs already planted inside the buildings. I kept saying to myself, "OK when is he going to provide evidence and not provide a lot of hyperbole." I watched and listened. Then some more. Then even some more. It never came.

When it comes to politicians, I am in no way a cool-aid drinker. I won't just take the side of a politician just because I voted for him. I don't blame any politician. I don't blame anyone in the CIA or FBI. I blame the people who trained as terrorists and committed murder. I blame Usama bin Laden and his ilk. I don't blame former President Bill Clinton.

What I try to do is separate the person from the job. Clinton did what he thought was best for the country, just as George W. is doing. I don't know either man personally but I think they both seem like men with good intentions that also care a great deal for this country. I disagreed with Clinton on many issues, but I never wished any harm to him. I think about the fact that the man has a wife and a daughter. To someone he is a brother, maybe an uncle, a nephew, a son.

This takes me to this movie that came out depicting George W. being assassinated. I give Hillary Clinton a lot of credit for calling the movie what it is, "despicable". Bravo, Hillary! We have to realize that being a politician is a job, just like a sanitation worker or a bank teller. If they screw up or do something we don't like, do we wish harm to them. Well, certainly no one who is of sound mind. I am shocked by the people I have encountered who wish harm done to the Clintons or to George W. Bush. It saddens me, truly. I really believe that these folks need some serious counseling and are really just channeling their frustrations about life toward these people that they have never met.

The same goes for the war in Iraq. Where I think the real failure lies is in the fact that our intelligence apparatus needs major upgrading. More Arabic translators for one. When we invaded Afghanistan in October there was only one or two men in the CIA who spoke Pashtu, which is widely spoken in that region. As far as the weapons of mass destruction goes I believe there should be a bi-partisan committee set up to find out what went wrong. Why did we not find the stockpiles that the CIA promised leading up to the war in Iraq? Look the CIA along with the intelligence agencies of many countries around the world got it wrong, plain and simple. So let's find out why.

I don't see any evidence that Bush lied, because remember everything he was saying about Iraq and WMD, John Kerry, Bill Clinton, Al Gore, and Hillary Clinton were also saying.

Finally, I was reading the comments posted under my posting "Four Great Men" and some of them were really disgusting. It saddens me that there are, in fact, people in this country with such bitterness. But I still believe that America is the best country in the world. Again, does anyone see an illegal immigration problem in Iran or Syria? No, people can't wait to get the hell out of those countries.

Let me just say that I feel that before casting blame, certain folks in America needs to take an unbiased look at the facts. Too much time has been wasted on rhetoric without evidence. If anyone could provide me with facts or point me in the direction to where there is evidence that would contradict what I believe then I would be happy to see it. But I doubt it will come, just more plain silly hyperbole.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

9/11:How To Win The War On Terror

So this week I have spent writing about September 11, 2001 and the War On Terror. I will wrap things up in the next day or so, but there are a couple of issues I want to address. The first topic is what I will write about in the following paragraphs.

I believe, and have believed, that the War On Terror is winnable. That's the first thing I think all Americans have to ask themselves. Do they believe that this war is winnable? Add to that, what do you think victory means?

Victory, initially, means that terrorists are marginalized to the point where there are no longer major attacks or the threat of major attacks. The ultimate goal is to wipe out all attacks. Yet, I know that this is going to take a long time. A guy who straps a bomb to himself and then walks into an outdoor market and blows himself up killing 20 or 30 people is going to be hard to stop, but I feel ultimately he or she will be stopped.

First off we have to start at home. The borders have got to be controlled. Not only the Mexican border but also the Canadian border. Logic dictates that a terrorist who knew that the southern border was secure would then most likely try to enter the U.S. from the north.

Second we have got to secure our ports. Too many packages coming in go unchecked.

What this means? Money, money, money. But it is worth it, is it not? I believe the National Guard should be put on both borders. So we should look to expand our military forces which were significantly cut in the 90s after the end of the Cold War and the collapse of the Soviet Union.

The purpose of the National Guard needs to be more clearly defined. I feel you will get more people to join if they knew they were only going to be guarding the homefront rather than going overseas. By all accounts, our National Guard has been pretty well run down as a result of its services overseas, particularly in Iraq. There is also a domino effect to expanding the Guard. Years ago "trouble kids" would be given the option of joining the service rather than go to jail or a "special school". The military provides a great benefit in paying for college. It also gives discipline and hope to those who maybe don't have the best home life. So by expanding the Guard you get more kids hopefully going to college or possibly military lifers, which keeps them off the streets and gives them a great deal of self-respect and hope for a better future. I know it is not 100% foolproof, but it is better than nothing, or worse, jail, where there is no rehabilitation at all in attitudes.

Securing our ports largely is done by private companies which is fine, but there should be greater supervision by the military and also we should make sure it is only done by United States companies. Let's not be foolish enough to outsource our national security.

We need to continue to develop technology on planes and trains to detect bombs or bomb-making materials. The recommendations from the 9/11 Commission Report clearly state what needs to be done. Those need to be implemented without further delay.

We should continue to fight in Afghanistan and Iraq until the job is finished. If we need more troops, then so be it. We need to secure the borders in both countries to prevent foreign fighters and any weapons from entering the country. But we need to put pressure on both governments and the governments of surrounding nations to make sure they are watching the borders from their sides as well.

We left Afghanistan once the Afghans ran the Soviets out in 1989 and the country fell into civil war which gave birth to the Taliban which then harbored al-Qaeda. Get the picture. We have to make that country secure. One thing I never understood is why President Bush did not have the opium fields wiped out in the fall of 2001. But we can still do this now, can't we?

I am not a proponent of entering Iran or Syria at this point. I feel if we secure the borders in Iraq and Afghanistan then they will not be a factor. We also need to watch the movement of money from these countries to see who they are funding and to make sure they are not funding the jihadists.

Look with all our ships and troops in the Gulf if we wanted to take out Iran's nuke ambitions we could do it in no time. But do we want to have to rebuild another country. Of course not. So let's fund the opposition movement in Iran in any way possible. Did you know that 60% of Iran's population is under the age of 30? Do you think they want to live under a repressive theocracy. No way!

I believe that we should also put pressure on countries like Saudi Arabia and Pakistan in the sense that those governments must monitor what is being taught in the madrassas. For far too long kids are being taught to hate Christians and Jews. This is the heart of the matter. As long as kids are being indoctrinated in this sort of twisted thinking then these countries and others will continue to produce terrorists. There should be a much greater emphasis on education in these countries. Real education. Like math and reading. Anyone remember that stuff?

Did you know that Iran does not even have the capability to refine its own oil? That is pretty sad. There are many folks in these countries who are drawn to terrorism and radical religion because they have no hope for a good life and are disenfranchised. Meanwhile, the wealthy oilmen pad their wallets and many of the skeiks live what is viewed as an immoral life. This is the case in Saudi Arabia, where so many of these young princes have reputations as party animals.

Many members of the Saudi Royal Family have been educated in America's great schools such as Harvard, M.I.T., and Yale. If I were President I would find a way to not allow these men to come into our country until there are changes made to the curriculum inside Saudi Arabia. We really don't have many bargaining chips at this point. So that brings me to a real hot button topic: oil.

People are drawn to radical religion when they have no hope. They hear about 72 virgins greeting them in Heaven and they feel they have nothing good awaiting them on this planet so why not become a terrorist. The world has to work together to improve the educational system in these countries, so they can produce something and so that they can be productive citizens. I remember Tom Friedman saying that the number of patents coming from the Middle East is virtually nil, meaning they aren't coming up with any ideas. Why is that? Poor education, in my opinion. Too much of a disparity between the very few haves and the very large percentage of have-nots.

Look folks we have to make up our minds. Do we want to drill in ANWR(Arctic National Wildlife Refuge) and drill in the Gulf of Mexico and continue looking for our own oil or do we want to keep getting our oil from unfriendly regimes. I propose that we do everything we can to use our own oil and continue to look for more of this precious resource throughout the homeland, such as in the Gulf. But at the same time give major tax cuts to auto companies and gas companies that will begin the switch to alternative energy. Look their are enough bright people in this country that there has got to be an alternative option to fuel.

In many ways we fund the War On Terror from both sides of the spectrum. We fund our military and then we also fund the sheiks in Saudi Arabia by purchasing their oil which goes to the radical Sunni Muslims of al-Qaeda. Makes little sense to me. Let's get off foreign oil and find a better alternative.

Then we can really thumb our noses at the Middle East by not being constantly worried about $200 per barrel oil prices.

Also, we have to put pressure on the mosques throughout the United State that continue to teach hatred and foment terror. We have to hold the Muslim community accountable for spreading hate. I know it is not everyone, but there certainly is enough at this point.

If I were President I would organize some sort of organization that would bring together prominent members of Christianity, Judaism, and Islam, and any other religion for that matter, to get together to figure out ways for us to better get along. I know they have organizations like this for Catholics and Jews, why not expand it.

So let's continue looking for the high value targets overseas such as Usama bin Laden(UBL). Let's continue to freeze accounts of these terrorists and let's continue taking the war to them.

The War On Terror can not be won with bullets alone. I have said that many times on this blog. Victory will come with a multi-pronged approach. Some of my ideas may sound hokey, but at least I am putting forth a plan, which is more than what some of the politicians are doing.

Many people seem to be extremists. They don't see that we can do more than one thing at a time. It does not have to be all war all the time, nor does it have to be all appeasement all the time. We can have dialogue while continuing to go after the terror camps and the terror leaders. I am not suggesting that we can negotiate with UBL, but we can work with the leaders of the Middle East nations to try to have the school curriculums changed and to bring about a better understanding for both sides.

The U.S.A. has to take the lead on this. We always get stuck funding wars with our blood and our money. We don't want to have to be in a perpetual war so I hope that we will look for additional solutions. I hate the expression "think outside the box" but in this case the bright folks of this country are really going to have to make sure the batteries to their thinking caps are fully charged. Too many lives are at stake.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

9/11:Last Night

What a great way to mark the fifth anniversary of September 11 then by going to hear Montgomery Delaney at The Lazy Boy Lounge in White Plains, N.Y. Monty hasn't lost anything off his fastball since I last saw him play about seven years ago. He did some songs from his new album Changing Shoes and some favorites from Walking In The Light. It was great to catch up with Monty before he and his friends performed. Lazy Boy Lounge is a really good place to see music and I definitely would go back there again in the future. I also was glad to pick up Monty's new CD and I have listened to quite a bit of it at various times throughout the day. Once again if you want to give him a listen I have a link to his website in my links section.

Monday, September 11, 2006

9/11:Four Great Men

When reflecting back upon that horrible day of September 11, 2001, the worst in American history, there are many things that stand out in my mind. The face of radical Islam left unchecked for so long. A face that had manifested itself as Robert F. Kennedy assassinator Sirhan Sirhan, or the fiery anti-American Ayatollah Khomeini, or the covered faces of those terrorists that killed the 11 Israeli Olympians in Munich, and finally the face of Usama bin Laden and his brand of fanatical terrorists. For years the threat of militant Islam had been ignored until it came to the island of Manhattan.

What I believe makes America great is the people. Yes, there were some politicians who performed admirably in the wake of the attacks, and of course there were those politicians who did what they do best, and just performed. But facing such devastation and unprecedented horror there were those incredibly brave souls who looked into the gates of hell and walked in without a flinch. The everyday guy going to work in the concrete jungle trying to make a buck. As well as, a man who warned the world of the threat of extremists, but was ostracized by the "good guys".

There are four men who I want to remember. These four were tragically killed on that dreadful day, yet their memory will live on.

Captain Timothy Stackpole. As a long-time listener and sometimes first-time caller to WFAN, I remember hearing the distinct, heavily New York accented voice of Stackpole doing a commercial in which he talks about how much the The Burn Center at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital had helped him to recover. In 1998, the Brooklyn native was fighting a fire in a city-owned building when the floor collapsed causing him and two other firemen to fall ten feet into a fierce blaze. More than 30% of Stackpole's body was burned on a night that three other firefighters had died. Stackpole and the other two firefighters were well-compensated because NYC was found to be negligent in taking care of the building's structural flaws. Stackpole spent two months in the hospital and then worked out vigorously to come back to do what he loved.

I remember picking up the New York Post and seeing a picture of Mayor Rudy Giuliani standing next to Stackpole's wife and five children at his funeral services. The picture is heartbreaking but the memory of this brave man is inspiring. I wish I had known him. But when I used to hear that commercial, it was so uplifting and inspiring you kind of felt as though you did know him and you rooted hard for him. Stackpole, 42, by all accounts was a regular guy doing what he loved. Stackpole had the heart of a lion and unparalleled bravery. I am not ashamed to admit he is a hero of mine.

Fire Marshall Ronnie Bucca. On September 16, 1986, Westchester County resident and New York City Firefighter Ronnie Bucca broke his back as a result of falling five stories during a rescue attempt at a burning West Side tenement. He was not expected to live, yet one year later he returned to Rescue One.

Bucca, an ex-Green Beret paratrooper was preparing for an Army reserve course in Virginia. He would be leaving September 15, 2001. On September 11 the Fire Marshall would actually make it up to the 78th floor of the South Tower where United Airlines Flight 175 had cut a gaping hole into the building. Bucca found a standpipe and began fighting the inferno along with fellow fireman Orio Palmer. Amazingly Bucca took off his flame-retardant turncoat and used it to cover some crash victims huddled in a corner.

Ronnie Bucca had also worked as a US Army Reserve Warrant Officer in the 3413th Military Intelligence Detachment. Bucca, a bit of a whistleblower, was snubbed by the FBI when he reported the shady dealings of an Egyptian accountant in the FDNY, who among other things had stolen some floor plans of the WTC and was part of terrorist Sheik Abdel Rahman's inner circle.

Bucca had investigated the 1993 WTC attack and had studied the threat of Islamic terrorism with great vigor. He warned for years that New York City was still not safe and that "they" would come back again. According to author Peter Lance, Bucca believed that the Islamic militants were willing to wait one thousand years for revenge and that the time was nearly up. He was quoted as telling a friend that these radical Islamists sought revenge for the Crusaders' burning of the Muslim's castles in the eleventh century.

Ironically, their is a saying in the homeland of Ramzi Yousef who orchestrated the '93 attacks referencing this concept: "If it takes me ten centuries to kill my enemy, I will wait a thousand years for revenge."

In total Bucca spent 23 years with the FDNY and 29 years in the military. A true American hero.

John O'Neill. An FBI counterterrorism expert who left the bureau after being maligned for his "obsession" with Usama bin Laden. O'Neill, 49, investigated the bombings of the U.S. Embassies in Africa and the USS Cole. It was during the Cole investigation, in particular, that he was so harshly chastised. I take it that O'Neill wanted to dig further into the investigation as opposed to taking at face value what the Yemeni government was offering, which he felt was worth nothing. He clashed with U.S. Ambassador Barbara Bodine who had O'Neill taken off the investigation. Many people felt that if the investigation had gone further it would have led right to the 9/11 hijackers.

O'Neill spent 25 years working for the FBI. He was last seen rushing back into the South Tower to try and save people.

Joe Riverso. Mostly, though, I remember "Big Joe." A 34-year-old guy who worked as a bond trader for Cantor Fitzgerald. Joe was an assistant football coach at Archbishop Stepinac High School, but was most well-known as a bartender at the Sports Page in White Plains. Joe was one of those guys who probably didn't have much use for sleep, with such a busy schedule I don't know how he found time. Joe was a regular guy who every day rode multiple trains to get to the WTC and then up to the 104th floor of the South Tower. He was doing what you and I do every single day which is he was going to work.

Many people I know, myself included, only went to the Sports Page on nights that Joe was working. His personality was that endearing. He always greeted you with a smile and a firm handshake. The only time I ever heard Joe complain was when he would discuss his golf game.

A fond memory I have of him took place in 1995. It was a late July day with very threatening storm clouds up above. He and I were both working at Ridgeway Country Club and decided to take advantage of the fact that all the golf pros were away that day playing in a pro-am and all the members were scared away by the ominous clouds. Well, it never rained a drop and nobody else played that day. Except me and Joe. Both of us were quick players and were able to get in 54 holes of golf. Yep, 54 holes! A record that I don't think I will break in my lifetime. A memorable day with a great guy. Truly the good old days!

I feel it is important that we remember those who were lost on September 11, 2001, and move forward as a nation. The world saw something which hopefully will never take place again. If America remembers and honors those who died in the 9/11 attacks such as Stackpole, Bucca, O'Neill, and Riverso, we will be more vigilant in preventing a future attack.

When John F. Kennedy was assassinated many critics did not think America would move on. But she did. Stronger than ever. I believe America is stronger today than it was five years ago. Call it sappy, but I do believe America is a "shining city on a hill." A leader to the rest of the world and a country looked to in times of crisis.

The USA has moved forward, while simultaneously, honoring those who perished in the attacks of September 11. Once again the critics have been proven wrong.

May God Bless America!


I know I have posted on here before about this, however, I want to remind everyone in the tri-state area that two of my favorite singers are performing tonight.

The first is Rachel Fuller. She will be at the Barnes & Noble, 675 Sixth Avenue, in Chelsea, New York, in a prelude to her gig at NYC's Joe's Pub(425 Lafayette Street) September 14th. As I have mentioned on here before she is very much like Sarah McLachlan with a bit of a malcontentious edge. My type of gal!

The second will be Montgomery Delaney at The Lazy Lounge, 152 Mamaroneck Avenue, White Plains, N.Y. at 7 p.m. I met Monty in 1999 when we were both residents of southern Westchester, now coincidentally we both again live near each other. I have fond memories of seeing him at the Guitar and Pen in the north Bronx. He's had a very interesting life being a former New York City police officer, marine, and now a lawyer, and his vast life experiences come out in his music. He has a few guests joining him at the Lazy Lounge as well. I have links to both artists if you want to get a sample of their music.

9/11:Five Questions I Want Answered

I am sure many of you recall the aftermath of 9/11 and the chaos and uncertainty of what was going on. I still have some questions that I feel have not been completely answered.

1- How did World Trade Center #7 collapse. Author Peter Lance mentioned on the radio once that a Middle Eastern man coming out of the building was arrested by the NYPD and shortly thereafter the building fell.

2- Ever hear the story about the kid in a Brooklyn grammar school who was staring out the window at the Towers a few days before the attacks. After being asked by the teacher what he was staring at, he replied that soon those buildings will be gone. I have heard similar stories and wonder if they are true or not. If they are was the boy or his family ever questioned?

3- So is anyone interested in who sent out those letters containing anthrax days after the attacks?

4- There is a story going around that does not seem to get much attention but some of you may have heard that an attorney by the name of Lynne Stewart faces 30 years in prison for aiding terrorists. She is scheduled to be sentenced October 16. Abdel Rahman, the blind sheik, was one of her clients. He sits in prison for life for the plan to blow up various landmarks in the New York City area. So my question is: why is this story not getting more play in the news and what type of information was she passing along and to who?

5- How and why in God's name was former CIA Director George Tenet awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President George W. Bush?

Sunday, September 10, 2006

9/11:Let's Remember

Five years has passed since the worst day in American history. To me it feels like yesterday, while at the same time, it feels like a generation ago. The day was unprecedented in its evil and savagery. Nineteen men hijacking planes with the intent of using them as guided missiles against civilians.

Civilians. That is what many people fail to grasp, that this was an attack against civilians. These were people going to work or traveling on an airplane, just as you and I do. That is why I feel this attack was so much worse than anything that has ever taken place before.

The carnage began on the airplanes where the hijackers gained control by cutting off the heads of the pilots. In a most grisly moment a man formerly of Westchester County, New York, tried to fight the terrorists aboard American Airlines Flight 11 only to have his head cut off which was thrown down the aisle of the plane to the horror of the passengers on board.

I feel it is important to remember what occurred five years ago; from what took place on the planes, in the Twin Towers, on United 93, and at the Pentagon. I do not want to come across as being morbid, however, if we remember the past and the extreme brutality of the terrorists, hopefully we will not allow such an attack to occur again.

I hope that the politicians will do the right thing and make the appropriate visits and refrain from making this a political issue. I am, of course, not naive and know that there will be some if not all who will get a bad case of diarrhea of the mouth.

This is not the time to point fingers. The only direction a finger should be pointed is in the face of the terrorists. Politics should be put aside.

Let's remember that everyone did the best they could that day. It is one thing to perform evacuation drills in practice, however, under extreme pressure that is another story.

Let's remember that in the face of unprecedented horror the bravery of the firefighters, EMTs, police officers, and all the first responders who rushed toward hell to save lives. Let's remember the thousands of lives saved and reflect on the contributions of those lost. Remember the men, women, and children were not only murdered on that day, they were eviscerated.

Let's remember the people who have died since the 9/11 attacks of respiratory ailments and those who are now suffering from similar maladies.

Let's remember the families that have been ravaged by those attacks. The financial toll can be calculated but the psychological toll will never really be known.

Let's remember the extreme sacrifices since that time of the men and women who have fought in Iraq and Afghanistan, but also have helped to train armies around the world to combat terrorism in places such as the Philippines, Georgia, Yemen, and the Horn of Africa.

We all have our own personal memories and feelings of what took place five years ago and what has taken place since. I do urge everyone to mark 9/11 in their own personal way. Some will give blood, some will go to cemeteries, or call someone they have not spoken to in some time and some will light candles in churches. I just hope that everyone finds some way to mark this sad, sad anniversary and remember those who suffered in such a perverse and horrible way five years ago.

May God Bless America and the world always.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Welcome, September!

Greetings One and All!

I hope you had a great Labor Day weekend! The end of the summer can definitely be a downer, but this year it never really seemed as though summer got started. Extremely hot weather and some very bad storms throughout the area. Hopefully we will have a nice fall.

It takes me about a week to make the transition, usually. Although it is still officially summer, there is definitely a different mindset and feel once September hits.

Anyway, I finished The Bonfire Of The Vanities over the weekend. The bad weather on Saturday allowed me to fly through the ending of the book. Overall I would say it was very good. There were a couple of spots where I thought the book dragged a little bit. But then again it was about 700 pages so what can I expect. I never saw the movie and I've been told it's awful so I doubt I will rent it anytime soon.

So right now I am reading Blood And Gold by Anne Rice. Yep, another one of her books. Can't get enough! Definitely has improved my vocab and maybe made me a bit smarter, although I'm sure I don't look it.

Rescue Me is over with until next season. A great ending in the finale and I am really going to miss watching that show every week. I watched bits and pieces of Nip/Tuck last night and just couldn't get into it.

On the other hand...ECW has really rounded into form. Great combination of some WWE stars, some old ECW guys, and some new blood. ECW invades MSG this Monday night. Last night saw Big Show get disqualified against DegenerationX after Hardcore Holly interfered. DGX will face Show/McMahons in a couple of weeks in a "Hell in the Cell" match at Unforgiven on pay-per-view. A great tag team match saw Sabu/RVD defeat Mike Knox/Test. Probably one of the best tag team matches I have seen in a long time.

The John Batchelor Show which has been on WABC Radio for the last five years is on a temporary hiatus. Boy am I gonna miss that show. Really great radio. John would have guests on from literally all over the world covering many different political issues. Whenever I turned off the radio after listening I always felt as though I learned something. According to John's website, "ABC Radio Network is currently slated to cease to exist in 2007. The expected new ownership of ABCRN is the Citadel Corporation." I am assuming this is the reason why the show is currently off the air as he goes on to give an address listeners can write to in order to voice their opinion about the show. I hope Batchelor is back on the air somewhere soon!

According to The Who website: "The Who has inked a new deal with Universal Republic for the Oct. 31 release of Endless Wire, its first album since 1982's It's Hard. The set will feature the complete mini-opera Wire & Glass, a shortened version of which was released internationally last month."

Believe me when I tell you I can't wait to get this one! Kenney Jones was the drummer on the 1982 album, this time it will be Zac Starkey on the drums. Starkey, who joined Oasis in 2005, and is the son of legendary drummer Ringo Star, is awesome. I have only seen Keith Moon on tape, but when I have seen The Who live, it is eery how much Starkey resembles Moonie in appearance and his drumming ability.

The Who had two new songs on their Then and Now CD released in 2004. I liked both songs, especially, Old Red Wine, a tribute to late bassist John Entwistle. Dynamic stuff from Pete Townshend! I hope the new songs, 19 in all, are similarly as good.

Speaking of The Ox, Peter Frampton narrates a new DVD The Ox's Tale about the life and times of the late Who bass player.

So if the Mets and Yankees face each other in the World much money do the folks from Subway stand to make. I love those commercials with Willie and Joe and the food isn't bad either.