Flag Waiving

I’ve had an itch. There has been so much stuff going on in the world of politics, economics, and everything else, over the last few years – or maybe it’s just become more important to me – that I want to have my say. And hey, I already have this platform, and while this site may have been primarily a mix of published articles and critiques of restaurants and books, why not critique other stuff?

I know, I know. “You’re a chef, stfu about politics, stay in the kitchen and cook.” Yeah, well, you’re an office worker, a landscaper, a police officer, a hairdresser… so stay in your cubicle, garden, squad car, or salon, and stfu yourself. As the saying goes, opinions are like assholes, we all have one (except for the rare individual with imperforate anus or a similar medical condition, but we’re not going there… oops).

So, I’m going to pick topics that strike me as interesting, or get me riled up, or whatever it may be, and write a brief commentary on them. Plus, maybe it will breathe some life into this blog. Maybe I’ll even get a comment (nasty ones with all sorts of curse words or insults will most likely be simply deleted, unless I can find a way to make your life hell by using it in some fashion). So, onto the show….

You might have guessed from the title, this is going to be about the whole flag, Pledge of Allegiance, taking a knee controversy.

Personally, I grew up with the Pledge of Allegiance. We recited it daily, standing at attention, hand over the heart, and with gusto. It’s ingrained into me. I see people asking questions on Facebook and Twitter about whether the folk who are so riled up about the whole take-a-knee thing are standing and reciting the pledge when they’re at home watching the game. First off, there’s no requirement to do that, there’s a whole protocol for being in the presence of the flag and all that, but you know what, while I don’t stand at attention, I usually find that I’ve pretty much automatically put my hand over my heart and quietly recited the pledge to myself along with the folk on the screen. It’s so automatic I’d have to truly put a conscious effort into not doing it.

I spent a lot of my earlier years in one form or another of public service. Be it in the Boy Scouts, on into being an Explorer Scout with the Ann Arbor Police Department. Be it in Army ROTC for a year and half until being asked to resign because we were back in the days before Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. Be it participating in the Michigan State Police summer programs. Be it as an EMT and later a paramedic for the ambulance services in Washtenaw County. Volunteer for the Red Cross, teaching CPR and First Aid. I was interviewed (several times) by the CIA (yes, that one, not the Culinary one) when I was working on my doctorate in psychology, for a profiler position, until I told them I was gay, at which time they offered me a job in the secretarial pool.

One of the things that was always present, and it’s been said more eloquently by many veterans, including some who disagree with the take-a-knee stance, was that part of what we were there to protect was people’s right to dissent, people’s right to free speech, people’s right to protest. That’s part of what America is all about.

And I understand the urge, the need, to protest. I’m not black, never have been, never will be. But I am gay, and I am Jewish, and I have had my share of prejudice to deal with. Setting aside being asked to leave the Army and the CIA, I’ve been fired from two jobs for it. In the restaurant business of all places. Going back to my days as a paramedic, I was stripped of being a supervisor because of it. And actually, before that, I’d worked as a security guard on University of Michigan’s campus, and I was stripped of being a supervisor there for being gay too. I’ve been physically attacked for it at least a dozen times that I can think of. I was refused admittance to Yom Kippur services at a synagogue of which I’d been a member for years, when the board of the synagogue took it into their heads to root out the homosexuals. And when it comes to verbal abuse, both for being gay and for being Jewish, I can’t remotely begin to count the number of incidents I’ve been through in my life.

And so, I’ve participated, mostly in my younger years, in protests and rallies and organizations and what-have-you that were in favor of gay rights, or against antisemitism. I don’t do so much of that anymore because I’m simply tired of having life being about a constant battle. I just don’t have the energy to invest in it, I want my energy invested in things that are positive, and creative, and yeah, I know that may be a cop out, but so be it.

So here’s the thing. I viscerally don’t like what Colin Kaepernick did that launched this whole movement. It’s automatic. I’m one of those people who when someone doesn’t stand during the Pledge, or doesn’t put their hand over their heart, nudges them to do so. But I wouldn’t force them to. I wouldn’t call them names. I wouldn’t demand they be punished. Because I recognize that regardless of my personal feelings about it, they have the right to theirs. I recognize that he, and the other players who have now taken a stand, or a knee, beside him, aren’t “disrespecting the flag”, anymore than any other person who chooses not to recite the Pledge is. They’re not “expressing a political opinion”.

They’re calling attention to the fact that after decades of supposed progress in integration and equal treatment, we just aren’t there yet. Be it in opportunities, compensation, inclusion, oppression, violence, or hey, even joke-telling, it just ain’t equal. As a friend posted earlier today on Facebook, “Thinking NFL players are ‘protesting the flag’ is like thinking Rosa Parks was protesting public transportation.”

I know this from my particular circle in the world, when here we are in 2017 and I have friends and acquaintances, many of them who claim to be bastions of tolerance and liberalism, who think nothing of telling fag jokes, or making comments about Henry’s and my relationship that they’d never make to a straight couple, or making assumptions about our relationship based on our age and cultural/racial differences (the latter brings up a whole other can of worms that has allowed me to see some disturbing racism in friends whom I never wouldathunkit of) or thinking it’s okay to comment on their imagination about what my (or other gay people’s) sex life is all about, or imploring me to “understand” why someone, at random, or an employer, or whomever, has a reaction to my being gay (usually justified by some sort of religious context).

To sum it up, while I personally will probably always stand and recite the Pledge, and the flag is something that holds a place in my heart, that’s emotional. As a thinking person, and as someone who believes in democracy, I will also always respect the right of any of my fellow citizens to not to do so. I may not like it, but I get it. And that’s the key point I want to make. It doesn’t actually matter why Kaepernick, or anyone else, chooses not to recite the Pledge of Allegiance. Even if there were no racism, no oppression, even if it was all, as the saying goes, rainbows and unicorns, for people of color, it’s irrelevant. We live in a democracy and they don’t have to stand or pledge. That’s their right.

And yes, sure, an individual team owner could choose to fire them for it, legally – First Amendment rights don’t apply to employment situations (unless your employer is the government). And I’d support the right of that employer to do so, even if I don’t think they should, morally – the issues are too important in this day and age. And you know what, it’s a minute at the beginning of a football game. Stand, pledge your heart out, let the players (and spectators) who choose not to, have their moment too, and then get on with the game. And then after the game, let’s get to work on the issues they’re protesting so that one day, hopefully soon, no one feels the need to take a knee.


R.I.P. Andrew, For Realz, This Time

andrew martinSo, I’m getting kind of a re-do here. I find myself writing a little tribute to my friend Andrew Martin, a eulogy of sorts. But I’m writing it for the second time. A decade after the first time. Andrew would appreciate this, with a certain level of dark humor that we shared.

It was the late 80s, early 90s. Andrew and I shared some of the same haunts – mostly cabaret spots, often ending up more or less closing out the bar together at Don’t Tell Mama in the West Village or Marie’s Crisis in the theater district. We were young. Younger anyway. I suppose I was in my early to mid 30s, he in his early to mid 20s. I was the food and wine writer for QSF Magazine. One day Andrew came to me with a proposal – he was launching a new publication centered around the cabaret scene, CaB magazine. He wanted to include some restaurant reviews each issue, along with other content that wasn’t necessarily cabaret related, but might be of interest to those reading it. He asked me if I’d write for him, and I did, issue after issue from June of ’92 until June of ’94.

Along the way, we became friends. We even dated a couple of times, but found that our attempts at romance tended to devolve into fits of hysterical laughter rather than steamy encounters. We left that part of our friendship to the wayside. And then one day, he announced that he needed a break, was going to stop publishing CaB, and get away for a little while. He had his demons, we all did. And he disappeared from my life.

And then he died. We had plenty of mutual friends at the time, and at least half a dozen of them told me that he’d passed away. It was always a little suspicious. An illness, an accident, no one seemed to know what had actually happened. But apparently he’d spent time somewhere, far from New York City, and was no longer with us, having gone to that big cabaret in the sky. I wrote a small note in memory of him on my website on the page with the index of the various articles I’d written for CaB. Now and again, mostly when I was revising something on the site, I’d think of him and wonder what the real story was.

A decade later, in late 2005, October 22nd to be exact, I woke up to find an email in my inbox from an Andrew Martin. My momentary thought was simply that it was a coincidence, it’s not exactly an uncommon sort of name. I clicked on it, and lo and behold, it was him. Not dead. He’d come across my little paean to his demise on my website and wanted to assure me that he was alive and well, living in New York, and participating with a comedy troupe, appropriately given the moment, named Meet the Mistake. I was thrilled. I had also just moved to Buenos Aires a few months before, and was not there to run over and give him a welcome back from the beyond hug.

But I did that just a few months later on a return visit. I went to one of his performances. I waited at the door, gave him a big hug, and a flower, which he assured me he’d place on his own gravesite. We went out for drinks, we caught up. And, though not by any stretch regularly, we kept in touch, an email exchange back and forth every couple of months. Then, a few years later, Facebook hit the scene. He was one of my first connections, and we took to commenting on each other’s trivial posts, and both being night owls, having the occasional late night chat when we found ourselves online at the same time. Not every day, not every week, maybe every 2-3 months. We flirted a bit – harmless flirtation, I’m happily married to Henry, and he was dating someone.

His mother passed away last year and we had a few more regular talks at night. Somewhere in there he went back to school, planning on a new career outside of the theater world. I had my upcoming 40th high school reunion (which was last weekend, I didn’t make it), he had his upcoming 30th, this coming weekend.

It wasn’t uncommon for a bit of time to pass without us talking. We were both busy. We lived in very different worlds, both geographically and the direction our passions had taken us. He often started chats with reminding me that he was still alive and kicking, usually involving some peculiar and humorous gag related to voices or visits from another realm.

And somehow, I missed it. He passed away the first week in June, a heart attack followed by a fall and head injury, found a day or two later. There were plenty of posts on his Facebook page about it, from his twin sister, and from friends, though none mutual, which might be why it didn’t burble to the top of my Facebook feed. Much has been written about him there, and tributes to him far more eloquent than my contribution may be in other spots. Sweet and charming when he wanted to be, a razor-tongued hellion when that was the direction called for, and funny, pretty much all the time.

Today would have been his birthday. 47, 48, I’m not sure which. It’s how I found out, when I went to his page to send him a message. All I can offer is a raised glass, a toast, a “Here’s looking at you kid”, for the second time, for real. Or as he would have said, “Love ya, babydoll.”



Originally I was thinking that this blog would just be an archive of previously published works of mine, from various fields, but I’ve decided that it’s also going to be a place for me to comment on my thoughts on things in the world of politics, religion, science, or whatever fields that don’t make sense for the content of my food, wine and travel blog, SaltShaker. Away we go, with a doozy to start off with.

Tasseography is fortune telling from the reading of tea leaves in cups. I was looking for some sort of cynical connection to the Stanley and Davis Cups from the sports world, some sort of metaphor, that connects to the current brouhahas over “double standards”, or not, in our political and legal system. But nothing occurred to me, so, on to the meat of the matter.


We’ve all read and been following the Kim Davis debacle, the county clerk who refused to issue marriage licenses to gay couples because of her Christian religious beliefs. And now, we’re starting to hear about Charee Stanley, a Muslim woman who is (or was, at this point) a flight attendant who refuses to serve alcohol as part of her duties. The left is gleeful because it feeds into the predictable narrative of the slippery slope that the Kim Davis mess was going to lead to, no matter the claims from the right that “it would never happen”. And the right is up in arms because the left is gleeful, and because a Muslim woman is being treated different from a Christian woman, and therefore, “discrimination against Christians” and/or “Sharia Law is coming to America (because, Obama).”

But there are blatant differences between the two cases that make them stand apart. And there’s no “double standard” as many are quick to claim – at least not so far.

Kim Davis was an elected official, who swore an oath to uphold the laws of the State of Kentucky and the Constitution of the United States. She refused to do so, even when her direct superiors, not liberals by any stretch, ordered her to. Some are claiming that her duties changed, and therefore she hadn’t agreed to what she was being asked to do. There’s some edge of validity to that, but, the duties of her office were to issue marriage licenses, not to decide, based on her personal beliefs, the rightness of those marriages, and nothing actually changed in her duties – she wasn’t asked to sanction gay marriage any more than she was asked to sanction divorce, adultery, interracial couples, or interfaith couples (all things that violate her faith when it comes down to it), just to issue the licenses. She took the legal route, something that she was totally entitled to do, and exhausted it, right up to the U.S. Supreme Court, not a bastion of liberality these days. And she still refused to comply. She was arrested (not by some jackbooted federales, but by her employer, the State of Kentucky). Not for being Christian, not for being conservative, but quite simply, for violating her oath of office, the laws of her state, and the Constitution of the United States. In our country, she has every right to be a bigot, which let’s face it, she is, albeit cloaked in religious rhetoric, but that comes with consequences. I might be more sympathetic if she used the same standards to apply to other situations that equally, or more so, violate her faith – such as had she refused to issue marriage licenses to divorced people, or if she hadn’t herself committed adultery, and been divorced and remarried three times. Actions speak louder than words.

Charee Stanley is an employee of a private corporation. She’s a relatively recent convert to Islam. Yes, part of the duties of being a flight attendant are to serve alcohol to customers – though that’s not a right guaranteed by either law or the Constitution. And, she made arrangements when she converted to Islam (after having already been an employee for a couple of years) to be exempt from doing so – her employer, ExpressJet, agreed to have other employees handle alcohol service so that she wouldn’t have to. Whether that was a legally binding agreement remains to be seen… in court. There’s also no bigotry against those who drink alcohol in her case – she wasn’t attempting to have alcohol service terminated on flights, simply to not have to handle alcohol herself. However, after nearly a year of that arrangement, a fellow employee complained about the situation and her employers decided it put them in an untenable position, because the logistics, given that they’re a small company, didn’t always work out. They approached her about having to serve alcohol, she again declined, citing both her religious beliefs and that she had an agreement with them exempting her from violating those beliefs. They placed her on suspension. She’s suing for lost wages based on them rescinding an agreement that she feels was legally binding. And, just as I support Kim Davis’ right to have made use of the legal system in her fight, Charee Stanley has the same right. She gets to go through the legal process – and we’ll see where it ends up. She’s not getting special treatment because no one wants to offend Muslims, and she doesn’t lose her right to avail herself of the legal system just because she’s not Christian, she’s going through the same process (albeit in local civil court) that Davis did. She’s not asking for a Sharia court. She may prevail, she may not, either way, she’s no longer in her employment position. Just like Davis, though by a different method, she was removed from it. There are simply no facts on which to call “foul” on some sort of treatment double standard.

It’s also worth noting that, given that the cases are proceeding in different states, they are subject to differently written “religious freedom” laws. Kentucky courts and Michigan courts, as ought to be championed by those who feel that the federal government has overreached and that states’ rights should be in play here, may come to different decisions. And that, too, is part of our legal system.

Now, as to the “but Kim Davis was arrested and nothing happened to Charee Stanley” claims of double standards. It’s disingenuous. Let’s look at both. Why was Kim Davis arrested rather than just suspended or fired? Because she’s an elected public official – she can’t be suspended or fired. The choices are two – call for a special election or impeachment. The former is a useless gesture – in the county in which she works, the likelihood is she’d just get re-elected and nothing would be accomplished. Just because the people in her county support her doesn’t mean she gets to violate a Supreme Court ruling – it simply doesn’t work that way. So impeachment. In order to impeach her, they, her employers, the state of Kentucky, have to show criminal dereliction of her duties, or at least some other felony. In order to do that, she had to be arrested and prosecuted, and, no doubt, she’ll be convicted by a judge, because no county or state judge is going to want to go up against the Supreme Court [edit: actually, I think her case is going to be heard in a US District court, which is federal, so virtually assured that she’ll be found guilty]. Then, bet your last dollar, impeachment proceedings will start within 24 hours. Smart lawyers for the State.

As to Charee Stanley, her employer also did exactly what works best within the legal system. There were no grounds for arresting her – she didn’t violate a law, all she did was refuse to do something her employer demanded of her. Thousands of employees across the country do that on a monthly basis. The choices were basically three – let it go and let her continue to not serve alcohol, or fire, or suspend her. Obviously they didn’t want to go with the first or this never would have reached this point. If they’d have fired her, she would have sued for wrongful termination based on religion – and likely, she’d have won, because the burden of proof would mostly land on her employers, and it would have been heard in a federal rather than state court. So they suspended her, depriving her of the option of suing for wrongful termination on religious grounds, which is protected by federal law. Instead, all she can do is sue for lost wages in state court, claiming that she had a verbal contract which honored her religious beliefs. But she’s going to have to prove that. Smart lawyers for ExpressJet.

The glee from the left is ridiculous – mostly because it’s unproductive, it actually does betray an anti-Christian prejudice (at least towards the more fundamentalist Christians), and does nothing other than rile people up – but mostly because the situation is simply different. And it’s unresolved in our legal system, and it will be interesting to see what ruling the Michigan courts, generally fairly conservative, make.

The hue and cry from the right is just political rhetoric from, mostly, hate-spewing, generally racist folk who’ve become convinced that our country is on some sort of downward spiral (caused by the black muslim fake american in the white house… yada yada) rather than simply being at one point in the pendulum of political thought that has swung back and forth throughout our history.

At this point we’ll have to wait and see what sort of court ruling Stanley’s (and down the road, probably Davis’) case engenders, at which point, who knows? There may be something to squawk about then, from one or the other or both sides of the political spectrum.

[Update, November 10, 2015 – Interestingly, and I suppose not surprisingly, Charee Stanley has completely disappeared from the news, I can’t find an online mention of her since mid-September, while Kim Davis, though a bit more background, continues to show up in news stories. A short-lived kerfuffle.]


Politics – same pitch, different day

Joffe, Josef (2013-11-04). The Myth of America’s Decline: Politics, Economics, and a Half Century of False Prophecies

Quite possibly the best debunking of the misuse of statistics and political rhetoric I’ve ever read. For anyone who laments the loss of bipartisan cooperation in America, and the rise of shrill extremism, this is a must read. I’m just going to include a little excerpt from the book here rather than carry on with my own opinion:

Actually, “the sky is falling” should not be a very lucrative pitch. Such alarms stoke fear and panic; why invest in the future if the clock is running down? But the message has worked wonders since time immemorial because doom, in biblical as well as political prophecy, always comes with a shiny flip side, which is redemption. Darkness is the prelude to dawn. The gloomy forecast reviles past and present in order to promise the brightest of futures. Start with fire and brimstone, then jump to grace and deliverance in the here and now. Listen to Jeremiah as he thunders, “Turn from your wicked ways and reform your actions; then you will live in the [promised] land.” Jeremiah may have been the father of modern campaign politics.

Preachers and politicos take naturally to this one-two punch because ruin followed by renewal is the oldest narrative in the mental data bank of mankind. The device is even older than the verdict of doom— the Mene, Tekel on the palace wall— revealed by Daniel. Start with the Flood, a universal theme played out over four chapters in Genesis, but found much earlier in Sumerian and Babylonian myth, as related in the Gilgamesh Epic dated 2700 BCE. Genesis, written in the fifth or sixth century BCE, expands and embellishes the original. It relates how “the Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth.” So He decides to “blot out man whom I have created from the face of the land, for I am grieved that I have made them.” The end is nigh, but don’t despair. Mankind will be spared after all, because the Lord selects Noah, who has “found favor in His eyes,” and commands him to build an ark that will save mankind.

So after death by Deluge, it will be rebirth for the righteous led by an ordinary mortal who knows the future, and how to act on it. This story never ends. The Children of Israel were punished for the Golden Calf, the idol that embodied a wicked past, with forty years in the wilderness. Yet if true to the Law and to God’s messenger Moses, they will be rewarded with the Promised Land. As the Resurrection follows the Crucifixion, so misery will segue into salvation, but there has to be a leader, spiritual or political, to show the way: Moses or Jesus, John F. Kennedy or Ronald Reagan or Barack (“ Yes, we can”) Obama. The pairing of doom and deliverance defines the eternal archetype.

In all these narratives, ruin is the means, and rescue the end. Terror is the teaching device that will change the course of history. For all his tirades, every Jeremiah actually wants to be disproved by making his errant flock atone and amend. “Declinism is a theory that has to be believed to be invalidated,” explains Samuel Huntington. It is the opposite of the familiar “self-fulfilling prophecy,” a term coined by the sociologist Robert Merton. The alarm starts out with a “false definition of the situation” and then triggers “new behavior which makes the original false conception come ‘true.’ ” To predict a bank failure is to unleash a run that will actually cause the collapse.

Declinism markets a “self-defeating prophecy.” Since these predictions deal with humans, and not planets or protozoans, they are designed to trigger reactions that lift the curse. Merton puts it thus: Evil does not come true “precisely because the prediction has become a new element” that changes the “initial course of developments.” So to foretell is to forestall— that is the very purpose of Declinism. Take the “impending exhaustion of natural resources” from Malthus to the Club of Rome, which foresaw the end of global growth some forty years ago, especially because of dwindling oil reserves. Myriad changes in behavior— from conservation to exploration— followed, causing oil gluts on the market in the 1980s and a gas glut in the 2010s. The world economy grew twentyfold in this period (nominally). Would that all catastrophes had such a short shelf life!

None of America’s Declinists over the past half century, as presented in the preceding chapter, actually wanted the country to suffer its foreordained fate. The prophecy is designed to be self-defeating, and the structure of augury is always the same: This will happen unless . . . Holding up another nation as a model is to correct one’s own, not to condemn it— from the Sputnik Shock of the 1950s to Obama’s “Sputnik moment” in the 2010s. To praise others is to prod America. Russia, Europe, Japan, et al. will overtake us, unless we labor hard to change our self-inflicted destiny. The basic diagnosis remains constant; only the prescription will vary according to the ideological preferences of the seer.

In politics, “the sky is falling” has yet another purpose. It is no accident that the figure of the prophet, in the legend or on the stump, stands at the center of the narrative. We have to believe in the messenger so that he can rise above us and guide us to a better tomorrow. Hence dramatization and exaggeration, fibbing or even outright falsehood, are part and parcel of the prophecy. To hype is to win. Never mind that the Missile Gap and the Window of Vulnerability were mere myths. Expediency beats veracity in campaigning and sermonizing. And so, hyperbole paves the road from the vale of tears— or to the White House. “Follow me, and ye shall be saved!” is the eternal message. Or in Kennedy’s words, borrowed from Churchill, “Come then— let us to the task, to the battle and the toil. . . .”

Prophet or politico, the strategy is to paint the nation in hellish colors and then to offer oneself as a guide to heaven. The country is on the skids, but tomorrow it will rise again— if only you, the people, will anoint me as your leader. It worked for both John F. Kennedy and Ronald Reagan, who rode all the way to the White House on nonexisting Soviet missiles. Shakespeare wrote the original script. To “busy giddy minds with foreign quarrels” was Henry IV’s advice to his son and successor. The democratic equivalent is to scare up votes with foreign threats. After the election, dawn always follows doom— as when Kennedy called out, “Let the word go forth that the torch has been passed to a new generation of Americans.” Gone was the Soviet bear that had grown to monstrous size in the 1950s. And so again, twenty years later. At the end of Ronald Reagan’s first term, his fabled campaign commercial exulted, “It’s morning again in America. And under the leadership of President Reagan, our country is prouder and stronger and better.” In the fourth year of Barack Obama’s first term, America was “back” and again on top. Collapse was yesterday, today it is resurrection. This miraculous turnaround might explain why Declinism usually blossoms at the end of an administration— and wilts quickly after victory.


Is the TSA abusive? I’m not so sure.

TSA-logoI know this won’t be popular, but all this anti-TSA rhetoric is getting tiring. Yes, on occasion, an agent might do something outside of procedure, and a complaint should be made, they should be investigated and if necessary, disciplined or fired. But 14 million people fly through US airports weekly, and we hear about maybe 1 or 2 supposed abuses every week or so, mostly because they’re the exceptions. And then everyone starts blogging and posting about what happened with only the complaint of the passenger to go on, assuming that there’s no other viewpoint to the story.

Sometimes, with the random selection process for screening, that pointer happens to point to a 6 year old kid or an elderly person in a wheelchair, or, like the latest one everyone’s going on about, a pregnant first grade teacher – who maybe, just maybe, opted out of the electronic screening as many pregnant women do because of concerns about “radiation” (which are completely unfounded as well) and then didn’t want to get searched either (in fact, she admits in her now widely circulated letter that she tried to refuse a pat-down and kept demanding to be allowed to go to her flight without being searched, to which everyone is going “aww, let the lady go, she’s a pregnant schoolteacher” – like anyone in line or in the TSA would have known that – it’s “Monday morning quarterbacking” at its worst). Who knows? But taking her at her word without any other input is just dumb. Security experts the world over have noted the rise in the use of prosthetic pregnancy devices that make a woman appear to be pregnant but hide explosives in terrorist attacks.

I have yet to have a negative experience with an agent, nor see anyone harassing a passenger, nor even know anyone who has been harassed. The only incident I’ve witnessed was a woman who refused to remove her shoes, jacket, or any of her metal jewelry or watch because she didn’t trust that she’d get them back when they passed through the scanner, and then got abusive when a female officer offered to do a pat-down search, in private if she wished. Bluntly, I wouldn’t want her passed through.

Last week TSA agents found 18 concealed firearms, 5 cases of other prohibited items concealed in carryon baggage, and 9 people traveling on false identification papers – all in cases where the people tried to get around the automated scanning process and get on a plane without being searched. That says something to me about the worthwhile nature of the security process, particularly the concealed guns.

Perhaps it’s my having been present in NYC during the 9/11 attacks, dealing with losing friends and colleagues, and living with the aftermath, but for me, flying is a privilege, not a right, and personally I have no problem with extra security measures if it might just save my or someone else’s life.


TMLP, The Team Weekend Skit

Improv skit (it really was, all we did was come up with the main theme of the skit, a few hours before the afternoon session, and then just played from there) with myself and Eli Krupnik at the Team, Management & Leadership weekend in San Francisco, January 1990. Much of it is poking fun at, or parodying the team training weekend we were at – using a little humor to lighten up an intensive program. As such a lot of the references and choice of language probably won’t make much sense to people who haven’t participated in the program.

Sadly, Eli passed away in early 2014. He was the person who got me into the world of comedy, and comedy writing, and he is missed.


TMLP, The Leadership Weekend Skit

Improv skit (it really was, all we did was come up with the two main themes of the skit, during our lunch break before the afternoon session, and then we winged it from there) with myself and Eli Krupnik at the Team, Management & Leadership weekend in Atlanta, April 1989. Much of it is poking fun at, or parodying the leadership training weekend we were at – using a little humor to lighten up an intensive program. As such a lot of the references and choice of language probably won’t make much sense to people who haven’t participated in the program.

Sadly, Eli passed away in early 2014. He was the person who got me into the world of comedy, and comedy writing, and he is missed.