Attention deficit disorder


I just can’t handle the shock. It’s just overwhelming. Like for instance if you read that Lindsay Lohan was cast to play St. Bernadette. MSN is reporting that “Nashville is embracing heavy metal.” Mötley Crüe is hanging out with country guys. As one of the Crüe explained about writing country songs, a guy gets drunk and loses his wife and his car. Maybe not in that order. He probably loses his dog, too. You’re not a country star if you haven’t lost at least one beloved dog. Pretty soon Taylor Swift will be channeling her inner Joan Jett. Can’t wait. …

I’m a big fan of good bagels. I’m kind of a bagel purist. I refuse to buy blueberry ones. My Jewish friends get credit for enlightening me about bagels as I grew up. I have learned that there’s a process to making them. For instance, real bagels are boiled before they are baked. They have to be chewy on the inside and crisp on the outside. The bagel was invented (I think “created” is a much better word) in Krakow, Poland sometime in the 1600s. Bless you, Krakow.

The most prominent kinds are the New York and Montreal types. Contrary to popular belief, the Montreal bagel is not made in the shape of a hockey puck. Likewise, the New York bagel is not so named for its abrasive personality. Unlike the New York bagel, the Montreal style is boiled in honey sweet water before baking in a wood-fired oven. The New York style contains salt and, after boiling, is baked in a standard oven. Some of my Jewish friends consider me a heretic for preferring the sweeter Montreal bagel. I hastily point out I steadfastly refuse to eat Montreal bagels containing chocolate chips. Not a small concession because I love chocolate chips. I should not be lumped in with people who buy frozen supermarket bagels and German VWs. Incidentally, to those of you who buy bagels at Dunkin’ Donuts, you’re not even part of the conversation.

I am the first to tell you I am not qualified to take sides on the Mummers controversy. Even though members of my family marched in the Mummers Parade for years, I was a part of that wing of the family that stayed home with my uncles and cousins watching football bowl games. I was not then and am not now anti-Mummer. I respect the tradition and still enjoy going out to Broad Street to greet neighbors and friends. The parade is admittedly a backdrop. I did the Mummers a favor not marching with them. I don’t only have two left feet, both of my feet are on backwards. Over the years, the crowds have admittedly diminished between Oregon Avenue and Methodist Hospital. I think more because the population in our area has gotten older and can’t get out to the parade the way they did in the past. The spirit is willing, well, you know the rest.

If the new route, as expected, excludes my area, I think that’s a real shame. You don’t have to know all the words to “Alabama Jubilee” to appreciate what the tradition of the Mummers Parade has meant to so many folks around here. I defer to the parade folks who work so hard all year in keeping this Philadelphia tradition alive. But I do so, not without sadness.

Because of newspaper deadlines, I write this not knowing if the situation in Ferguson, Mo., has gotten better. I do know that from this distance, without all the facts, we should not reflexively take sides. My father retired as a Philadelphia cop with 35 commendations to his credit. My uncle was also a cop. I have also contributed to the ACLU. My interest (and I hope yours) is to see justice done and to prevent other Fergusons across the country.

I have read the city of Cincinnati, as a result of a similar circumstance last year, formed a citizens committee and a police outreach program that is being lauded for its success. There is no perfect solution. In Philadelphia and other urban areas, I do think Councilman-at-Large Jim Kenney’s bill approved by Council to decriminalize marijuana is a good start toward lessening the confrontations between police and inner city residents. Legalization would be better. The overall so-called War on Drugs has been a notorious and expensive failure. It’s time we admit it. No country imprisons as much of its population as we do. Not China. Not Russia. Not Iran. None. That’s what the War on Drugs has brought us. At this writing, Mayor Michael Nutter has still not made a decision on whether to sign on to decriminalize the possession of relatively small amounts of pot. His reasons for not doing so make little sense. The problems in Ferguson are deeply rooted, not only in the War on Drugs, but decriminalizing drug abuse would be a big step toward defusing the tension between the police and minority communities around this entire country.

Impeach President Barack Obama? Indict Texas Gov. Rick Perry? Since when did hardball politics become a crime in America? In 2014, that’s when. And it sucks for our political system’s future.

From heavy metal to bagels to the Mummers to Ferguson. It’s either America today or maybe I have attention deficit disorder.