Saturday, June 25, 2011

To Steve With Love

My father-in law passed away the other day after a brief illness.

Steve Richard was a man of faith, in a better place after minimal suffering. 

A native of Haiti, Steve was a retired surgeon. A warm, proud and intensely private man.

He was also a striking, stylish man.  Always impeccably dressed. Cuff links, pressed pants, not a hair out of place. If he owned a pair of jeans it must have been a gag.  And when Tania jokes about wearing patent leather shoes to the park, I believe her.

The first time we met he sat in the corner with a digital camera (he loved his gadgets) taking snapshots, which Tania promised was a good sign, not part of an elaborate background check. 

I kept thinking here I am, a divorced father of two, with my own paparazzi. 

A week later one of the pictures arrived in the mail in a makeshift paper frame. 

I was in. 

More importantly, my kids were in also.  He embraced them as his own.  In our family, the only "steps" lead to a different floor.

He started watching golf, a sport as foreign to him as skateboarding until he learned about my love of the game.   At family gatherings he would look my way and in his thick Haitian accent ask me about "Taaaguh Woooods" or what it meant to "score ze birdie" or if it was good to "score ze paaar." 

He always offered me a wide grin and a firm handshake, and would playfully walk up behind Tania and pinch the back of her neck. 

Tania and her Dad were close, and shared a love of film.  He was proud of her artistic success and loved seeing her perform. 

And the man could dance. 

I had heard the stories for some time.  As children Tania and her two older sisters would gather in the living room and her parents would dance for them before heading out on the town.  A beautiful, graceful couple. 

Leading up to our wedding, he was coy on the subject, acting like a "first dance" with Tania was not in the cards.

Fat chance.

As he approached the dance floor, I stood in awe.  The room stood still, in awe.  He took my bride in his arms and floated about to the theme from "To Sir with Love."   Sidney Poitier meets Fred Astaire.   He had a look of utter contentment, full of joy, at peace. 

A photo sequence of the moment, which I treasure, hangs in our home. 

I have a lot to live up to.  Godspeed my friend.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Facebook With My News? Unlike!

I caught the Republican debate last night on CNN.  Yeah, that's right, I'm the guy who watched.  Me  and the canidates' parents.

The debate was fine, rather pedestrian in terms of questions and answers.  Not unexpected this early, where the last thing anyone wants to do is implode before voters even have a chance to google you.

What struck me, however, was a news item about the debate and social media:

Seems CNN decided to set up a large screen and feed Facebook posts throughout the debate for the audience, moderator and candidates to see.

Am I alone on Twitter island, or is there something truly odd about this?

Why on earth is it necessary to have a rambling, one way conversation scrolling on a screen during a debate?    Isn't the point (at least tradition) of political debate that it takes place IN PERSON??

I found myself waiting for Ron Paul to scream "Higher taxes? LOL!" or Mitt Romney to blurt out "Don't ask don't tell? TMI!"  Or for any of them to beg voters to poke them (insert Anthony Weiner joke) or hit their "like" button. 

What's shorthand for, "Have we lost our collective minds?" HWLOCM?

And it's not just the debate.  Somehow I can't turn anywhere without references to Facebook pages. 

Everyone from T.V. news outlets to columnists are in the act, going to their "pages" to share comments about their stories during the stories.

That's the difference. Unlike the old days when people wrote letters to the editor or segments were devoted to viewer comment, now "comments" are woven in. 

Why is news now on a level with sports radio? Do we really need to tee up Barry from Bollingbrook for his view on the G-7 summit?

To me, Facebook comments are like writing on a bathroom wall.   Or listening to messages on random answering machines.  

Maybe I'm missing something, but I have always picked up a paper to read news, and trusted that those reporting the news are a wee bit more in the know than an anonymous computer hack. 

Can you picture Edward R. Morrow saying, "Good night and good tweeting" or Walter Cronkite closing with, "That's the way it is, isn't it Facebook peeps?"

I also see the irony, banging away on my laptop, part of the "new age" media.  But come on, at least people choose to read this (at least some do) and it is strictly my opinion.

And hopefully more compelling than my answering machine.