Monthly Archives: June 2018

Good News Friday: The blind and deaf soccer fan who “saw” the World Cup thanks to an amazing friend. Amid so much darkness, a bright new political light scores a huge upset in N.Y. And a janitor in England gets a wonderful surprise

I know it’s Good News Friday but every once in a while real life intervenes, and I could not in good conscience write something today without talking (briefly, at least) about the awful, horrible tragedy in Annapolis, Md., Thursday afternoon, when a man walked into the newsroom of the Capital Gazette-Times and murdered five people.

There is so much I could and want to say about this tragedy, about how the profession I love so much is in mourning tonight as I write this. But I’m not sure how coherent I’d be on it. So I’ll leave my thoughts on the subject for another day, and simply print the thoughts of two journalists I read on Twitter Thursday night.

First, from veteran TV producer Kyle Feldscher:  “The Times-Picayune kept working while Katrina destroyed their homes. WDBJ didn’t stop working when two of its reporters were murdered on air. KHOU-11 kept filming as their offices flooded during Harvey. The Capital Gazette will put out a paper tonight.

You cannot stop us.”

And then this, from veteran reporter Brian Shane:

What we call “the media” may include a few major newspapers and national TV networks, but mostly, it’s hundreds of small-town news operations like . They are part of the communities they cover. They’re your friends and families. Not some “enemy.” Please remember that.”

Thank you for reading. On with the good news… 

There are always wonderful human interest stories coming out of major international sporting events, and for as much as corrupt organizations like FIFA and the International Olympic Committee try to ruin them, it’s the human element that shines through.

Sometimes the humanity comes from a player or coach, but often it comes from fans. Check out this wonderful example of one person helping another feel joy. The Colombian soccer team advanced to the Round of 16 by winning on Thursday, and I know of at least one person who was overjoyed.

Jose Richard Gallego loves his country’s team as much as anyone. But he can neither see nor hear them play, for at age 9 he contracted a serious disease that robbed him of his hearing and sight.

Still, he watches the games now, thanks to a remarkable friend of his named Cesar. Cesar learned sign language, and according to this amazing story by Sky News, holds Jose’s hands and through a complicated series of moves and gestures, describes the action to his friend.

It’s a beautiful, beautiful story.

**Next up today, there was a monumental political upset in New York this week, as a 28-year-0ld former bartender named Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez won a Democratic primary for Congress over longtime and powerful incumbent Joe Crowley.

Crowley hadn’t been even challenged in more than a decade, he’d been in Congress since 1999. But a determined woman with a small army of supporters beat back an establishment, corporate Democrat who frankly deserved to be defeated.

Ocasio-Cortez’s bio video introducing herself to voters was amazing; watch and see how well she connects and appeals to the people in her community.

What a rising star she is, and a beacon of hope.

**And finally today, a small story that feels so big to the people in it.  A janitor at a college in England called the University of Bristol named Herman Gordon was always known as a happy man, walking around campus.

But students learned he hadn’t been able to afford to fly back to Jamaica to see his family in four years. So they held a fundraiser and came up with enough money to let Herman and his wife fly home for a week-long vacation.

Watch this video, and Herman’s reaction. Pure goodness.

 

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The despicable stolen seat on the Supreme Court comes home to roost. And America should be ashamed. A man who returned orange juice and then won the lottery. And a political ad that will inspire and give hope.

Disgusted and fed up and outraged all over again. That’s how I felt Tuesday afternoon, as the latest Supreme Court decisions rolled in at the end of the term.

I thought I’d used up all my indignation and shock about the unbelievable, unethical and in all other ways wrong behavior by Mitch McConnell and Senate Republicans in 2016, absolutely refusing to even meet with Obama Supreme Court Justice nominee Merrick Garland.

I was as angry about that baldly unconstitutional and completely unprecedented decision as I’d been in years, probably since the failure of anything getting done on gun control after the Sandy Hook school massacre.

I could not believe that McConnell and Co. were allowed to just refuse a President’s nominee on zero grounds, and I was infuriated that Democrats like Obama and Hillary Clinton didn’t march out Merrick Garland at every single rally the entire year, point to him, and say “This is what happens if Republicans are allowed to control government, and the Supreme Court is in dangerous hands if we let them block Merrick Garland. We cannot let Donald Trump become President.”

And yet … McConnell did get away with it. And Hillary didn’t talk about it every day, didn’t schlep Garland around the country, and slowly this unbelievable heist of a Supreme Court seat was allowed to happen.

Because then Trump became President, and he nominated Neil Gorsuch, and this week Gorsuch and his four fellow Conservatives have done quite a lot to hurt America.

From ruling that decidedly-prejudiced state voting district maps drawn by the GOP in North Carolina and Texas were fine, and ruling that Trump’s racist travel ban for tourists from certain Muslim countries was a-OK, to ruling unconstitutional a California law that required “crisis pregnancy centers” to provide abortion literature… all of it, ALL of IT, was only made possible thanks to Merrick Garland’s nomination being completely and 100 percent blockaded.

I get so furious with politics sometimes, and with candidates who run bad races (Hillary Clinton, I’m looking at you) because these are the results.

It is an absolute abomination what happened to Merrick Garland in 2016. And the ramifications of it will be felt for a long, long time.

**Next up today, this story cracked me up, and will certainly appeal to my best friend Clay, God love him, maybe the thriftiest man alive with a nickel (he might get mad at me for saying that but it’s 100 percent true; he’d walk five miles to save a nickel).

Meet Tayeb Souami, a 55-year-old New Jersey man. On May 19, he came home to his wife with a $5 bottle of orange juice from his local Hackensack, N.J. ShopRite store. But Souami’s wife told him that she’d found the same brand on sale for $2.50 elsewhere, so she sent Tayeb back to the store (we’ve all been there, right guys?)

What happened next was amazing: From the Washington Post: “Souami dutifully trudged back to the store in Hackensack, N.J. —  OJ and receipt in hand.

But at the customer service counter, he saw a sign for the Powerball jackpot, which had ballooned to $306 million at that point, according to video of Souami’s news conference.

He liked the number and was feeling lucky, so he purchased two tickets using the money he got from the returned orange juice and mostly forgot about the lottery for the rest of the day.”

Well, of course you can guess what happened next: Tayeb won the PowerBall jackpot, and took the $183 million lump sum payment that went with it.

His life is forever changed, all because his wife wanted him to get the orange juice for cheaper.

What an incredible story, and good for the 55-year-old African immigrant.

Of course, the real moral of the story? Always listen to your wife.

**And finally, I was looking for a little political palatte-cleanser after the Supreme Court news on Tuesday, and happily found it on my friend Jeff Pearlman’s Facebook feed.

This may be one of the best political ads I’ve ever seen. Meet MJ Hegar, a former Army pilot shot down over Afghanistan in 2009 who is now running for Congress in a Texas district that’s solidly Republican.

I have no idea if Hegar will win, but this ad is amazing, and inspiring, and gives me some hope. It’s been viewed more than 2 million times already since it debuted last week.

 

Paul McCartney does an emotional, amazing turn on “Carpool Karaoke.” My good friends at FOJ stand up for what’s right, on national TV. And “Insomnia Jeopardy” cracked me up

As much as I thoroughly enjoy them, most episodes of James Corden’s “Carpool Karaoke” on his CBS late-night show are pretty fleeting. You watch them on a Tuesday, have a good time with it, and by Thursday you’ve forgotten all about it.

But Thursday night, I venture to say Corden and a certain former Beatle created an incredible, indelible piece of entertainment. In just more than 20 minutes of footage, driving around Paul McCartney’s hometown of Liverpool, the two Brits who worship music and all the emotions it brings up had one hell of a time.

They went to McCartney’s childhood home, brought Corden to tears singing “Let it Be,” and gave people in a local pub one hell of a surprise at the end.

This, truly, brought me so much joy to watch.  I hope you enjoy. It’s Monday and if it doesn’t lift your spirits, you may want to check your pulse for signs of life.

**Next up today, sometimes on this blog I just want to share something funny that I saw that made me laugh pretty hard.

I had some significant insomnia issues for a long time in my 20’s; not sure if I’ve talked about it here but I was up to two Ambien’s a night sometimes, and often saw the sun come up while trying to fall asleep.

Anyway, I eventually got better, but insomnia is no laughing matter. Still, my sister posted this old New Yorker magazine cartoon by Roz Chast the other day and it made me laugh. Hopefully you can look at it then fall right to sleep.

**Finally today, it’s pretty rare that you get to see good friends doing something righteous on national television, so Friday night was a pretty fabulous one for my wife and I.

I’ve written many times here about my love and support for the Friends of Jaclyn Foundation, a non-profit that pairs kids with brain cancer up with high school and college sports teams across America.

Well a few months ago I got a crazy phone call from some hysterically excited friends, Erin Perkins and Alicia Greenstone, the two women who, along with co-founder Denis Murphy, are the heart and soul of FOJ. Truly, they are some of the most wonderful, warm-hearted people I’ve ever met.

Erin and Alicia told me they were just out having lunch at a local restaurant near their office in upstate New York, and a waitress was getting lectured to by customers at a nearby table.

It seems the diners had noticed her wedding ring and asked about her husband, and the waitress mentioned she’s actually married to a woman.

Well, the customers began loudly protesting, speaking nastily to the waitress and threatening to not leave a tip. Erin heard what was going on and immediately jumped to the defense of the waitress, as did Erin and Denis, and all hugged after talking for a few minutes.

A short time after the disrespectful couple left, the host of ABC TV’s “What Would You DO,” John Quinones, jumped out from behind the counter and told them they’d all been filmed for the new season of the show.

They were gobsmacked; of course they didn’t know they were being taped, and quite honestly, there’s no way they would’ve thought the rude customers were actors (there’s plenty of people with those views in America).

Well, I was so proud when I heard what they’d done, and last Friday night their episode finally aired. Check out their short segment (above).

Really, really cool.

Good News Friday: An amazing gesture by TV star Gina Rodriguez. John Oliver hilariously mocks a stupid British law. And a 10-year-old girl makes sure a civil rights hero gets his just due.

Happy Friday, world! It’s summer, the sun is shining, I went to the pool Thursday and even though the water was freezing I’m still happy I got to go swimming, and Wimbledon is only 10 days away.

Despite the awfulness of this week from a national perspective, there is still plenty of good news going on. No matter how dark it gets, there will still always be light.

And there’ll always be people like Gina Rodriguez, the TV star of a hit show, “Jane the Virgin.” Rodriguez, who has won a Golden Globe for her performance on “Jane The Virgin,” decided to do a wonderful thing with the money she was given to help promote her show for the Emmy Awards.

Instead of spending the money on promoting her show, Rodriguez got her network, the WB, to commit to spending the cash to send an underprivileged Latina scholar to Princeton.

From this story in The Hollywood Reporter announcing the move, which Rodriguez partnered on with Big Brothers/Big Sisters:

“Rodriguez, 33, who won a 2015 Golden Globe for Jane, partnered with Big Brothers Big Sisters of Los Angeles to find the right applicant — a Princeton University-bound young woman who’ll now be able to complete all four years without financial burden.

And while Rodriguez says she’s been invigorated by her decision, she had mixed feelings about revealing it.

“It’s taboo to talk about the money being spent, but it’s the reality,” says Rodriguez. “I think sharing this might inspire other people to do something similar. You can desire recognition and, at the same time, decide to not play in the confines of the game as it’s set up.”

She’s exactly right. Another person will see someone like Rodriguez making a wonderful gesture like this, giving the gift of education and hope, and others will surely take notice and do something similar.

Wonderful job by Gina Rodriguez.

**Next up today, I’m a little late on this one as I fell behind on my “Last Week Tonight with John Oliver” episodes during our recent move. But this segment was flat-out brilliant and hilarious.

A week before this show, Oliver had made fun of a member of Britain’s Parliament on his show. Well apparently there’s some sort of a law in the U.K. that says you’re not allowed to use video clips of Parliament on a satirical or comedy news show, so instead of that segment of Oliver’s show airing, they simply showed a black screen.

So a week later, Oliver and his brilliant team got creative, and well, just watch. So, so good.

**And finally today, loyal reader and friend of the blog Sanford tipped me off to this fabulous Steve Hartman story from “CBS Sunday Morning” I’d missed. Sarah Haycox is a 10-year-old from Shoreline, Wash., near Seattle, and about a year ago she stumbled upon a tiny stone honoring a man named Edwin T. Pratt.

Pratt died in 1969, after a tragically-short life as a civil rights leader in Seattle. And what Haycox did upon learning who he was … just wonderful.

This girl is 10 years old. The future is so, so bright thanks to kids like her.

 

Even for this White House, the child separation border policy is heartless and unspeakably cruel. A fantastic Spanish-language call of a World Cup goal. And the robot that will hug you anytime you want.

There is so much I could rage about, so much pure, unadulterated evil in this story that’s consumed so many of us for the past week, since more and more has come to light about the Trump administration’s despicable practice of separating babies, toddlers and other children from their parents at the U.S. border. About how asylum seekers, people trying for a better life and in many, many cases fleeing violence, persecution and drugs, are coming face to face with a horror that may even be worse.

I could point you to this story about a mother having the baby she was breastfeeding AT THE TIME get ripped away from her by ICE agents. Or this story, an audio recording obtained by ProPublica from inside a detention center, with the anguished cries of small children screaming after being taken away from their parents.

We could talk about the pure evil of Stephen Miller, and Donald Trump, and so, so many in the inner circle of this disgraceful excuse for a human being we call the President.

It is an unbelievable time in American history that we’re living through right now, and I mean that word “unbelievable”  in the sense of, I cannot believe there are people happily defending the idea of forcibly destroying the lives of innocent children.

I don’t have the words. I really don’t. And neither did Rachel Maddow on MSNBC Tuesday night, as she tried to read this breaking news story, about toddlers and babies being held in “tender age” shelters in Texas, crying and screaming all the while.

Rachel Maddow is no squeamish wallflower; she’s seen a lot, been through a lot, covered a lot. And this is how she reacted…

I am truly afraid of what will happen next. Of what the individuals running this White House, who will rot in hell right alongside the worst people who’ve lived, will do next.

God save us all.

**Next up today, from pure evil to pure joy. Telemundo, the Spanish TV network, never gets better ratings in America than when there’s a World Cup. And of course, there’s a World Cup going on now, and people get a tad excited. So do announcers.

So I give you the glorious Telemundo call of Mexico’s first goal on Sunday, giving it the lead against Germany (the game ended up tied).

Man, is this guy happy.

**Finally today, while I know many of you are probably interested in the World Cup (are you aware that 99.6 percent of Iceland’s population was watching their 1-1 tie vs. Argentina on Saturday? That’s amazing. And what the hell were the other 0.4 percent watching, ice fishing?), there is very important non-soccer news out of Germany.

Finally, a robot has is being invented that can perform a hug better than ever. That’s right people, even lovely human contact like hugging has been made better thanks to machines.

Check this out, from the website Digital Trends: At the Max Planck Institute for Intelligent Systems in Stuttgart, Germany, researchers there have been developing a robot that is designed for giving you a hug. And, far from an amusing gimmick, they are convinced that it’s really important.

“A robot hugging a person is a good idea because people may crave the benefits that come from a hug at a time when they can’t get a hug from a person, due to factors such as distance, timing, and health,” Alexis Block, one of the lead researchers on the HuggieBot project, told Digital Trends. “We think a hugging robot could be beneficial in this case because a person can get the support they need without feeling self-conscious.”

The team’s HuggieBot is no diminutive robot beavering away, unnoticed, in the background like a Roomba vacuum cleaner (Editor’s note: Hey, I always noticed the Roomba when it was in “Breaking Bad!”).

Instead, it’s a modified PR2 robotthat stands as tall as an average human, which can be configured to be made extra soft using layers of foam, polyester, and other materials. Its hugs can be further modified according to the firmness of hug you desire (thanks to a pressure sensor) and even the option of having them heated.”

Wow. Who wouldn’t want a heated hug? This is fantastic. God bless science. Check out how the HuggieBot works, below.

 

 

On Father’s Day, honoring the best and worst (OK they’re all bad) Dad jokes with a hilarious PSA. A really funny Little League position breakdown. And thoughts on hard-working movers, living in suburbia, and the joy of space.

Sunday was a wonderful day in my world,  as the third Sunday in June always is for me since I became a Dad four years ago.

We had family over to our new house that we’ve lived in for all of 48 hours now (more on the “fun” of moving in a few hundred words), we met some new neighbors, and all in all, it was fabulous.

Most fabulous of all on Father’s Day, of course, is that in addition to all the love and hugs and cake-eating, my father and I got to tell some terrible Dad jokes. Dad jokes are, of course, corny and ridiculous (“what do you call a pig that knows karate? Pork chop!”) but I love them all the same.

Not sure if this is classified as a “Dad joke” but one of my favorites has always been: “Did you hear about the two antennae who got married? Yeah, the ceremony was OK, but the reception was excellent!”)

Yeah I know, you’re groaning. I laugh every time. Anyway, NPR did a story on Friday about bad Dad jokes on Father’s Day, which is how I got to see this amazing PSA from Australia from 2015, on “Dad Joke Survivors.”

The deadpan look on the faces of these kids is priceless. I salute all of you fellow Dads who tell Dad Jokes, and our poor kids who have to listen to them.

Hey, we’re doing our best.

**Next up today, this isn’t mind-blowing or anything of huge importance but I thought it was really funny. It came to me from the Twitter feed of Petros and Money Show, which I’ve never heard of. But it’s a graphic called “Little League Analytics” and it made me laugh hard.

I was most certainly a right fielder for most of my Little League career, by the way. You get a LOT of time to think out there in right field.

**Finally today, Friday was a traumatic and exciting day in our family, as we officially moved out of our two-bedroom Manhattan apartment and into an actual house with actual separate rooms and closets for all of us. It was thrilling; we’re now surrounded by unopened boxes and I’ve been tired for three straight days, but I know soon things will settle down.

Absolutely stoked about being a suburban father, and I really really hope I’m done moving for a long, long time. Figured out the other day that this was my 15th move since graduating high school in 1993, and that’s a hell of a lot. Still, some truisms were reminded to me Friday, and I also learned a lot.

Couple thoughts on our great migration

— So we ended up with 84 packed boxes by Friday morning. Eighty-freaking-four. Never would’ve guessed that many. But I got to discover, again, that the guy or girl who invented the tape gun should be on Mount Rushmore. Schoolkids should have his or her birthday off as a national holiday.

The tape gun is everything and amazing.

— We had four outstanding moving men, but there were a few times, when one of them had to direct the other slide the couch the other way, or back up so the dresser could fit through, when I thought of the classic old Jerry Seinfeld bit about moving furniture. He says as people are manuevering heavy stuff they say to each other “easy, easy,” when in really it’s really hard, and they should say “Difficult, difficult, very difficult.”

— So much more space in the new house. So fabulous to have more closets than we know what to do with. You live in Manhattan long enough, you accept that your closets will have BOTH toilet paper and winter coats in them.

–There is no sound quite like the sounds of your voice once all the furniture has been removed from your apartment, and suddenly your words are echoing around the room. Very eerie and quite bizarre.

— We waited to pack all the 3-year-old’s toys until he was at his Grammy and Papa’s apartment the night before the move. Saved a lot of tears and consoling that way.

— Finally, maybe the coolest thing about moving is the feeling of satisfaction as the truck drives away from your new place. Finally, everything you own is in one place, where it’ll stay forever.

Or until, you know, you find someplace better.

 

 

Good News Friday: The kid baseball pitcher who won the game but consoled his best buddy on the other team first. A teenage inventor has a way to make school shootings safer. And a doggie at a baseball game has a good time.

Happy Friday to you all! After celebrating the 24th anniversary of the Rangers winning the Stanley Cup on Thursday (I celebrated by packing everything I own into cardboard boxes during final preparations for our move), I’m in the mood today to salute two enterprising young people, and a pretty frisky doggie.

First up, this went viral this week for all the right reasons. In a Minnesota state high school sectional title game, Totino-Grace and Mounds View were playing for the right to go to the state tournament.

Mounds View pitcher Ty Koehn has protecting a lead in the final inning when he struck out Totino-Grace’s Jack Kocon, clinching the win for Mounds View.

But while Koehn’s teammates celebrated around him, the young pitcher did something wonderful: He walked directly to home plate to consol his friend Kocon.

We are very close friends,” Koehn told Bring Me the News. “I knew him from all the way back when we were 13. We were on the same little league team. It was tough when we went to separate schools but we kept in touch.”

That humanity is a beautiful, and all too rare thing to get highlighted in sports. Here’s what Koehn also said.

**Next up today, I absolutely hate that something like this is needed, but I’m amazed at the ingenuity of the child who invented it.
Meet Audrey Larson, a 14-year-old from Wallingford, Conn.
According to this story in the New Yorker, this weekend, Audrey will compete in the National Invention Convention & Entrepreneurship Expo, in Dearborn, Michigan, where she’ll début her latest idea: a wall-mounted shield designed to protect students from active shooters invading their classrooms.
She’s a kid inventor but with terrific ideas; she’s been inventing stuff since she was 7 (my favorite invention is her “glow jamas”, pajamas that light up when you turn them on for when you have to go to the bathroom at night).
She lives 40 minutes from Sandy Hook, so of course the school shooting there in 2012 impacted her.
Larson’s new invention is called Safekids, which, in her words, is “a foldable bulletproof panel designed to protect students and teachers from an active shooter.” The acronym stands for Kevlar-cellulose-nano-crystal-AR500-steel Instant Defense System.
“I wanted to look at the problem differently, in a non-political way. That’s when the idea really sprouted. I started doing drawings,” Larson said.
At school, people were discussing lockdown procedures, and how to improve them. “Normally, you hide in the corner away from windows and doors, where you’re least likely to be spotted,” she told me. “I didn’t think that was really effective. There had to be a better way.”

The floor-to-ceiling panels, which create a bulletproof space once unfurled, are folded against the wall when not in use. “It doesn’t take up any space, because most schools don’t have the biggest classrooms,” Audrey said.

Like I said, I absolutely hate that something like this has to be invented. It’s absolutely disgraceful how our politicians refuse to do anything useful to stop school shootings.

But kids like Larson are doing what they can to help, and I salute her impressive invention.

**Finally, a dog at a Tulsa (Okla.) Drillers minor league baseball game got to run around the field before the game with other dogs. And, well, infield practice was going on and you know how a dog gets when he sees a ball…

I just thought this would bring a smile. That doggie was determined!

And now, so many things I WILL miss about living in New York City. An amazing piano rendition of an 1980s classic. And a wild magician named Joshua Jay with a cool video.

Hi all. Couple quick things to hit before I get into my I ♥ NY post.

First off, I have absolutely no idea what to make of this Trump-North Korea 5-second summit that apparently led to an agreement; I have zero faith North Korea will follow through and disarm its nukes, and I feel oh so heartened when I read this quote from our Dear Leader, Mr. Trump:  

President Trump says he got North Korea to commit to destroying a major missile testing site but “we didn’t put it in the agreement because we didn’t have time.” 

Oh.

Next, wanted to give y’all a quick update on that idiot off-duty FBI agent who did a backflip on the dance floor, saw his gun fall out, and accidentally shot someone in the leg while he went to pick it up. Excellent news is that Chase Bishop has been charged with assault,   by the Denver District Attorney’s office. Throw the book at this guy.

OK, on with the show.

Three days left in my life as a New York City resident.

As I sit here surrounded by boxes and trying to throw out as much useless crap as possible before inflicting it upon another dwelling, (seriously, 20 percent of the things in our cupboard I never remember buying) I am trying to trim down this list of all the things I will miss about living here.

Monday I vented a little about what I won’t miss, but the truth is there are many, many more things I will. I’ve tried to keep this to a manageable list, but you know, New York City gets in your blood.

Here goes, some of the dozens of things I will miss come Saturday, when I no longer live in this wonderful, weird place.

— The friends. I’m not talking about my longtime friends who still live here, I’m talking about all the new ones we’ve made in the last six years, especially in the last four since we started making new humans. When I first started taking  Nate to the playground as a newborn and to activities and stuff when he was about four months old, I knew I’d meet other parents, maybe make some idle chit-chat to pass the time, that kind of thing.

I never expected to make as many wonderful new friends as we have, friends who started as just fellow parents but now I know will be in our lives forever. People like Kristen and Dave, and Dara and Russell, and Abel and Anu: You all came into our lives because our kids were around the same age, but we had so much more in common. Finding warm, generous, loving people who become your dear friends, when you’re all in your late 30s or 40s, is a rare and terrific thing. I  will always cherish it.

— The apartment. This apartment we’re leaving has a lot of firsts in it. First apartment my wife and I had both our names on the lease. First place we ever brought our sons to after leaving the hospital, following their birth. Their first cries, their first meals, their first laughs and hugs… all came while we were living here. It will always have a place in our hearts because of that.

Plus, it was a great freaking apartment. A balcony, great views of the city, terrific neighbors, we were able to see half the July 4th and New Year’s Eve fireworks (tall buildings obstructed our views of the other half), close to the subway and the 59th Street Bridge… I’m really gonna miss it. But it just got too small for our growing brood.

As I keep saying, it’ll be nice to finally have my toilet paper and winter coats in different closets.

— The random encounters of weirdness and of beauty in Manhattan. On the same journey on the subway, for a mere $2.75, you can find crazy people muttering to themselves and you about how aliens are invading our country, and moments later hear a gorgeous cello player playing Mozart for $1 bills. There is beauty and lunacy everywhere you look here.

— The bagels and the pizza. I’ve had some good bagels elsewhere, and occasionally you find a good slice in another part of America. But nowhere do you get consistently good, almost anywhere in the five boroughs, pizza and bagels. Even BAD New York City pizza is better than 95 percent of the pies anywhere else, and same goes for bagels.

Yes it’s because of our water that they taste so good. But I’d also like to believe it’s because of the demanding consumers who won’t pay for cardboard-tasting crap.

— And finally, the sheer vibrancy of this place. At any hour, at any day, there’s just so much life here. The pulse, the energy, just the fact that there’s so much to do and it’s all so close by, is such a gift that so man of my fellow NY’ers take for granted.

Take us out, Ole’ Blue Eyes…

**OK, next up today sometimes weird stuff just pops up on the page of a Facebook friend and I’m mesmerized. Remember the Toto song from the 1980s, “Africa?” Of course you do. It’s been played roughly 432,233 times on the radio and in bars in the past 40 years.
Well, a musician named Peter Bence put a new twist on the song, while playing the piano.
It’s an… um, unusual way to play a song. But very, very cool (And how DID Toto, exactly, stop the rains down in Africa? This was way before global warming so I really wanna know how they did it.)
**And finally today, a pretty amazing magician named Joshua Jay has come across my radar a couple of times lately. This is a quick little promo video he’s done, without editing, just incredible sleight of hand. This man is a master… (I can’t get it to embed properly so just click the link above)

As we prepare to move out of NYC, some things I definitely won’t miss. The Parkland kids with a beautiful, touching performance at the Tonys. And Rafa Nadal dominates and a cute kid steals the show at the French Open

So this is a pretty big week for the Lewis family, and for my wife in particular: We are leaving the noisy and crowded confines of Manhattan for the hopefully quieter but equally great suburbs, moving to our new house this Friday on Long Island.

For my beloved wife, this transition is going to be most jarring, as she’s lived in the city for 20 years and suddenly has to leave her beloved borough. For me, New York City has been my home for longer than anywhere else as an adult; my nomadic, journalist life has seen me move many times, so living in Manhattan the past six years has truly felt like home.

There have been many wonderful things about living in the crowdest, most alive city in America, and I’ll get to some of those in my next post, on Wednesday.

But since I’m a firm believer, much like Don Corleone in “The Godfather” of hearing bad news first before good news (my reasoning is I like to end on a happy note rather than a sad one), I want to write today about all the things I won’t miss about living in NYC. Don’t worry, my fellow New Yorkers reading this will nod along knowingly, while those of you who don’t live here will say “See? This is why I could never live there.”

— The honking. The goddamn, loud, incessant, annoying honking from car horns on the streets of Manhattan is the single biggest thing I hate about living in the world’s greatest city. It is around you always, and everywhere. It happens when you’re walking and suddenly someone decides the traffic up ahead is all the fault of this idiot in front of them, and leans on the horn for 10-15 seconds.

It happens when people are mad, or frustrated, or just impatient (I swear I was once honked while driving and the light hadn’t even finished switching from red to green yet).

I just cannot stand how frequent and loud the car horn honking is. I hate it, I hate it, I hate it.

— My biggest fear of Manhattan may surprise you: But next to every restaurant or bar is a hole/opening for a ladder or steps that go down to the basement of the place, where deliveries of beer or food or whatever goes. Walking past that steep downward hole I’m always terrified I’m going to fall down the opening and kill myself. And once our son could walk it scared me even more. Won’t miss those.

— Subway delays, which are inevitable, but the ones that happen while you’re waiting and waiting for a train and you feel it’ll never, ever, ever come.

— The pomposity and arrogance of so many young people who work in finance. You hear them in restaurants or on the street, talking so smugly like they own the world and they’re barely 25. Just once I’d like to smack one of them and tell them “Shut up, you can’t even legally rent a car yet, you don’t know anything!”

— The lack of available tennis courts. OK this one is only relevant to some of my fellow New Yorkers, but I’ve never lived anywhere where it was so hard to find a place to play. Such little land for courts, and court fees are enormous, and you’ve often got to make reservations and you only can wear certain kinds of shoes… and it’s just such a hassle. Thrilled to be moving back to normalcy, where you can just walk out onto a neighborhood court and play any time you want.

–And lastly, I won’t miss the exorbitant costs of living here. You live in Manhattan long enough, paying $18 for a burger, or $13.50 for a turkey sandwich, almost seems normal.

Because that’s what everyone is charging. It’s horrendous how so many businesses and apartment-dwellers have been driven out of the city by the high price of living here. Slowly NYC is losing its soul because it’s losing people who aren’t in the 1 percent.

But also because there has to be a point, somewhere, where people say “Enough! I will not pay $5.50 for that tiny bottle of water!”

**Next up, sometimes goosebump and tear-inducing video clips need no introduction, or explanation. So allow me to present, from Sunday night’s Tony Awards, the drama club from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., singing the iconic song from “Rent,” “Seasons of Love.”

**Finally today, a few words about the just-concluded French Open, the second tennis Grand Slam of the year and an event once again dominated on the men’s side by an unknown guy from Spain named Rafael Nadal.

  1. The guy won his 11th French Open title Sunday (cue William Miller in “Almost Famous” shouting “ELEVEN!” from the backseat), and as usual there was very little drama in victory. Nadal is the best player on any one surface, maybe that ever lived, and it’s incredible the way he and Roger Federer continue to dominate men’s tennis.

Think about this: Nadal and Federer, between them, have won the last SIX major titles. They last did that in 2006. It’s now 2018! That’s insane. Nadal looks healthy and primed for a great run at Wimbledon, where he could meet the rested and healthy Roger Federer, of course.

Wimbledon starts in three weeks. I. Can’t. Wait.

— Big props to Simona Halep, the women’s champion and world No.1, who finally won her first major. Good for her. And also big ups to 14-year-old American Coco Gauff, who won the French Open juniors title. I can’t remember if I wrote about her last year after seeing her at the U.S. Open juniors and reach the finals, but this kid is absolutely the future of women’s tennis. Already 5-9, powerful and able to move gracefully, she’s got all the tools to be a champion. Trust me, remember her name.

— Finally, this is about the most adorable thing ever: French player Nicolas Mahut won the men’s doubles title Sunday, and after the match his son Nathaniel ran on court to celebrate and dance with him. How cute is this?

Good News Friday: The NFL player who became a doctor, while still playing. A wonderful soldier/son reunion at a graduation. And a police officer stops traffic in the rain to protect a turtle

And a Happy Friday to you all out there on the Interwebs. It’s a very happy day in our nation’s capital, but no, not because Trump quit or was impeached. After 44 years of mostly heartache, the Washington Capitals won the Stanley Cup Thursday night, beating their “longtime rivals” Vegas Golden Knights (and what a long Cup drought it’s been for the Knights, a whole nine months).

Since my Rangers and the Caps have had playoff battles my whole life I couldn’t quite root for Washington in this series, but I’m happy for Alex Ovechkin, coach Barry Trotz and the organization. There are great hockey fans in D.C. and I’m happy for them, since they’ve waited so long. Good job, Caps.

OK, on with the show. You might have heard the ridiculous kerfuffle coming from the Orange Man in the Oval Office this week, bashing NFL players on the Philadelphia Eagles for not being patriotic, and more nonsense. I thought for a minute about making this whole post about the great, patriotic things NFL players do, like Jermaine Gresham paying this woman’s $50 baggage fee so she doesn’t miss her flight, but it’s June and I thought we were all on a break from the monstrous machine that is the NFL.

But I did want to call out this tremendous accomplishment, first pointed out to me by my sister, of Kansas City Chiefs lineman Laurent Duvernay-Tardif. Last week Duvernay-Tardif completed his required coursework at medical school at McGill University in Montreal and graduated with his class.

That’s right, an active NFL player is now a doctor. Duvernay-Tardif was a 6th round pick in 2014, and each offseason he’s been working toward his medical degree.

He said in interviews after the ceremony he wants to add “M.D.” to the end of his name on his jersey, and it’d be awesome if he did (I’m sure the NFL would find some reason to not allow him to.)

What a wonderful accomplishment. Now you wonder why someone so smart would play a sport (and a position, offensive line) where you get in the head 50 times a game. But hey, I’m sure now that he’s a physician he’ll make sure the Chiefs now have great magazines in the locker room.

**Next up today, I love these surprise soldier ceremonies, and I had to share this one. The Marshfield (Mass.) High School graduation was going along normally enough when student Tyler Solomon stood up to get his diploma and handshake.

Then, in a surprise known to many others but not Tyler, his father, Damon Solomon, currently on his fifth deployment as a U.S. Army seargeant, showed up to greet Tyler.

The look on Tyler’s face at the :14 mark says it all. What a wonderful moment.

**And finally, one small act of kindness from a police officer to another creature. In a driving rainstorm recently in Maryland, officer Sharnese Hawkins-Graham noticed a small box turtle stuck in the middle of the road.

So Hawkins-Graham decided to protect the turtle and divert traffic. A motorist passing by got out and helped, while thanking the officer. The motorist, Carolyn B R Hammett, and her husband helped Officer Hawkins-Graham use shovels to safely move the turtle out of the road, while holding an umbrella over the officer’s head.

Just a nice, small gesture. And the smile on the officer’s face (in the pic at the link) was great, too.