September 26th, 2013 § Leave a Comment
Jury Duty. Two words none of us want to hear. Yet feeling the paternal eye of civic duty, I made my way to the County’s Superior Court Building. Through the metal detector and onto the Jury Pool. Looking around, I thought to myself, “With all these people, what’re the chances I get on a jury?” Not likely, I happily surmised. “The day is shot, but with a little bit of good fortune, I’ll be back to my own grind by 3 PM.” Not so fast. Once called into the courtroom, before I could warm the seat I’d taken, I was called up to the row of alternates. As the Judge proceeded to give us a primer on what was expected of us as potential jurors, I did the math. I was third alternate. Not in the box, but not looking good.
The attorneys excused three, and that was that. Juror number 12. It took me all of a minute to accept my fate. If this was the seat for which I’d been chosen, I was going to do my part. These people: the plaintiffs and the defendant, the attorneys, the judge, they were all counting on me and the other eleven members of the jury to do our very best in rendering a just judgement. So, I determined that I wasn’t going to fail them because I was too busy whining about inconveniences.
The case was a relatively minor one over a traffic accident. After all the evidence was presented, we went in to deliberate. The consensus was that without actually being there we really had no way of arriving at any certainty. The evidence as best we understood it seemed to point to the defendant not being negligent. After we cast our vote, I told my fellow jurors, “I’m glad this wasn’t a 25 to life case. If rendering a decision on a couple thousand dollars is this agonizing, can’t imagine what a felony case is like.”
During a lunch recess, I sat out in a courtyard adjacent to the Court building and thought to myself, “This immense institution with all it’s countless mechanisms, this multi-million dollar fixture of our society exists because people cannot get along.”
September 6th, 2013 § Leave a Comment
Peyton Manning doesn’t look like a Quarterback. Not like Brady does. Or Favre did. Hell, he doesn’t even look like an athlete. Just watch at him run: The narrow shoulders shrugged over the the extra long torso. And those legs; they appear to be operating on a different set of signals from the rest of his body. You know he’s a terrible dancer. Not only does he not look like a Quarterback; he doesn’t sound like a Quarterback. It’s a voice and tone you’d expect more from a local John Deere distributer than an NFL signal caller. The nodding, the pressed lip agreeable expression framing that good ol’ Southern drawl. “Well, you certainly will get the job done with this John Deere Zero-Turn mower, but sounds like with the size of your yard, you might be able to get away with this D120 model. So, um … Green zero, zero; Check. Check. D120. D120. Hurry. Hurry. Hut!” Doesn’t look like a Quarterback; doesn’t sound like a Quarterback. He doesn’t even throw like a Quarterback. He throws an ugly ball. Check the tape.
Last night, in the 2013 season opener, Manning threw for 462, seven TDs, zero picks. Just silly numbers. If not natural born abilities, what makes him so prolific? Work? Yeah, I believe his work ethic has much more to do with his success than his natural gifts. The drive to be great? Maybe. I think even more than these it is his willingness to press into a journey wrought with so many failures. It’s courage.
Everyone talks about what Denver safety Moore failed to do last season. Moore’s misplay on the 70 yard bomb to Jacoby Jones in the waning seconds of last season’s Divisional Championship game gave life to the “All but dead” Ravens. That play overshadowed Denver’s last offensive play of the season: A Peyton Manning interception to Corey Graham in overtime to set up Tucker’s game winning field goal. A crushing failure for a guy who had fought so hard to get back on the field. And not his first either. Manning has a losing record in the playoffs, 9-11. Last year like seven other losses was of the “one and done” variety. No one would blame the man if he decided he’d had enough. The road too perilous. But he was back last night, on the same field, against the same opponent, less than a year removed from one of his greatest failures. Manning up.
It is what makes Manning great. The photo above could have been taken in your backyard. “Honey, that goofy, freakishly tall neighbor with the Southern drawl just got here. What was his name again?” That’s Peyton Manning. You might not know it by looking at him, but he is one of the greatest Quarterbacks of all time.
September 4th, 2013 § Leave a Comment
I suspect it was the Geisha that got him up, that sent a jolt of life through him that afternoon. Once awakened, he engaged my brother in a way I’d never seen. And his gift of teaching, his natural artistic skill spun out of him. It was as if an ominous gray statue, one we tip-toed around suddenly came to life and danced before our eyes, filling the room with color. Who knew such things were in him? Looking back, can’t help but think, “It could’ve been different; it should’ve been different.” What got him out of his seat should not have been the hatred of a people under whose heel his people had so suffered. No. It should’ve been the love for his son. His immensely gifted son.
If it were love, he would have gotten up long before that afternoon. If my father had been watching closely, he would’ve seen that his son had that same, natural gift that was in him. A chip off the old block. Eyes that see, and the hand – the skillful, steady hand. An artist. Being an artist himself, he could have cultivated this gift. Taught. Encouraged. Kindled in his son a love for art, and in effect a love for who he was, is. But my father did this only once. Like so many fathers, most other days, he did more wishing than watching. The wishing as it does for us all made him blind to the gift, right there in front of him. Sitting next to him was an artist, and mostly he bemoaned that his eldest son was not a scholar.
I’ll never forget that afternoon. It was the one time that my father engaged his son in something his son loved. About three years ago, my brother picked up that long forgotten brush. He still paints. Beautifully. The gift survived the years of neglect. He’s made the long journey back to that afternoon. His father is not there, but the gift they share comes alive in a quiet garage, filling it with color.