August 2, 2006

GIVE ME YOUR TIRED, YOUR POOR—OR NOT
By Steve Kluger

With advocacy groups and state courts pushing for new laws to
bar same-gender marriage, gay adoption, and civil unions—even
though other nations are opening their doors (and their hearts) to
the same issues—the global the-collar.  In fact, the Emperor is
stark naked.  But that should come as no surprise to anyone who’s
been paying attention.

On Dec. 29, 1940, Franklin D. Roosevelt dubbed America “The
Arsenal of Democracy.”  And he probably meant it.  After all, he
was rich, he was popular, his wife did all the grunt work, he’d just
been elected to an unprecedented third term, and the Republicans
detested him.  What could be more democratic than that?

On the other hand, it might have been a second martini talking.

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February 15, 2006

THE BEST THINGS IN LIFE ARE FREE—FOR NOW
By Steve Kluger

When Butch and Sundance did it, they were called bandits.  
When transportation carriers and Internet providers do it, they're
called Fortune 500.

The airlines recently announced that in an effort to meet rising
fuel costs, they will soon begin charging for amenities that we
have long since taken for granted.  At present, these “luxuries”
include checked baggage, extra leg room, Diet Cokes and pillows
(which, presumably, will continue to resemble rice paper
envelopes stuffed with shredded wheat)—with carry-on baggage,
aisle seats, window seats and advance seat assignments
predicted to follow.

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October 26, 2005

THE CURSE OF THE BLACK SOX
By Steve Kluger

Yeah, yeah, yeah.  So the Red Sox were cursed when owner Harry
Frazee sold Babe Ruth to the New York Yankees, and the Cubs
met the same fate when an overzealous ticket-taker offended
somebody’s goat.

But let's not forget that in 1920, seven crooked members of the
Chicago White Sox and one railroaded third baseman—soon to be
nicknamed the infamous Black Sox—were indicted by a grand jury
for throwing the 1919 Fall Classic to the Cincinnati Reds.  
Chicago's Sox, too, have remained in the World Series toilet ever
since.

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October 11, 2004

WASHINGTON'S SENATORS: BASEBALL AS IT SHOULD BE
By Steve Kluger

In 1955, a quartet of ballplayers with names like Smokey and Sohovik and Rocky and Van Buren faced a standing-
room-only crowd of cheering fans and gave America one of its most enduring anthems.

No, it wasn't an All-Star Game and the players weren't even real.  The occasion was the opening night of
Damn
Yankees
, and the song—"You've Gotta Have Heart"—landed the way it did because the team singing it was pro
baseball's Washington Senators.

For the pure in spirit who remember when God was in His heaven and Mickey Mantle ruled everything else, the
announcement that Major League Baseball would be returning to Washington for the first time in 33 years was the
nostalgic equivalent to five sevens across the center line.  Jackpot.

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October 11, 2006

FOLEY FADE-OUT
By Steve Kluger

Thirty years ago this January, former singer, beauty queen, and
human being Anita Bryant sat before Florida’s ordinance that
prohibited discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.

“Homosexuals cannot biologically reproduce children; therefore,
they must recruit our children,” she warned.  With those few
words, we lost our brand new civil rights—and it took us 20
years to get them back.  What we really needed was somebody
in the Sunshine State who was on our side.

Enter Mark Foley instead.

Theoretically, it’s always easy to spot the politician whose
mailing address is the closet—he’s usually the one who's
gleefully foaming over the most Draconian of anti-gay measures
at the same time he’s supporting, say, a jockstrap fetish, an itch
to hang around truck stops, or a Calvin Klein model he’s got
stashed in a secret Brazilian love nest.  (God, we’re hoping that
Rick Santorum doesn’t fall into this category.  He
already
dresses like Faye Dunaway.)

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April 26, 2007

FIELD OF DREAM$
By Steve Kluger

When I first became an uncle, I knew instinctively that it was going
to be up to me to educate my nieces and nephews on some of the
more fundamental essentials that are inexplicably overlooked
by
most parents.  They grew up wearing Red Sox bibs and
onesies
as infants, Red Sox t-shirts as toddlers, and Red Sox
caps as
kids.  Six-year-old Noah’s had an alarmingly accurate
fastball
since he was one and a half, and Emily, at nine, can pull off an
uncanny impersonation of Sox slugger Carlton Fisk’s legendary
World Series home run in 1975.  So aside from Noah’s
disappointment in discovering that the Green Monster doesn’t
have teeth—an assessment not shared by a number of American
League batters—they’ve been well-prepared for their first trip to
Fenway Park with Uncle Stevie this summer.

And then tickets went on sale for the season..
..

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August 13, 2009

THE AGING OF AQUARIUS
A reminder from the Woodstock generation that "boomer" isn't a
four-letter word

By Steve Kluger

Forty years ago this weekend, half a million intrepid Baby
Boomers converged on Max Yasgur's dairy farm in Bethel, New
York, to celebrate our youth, our music, and our unwavering
conviction that we'd begun making our world a better place in
which to live.  After watching our heroes die in Dallas, Memphis,
and Los Angeles, we'd brought college campuses to a halt when
we stood up and asked, "Why?"  We marched as a single body
for the rights of African Americans, women, and our gay brothers
and sisters, regardless of our own race, gender, or orientation.  
We forced a war-mongering Chief Executive to forgo his bid for a
second term, we took on the brutality of the entire Chicago
police force during the 1968 Democratic Convention, and we
invented--off the tops of our heads--a back-to-the-earth
movement long before anyone had ever heard of global warming
.

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November 22, 2013

THANK YOU, MR. PRESIDENT, FROM US KIDS
He was a part of our club.  He knew it, and we knew it.  Other adults were clueless.

By Steve Kluger

“Let the word go forth, from this time and place, to friend and foe alike, that the torch has been passed to a new
generation of Americans......”

He had us at “torch.”  And the only reason nobody in third grade could remember the whole thing the way we could
remember “Ask not what your country can do for you” is that there were too many words for a kid to keep in his head at
the same time.  But he’d definitely said something about a torch.  And that he was giving it to us.  Not to our parents and
not to the Good Humor man.  It was
our torch.

If you were eight, or eleven, or even thirteen during the thousand-day presidency of John F. Kennedy, you shared a
confidence with each other that nobody in the world could have guessed in a million years.  It started in Wisconsin when
he promised to keep his speech short because there was a football game in two hours:  “I don’t mind running against
Mr. Nixon,” he told the crowd, “but I have the good sense not to run against the Green Bay Packers.”  He did it again at
an early morning rally in Illinois when he pretended to be surprised by the kind of hard work that went into a campaign:  
“After reading about the schedules of the President, I thought we all stayed in bed until ten or eleven, and then got out
and drove around.”  But what clinched it was his visit to the West Coast when a little boy asked him, “How did you
become a war hero?”  Kennedy thought about it for a second and then said, “They sank my boat.”

That’s when we were cross-my-heart positive:  After 171 years of old-guy presidents, Americans had finally decided to
nominate a grownup who was secretly one of us.  He knew it and we knew it, but nobody else suspected a thing.  And
that automatically made us his sidekicks.


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