Point of View Columns

Fake Fuss over Obamacare

The frenzied farcical furor surrounding the technology challenged rollout of the latest phase of the Affordable Care Act would be laughable if the subject matter wasn’t so serious. The Affordable Care Act, popularly known as Obamacare, was passed into law in order to address a critical challenge for the people of the United States – quality affordable healthcare being made available to a third of a billion people. While the record is quite clear that Obamacare has begun to address the healthcare inequities of Americans, the Usual Suspects are only too happy, indeed gleeful, to celebrate even any misstep.

A bit of historical perspective is always useful. At the beginning of the 20th century President Theodore Roosevelt advanced the concept of universal health care, an obvious product of the Progressive Movement that initiated so many beneficial reforms in these United States.

Since that time, many presidents, including Franklin Roosevelt, Harry Truman, John Kennedy, Lyndon Johnson and Bill Clinton have all tried, and failed, to implement a universal health care system that would guarantee medical care for all Americans. And since that time virtually every developed country on this planet (and many that are not so developed) has implemented a universal health care system for its citizens.

When Barack Obama became president in 2009 over 40 million Americans had no medical insurance and millions of other Americans were hopelessly underinsured. And this societal disgrace existed in a country with the best medical technology in the world and the highest medical costs in the world. That the Obama administration was able to shepherd a healthcare bill through a Congress that was already careening towards the partisan poisoned train wreck that it is today, will one day be noted as a great legislative and political achievement.

It should be no surprise that the Teapublicans have led the full throated disparagement of every aspect of Obamacare. But they are silent when it is pointed out that Americans with pre-existing medical conditions can no longer be denied health insurance – an established procedure in the health insurance industry prior to the passage of Obamacare.

They are also silent when it is pointed out that, since the passage of the Affordable Care Act Americans can no longer lose their healthcare coverage when they are afflicted by a catastrophic illness. Dropping people with such illnesses from health insurance coverage was standard operating procedure prior to the passage of Obamacare.

And the Teapublicans simply don’t want to talk about the fact that millions of Americans can keep their children covered by the family health care plan until that child turns 26. This is another new feature that was the stuff of fantasy before the passage of Obamacare.

So why would the Teapublicans and their right wing cohorts want to repeal Obamacare? The House of Representatives has voted to repeal Obamacare 47 times. The right wing zealots who populate that chamber have shut down the federal government and taken the entire global economy to the brink of an unthinkable cataclysm – all in the name of derailing a law which provides healthcare to Americans.

It has to make one wonder what is it about Obamacare that makes the Teapublicans cross-eyed crazy? Can they be so opposed to children with cancer receiving healthcare? Are they that opposed to men, women and children being able to see a doctor without the specter of bankruptcy looming over them if they get sick? And, have the Teapublicans ever offered a credible alternative to Obamacare?

The answer to the last question is “no”. And the answers to the other questions are probably “no” as well. In which case it is clear that the magma of hate for President Barack Obama has spewed forth in a volcanic eruption of opposition, confrontation, disrespect and invalidation that continues to this very day as Teapublicans are holding up President Obama’s third judicial nomination to the United States Court of Appeals. And there should be no doubt that there is a racialist and racist source to the white hot magma that flows through the halls of power of Washington.

And now we are supposed to believe that the Teapublicans are caterwauling over the technological missteps in the next phase of Obamacare because they care about the healthcare of Americans being jeopardized. Their record of crass and senseless opposition to All Things Obama makes them all look like they are crying crocodile tears.

The computer failures of Obamacare will be fixed. Obamacare will continue to be the law of the land. More Americans will have access to affordable quality healthcare because of Obamacare. And the opponents of Obamacare will find themselves being footnotes to footnotes of history.

Point of View Columns

Land of the Rising South

Like a bad smell that just won’t go away, the myth of the glorious South refuses to die. Incredibly and unfortunately, that myth has enjoyed a recurring renaissance since the founding of this country. And now that myth has morphed into a nihilistic political philosophy that is far from quaint and very close to dangerous.

While racism and slavery were very much a part of the way of life in all thirteen of the original colonies, as much as gravity and oxygen in the air, slavery drove down its deepest sociopolitical roots in the primarily agrarian Southern colonies. The incredible wealth fueled by cheap human labor satisfied the monetary needs of a few and slaked the thirst for superiority of the many. This combination of monetary and psychic satisfaction was so potent that the Southern colonies, once they became states, were willing to fight to the death to preserve this peculiarly horrific institution called white supremacist slavery.

History tells us that the division between North and South played a pivotal role in the drafting of the Constitution which shamefully labeled black slaves 3/5 of a human being and established a bicameral legislature which insured that states with smaller populations (the Southern states at the time) would be on a par with states with larger populations. The structure of this new government also locked in provisions which allowed a minority to obstruct, delay and sometimes destroy initiatives that represented the will of the majority.

A brief stroll down the memory lane of American history reveals that two of the first three presidents were Southern slave owners (Washington and Jefferson). However the last Southern slave owning president was Andrew Jackson and since then very few Southerners have become president.

Woodrow Wilson was the first Southern elected in the modern era and he brought his racist roots with him into the White House with the infamous premiere viewing of “Birth of a Nation”. The next Southerner elected president was Lyndon Johnson and since then only Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton were born Southerners elected to the White House (the two Bushes were born in Connecticut).

Despite being denied the presidency, the South has wielded inordinate power, first in foiling the civil rights movement for the first half of the twentieth century and now in seeking to dismantle the federal government in the first two decades of the twenty first century. Utilizing the leverage built into the legislative process by Washington, Jefferson and the other slave owning Founding Fathers, the Southern way has impacted this country, particularly on matters of race, all out of proportion to the moral, economic or demographic weight of the region.

Now the Southern strategy has morphed into a political philosophy that, if adopted by the country as a whole, is virtually suicidal. The federal governmental infrastructure is a key reason why this country, even with all of its flaws, has been successful in establishing a standard of living and a way of life that is historically remarkable. The idea that “government is the enemy”, a Southern lie promulgated by Ronald Reagan in a faux Southern moment, comes from the fact that in the South the federal government has indeed been the enemy of the Southern way of life.

It was the federal government that outlawed slavery and essentially burned the South to ground in the process. It has been less than two centuries since this bit of business was concluded and that is a blink of the eye in historical – and cultural – terms.

It was the federal government that dismantled the apparatus of Jim Crow and legalized segregation, using federal soldiers, federal judges and federal prosecutors to enforce this process. That took place less than fifty years ago, a mere heartbeat in historical terms.

In the Southern narrative, government as “the enemy” fits very nicely with those who would wish to dismantle government so as to reduce taxes to an afterthought as they amass untold wealth. Government as “the enemy” also fits in nicely with neoconservative thought that would reduce government regulations in industry and financing letting the market forces prevail (another term would be letting market forces run wild).

It would seem that this would be a good time to connect the dots before this country follows the stars and bars over the cliff.

Point of View Columns

Weekend Edition – August 19, 2011

One of the important things about history is that it reminds us that there isn’t much that is really new. In that vein, President Obama (and all of us) should check out a speech given by Franklin Roosevelt in 1937 – it could have been written tomorrow. Meanwhile Rodeo Rick Perry, the erstwhile governor of Texas and now a contender for the presidential nomination of the G.O.Tea Party has been running around the country with his mouth ‘a blazing. I don’t think that it will be too long before he shoots himself in the foot while trying to put it in his mouth. Finally, I am assuming that the Barnum & Bailey Circus has imposed a hiring freeze. That is the only explanation for Dr. West and Mr. Smiley running around America like a bunch of clowns on their “Speaking Truth to Empower” sham of a tour. Where’s the delete button when you really need it?

Wise Words to the Wise

The deluge of hate, calumny and rage that has poured upon Barack Obama since he became President of the United States is not without precedent. Historians refer to the presidency of Abraham Lincoln for an analogy but 74 years ago Franklin Roosevelt was the object of furious opposition to the change that he advocated and articulated. President Obama would do well to consider the following:

“For twelve years this Nation was afflicted with hear-nothing, see-nothing, do-nothing Government. The Nation looked to Government but the Government looked away. Nine mocking years with the golden calf and three long years of the scourge! Nine crazy years at the ticker and three long years in the breadlines! Nine mad years of mirage and three long years of despair! Powerful influences strive today to restore that kind of government with its doctrine that that Government is best which is most indifferent………………..For nearly four years you have had an Administration which instead of twirling its thumbs has rolled up its sleeves. We will keep our sleeves rolled up…………….We had to struggle with the old enemies of peace‹business and financial monopoly, speculation, reckless banking, class antagonism, sectionalism, war profiteering…………………They had begun to consider the Government of the United States as a mere appendage to their own affairs. We know now that Government by organized money is just as dangerous as Government by organized mob.

Never before in all our history have these forces been as united against one candidate as they stand today. They are unanimous in their hate for me and I welcome their hatred.”

It’s pretty amazing that these words, spoken 74 years ago, could be spoken by President Obama tomorrow with incredible accuracy and relevance. Perhaps it is time for an encore.

Rodeo Rick!

You have to hand it to Rick Perry – the man certainly knows how to make an entrance. In his first week as an official presidential candidate he managed to question whether President Obama “loves America”. Presumably Governor Perry’s love for America is a fact of nature.

He also contended that the monetary policies of Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke were “treasonous”. He went even further, darkly muttering that Chairman Bernanke would get treated “pretty ugly” if he ever came to Texas. Many will recall that the last prominent federal official to be treated “pretty ugly” in Texas was John F. Kennedy, making Perry’s remarks all the more awful.

Just getting warmed up, Rodeo Rick said at a New Hampshire campaign stop that evolution was a theory “with a lot of gaps”. You probably did not know that, in addition to being governor of Texas, Rodeo Rick Perry was a noted geologist, paleontologist, archaeologist and anthropologist with all the credentials necessary to question the validity of the theory of evolution. By the way, he also thinks that Adam and Eve walked with the dinosaurs.

Rodeo Rick also said that the American military did not respect President Obama since he never served in the military. It may come as some surprise to Governor Perry that Woodrow Wilson, Franklin Roosevelt and Lyndon Johnson were all wartime presidents and that respect from the military was never a problem for them. The right wing of the right wing icon Ronald Reagan never served in the military and what little military record that George W. Bush had is best forgotten.

In trying to outdo….himself (????) Rodeo Rick also contended that “America needs a president who loves America”. When asked whether he believed that President Obama loves America he replied, “You have to ask him”. And so Rodeo Rick has staked out the neo-birther position of no longer questioning Barack Obama’s place of birth, questioning instead the location of his heart and the coordinates of his allegiance.

I think it is just a question of time before the presidential campaign of Rodeo Rick Perry explodes from bombast and idiocy or implodes from the weight of hypocrisy and illogic.

A Damned Shame

It has been said that there are lies and then there are damned lies. I would amend that statement by adding, some things are a shame while other are a damned shame.
Into this latter category I would place the Tavis Smiley-Cornel West “Speaking Truth to Empower” speaking tour, appearing in a hole in the wall near you soon.
During the past few months Dr. West and Mr. Smiley (reminds one of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde???) have gained more attention than they could ever deserve by attacking and sliming Barack Obama.

While President Obama should never be immune to criticism but calling him a “lap dog of Wall Street” and implying that he has somehow betrayed black America presumably because he did not become a civil rights leader on January 20, 2009 is just plain wrong – and in the current political climate, dangerous.

The fact that Dr. West and Mr. Smiley are the arbiters of blackness would be laughable if it were not so pitiful. Their irrational, barbershop quality rhetoric directed at President Obama would fit in well at a Tea Party rally. They are getting the same attention as a “Man Bites Dog” story and seem to be satisfied with the attention as long as their names are spelled correctly.

Cornel West, while he may have missed a haircut or two, hasn’t missed a meal in a long time. He is a comfortably tenured professor at an Ivy League university that has never been mentioned in the same breath with Howard University, Morehouse College or Medgar Evers College when it comes to be centers of higher education for black Americans. Tavis Smiley has a list of multinational corporate sponsors whose predatory tactics have caused more suffering in the black community than all of the lies and half-truths he has broadcast over the years.

It is, however, a shame that some people will listen to this daffy duo. It is a damned shame that some people will not vote for Barack Obama in the 2012 election having mistakenly placed their faith and trust in these poseurs. And it is truly a damned shame that West and Smiley might in some way contribute to the election of Michele Bachmann, Mitt Romney or Rick Perry as president of the United States.

Unlike Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, Dr. West and Mr. Smiley will be just fine. But many of us may suffer from their prideful misdeeds.

Have a great weekend!

Excerpts from "The Pride"

The Pride – Chapters 7,8,9 & 10

A friend in need

I have found that most Americans think of Scandinavia as a region of four countries made up of the same people. Most Americans think that the difference between Finland and Denmark is like the difference between Los Angeles and Long Beach – not enough to spend time thinking about it. Clearly their ignorance is based on lack of information.

The Danes hate the Swedes; the Norwegians hate the Danes, the Swedes
hate the Norwegians, and nobody understands the Finns. Or cares.

After all, Finland is a country where the primary form of recreation is dancing the tango (!!!), yet it has a suicide rate just below that of the local lemming community. Even within each of the Scandinavian countries there are serious differences, and that is where my story begins.
Norway has been a monarchy for centuries, and even though there is now a democratically-elected parliament, there is an anti-monarchist movement that continues to believe that the institution is an anachronism that simply has to go.

Before I dropped out of the university in Bergen, I was part of a student anti-monarchist organization and when I came to the United States I continued to stay in touch with my former colleagues.

I should add that, like many student protest organizations, the Norwegian Anti-Monarchist Movement, or NAMM, was not that serious and was certainly no threat to the monarchy of Norway. I remember that when I was at the university, we used to spend most of our time sitting around drinking beer and smoking Turkish hashish, and telling sordid, bawdy jokes about the king and his family.

We composed an inflammatory pamphlet or two along with a few half-hearted demonstrations hardly drew flies and certainly drew less attention. But we thought that, in some way, what we were doing was important, and we managed to maintain an inconsistently consistent persistence about our point of view.

I guess that is why, when I got to New York, I continued to stay in touch with my friends from NAMM who, if the truth be told, were my only friends at school. And that is why I would send a few dollars back to Bergen from time to time to help support the activities of my friends in NAMM.

And, when I say a “few dollars”, I mean fifty dollars here, a hundred dollars there, since there was never a lot of money in the dishwashing business. It all seemed completely innocent and somewhat noble and righteous.

So you can imagine my surprise when two FBI agents were waiting for me at Ilse’s apartment when I came home from work at two o’clock in the morning. Waiting for me!

It turns out that some of my erstwhile friends with NAMM had turned their infatuation with Turkish hashish into a commercial enterprise, selling the potent product in more than a few neighborhoods in Bergen. And, not being satisfied with being minor league drug dealers, they had also accessed the Internet and gotten instructions for constructing a rather primitive pipe bomb which they managed to explode under a Carlsberg (the irony of it all, a Danish beer!!) beer truck in the vicinity of the king’s palace in Oslo.

The FBI agents questioned me through the rest of the night, first at Ilse’s and then at their headquarters in lower Manhattan. I was allowed to go with the very dire warning that I was in a lot of trouble and that I should consult a lawyer as it was very likely that I was going to be questioned again in the near future.

I remember as it were yesterday. I dressed for work at the Water Club that late afternoon feeling absolutely adrift and in a haze. I had been stupid and I had been betrayed by stupid, stupid friends, a really great combination in life. Now every hope and dream of mine was sitting on a tiny bubble of hope that sat in the FBI offices. A place where hopes go to die. I knew that I needed to consult a lawyer and had no idea where to turn.

In retrospect, I imagine I could have asked my employer, Mr. O’Keefe to recommend someone. And maybe I should have. But something told me that it would have marked me forever in his eyes.

No boss wants to hear that a trusted employee is in trouble with the FBI. Just like no boss likes to loan money to his employees or hear about their marital problems. This problem was my problem and it was just too much of a problem to take to my boss.

As I finished dressing for work that evening and came out of the employee’s locker room and into the restaurant area of the Water Club, I spied Paul Taylor at the bar, waiting for his date as it turned out. As soon as I saw him, it was like an inspiration and a revelation. When people speak about an “epiphany”, I now know what they mean, because on that early afternoon, seeing Paul Taylor was my epiphany.

I immediately realized that Paul was not only a lawyer, but he was devoid of obvious pretensions. He was not like a number of people who felt that owning a Platinum American Express Card gave them the right to look down their noses at other people and to act in any way they felt. I don’t know how I knew that. I just did.

Maybe it was in the way that he remembered the names of the waiters and the bartenders, or maybe it was in the solicitous but sincere way in which he treated his guests, male or female. All I know is that all of my intuitive, lifesaving radar told me to talk to Paul Taylor. Now!

In the twenty minutes before his date arrived I was able to tell Paul my entire sad and sordid story. To his everlasting credit, he showed little or no reaction, but clearly understood the gravity of my situation.

He gave me his card, told me to call him the following afternoon to arrange an appointment to see him before the end of the week. Needless to say, at 12:01 p.m. the next day, I called his office and was given an appointment at 4:30 that day, which would give me just enough time to get to my job in a timely fashion since Paul’s office was at 57th Street and Seventh Avenue, not exactly a stone’s throw away from the Water Club. But, of course, I had no choice but to be there.


Just like magic

To make a very long story very short, by the time I had gotten to his office, Paul had called one of his ubiquitous classmates from college (Dartmouth) or law school (Harvard), who in this instance worked for the FBI. As Paul put it, “Once I explained to him that you were a Norwegian knucklehead who posed no danger to the security or safety of the United States, it was a pretty simple conversation.”

There was no plea bargaining, because there were never any charges. It was as if the entire nightmare had never happened and Paul Taylor was Mandrake the Magician. I mean it when I say that, from that moment on, I was eternally grateful to Paul, and he certainly has had my full faith, support and loyalty ever since.

The best part is that, aside from not charging me a fee for an invaluable service, Paul has literally never mentioned this episode again. Ever. It was like it had never happened. And for that I am thankful as well.

There are too many people who want to lord their good deeds over you until you are sorry that they ever helped you in the first place. That was not the way with Paul Taylor. I simply consider it my good fortune that he has considered me a friend, then, and in all the years since.

And it has been through Paul Taylor that I learned about The Pride. After my NAMM episode, I could not help but be more attentive to him when he came to the Water Club. Of course he never had to wait for a table again. There were the other courtesies, the best tables with the best views, the complimentary cocktails and bottles of wines and champagne. As far as I was concerned, that was the best that I could do to make sure that Paul knew that I had a good memory.

A few years later it was Paul who suggested that we meet privately. By then I couldn’t help but notice that he had a regular crowd of extremely impressive friends, most of whom were black, and all of whom seemed to have something to do with Wall Street, corporate America or the practice of law.

When I came by his office that spring afternoon, I simply couldn’t imagine what the purpose of the meeting could be. I only knew that a summons from Paul Taylor, my American savior, was reason enough for me. I will confess, however, that there was this nagging, gnawing feeling that perhaps my idiot friends in Bergen had been acting up again. I whispered a long forgotten, brief prayer to St. Ursula, the patron saint of Norway, in the elevator on my way up to his office.

You could have knocked me over with a feather when Paul told me that he, and several of his friends, were interested in starting a first class restaurant and wanted to know if I was interested in managing it!

He told me the names of his colleagues, one of which was his ex-wife. He mentioned some numbers regarding the financing of the restaurant. And it was clear that these were big league players. And, as much as I loved Buzzy O’Keefe, I said yes on the spot.

Neither Paul nor I used the term The Pride that day, or at any point since. Indeed, I can’t remember where I first heard it with reference to the coterie of accomplished black men and women in business in New York City. All I know is that as soon as I heard it, it seemed to fit. Lions and lionesses, aspiring to majesty and dominion in the hostile jungle called corporate America and Wall Street.
And, as soon as I heard the term, “The Pride”, I knew instinctively that Paul Taylor and his partners in Dorothy’s By the Sea were all charter members that I had been privileged to have a front row seat to be able to watch all of the inner workings and comings and goings of a truly unique group of Americans.

When I was a young man in Bergen and Oslo, there was no one and no thing in Norway that could have prepared me for what I have learned because of my relationship with The Pride.


Get me to the church on time

At some point, long ago in my professional development, I decided to be early for every appointment and function that I planned to attend – at least ten to fifteen minutes. Aside from the fact that it means that I am almost never late for anything, it has provided an interesting advantage, one that I never expected at the outset.

Many of my friends and colleagues have told me that this particular habit is an overreaction to the legend/myth/supposition that black people are always late. Every black person knows the term “CP Time” and most have come to despise it.

As I have told my friends, my habit arose from my reading a biography of Lyndon Johnson by the Pulitzer Prize-winning biographer Robert Caro. In it, he refers to the fact that Johnson always arrived early to meetings in order to achieve a strategic advantage over whomever it was that he was meeting. This bit of logic struck me the right way and I thought that I would try it. And, believe me, it has worked.

Also, as I have told my friends, the truth is that almost every culture believes that lateness is a group characteristic. When I was in Tel Aviv I was introduced to the concept of “JP Time” (Jewish People’s Time). And when I was in Tokyo, references to “JP Time” (Japanese People’s Time) by my Japanese law firm hosts truly flew in the face of the myths and legends regarding Japanese efficiency and reliability. I know that many of my Italian friends use the term “IPT” (Italian People’s Time”) and are amused to find out that black people have a similar phrase. Clearly we all need a little help trying to be on time.

Being able to get to functions like Winner’s funeral before the rest of the lemmings gives me an opportunity to observe – who’s in attendance, who is with whom, who is trying to align with whom – that kind of thing. I know that this has a certain voyeuresque aspect to it, but we all observe other in one way or another, being early simply provides me with my own peculiar perch. Kind of like sitting in the catbird seat, as the old Yankee broadcaster Red Barber was known to say on occasion.

As the car pulled up to the Riverside Church, I could not help but notice, standing like some mute, granite sentinel, Grant’s Tomb. This final resting place of the alcoholic warrior, the frightfully, almost poetically corrupt president and his absolutely anonymous wife is a huge, silent, stone commitment by humanity to the belief that there may be something more to life than life itself. At least that’s my guess.

There has always been a lot of that going around, of course. We call them pyramids, burial grounds, burial mounds, skyscrapers, multi-use sports arenas. We all want to be remembered.
I know that I want my son to not only know me, but to remember me. Not just as a good father but as someone who is there for him on an absolute and unconditional basis. In this life and in all the lives to come.

And then I was in front of the Riverside Church, its massive doors facing the nearly frozen Hudson River. The service was scheduled to begin at ten, and it was just turning on nine. A few dozen people huddled in front of the church, speaking in low, almost frozen tones. While I saw the faces of a number of people that I knew, I didn’t feel compelled to meet and greet just yet. I had come extra early for a reason – and funerals have really come to bother me anyway.

That morning I figured that a walk across the small park across the street from the church would give me the assurance that I could maintain my composure. It would also give me time to think about Joel’s e-mail note and to rethink a strategy that was already starting to take form in my mind. And it would also give me time to think about Samantha.

Taking that stroll down memory lane…

Samantha Gideon was the lady of my life at that time, all other amorous experiences and fun frolics. I would guess that if I were to have described our relationship at the time, I would not have objected to the use of the word “serious”. In retrospect, if she hadn’t died, there is every reason for me to believe that she would have been the mother of the little boy that is sleeping upstairs from my home office right now. Of course life is full of those elusive “might have beens” and “could have beens”, when, of course, all that really matters is what is.

On that January morning, there was no way that I could see that far into the future. I just knew that I missed her. She was a singer, and quite a good one. She was just not fortunate enough to have experienced the life-changing serendipity that would get her the stratospheric recording contract that would let her talent carry her to deserved stardom.

She did have a contract with one of the major cruise lines. So I am reasonably certain that she had been singing “Guantanamera” and “Impossible Dream” and “The Greatest Love” for the umpteenth time the night before.
She was way beyond adamant that I not use any of my contacts, friends and relationships in the music business to try and help her.

I had once tried to surreptitiously arrange for her to have an audition and she found out. Even though the audition represented the chance of a lifetime for her, it was almost the end of our relationship – right there on the spot. She wanted to do it her way. Which meant no help from me.

On one level I understood her desire and need for independence. On the other hand, this was something about Samantha that I never really understood. After all, from my perspective I had (and have) helped people who have meant so much less to me. I have helped them because I could.

What’s more, I know that Samantha could not have possibly believed the mythology that anybody actually made it “on their own”. I always thought that if I was simply an acquaintance, someone else in her life, Samantha would have permitted me to help her, and her life would have been so much different. Although I guess she would still be dead right now.

Instead, to the day she died, she stubbornly clung to the notion that she had to succeed without my help, assistance or participation. The only thing she would accept from me was my support. And that she had. The fact that she never let me be a contributing factor to her success is one of the few regrets that I carry in this life.

And so, I was walking away from the church, headed west towards the river, alone with my thoughts – thoughts about Samantha – thoughts about Winner. Thoughts about warm sheets that had cooled too soon that morning, thoughts about…..
“Paul! I knew I would see you here.”