Point of View Columns

Weekend Edition – March 28, 2014

Taking a page from “American Idol” or the “Miss America Pageant”, right wing billionaire Sheldon Adelson is summoning Teapublican candidates to audition – the prize? His multimillions. Meanwhile, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie spent $1 million taxpayer dollars on an “internal discussion”. The takeaway from this “impartial” report – Chris Christie knew nothing about Bridgegate and can’t remember anyway. And finally, as Americans and the United Nations continue to bemoan the Russian annexation of Crimea, a short history lesson on annexations is in order.

Showtime for Sheldon

Sheldon Adelson, best known for being the eighth wealthiest man in the world (he owns the Las Vegas Sands Company) with hotels and casinos in Las Vegas and Macao. In the last few years he has been making a name for himself as the personal piggy bank of rightwing causes having given over $30 million to conservative candidates in 2012 alone.

Now he has organized what can only be described as a series of auditions for prospective Teapublican 2016 presidential candidates. He has virtually summoned over a half a dozen of these hopefuls to come and dance before his Las Vegas throne in the hopes that he will anoint one of them with the holy oil of his fortune.

Aside from the unseemly sight of the possible next president of the United States kowtowing before the head of a gambling empire, it is unsettling to know that the pursuit of campaign cash has now come to this golden rule. He who has the gold makes the rules.

Elephantine Memory Loss

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie commissioned an “internal investigation” headed by an attorney who is a former deputy of Rudolph Giuliani, a major supporter of Chris Christie. Clearly this “internal investigation” is missing even a gossamer thread of impartiality.

The “investigation” trashes the Christie staff members who Governor Christie already deposited under the bus two months ago. It also concludes that Governor Christie knew nothing about Bridgegate in real time and that, in any event, he cannot remember anything that was said to him about the four day tie up of the busiest bridge in America at the time the George Washington Bridge was intentionally blocked.

It remains to be seen whether federal or state investigations will vaporize the implausible notion that a known serial micromanager would allow the George Washington Bridge to be blocked without his consent, or at least its knowledge.

But if Chris Christie thinks that anyone will actually buy the results of his “internal investigation” I have a bridge that I would like to sell to him.

Calling Peabody and Sherman

It is fair to say that at the beginning of this year most Americans, and certainly most Teapublicans, couldn’t find Crimea on a map even if you led them to the Black Sea. Now, of course, the Russian annexation is being touted as one of the worst acts of international thuggery since…? Actually, that is a good place to start because this country and many others (who voted to condemn Russia in the United Nations last week) have employed annexation as a very real part of foreign policy.

Consider the history of U.S. annexations in a fashion very similar to the Russia-Crimea scenario – West Florida – 1810, Texas – 1845, New Mexico – 1848, Hawaii – 1898, Puerto Rico, Philippines and Guam – 1898.

Of course annexation has a global tradition. Consider Indonesia – East Timor, 1975, Morocco – Western Sahara – 1975, Israel – East Jerusalem, 1967.

The point is that annexation is far from unknown in world history, right up to the present. And while there may be very real objections to Russian annexation in Crimea, it is more than a little disingenuous to suggest that this is one of the more outrageous international actions ever seen. In reality, we have always seen that annexations take place when they serve the foreign policy objectives of the annexing country.

Have a great weekend – stay strong and be great!

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Point of View Columns

The Harder They Fall

Recent events in Ukraine have resulted in predictable, though bizarre, reaction in the United States. Suddenly people who couldn’t spell “Ukraine” if you spotted them a “k” and a “U” are clamoring for President Obama to take bold action. American politicians who couldn’t find Crimea on a map with the aid of Google maps now make the argument that American interests are at stake because of the invasion tactics employed by Russia.

The rest of the world must find the United States to be increasingly odd in its world view. Because it is the United States that has invaded Iraq and Afghanistan because it believed that its national interests called for such action. And, going back just a little further in time it was the United States that invaded Grenada and Panama for the same reasons of self-interest and continues to beleaguer the Republic of Cuba because its sociopolitical structure is not to the liking of a very loud and very vocal minority in this country.

Of course that is just relatively recent U.S. history. A further review of this country’s invasions and incursions include the occupation of Haiti and the annexation of Texas along with the overthrow of the democratically elected government in Iran at the behest of oil interests. The point is, the United States is the historical invading pot that should have difficulty calling any other invading kettle black.

The reality of the Planet Earth is that countries take actions to protect and preserve what they perceive as their national interests. Russia has taken actions in the Ukraine that certainly have a plausible connection to that country’s perceived national interests however inconvenient that particular truth might be. And, as noted, the United States is one of the last countries on earth that should criticize another country that utilizes military action to protect and preserve those national interests.

But, never letting reality getting in the way of an opportunity to attack President Barack Obama, the Teapublicans are now claiming that Russian President Vladimir Putin felt emboldened to invade Ukraine because of some undefined weakness that President Obama has shown. These same Teapublicans conveniently forget that President Putin also felt emboldened to invade Georgia when Republican President George W. Bush resided in the White House. Perhaps Mr. Putin doesn’t really care what the United States thinks when he acts on behalf of his country.

Nevertheless, we are being showered with by the Teapublican noise machine with the usual suspects, chicken hawk Senator Lindsay Graham, twice failed presidential candidate Senator John McCain and has been wannabe celebrity Sarah Palin claiming that President Obama is not demonstrating “leadership”. Their thought process must embrace the notion that the only leadership that counts is leading a country into war even as President Obama has been leading this country away from war and perilous military actions.

Another failed presidential candidate, former New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani has contended that President Obama hasn’t shown “leadership” because he takes too long to think and consider various options and that he consults with his advisors to excess. He favorably compares Vladimir Putin as a “leader” because he makes up his mind quickly and acts.

One would think that after the disasters of Afghanistan and Iraq the one thing that the American people want, and the one thing that this country needs, is a leader who thinks about the consequences of acting before acting. If it were up to the Teapublican chicken hawks the United States would be mired in wars in Libya, Syria, Ukraine and North Korea right now. And if it were up to these same Teapublican chicken hawks more Americans would be killed and maimed, more of this country’s wealth would be squandered and the security of this planet would be all the worse for these actions.

History will show that by being a thoughtful and deliberative president, Barack Obama has been a good steward of the White House. Although it is doubtful that the Teapublicans who are determined that All Things Obama Are Bad will ever come to that realization.

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Point of View Columns

A Tale of Two Bloombergs

There is a big digital clock in the offices at New York’s City Hall counting down the last days of the mayoral tenure of Michael Bloomberg. Now that there are less than five months remaining on what will be a twelve year term, it seems that this is as good a time as any to begin a retrospective on the Bloomberg Era in New York City. And it is fair to say that any analysis will arrive at the conclusion that it is A Tale of Two Bloombergs.

Michael Bloomberg was elected mayor in 2001 as a “virtual” political rookie. Buy many people forgot the “virtual” part of the description because Michael Bloomberg may not have ever run for political office before, but he certainly was no rookie when it came to politics. He wielded his unlimited funds and his media empire in the political process and was not a stranger to the arena where he was now the main attraction.

Michael Bloomberg rode into office on a tidal wave of cash that had only one donor – himself. That meant that he was not beholden to any interest group by reason of their financial support. That also meant that he felt that he didn’t really have to listen to anyone else unless he wanted to.

In telling The Tale of the Two Bloombergs, it should be clear that Michael Bloomberg introduced the people of New York to expanded visions of what the world’s greatest could be – and should be. As a result New Yorkers saw amazing (and free) art installations that encompassed all of Central Park and the Brooklyn Bridge.

Bloomberg the visionary shared that vision with the people of New York and then, amazingly, he made many things happen. There is no doubt that Michael Bloomberg and Robert Moses would have gotten along famously if they had ever met.

Bloomberg the visionary installed hundreds of miles of bike lanes and turned out to be absolutely serious in bringing about a green, environmentally friendly culture to business, industry and everyday New Yorkers. But in The Tale of Two Bloombergs, even while New York became greener, Michael Bloomberg routinely flew around the world in one of the jets from his private fleet – arguably the most environmentally unfriendly way to travel known to humankind.

Perhaps most importantly, Mayor Bloomberg implemented serious public policy measures in the area of health that have saved lives. Most famously, the ban on smoking in most public places has certainly saved thousands of lives over the past twelve years and for the foreseeable future. “Nanny State” naysayers notwithstanding, the visionary Michael Bloomberg proved once again that government can be a force in transforming – and saving – lives.

The Tale of Two Bloombergs also has shown us Michael Bloomberg playing a maniacal Captain Ahab to the White Whale of “Stop and Frisk”. Even as the majority of New Yorkers, the federal court and the United States Department of Justice have seriously questioned the tactic, Michael Bloomberg has refused to even acknowledge the possibility that black and Latino young men are being constitutionally violated by the extreme measures employed by the New York Police Department.

Bloomberg the inflexible either cannot, or will not, see that there may be another side to the narrative that he has articulated. And it is Bloomberg the inflexible who is channeling his inner George Wallace by stating that his administration will not cooperate in any way with the federal court decision regarding “Stop and Frisk”. And it is Bloomberg the inflexible who has now gone so far as to suggest that public housing residents should be fingerprinted raising the specter of the Slave Codes from long ago and apartheid-era identification cards from not too long ago.

Bloomberg the inflexible has been unapologetic and unrepentant in the face of the facts that the senior officials of his administration reflect so little diversity that there almost has to be an intent to bar all but a few people of color from the higher echelons of Team Bloomberg. Indeed Team Bloomberg has turned out to be whiter that the senior team of former Mayor Rudolph Giuliani who is the godfather of denying diversity and affirmative action.

Finally, by spending approximately a quarter of a billion dollars of his own money in getting himself elected three times, Michael Bloomberg has skewed the political process in New York City for the foreseeable future. If he wasn’t writing the playbook on how to buy elections, it certainly looks like it.

So the Tale of Two Bloombergs is complex and not given to simple analysis. Michael Bloomberg probably doesn’t care whether history will be kind to him. We can hope that history will tell the whole truth.

Wallace Ford is the principal and founder of Fordworks Associates, a New York-based management consulting firm, a professor at Metropolitan College of New York in New York City and is the author of two novels, The Pride and What You Sow.

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Point of View Columns

Weekend Edition – June 3, 2011

This week saw yet another international banker accused of sexually assaulting a hotel maid in New York City – it must be something in the foie gras. Meanwhile Sarah Palin and Doubting Donald Trump made a joint appearance in New York City, further highlighting the disarray in the Republican presidential corral. And just when you thought it couldn’t get any dumber, Rudy (9/11) Giuliani has started visiting New Hampshire. And the real news of the week – Doubting Donald Trump actually said something that made sense!

Double Trouble

New York City is populated by men and women who embrace, endure and accept challenges daily. So the joint appearance of Doubting Donald Trump and Sarah Palin was endured and accepted, if not exactly embraced.

Ms. Palin, who ran herself out of office when she was an undistinguished governor of Alaska, is on a self-styled “We the People” tour of the United States. Why she chose New York City is as much a mystery as is why she thought that appearing publicly with Doubting Donald Trump would boost her presidential aspirations.

One would think that the fact that Doubting Donald was virtually hooted and booed off the public stage for his shameful dive into the birther cesspool would have given Sarah Palin second thoughts. But then again, that would assume that she had first thoughts.

If Sarah Palin and Doubting Donald Trump are any indication of the quality of the opposition that President Obama will face in 2012 there may soon be rumors that his campaign team has placed double agents in the Republican National Committee.

“Delusional” Comes to Mind

The economy has yet to recover from the Republican triple witching of two ruinous wars and a brace of tax cuts for the wealthy. Americans search for jobs that are still not there. Parents fear for the future that their children will inherit. And the New York Mets are not a very good team according to their owner.

In the midst of all of this turmoil Rudy Giuliani is making noises that sound scarily similar to those made by a soon to be presidential candidate. This would be the same Rudy Giuliani who arguably ran the worst presidential campaign in the 21st century and is clearly seeking to retire the title with another jaunt around the electoral track.

And, this would be the same Rudy Giuliani who was unarguably the most racially divisive mayor in the history of the City of New York, seizing the title that was previously held by Ed Koch.

This is the same main who parlayed a mediocre record as a headline hogging prosecutor into a political career and then cashed in on a fake reputation of heroism after the 9/11 tragedy, a turn of events that chagrins New York City first responders and 9/11 survivors to this very day.

Perhaps on the Planet Giuliani all of these items are qualifications for the presidency. Insanity is sometimes defined as doing the same thing with the same result over and over, all the while expecting a different result. By that standard Rudy Giuliani needs some help – now.

A Thousand Monkeys and a Thousand Typewriters

It has been said that if a thousand monkeys were put in a room with a thousand typewriters for a thousand years, a play by Shakespeare would result. The idea being that if an act is repeated enough times, random chance will produce a positive result.

In that vein, it seems that if Doubting Donald Trump talks long enough he will finally say something that makes sense.

Last week Doubting Donald correctly pointed out that if the Republican Party continues to support the draconian Medicare reform measures advanced by House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan they will be acting pursuant to a “death wish”.

Amazingly —- stop the presses —– Doubting Donald is right!

Have a great weekend!

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Excerpts from "The Pride"

The Pride – Chapter 4

CHAPTER 4
Paul

Mourning in the morning

I can’t remember when I fell in love with the night. I know that I am a true night person. I have to work too long and too hard through too many daylight hours for that to be truly the case. But it must has been more than long ago that the night became a part of my life.

I cannot tell you when I became enamored of reading and writing and thinking and loving and dreaming in the middle of the night. I just know that it is a part of me, and that nighttime will always be a part of me.

And so it is no surprise to me that I am wide awake, without the benefit of caffeine or anything else, wondering about the wonder of it all. I am not usually given to boundless introspection, but I have noticed certain changes in my life and myself as of late.

In another room, on an upper floor in the Harlem townhouse that is my home, is the absolute treasure of my life, my baby son, Paul Jr., now two years old – “the last gasp of the baby boom” some of my friends have called him – and yet, it was just over three years ago that my life began to change, forever. My story begins on a very specific day that I will always remember.

There was a memorial service scheduled for that day. But as I attended my friend Winner Tomlinson’s memorial service on a cold January morning, new beginnings and baby boys were definitely not on my mind. Far from it.

After all, I was a member of The Pride, that select and pre-selected group of black investment bankers, corporate executives, government officials, lawyers, entrepreneurs and assorted professionals who were determined to make it in America. We stalked the majestic canyons of Wall Street and prowled the murderous halls and treacherous boardrooms of corporate America. And we have more than survive, we have prevailed and succeeded, beyond even our wildest dreams.

And, although I have hated funerals and memorial services for my own personal reasons, I planned to attend the Tomlinson memorial service at the Riverside Church that day, because Winner had been my friend and because, as a charter member of The Pride, it was all about business. I simply had to be there.

Actually I am getting a little ahead of myself, and if I am going to tell this story right, I have to go back down the stairs of my Harlem townhouse and pour myself a proper glass of Graham’s Malvedos Vintage Porto (1984). Once cannot very well tell a good story without at least a few glasses of good port wine – that’s a given.

Also, before starting, I want to look in on my son, just because that’s what my father would do, and because it’s what all fathers do – look in on their sons and daughters and make sure that everything is alright. Even when they know that everything is alright, it still makes sense to check.

Paul Jr. is resting comfortably and Miles Davis is going through his progressions of “Seven Steps to Heaven” on the CD player in his nursery. Paul Jr. has been listening to good music on a regular basis since the third month after his conception. He has been listening to Beethoven, the Soweto String Quartet, Cesaria Evoria from the Cape Verde Islands, Wayne Shorter, Horace Silver, John Coltrane, Gary Bartz, Dave Brubeck, Thelonius Monk and Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes. It is no wonder that the boy loves music, as does his daddy (and his mommy, but to a significantly lesser extent).

As I go back to my study to savor the port wine and consider the beginning of my story, I feel very much in the mood for Stan Getz, “Desafinado” conjuring up the right mood. I have always found this Stan Getz selection to be melodic and mysterious in a samba-like way.

It begins at the memorial service at the Riverside Church for Edwin “Winner” Tomlinson, undoubtedly the most successful black businessman of his. And now, at the age of fifty-one, in the newborn infancy of his prime, he was dead.

Who was he? He was a black lawyer in New York City just like me. He was a friend, running buddy, drinking companion and sometime professional colleague. But he was so much more.

Sometime in the eighties, in the heyday of the capitalist era, Winner decided that billing life by the quarter hour and hunting and gathering clients was not the life for him. He left the life of ordinary lawyering to saps like me. And he never looked back. Not for a single solitary moment. At least that’s how it always seemed to me.

With luck, consummate skill and the nerve of a one-eyed river boat gambler, he managed to parlay his part-ownership of a barely profitable UHF television station in Charlotte, North Carolina into a controlling interest in one of the largest home furnishing manufacturing companies in the world, with facilities throughout the United States, Europe, the Caribbean, Latin America and Asia. He died with plans waiting for his approval for plants in Nigeria, Indonesia, the Czech Republic, Morocco, Cuba and South Africa on his desk.

I always believed that Winner’s success was all the more remarkable because he accomplished his most important early corporate coups with the support and assistance of the now-defunct investment banking firm of Wilson, Pearson & Borderon. WPB whose very own Master of the Universe, Jake Dusenberg, had gone down in flames before the onslaught of the myriad of junk bond transaction investigations directed by then-U.S. Attorney Rudolph Giuliani.

I remember the time well, and Giuliani was to junk bond traders what Attila the Hun was to the Holy Roman Empire – nothing less than “The Scourge of Christ”. He left nothing but the bones and flayed skin of Wall Street bankers, traders and lawyers in his wake – a legacy that preternaturally ambitious Giuliani parlayed into becoming Mayor of New York City.

Nevertheless, WPB sought to defy the mighty Giuliani – and the entire firm, with its 5,000 employees went down without a trace like a small stone in a big country pond. And at the end of the day, Winner Tomlinson was still standing.

remain amazed by those particular facts to this very day. Indeed, the story almost defies the laws of nature as they exist in these United States of America.

There were some unattributed cocktail stories, the kind told after three or four free martinis, to the effect that Winner had somehow “cooperated” with the federal prosecutor’s office in return for what amounted to immunity from prosecution. These stories were invariably based on no known facts, only the repetition of rumor giving credence to the first rumor in the first place.

Of course there has never been any proof of such an arrangement. And now that Winner is dead you can pretty much bet that any such proof went to the grave with him.

There were also stories about the enduring hatred that Jake Dusenberg harbored for his former favored client. I myself have heard many stories about how Dusenberg, after he paid a record $4 billion fine and served thirty months in a minimum security prison, plotted and planned a spectacular revenge against Winner, even as he, Dusenberg, worked on high profile charitable endeavors in black communities around the country as part of his court ordered community service.

Once again, Winner came out the winner. He died before Dusenberg could implement whatever plot he might have been hatching. As was the case with a lot of things about Winner Tomlinson, the true story would always be the subject of conjecture, and much of that true story would be buried with him in the soil of his native Alabama, just outside of Birmingham.

It’s strange how memory works. I can’t remember the names of all the people that were on the conference call that I endured earlier this evening, but I can remember the details of that fateful day as if they were occurring this very moment. Almost like replaying a video.

Of course I did not know that it was a fateful day at the time. Then, it was just another day in the life of The Pride. It was a day full of the very routine and the very special.

I do remember that on that January morning it was cold as hell and that I had made myself get up at my normal time of 5:30 a.m. so that I could complete my morning workout and still get in some work time on my computer and telephone before going to Winner’s memorial service. Getting out of bed that morning was a little more of an ordeal than usual due to one Lisette Bailey.

It would be hard for me to forget Lisette Bailey. She was twenty-seven, five feet nine inches tall, lithe and slender with a tawny, café au lait complexion that perfectly complemented her auburn hair. That hair was spread across my pillow of as I strove to keep to my conditioning schedule despite the allure of her somnolent beauty.

Paul, could you really have a reason to get out of bed so early?” A mischievous smile danced across her face, chasing the sleepy look away, replacing it with an expression that promised to awaken dawning embers of passion. Fool that I was, I had thought that she was asleep.

“I am sure that I don’t have a good reason darling, its just that…..”, to this day I am not quite sure what I was going to say next, but I am sure that it would not have really made a difference.

“Its just that what? That you have a reason to do something other than this……? Is that what you are really trying to tell me?”, and with that she threw back the bedcovers with a flourish revealing her gorgeous body, entreating arms and long slender legs waiting to grapple with mine once more.

“Because if that’s the case, I can just get up right now and start getting ready for work, after all, you aren’t the only one with things to do this morning.”

The sight of Lisette, naked, warm and luminescent, virtually glowing in the pre-dawn rendered me temporarily speechless. For a few moments I thought that my routine would be broken. After all, I have always thought of myself as a man possessed of discipline and self-control.

I wish that I could tell you of the triumph of my remarkable discipline and that I simply continued with my workout routine for the day. Actually that is not my wish as I returned to bed and Lisette and I continued our lovemaking from the night before. And let me say that, as it always was with Lisette, it was wonderful.

A word about Lisette Bailey: just a few words actually. She is not Paul Jr.’s mother, and she is not my wife. My wife, Paul’s mother, is actually my ex-wife as well, and that is part of the longer story. Like one of those riddles that the Sphinx would tell.

It is enough for me to say that as this story begins, I was a single, divorced attorney, in his early forties, living alone in a luxurious, remodeled townhouse in Harlem. My library bar is now a nursery, my gym has been replaced by a guest room, and I now exercise in an unfinished basement with no skylight to brighten my morning labors.

As a single man in New York City, I had an opportunity to enjoy the delights of the town, home to some of the most beautiful and sensual and intelligent and demanding- women on the planet. But my story is not about my romantic escapades and sexual adventures. Let it suffice to say that I did not work all of the time.

Later that morning, as the January sun actually began to insinuate its dull glow through the skylight of my townhouse, I began to push myself through the rigors of my typical morning exercises. For me there has never been an alternative in my universe.

I spend so much time sitting behind desks and luncheon tables, lifting nothing heavier than a telephone or a silver soup spoon or a martini glass, that without a regimen of regular exercise I am sure that I would have succumbed to stress or that I would have strangled an adversary, a client, a stranger, or all three by now.

The physical benefits of regular exercise were always known to me, but as I became more involved with my practice as a lawyer and a member of The Pride, I have found that I needed exercise to keep my brain clear and to have a chance at managing the stress attendant with being a lawyer and a member of The Pride.

Indeed, it has always amazed me that so many of my colleagues have been able to keep the pace that they do and that they don’t exercise. Of course, I was getting ready for a funeral of a colleague that morning, and I am afraid that there have been several more since then. And I know that there will be even more, sooner than later.

Interestingly enough, Winner Tomlinson didn’t die from overindulgence or lack of exercise. A week earlier he had died of liver cancer. No one saw it coming, least of all him. It had been diagnosed in August of the previous year. Quite simply, he was dead within six months and all the sit-ups and pushups in the world probably wouldn’t have helped him a damn bit.

It has been these intimations of mortality that have contributed to my general unease at funerals and memorial services during the past few years. And now that I had to go to yet another one I tried to exorcize my personal demons through exercise on that soon to be fateful morning, Bob Marley’s jammin’ on the house sound system punctuated my movements. The sounds of Lisette showering in the master bathroom and the CNN announcer were barely noticeable as I started to enter that “zone”.

Entering that zone had become more and more important as the years progressed. And it has been the mental health aspect that keeps me getting up at ungodly hours and doing certifiably insane things like leaving a warm Lisette Bailey in a warm bed.

Another reason I remember that morning is because I have such deep dislike for these ceremonies that celebrate death. So I felt like an extra surge of exercise would help me manage my way through what promised to be a particularly trying personal and professional experience. I remember that on that particular morning, I really pushed myself through a much more strenuous workout than usual.

Instead of one hundred sit-ups I did five hundred. Instead of bench-pressing for ten minutes, I battled those weights for almost a half hour. After thirty minutes on the stair master I added another fifteen minutes on the Nordic track.

I have my reasons for disliking death services. Almost two years to the day before Winner’s funeral, my father had had “minor surgery” to correct a slight gall bladder malfunction. I will never forget the doctor telling me that with this corrective procedure, my father, then seventy years old, would live to be at least eighty-five.

I guess you could say that the doctor miscalculated somewhat. My father was dead within forty-eight hours of the first incision. I vaguely remember the doctor mentioning something about complications from the anesthesia.

I never bothered to listen to the complete explanation after I was told that my father was dead. I had been biology major for my first two years of college and probably would have understood a good part of the explanation but I never saw the point in taking the time to clinically understand the cause of my grief.

My father was dead. What was the point of any further explanation? Like I said, I had my reasons for preparing for stress that day. As I battled with the free weights that day, my brain felt like the “kaleidoscope” mode had been enabled.

I started working out at an almost frenzied pace as I thought about too much. I thought about all of the wakes, funerals and memorial services that I had attended.

I thought about how I used to believe that the worse thing that could ever happen to me was delivering the eulogy at my father’s funeral. And, as the sweat poured off me that morning, I remembered that I had already found out that there could be something far worse.

By now any observer would have seen a six foot-plus dervish, moving feverishly from floor exercises to machines to weights, like some gym-bound Sisyphus. I barely heard Bob Marley telling me to Lively Up Yourself.

I know I don’t remember hearing Lisette leave, although I do remember that she had a seven thirty conference call with London that she had to attend at the Broad Street offices of Goldman Sachs in the Wall Street district where she worked. Once the business day started, passion and romance and lovemaking had no place in Lisette Bailey’s world. Of course, she
was not unique in The Pride, or on Wall Street for that matter. As I moved into the final stages of my workout, Lisette was long gone, and that was O.K.

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