I know, I know. It’s been a while since we took a break together. Nothing was resonating with me. Or maybe I was too tied up trying to perfect my Largemouth Bass fishing skills. No excuses. But it is good to be back.

I guess it took the end of summer to bring about something pretty impactful to get my fingers pounding away on my Mac. Or should I say the passing of a pretty (or should I say very) impactful woman?

Whether you agreed or not with Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, you have to say she is leaving quite a legacy on our country. She championed equal rights and her voice demanded respect and attention, leading to many improvements for our country and its people.

But something else about the Notorious RBG is capturing my attention. Her incredibly close friendship with the late Justice Antonin Scalia.

How could this be? Conservatives and Liberals hate each other (or at least that is what we are led to believe lately). But the lessons learned by studying the relationship between Ginsburg and Scalia is something that I think we should all spend a little more time on.

They took opposing sides on most legal arguments, challenging each other to improve their positions as a result of their fierce criticisms. And I believe they both realized that. They were making each other better. Through vigorous debate. Whether they won or lost, they got better. Thanks to each other. Their disagreements were fierce but always professional.

But it was their work. They had a job to do and they both did it extremely well. Always with respect and admiration. So much so that they would also often tease each other about their working relationship. Ginsburg once said that while she disagreed with a Scalia thesis, she remarked that "he said it in an absolutely captivating way."

"What's not to like?" Scalia said of Ginsburg at a joint appearance. "Except for her views on the law." Or, “We agree on a whole lot of stuff, Ruth is really bad only on the knee-jerk stuff.” Sounds like good-natured ribbing that the best of friends and colleagues do. If you watch the videos of these interviews, you feel the love between two of the most important legal minds in our land.

Giving a memorable eulogy at Justice Scalia’s funeral, Justice Ginsburg said of her friend. “Once asked how we could be friends, given our disagreement on lots of things, Justice Scalia answered: I attack ideas. I don't attack people.”  Another lesson for us all.

But then there was the other stuff. They were both more than Supreme Court Justices, they were both human beings. And like all of us, they both liked many of the same things? They bonded over their love for good wine and meals with friends, travel, and stories about their grandchildren but their love for opera took their bond to other levels. So much so that an opera Scalia/Ginsburg was written just for them….about them.

Ginsburg highlighted the opera in the statement she released to honor Scalia after his passing: “Toward the end of the opera Scalia/Ginsburg, tenor Scalia and soprano Ginsburg sing a duet: "We are different, we are one," different in our interpretation of written texts, one in our reverence for the Constitution and the institution we serve. From our years together at the D.C. Circuit, we were best buddies. We disagreed now and then, but when I wrote for the Court and received a Scalia dissent, the opinion ultimately released was notably better than my initial circulation.”

Yes, I think we could all benefit by studying Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Antonin Scalia a little more. Two Supreme Court Justices on opposite sides never wavering from what they believed in, but who also respected each other, their country, and its people they were serving. Fiercest of adversaries and best of friends.

I like to believe Justice Scalia welcomed Justice Ginsburg last week with a good bottle of wine and tickets to a heavenly opera.

And in case you are all wondering about the title of this, well most of you know by now that music influences me greatly and marks many important points in my life. You may also know that if you shuffle to the right, to the right, to the right, to the right and then to the left, to the left, to the left, to the left, you wind up doing a very fun dance. A dance that you may have actually done at a wedding or other function.

It’s called the Cupid Shuffle.


  • Joe

Time Machine - Something capable of transporting a person backward or forward in time.

About halfway to Lewes Beach, Delaware, a song jolts me out of my highway trance and transports me Adelphi University. The corner dorm room, room 250, in Earle Hall. Distant Early Warning by Rush. A song that used to be played once per week but has for some time now been buried under lawn care, and diapers, and spreadsheets. There’s a twenty-year-old lanky junior in that dorm room methodically putting on his uniform. It’s my turn to pitch that day and so this song, as it has since senior year of high school, must accompany the routine. The song has absolutely zero baseball meaning but pitchers are notoriously superstitious. It had played a significant role in winning a key High School playoff game and therefore would, from that day on, be counted on to improve the odds throughout college. The vision comes to me as vividly as if I am actually there. And along with the vision, I can almost feel that familiar sense of excitement and nervousness that was also part of the routine.

Since there was an inadequate breakfast before leaving for the two-hour drive, a slight detour to McDonald’s would be in order. Two of my boys were with me for the weekend. They were patient but undoubtedly hungry. Three large fries would tide all of us over for a while. One is placed in the cup holder next to me, one is handed to Michael who was in the passenger seat, and one passed into the back, where John was reaching out with a smile. It wasn’t always that way. I’m transported to the backyard of my long since departed New Jersey home. Standing in front of a little boy, strapped in a backyard swing, and using McDonald’s fries to coax a word, any word, that damn elusive first word which is a herculean achievement for those with autism. It was anything but a smile then. Anger, despair, frustration, screams, and tears. And then……it happened. The words! Those elusive first words! It is as vivid as if it just happened. As is the relief, joy, hope, smiles, and tears.

The beach was hot, and the tide was coming in. Michael and John, not ones to sit still for very long, decided to explore and see what they could find. I fell into another trance as my playlist blared from my phone which was expertly placed in the front pocket of the cooler. Their return, after I don’t really know how long, gave me the second trance-ending jolt of the day. Pockets full of pebbles, shells, and other pocket-sized things one would find on the beach, were dropped on the towel next to me. As I stare at the small pile of souvenirs, I am suddenly transported to the dining table in my apartment. Sitting with John as he carefully, and proudly creates another work of art to be displayed prominently in the place of his choosing. I can see vividly the sense of satisfaction he will have as he completes his masterpiece and places it by the TV next to the other trinkets I have accumulated over the years. I am quite confident that will be exactly the place where it will go.

We are surrounded by time machines. They are out there. Everywhere. Waiting for us to find them, to notice them, as we make our way through the day. Taking us on journeys backward and forward in time. Reliving past experiences, good and bad as well as preparing us for future experiences, good and bad. But not only do we find them, we also create them. And, sometimes, we give them to others.

About halfway home from Lewes Beach, Delaware a snore from the passenger seat jolts me out of my highway trance and transports me to a room, in a house, that I don’t recognize. There are two middle-aged men there. One is reading something on his phone and the other has decided to inspect a small vase that is sitting next to the TV. It is filled with pebbles, shells, and other pocket-sized things.

“Hey, John. Remember the day we went with Dad to the beach and you made him bring home all those rocks?”

  • Joe

My hero spent last weekend with me. You know my hero by now.

I picked John up Friday afternoon so we could have dinner together. He had a little more bounce in his step as he grabbed his duffle bag with his clothes for the weekend. His smile resonated with me as he charged out the door and marched towards the car.

“Do you have your iPad?” I called to him. He stopped in his tracks and turned with his smile.

“Yes.” And so, the weekend could officially begin.

The short five-minute drive to my apartment was accompanied by the continuous news about a man, a black man, that was killed by a rogue, white, police officer while three others just stood by and watched. So disgusting. So terrible. So sad. There is obviously so much more that needs to be addressed to improve race relations in our country and it really is taking way too long. I hung on the words blaring through the radio of there needing to be a conversation. “A conversation?” I thought. It seems like all we have is conversations. I shook my head thinking of the never-ending “conversations” and so-called “strategies” and the lack of actual “doing”. I felt the tension build inside me as I peeked in the rear-view mirror. John was smiling as he stared out the window. Watching the world go by but not really understanding how the world was going by. We parked in the garage, he grabbed his duffle bag and led me to the elevator. His smile resonated with me as we waited to go upstairs.

“Are we going to have fun this weekend?” I asked as the door opened and he darted inside.

“Yes.” And the door closed to take us up to our pizza party dinner.

This weekend was going to be our first fishing trip of the year. We made it to a great spot that I was sure was going to yield all the excitement John would be able to handle. Three and a half hours later I was down to my last worm with no fish to show for it. John helps me by holding the rod as I bait the hook. I tried to sound as positive as I could that this would be the lucky worm. He really didn’t seem to mind anyway as his eyes were fixed on a pair of butterflies that were dancing nearby. My expert baiting skilled were highlighted the awkward way I fumbled with the worm which soon slipped from my fingers. I thanked the fishing gods that it didn’t fall in the water and hastily bent over to pick it up. What might have been the sound of a spring breeze through the trees was most likely those same fishing gods laughing as my glasses, ever so secure on the top of my head, fell off into the lake and sank as slowly as Jack Dawson from Titanic. My internal tension built as I turned to look at John. His smile resonated with me and I took that as the sign that it was time to admit defeat and go.

“Did you have fun fishing today?” I asked as we made the trek back to the car.

“Yes.” And we loaded everything into the trunk and headed home.

Deviled eggs are an all-time favorite. Easy to make and damn tasty to eat. But the eggs do take a bit of time to hard boil. So, while waiting, John relaxed with his iPad and I opened a beer to catch up on the news. Visions of riots and looting dominated the airwaves. Innocent people being attacked. Small, family-owned, businesses being destroyed. Genuine protests seeking progress being drowned out and overtaken by criminals seeking anarchy. I felt my tension build yet again, and my frustration grow, at the horrible sights on every channel I turned to. So much destruction. So much anger. So much hatred. I looked over at John who was captivated with touring the earth on Google Maps. His smile resonated with me as I realized that he really doesn’t understand hatred. He doesn’t understand race. He just lives in this world and he is happy with it.

“Do you know what kind of eggs we are having tonight?” I asked as I got up to start peeling.

“Yes.” The typical one-word answer but I wanted more this time.

“But what kind though?”

“Debilled.” And I was more than ok with having debilled eggs too.

I dropped John off on Sunday night. He still has school for a couple more weeks and is doing his best with virtual learning. I walked him in and said hello to everyone. As I caught up with his mom, John opened his duffle bag, took his iPad and charger, and started to go upstairs. I felt a sense of harsh reality at how fast the weekend flew by. With hardly any words he, as usual, had an impact on me and I can only hope I had an impact on him. I called to him as he was halfway upstairs. He stopped and turned. His smile resonated with me as I asked him the only question that I needed to get an answer to at that moment.

“Did you have a good weekend?” I waited, and hoped, for the typical one-word answer.

“Yes.” And his smile stuck with me as he disappeared into his room.

I can’t wait to see John’s smile again.

I can’t wait till we are all smiling again.

133 views1 comment