Wednesday, May 8, 2013
Thursday, November 22, 2012
The lyrics to the song reverberated in my head when I ran into a former colleague as I was dropping off my kids at daycare. We used to work together at a leading mutual fund company. He was a “number’s guy” who had just completed his CFA, today’s Holy Grail for financial analysts worth their salt. I was a marketing writer who enjoyed the paycheque, but not much else about corporate life.
He was wearing a suit and rushing his kids in order to get to work on time while I was walking nonchalantly in a track suit. It almost seems inconceivable that we once shared the same office floor in a downtown skyscraper. “Hey, what are you up to these days? he asked me. I couldn’t come up with an answer, knowing he might not understand my choices and I didn’t want to sound defensive either. He didn’t have time for a long explanation, so I said “you know, doing the stay-at-home dad routine”.
Part of me felt ashamed for wearing my “stay-at-home dad uniform” (i.e. track suit), for letting myself go and for “no longer being on the ball” to paraphrase Lennon. Why feel ashamed? I guess I know deep down inside society looks down on me as a slacker who refuses to pull his own weight. How about living a life that judges itself by its own standards, regardless of what is being promoted as the life we should all aspire to? The pressure to conform is overwhelming.
However, corporate life with its rigid hierarchy, sanitized cubicles, year-end appraisals and polite viciousness made me feel numb and unsure about my own place in society and my purpose in life. I felt like a spectator watching my own life slip away. Each day seemed to be a variation of “Groundhog Day”, stuck in a time loop with no end in sight. While society gave me accolades for being a spoke in the big wheel of the financial universe, I felt empty, useless and longing for something meaningful and long-lasting.
I resigned from my last corporate job two days after our second baby was born. Oddly enough, I feel more fulfilled changing diapers or pushing a stroller than I ever did about filing stories about a company’s latest quarterly earnings. Raising small children is no picnic, but that’s where I want to put my focus at this stage of my life.
One day, “Watching the Wheels” came on the radio and I realized every word of it could be the anthem for what I was going through. My eyes filled up with tears and I just started crying. It was as if I had finally gotten the opportunity to grieve over the loss of a loved one—my former identity. Maybe that’s why I felt a bit of shame when I ran into a former colleague. I just had to let it go. “Watching the Wheels” should become the official anthem to all the stay-at-home dads who need some validation from time to time.
Tuesday, June 23, 2009
Image by Runs With Scissors via FlickrBaseball is often referred to as “America’s favorite” pastime and looms large in popular culture with movies such as Bull Durham and songs like Mrs. Robinson where Paul Simon wonders “where have you gone Joe DiMaggio?”, the storied New York Yankee who was briefly married to Marilyn Monroe.
The deference of yore has given way to widespread cynicism every time a new record is shattered, especially since Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa engaged in a spirited race in 1998 to break Roger Maris’ single-season record of 61 home runs, a chase that gripped the country with excitement.
In a bid to remove clouds of suspicion chronicled in the book Game of Shadows, Major League Baseball commissioned the "Mitchell Report". While baseball is not the only sport facing problems, it’s the only sport so invested in an image of sweet American innocence.
Last week, a congressional committee announced it will revisit Sosa’s testimony after a newspaper reported he had tested positive for performance-enhancing drugs in 2003 (Alex Rodriguez’s name was also leaked from the same supposedly anonymous survey of 104 players who tested positive in 2003, but that’s a totally different topic).
The Oversight and Government Reform Committee’s review came shortly after Sosa told ESPN's Spanish-language service, that he’s about to formally announce his retirement and “calmly wait” for his induction into baseball’s Hall of Fame, for which he will become eligible in 2013.
Meanwhile, Pete Rose, who’s never been suspected or convicted of using banned substances, remains persona non grata at Cooperstown despite holding some impressive records: all-time Major League leader in hits (4,256), three World Series rings, three batting titles, one Most Valuable Player Award, two Gold Gloves, the Rookie of the Year Award, and made 17 All-Star appearances at an unequaled five different positions (2B, LF, RF, 3B, and 1B).
Twenty years ago, Rose agreed to permanent ineligibility from baseball amidst accusations that he gambled on baseball games while playing for and managing the Reds.
In this context, should suspected drug cheats be permanently banned from entering Cooperstown?
Thursday, June 18, 2009
In his 2006 memoir, Jackson refers to Kobe as “uncoachable” for his tendency to try to win games as a solo artist. After breaking the late Red Auerbach’s record to stand alone as the first coach to win 10 NBA championships, Jackson paid tribute to Bryant for his maturity as he accepted his very first MVP award.
Jackson recalled a long-ago game in Toronto when Bryant engaged in a one-on-one battle with Vince Carter that “took the Lakers out of their team play”. Shortly after, Bryant told Jackson “I’m ready to be captain right now”, and Jackson replied “but no one is ready to follow you”.
Jackson learned his lessons from the Knicks team he played on, which won the 1973 title, and from his coach, Red Holzman: individual sacrifice for the good of the group. It has been the cornerstone of his coaching philosophy.
When Jackson became head coach in Chicago in 1991, there was an ongoing tug-of-war to get Jordan to sacrifice his game in order for the team to be better. The fight only ended when Jordan acted as a decoy in Game 5 of the 1991 Finals in Los Angeles against the Lakers. He passed the ball again and again in the fourth quarter to John Paxson, the open and hot shooter, whose jumpers clinched the title.
Jackson coaxed an uneasy peace between Jordan and Pippen, found the right role players who could mesh with the superstars. He coddled Dennis Rodman and kicked Lamar Odom in the butt, and got the most out of each.
No one has won as much as a head coach as Jackson, whose dominance of the NBA coaching landscape now approaches two decades, spanning the Michael Jordan-Shaquille O’Neal-Kobe Bryant eras.
Friday, June 12, 2009
Ever since he was 11 years old, Michael Jackson has been one of the most bankable pop music mega-stars. From his debut with the Jackson Five to some of best-selling albums of all time during his solo career, Jackson’s music career is legendary. But his personal life has been less than thrilling over the past two decades or so.
The self-styled King of Pop has been fighting ongoing rumors since his infamous 1993 broadcast from his Neverland ranch (Jackson’s mini Disneyland for kids) during which he vehemently denied then thirteen-year-old Jordan Chandler’s charges and described the humiliation of being strip searched by police. In a 2004 Vanity Fair article, correspondent Maureen Orth reported that “in 1993, Jordie was interviewed eight or nine times by authorities, who probed him for inconsistencies to see if he would make a credible witness. He reportedly never wavered in his story”.
Chandler’s credibility rested on the fact that he had been able to draw distinctive markings on Jackson body. His account also gave his family’s legal team all the ammunition they needed to settle the matter out of court for $25 million, the night before Jackson was to be deposed, according to Orth’s exposé.
Almost two years before his 2005 sex child abuse trial, British journalist Martin Bashir produced the documentary “Living with Michael Jackson” where Jackson defends his right to share his bed with kids during sleepovers at Neverland. Although he was later acquitted on all charges, Jackson’s public image, especially in North America, never recovered. He’s become a cartoonish reminder of what happens when fame and fortune go wrong.
Whether it’s his marriage to Lisa Marie Presley, his alleged battle with vitiligo, his sunken cheeks, upturned nose, the over-pronounced chin cleft, his artificially inseminated children, all these sideshows have overshadowed his musical brilliance.
To paraphrase Elizabeth Day in Britain’s Observer, Jackson’s return to the stage this summer in London promises to be “the biggest comeback since Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead”.
At 50 years old, after being away from the stage for 12 years, in an attempt to resurrect his career, Jackson has been rehearsing for 50 already-sold-out shows. He promises the shows will be bigger and better than anything we’ve seen before. Under the guidance of Kenny Ortega, his long-time choreographer, Jackson plans to introduce a new dance move, reputedly even more spectacular than the moon walk. Randy Phillips, the president and CEO of AEG Live, the tour promoter, has been quoted as saying that Jackson will receive “probably something pretty close to £50 million ($82 million) for the London shows”.
No public source seems to have a straight read on Jackson’s personal finances, but Vanity Fair reported in 2004 that “over the years Jackson has doled out millions upon millions of dollars to lawyers, doctors, accountants, security people, con men, voodoo chiefs, business advisers, members of his bankrupted dysfunctional family, an ex-wife who allegedly threatened to tell his secrets, former staffers on remittance, and the families of young boys he has made his "special friends" all over the world”. Since the sale of his Neverland in order to fend off foreclosure, media reports have suggested that the King of Pop is in dire need of a stimulus package.
Saturday, June 6, 2009
Should a man, having paid his debt to society for a crime he says he regrets, be forbidden from resuming a career at which he excels; a career for which his crime in no way disqualifies him (in the way that an embezzlement conviction might disqualify an accountant)?
This is the question National Football League Commissioner Roger Goodell will have to answer when Michael Vick files his reinstatement papers.
The former star quarterback with the Atlanta Falcons was released on May 20 from the Leavenworth, Kan., prison where he served nearly two years for his role in bankrolling and participating in a dogfighting ring.
Until his sentence is up July 20th, Vick will be under federal surveillance at home while he works a $10-an-hour construction job and pursues reinstatement in the NFL where big bucks are usually a sure bet.
In a country where atonement for transgressions and redemption are popular religious themes, the gifted NFL running and passing quarterback is seeking absolution from one of his harshest critics: the Humane Society of the United States. In a blog posting, Wayne Pacelle, CEO for the Humane Society of the United States, announced that the group would work hand in hand with Vick to help eradicate dogfighting among youths.
“If this is simply a self-interested ploy to rehabilitate his image or return to football, we will find out soon enough, and we will repudiate it. But if Michael Vick is sincere, then we can, we must, use his story to advance our broader mission—saving lives and ending dogfighting,” Pacelle said.
Now that Michael Vick has served his prison sentence and secured the endorsement of the Humane Society, do you think the NFL should re-instate him?
Monday, May 18, 2009
In his book Star-Spangled Canadians: Canadians Living the American Dream, journalist and author Jeffrey Simpson chronicles the lives of Canadians who have left their homeland to display their talent on the world’s biggest stage. Since the late 80s the National Hockey League (NHL) has been dreaming about landing a lucrative network television deal south of the Canadian border. Their sales pitch began in earnest in 1988 when Wayne Gretzky, the NHL’s all-time leading scorer, left sleepy
The trade happened in the midst of a federal election when free trade with the
After 13 years in Phoenix, with Wayne Gretzky as head coach and minority team owner, the “Desert Dogs” appear to be skating on thin ice these days. The team’s decision to seek bankruptcy protection will probably force the NHL to assess the success of its rapid expansion outside
News of the Coyotes bankruptcy proceedings set off an almost uncontrollable bout of schadenfreude among Canadian hockey fans who felt powerless and snubbed when NHL executives argued that
In recent interviews, Balsillie has taken an increasingly nationalistic tone to make his case and he’s morphed into some sort of Captain
Balsillie’s love for
After failing to purchase the Pittsburgh Penguins, followed by the Nashville Predators, Balsillie is convinced the NHL will never let him own a franchise. During that same interview with the Toronto Star, he was quoted as saying: "I spent five years looking for a front door. ... We couldn't find a front door. I found a side door."
That side door happens to be located in an
The NHL accuses Balsillie of trying to overturn its rules governing relocation of teams which prevent a franchise from moving within 80 kilometers of another team without permission. Balsillie has done little to soothe the growing rift. He’s accused the NHL of operating an “illegal cartel” and commissioner Gary Bettman of running interference for Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment (the Toronto Maple Leafs' parent company) rather than acting in the best interests of the game.
At this rate, cooler heads might want to offer Balsillie and NHL commissioner Bettman a copy of Dale Carnegie’s 1936 bestseller “How to Win Friends & Influence People”.
Balsillie’s latest bid to buy an NHL franchise has once again ignited a debate (at least in