Monday, November 24, 2008

Too Chicken

There's something I have to do but I'm too chicken. Ever had that happen to you? I know I'll feel better after it's done and just like the picture suggests, it should win smiles. If only I can make the first move...

Monday, November 17, 2008

Thank you

Thank you to everyone for your kind notes and words of encouragement and sympathy. The funeral was this past Saturday and our family was comforted by so many of my brother-in-law's friends and colleagues who traveled from all over the world to be with my sister, my niece and nephew during this time.

Funerals are strange events for me. Reluctantly, they become giant family reunions...

That's my Jonathan there in the tie. Yes, that is a smile. He was so glad to see all of his cousins again especially his buddy, Daniel my baby brother's youngest son.

...and/or massive networking extravaganzas which is such a bummer because it all takes place at the same time my mind is trying to figure out mine and my loved one's mortality, ugh.

Former Olympians Marty Liquori, John Carlos outside after the funeral

Funerals don't stop requests for autographs - Vince Matthews agreeing to one

Driving from the funeral to the burial was a sobering experience despite the prodding of billboards whizzing by...

I wonder if I would have cried less had I had a shot before the buriel??

We had a mile long processional that passed through 3 towns

During the drive to the burial, I couldn't stop reflecting on the many drives my Dad took me and my younger sister, Antoinette, to visit Cynthia and Larry.

I remember these roads so well. As soon as I got my driver's license, me and my sister Antoinette would take the 2 hour drive to see our new niece and nephew, Tamaiya and Bonn, in a heartbeat. We loved those kids so much, we wouldn't think twice about driving way down South Jersey to see them. Now they have their own children, and it was strange to realize time passing through the faces of the next generation -

my brother with the children of our niece and nephew and Larry's grands

The long ride through Atlantic City showed the changing landscape from marsh and brush

to Casino towers and remarkably -


All in all, I am often left a bit weaker after any funeral. It is just too difficult to comprehend. There are never any words or expression of sympathy that ever seems appropriate. Oh, there is one expression, "We all want to go to heaven, but nobody wants to die."

So, for now, whenever I feel kind of blue, I'm going to look at pictures of my children, nieces and nephews, who seem to love each other's company, and find a way to smile.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Larry James 1947-2008

My brother-in-law died on his birthday. He was 61. Below is a reprint of one of the many obituaries written about him.


G. Larry James dies at 61; runner won gold, silver medals at 1968 Olympics

Richard Stockton College
When Richard Stockton College honored G. Larry James, left, for four decades of excellence on Dec. 1, 2007, (from second left) Vince Matthews, Ron Freeman and Lee Evans joined their fellow Olympian for the festivities.
By Claire Noland
November 8, 2008
G. Larry James, a middle-distance runner known as "The Mighty Burner" who employed his streaky speed to win gold and silver medals in track at the 1968 Summer Olympics, died of colon cancer at his home in Smithville, N.J., on Thursday, his 61st birthday.

His death was announced by the Richard Stockton College of New Jersey, where he spent 28 years as athletic director.

James won his gold medal in Mexico City by teaming with Vince Matthews, Ron Freeman and Lee Evans in the U.S. 4-by-400-meter relay. He also won a silver medal in the 400-meter individual race.

James was a sophomore at Villanova University outside Philadelphia when he qualified for the U.S. Olympic team in 1968, a year when the nation was rocked by the assassinations of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and Sen. Robert F. Kennedy and riots in several U.S. cities.

Some of the African American athletes on the U.S. team proposed a boycott of the Mexico City Games as a way to make a statement protesting the treatment of blacks in America, but James wanted to race.

"For me, it came down to: Do you want to go there and be seen, or do you want to be an asterisk in the record book?" he said in an interview with the Star-Ledger of Newark, N.J., in 2007.

Lacking consensus, the athletes decided to compete.

But the issue came to a head after U.S. sprinters Tommie Smith and John Carlos won gold and bronze, respectively, in the 200-meter race.

At the medals ceremony, while "The Star-Spangled Banner" played, Smith and Carlos stood on the podium and raised their gloved fists in a Black Power salute.

The athletes were booed, and the International Olympic Committee insisted they be expelled for making a political statement during the Games.

Two days later came the 400-meter race. The U.S. runners swept the event, with James taking silver in 43.97 seconds, second to Evans' world-record time of 43.86. Freeman was third.

All three men recorded their best times ever, and James and Evans were the first to break the 44-second mark.

"When we had the press conference after the race, all anybody wanted to ask about was Tommie and John," James told the Star-Ledger. "I was thinking, 'Doesn't anyone want to talk about what we just did?' "

Next up was the 4-by-400-meter relay, held two days later. This time the U.S. runners set a world record in 2 minutes, 56.16 seconds, with James running the third leg.

The winning time was matched in 1988, but the record remained unbroken until 1992.

For their medals ceremony, the relay runners chose to wear black berets and black socks, but when the national anthem played, they removed their caps and stood at attention.

"Pictures of us . . . appeared in Black Panther newspapers," James recalled in a 1991 interview with Sports Illustrated. "And in the main media, we'd won for our country. We had something for everybody.

"We were agents of change, but . . . we were so unprepared," he said. "We were suddenly expert on everything, man, on toothpaste. You get caught up in it, the love affair the public has with athletes. You learn how it embraces you, and then you learn how it tires of you."

James returned to Villanova, graduating with a bachelor's degree in business in 1970. He served in the Marine Corps Reserve, attaining the rank of major, and later earned a master's degree in public policy from Rutgers University.

He was hired as track coach and assistant athletic director at Stockton College in 1972. He used to tell people he had planned to stay for three years, but they stretched into 36.

James became athletic director in 1980 and transformed the athletic program into a Division III power, the highlight coming when the men's soccer team won the Division III national championship in 2001. He also led efforts to build a $17-million multipurpose recreation center in 2000. He stepped down as athletic director Aug. 1.

James stayed involved in the Olympic movement over the years and held a variety of positions with USA Track and Field. In 2003 he was inducted into the National Track & Field Hall of Fame.

Born and raised in Greenburgh, N.Y., George Lawrence James was 15 when his mother, Martha, took him to Washington, D.C., in August 1963 for the March on Washington at which King delivered his "I Have a Dream" speech.

"I realized there was more to life than just me and my neighborhood," James told the Journal News of Westchester County, N.Y., in 2004. "There was a whole world of people that wanted to make a difference."

Survivors include his wife, Cynthia; son Larry B. James; daughter Tamaiya Forbey; five grandchildren; his mother; and a sister.

Contributions in his name may be made to the G. Larry James Legacy Fund at Stockton College,

Noland is a Times staff writer.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

A New Day

It is safe to be smart again

It is safe to learn about other cultures again

It is safe to be humane again

It is safe to know who we are again...

...and where we came from

It is safe to know the immigrant in all of us again

It is safe to love our President again

We all have work to do now. We must work together to heal our country. We can't leave that burden to President-Elect Obama alone.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Fear and Loathing in New Jersey

Anything can happen with this election. Stuff has been happening, voter purges, vote flipping, false information, threats and long ass lines.

I'm not one for doing the fear thing. But, on the front page of my local newspaper last week featured some stuck in the past people invoking fear. They went on about how America should be fearful of a black president and that as white people, they can't bring themselves to vote for a black man. Nevermind that I've been voting for white men ever since many black and white people died so that white people would finally allow me to vote.

Anyway, fortunately for most Americans we are all trying to deal with this race problem in more constructive ways. Ron Howard has weighed in to share how he is dealing with this election:

See more Ron Howard videos at Funny or Die

Regardless of the outcome of this election, Obama's candidacy has moved this country forward finally after having gone so far backward in these past 8 years under Bush. Now is the time to get to work and clean up this mess for our own sake.