Potato Pancakes For Everybody

All the comforts of home greet me when I open my eyes.

The other day from under the warmth of the thick blue comforter I saw thin snow fall past the open white bedroom window shutters. I heard geese honking their way south like a symphony playing melodious notes from Hyden’s Trumpet Concerto.

Official winter will soon arrive.

Our comfy, cozy monastic retreat is already underway.

Gray skies and drizzle welcomed me today. Stepping to the big bay window I see the Catholic church parking lot loaded with cars. Inside the dull, non-descript building people participated in ritual. Some prayed, I imagine, for peace. Not many, I imagine, but some.

Christmas is coming.

Jews prayed in other parts of town. Their big holiday is already on us. Hanukkah is the most widely used spelling, while Chanukah is more traditional, Google tells me. Oil and light and all the potato pancakes you can eat. The Irish and Italian Catholics at coal region church festivals love potato pancakes the Jews call “lat-kas.” You pronounce the word “lat-ka,” the same way you say the name of the goofy character the late comedian Andy Kauffman played on the old TV sitcom Taxi.

No matter how you say the name of the synagogue and church picnic staple, they’re carbohydrates deep fried in fat and volunteers’ hair that falls on the grill, clogs your arteries and can kill you young no matter how much beer or Mogan David you drink.

Jack’s bar sits up the street on the other corner. I always wanted to live in a house with a corner bar a block away. Now I have one for the past 17 years and don’t go there. I drink my red California pinot noir wine at home and like it. I don’t go out much anymore and like it. I have to admit, though, I do love seeing Jack’s red neon beer sign lit before I go to bed.

I used to enjoy seeing the bright Blessed Virgin statue lit, too, when the priest used to turn her on a few years ago. Did I really just write that? I did, unconsciously, of course. Father Sica rest in peace.

Green pine incense awaits the flame from a match in the meditation room. Stephanie has already lit a stick in the kitchen. Radiators hiss downstairs where Stephanie already made the coffee with fresh Scranton tap water clean enough to drink from the spigot – which I do.

When I put in my hearing aids I heard rumblings from the BBC on the TV downstairs. I turned 72 in June and have been using hearing aids for the past year or so. They make a difference – like hearing a guitar chord on an Eric Clapton solo you never heard until you played the record after smoking a joint. I named them “Harry” and “Larry” and do my best to maintain a working relationship with my two new buddies. I hate the term “hearing aid” so I call them “listening devices” like I’m a secret agent man for the CIA and am tuning into some surreptitious conversation between powerful evil politicians.

I don’t have to go far to find those bastards, either.

U.S. Sen. Bob Casey lives a few blocks from me in my Hill Section neighborhood. I’ve been arguing with myself lately about whether to mention his complicity in Israeli war crimes the next time I see him getting into his Cadillac SUV on my afternoon walk.

Last week, Casey donned his tuxedo to attend the Pennsylvania Society dinner at the New York City Hilton to host a VIP invitation-only fundraiser and hobnob with lobbyists and Democratic Party bosses. Few tried-and-true professional mid-town prostitutes attended because richer, gaudier political courtesans bought up all the tickets in advance.

Then, I understand Casey hit the White House Christmas party. I can’t personally confirm his presence at the taxpayer-funded buffet trough because he continues to refuses to meet with me as a journalist or constituent. Casey’s now getting ready to waltz his way to the Congressional Ball hosted by Scranton native and President Joe Biden.

Same goes for my congressman, the darling of Northeastern Pennsylvania defense contractors, U.S. Rep. Matt Cartwright who lives in a mansion outside the city and supports among Israel and killing Palestinian civilians with a zeal that makes him look like a cross between Moses and Rambo. Cartwright won’t talk with me, either, even though I helped get him elected when he first ran for Congress.

A people’s protest at his downtown Scranton office followed up by a march the couple of blocks to Casey’s office is a good idea. Stephanie and I picketed Cartwright’s office by ourselves last year. We’re ready to do that again if necessary. My high-tech listening devices are tuned up and ready to resist injustice, predator capitalism and democide – state-sponsored murder.

See how easily ugly reality pulls us back into the harsh world of electoral politics? Anyone with a conscience is already paying attention and listening closely to the pounding sound of unjust war.

Traumatized kids in Gaza are starving, by the way. Unless people get fed and receive medical care, humanitarian aid experts agree an additional 100,000  men, women and children of all ages might die.

Spoon that on your potato pancakes and eat it.