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  • Glenn Sonnenberg

Musings from the Bunker 5/24/20

Good morning,

 

GRADUATION AMIDST COVID

Andrea and I have now participated in two “video hug” graduation celebrations this Spring. In my undying effort to find silver linings in the shelter-in-place, I think there is much to be said for graduating at this time.

Clearly it’s no fun for kids to miss out on the various celebrations, rituals, tearful goodbyes, awards ceremonies, and parties that go with graduation. But what they lose in episodic enjoyment they gain with something tangible and lasting. For most of us, our graduation memory is a photo taken from seemingly miles away, in which we can barely make out the image of a person receiving a diploma. But this group will have at their fingertips video time capsules to remember their friends and family from years prior.

When we all had younger kids, who among us wasn’t running around parties at Color Me Mine or Gymboree, anxiously catching each precious moment on video? It is hard to imagine many of these will be viewed any time soon—or ever.

But these are videos that will last. Graduation is something special. It is a moment of transition from teenager to young adult (or young adult poised at the edge of the working world). Family and friends provide advice, support, wisdom and love to the graduates. Now these snippets, which might otherwise go in one ear and out the other on the way to a party, will be memorialized forever.

Graduates of the class of 2020 are receiving a special gift. These graduation videos show the celebrant not as a child playing, but as an adult who has accomplished something. At some time in the future, perhaps with their own child watching, these graduates will watch these special keepsakes that show people they care about speaking to them from the past.

On another note, I want to clarify the death data from New York earlier this week. I was not suggesting 7% of all victims of the virus died, merely the percentage mortality of those tested (and New York didn’t test asymptomatic people). The rate of mortality is somewhere just shy of 1% (we currently believe).

 

AMATEUR GENEALOGY

I’ve been intrigued with the explosive business of genealogy and DNA testing. As my father said, “We’re mutts with undistinguished background. Who needs to learn more than that?”

My aunt Seemah and I are actually trying to put together the story of her parents’ heritage and the story of their family. Some friends have submitted their DNA to “23 and me” or other DNA testing sites. I, paranoid as I am, don’t want some third party “owning” my genetic history, so I have not yet participated yet.

But there are those who have jumped into the gene pool head first, searching ship manifests, social security records, census reports, cemetery records…you name it. One of these hobbyists is my brother-in-law, Andrew, who has been doing a deep dive into the Kopkin and Sonnenberg families for his son Johnathan.

Andrew periodically has been sending me “Sonnenberg lore” (such as it is). Andrew found this clipping about my father’s uncle, who owned several of convenience stores (well, maybe more cigarette and magazine stands) in New York and New Jersey. Apparently the news of his invention of a pin-less diaper in 1944 made it all the way to Butte, Montana. Who knew? Apparently as Al Gore is to the Internet, the Sonnenbergs are to Pampers!:


It doesn’t end there. My grandfather was one of five brothers. My father always said that, of the five Sonnenberg boys, all amounted to something, except his father… One of those uncles achieved even greater fame a “bag man” for Mayor Walker (mayor of NYC from 1926-1932. We’re a distinguished crowd…

 

GREAT SPORTS MOVIES

From Scott Sandler, who responded to both sports books and movies with two great movies with sports themes (I also added a couple of others):

  • We recently watched Seabiscuit which is a terrific story set in the context of what was happening in the 1930s. Also shows the pioneering spirit in California for those who made their way from the Midwest and the East.

  • And of course, being a former college basketball coach, I have to recommend Hoosiers which shows the “idyllic” life of small town Indiana in the 1950s.

  • I’d add The Natural, a great translation of the Bernard Malamud classic novel (well, except for the ending). Really touching, metaphorical, and uplifting—simplicity and what’s important—all in the context of Robert Redford’s Roy Hodges (also starring an all-star cast including Glenn Close, Kim Basinger, Robert Duvall and Wilford Brimley, and Roger Farnsworth). Better than Field of Dreams. Not as funny as, of course…

  • Major League, truly hysterical (which starred the net-yet-fully-crazy Charlie Cheen and the inimitable Bob Uecker (“just a bit outside…”). https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jdv2Wp9MzY0. Then this great short scene of making draft choices: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LpZ3LODBK7E

  • And enjoy a younger Bob Uecker on The Tonight Show. Just to see Johnny’s shirt and tie combination, which scream out, “it’s the 70s and we don’t care about style” is reason enough to watch. It is in this interview that he describes the best way to catch a knuckleball—“just wait for the ball to stop rolling and pick it up.”

  • Friday Night Lights, which started off the great TV series. Who doesn’t love Coach Chandler and his wife Sharon? Quite possibly the single instance when the TV show was better than the movie (well, maybe M*A*S*H as well). But if you are a sports fan or if you love great sports clichés, spend two minutes with this mash-up from Coach Taylor: “this is it, right here, right now,” Kyle Chandler will move you. Why isn’t he President? “Clear eyes, full hearts…can’t lose…” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4pZHXQ698Ok

Clear eyes, full hearts, can’t lose,

Glenn

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