Don't judge by me, but I come from a pretty smart family. There's a bunch of doctors, teachers, and political activists. My Aunt Minnie was in The Godfather Part II, my favorite movie ever.
I'll get back to my family in a minute. Did you see where Colin Kaepernick made a surprise appearance at the Lower East Side Girls Club on Avenue D in New York City last week? Wearing a T-shirt that read, "I know my rights," Kaepernick gave a quick speech about the courage to stand (in his case, kneel) for what you believe, and handed out Nike backpacks to low-income, mostly minority girls. This Girls Club is remarkable, the sheer number of kids it helps along the path to a productive adulthood. It's really an inspirational story.
The mission of the Lower Eastside Girls Club is to "connect girls and young women to healthy and successful futures." The 35,000 square foot, state of the art center offers a safe haven with programs in the arts, sciences, leadership, entrepreneurship, and wellness for middle and high school girls. Programs are offered at no cost to girls and their families, according to its website.
The site also notes that the Lower Eastside of Manhattan is "one of the most ethnically and economically diverse neighborhoods in New York, with a substantial foreign-born and working poor population."
Back to my family: When I was growing up — early on in Manhattan, later in New Jersey — my family went to Uncle Bill and Aunt Sally's house in Clifton, New Jersey for Thanksgiving and Christmas. Uncle Bill made the turkey, but Aunt Sally's mashed potatoes stole the show. They were insanely delicious. Nobody knew how Aunt Sally made them, and she wasn't talking.
Uncle Bill and Aunt Sally had three kids: Lyn, Wendy, and Tommy. I really looked up to them. They were bright and talented and talked about things that were so far over my head, I'd need a telescope to understand them.
Before I left Jersey to start my newspaper career (this long hard climb to the middle) I asked Aunt Sally for her mashed potatoes recipe. Now I'm in charge of the mashed potatoes on Thanksgiving and Christmas, and Aunt Sally's potatoes are still drawing raves.
My cousin Lyn founded the Lower Eastside Girls Club in 1996. She is still the executive director. Lyn has changed the world for hundreds and hundreds of young people. She makes their lives better.
I'm still looking up to her.
The CVS battle: a good sign
After years —years — of battling with my local CVS to put up a sign that reads, "Please stand back" from the pharmacy counter so customers could have privacy when discussing medical matters with pharmacists...
I finally won. There's a sign there now.
This week, while picking up a prescription, I said to the pharmacist, "You see that sign? That's me." The pharmacist asked, "You're the guy who wrote about us?" Then she came out from behind the counter to shake my hand. "We've been begging the store manager for so long to do something about that. Thank you!"
More signs of the times
I'm on a roll. Last week, a real estate agent put up a "For Sale" sign in my neighborhood that's so big it belongs in front of a "We Sell Gold By The Inch" store on Harwin. You could show drive-in movies on it. The sign was about five feet tall and really obnoxious, in clear violation of our sign ordinance. I contacted City Hall to complain. I wasn't looking to fight City Hall — I wanted City Hall to fight for me.
The sign was down within 24 hours. See? Sometimes all you need to do is throw a little fit.
True story. A few years ago, I attended a city council meeting because real estate signs were getting out of control. Each agent was trying to out-big the others. During the meeting, one real estate person had the crazies to tell council, "If you don't let us put up our [enormous] signs, we will have to buy new ones, and we won't be able to afford doing business in your city." I was dumbstruck that he had the audacity to say that. And doubly dumbstruck that the council bought his B.S. Real estate companies make tens of thousands of dollars selling houses in my town. I think that's more than enough to buy a sign that conforms to code and doesn't make my street look like a flea market.
Tiger on Mount Rushmore?
Hot on the heels of winning his first pro tournament in five years, Tiger Woods was asked to name his "Mount Rushmore" of golf — his four best players in history. He listed Bobby Jones, Sam Snead, Jack Nicklaus, and Tiger Woods. I have no problem with that. You have to believe in yourself. The next day, that's when I had a problem.
ESPN's Stephen A. Smith said, "I would put Tiger on the Mount Rushmore of all sports!"
Seriously? That was just Stephen A. being Stephen A. Tiger isn't even the greatest player in his own sport. But who would be on your Mount Rushmore of all sports? I have two lists: my four best athletes, and my four favorite athletes.
Best Mount Rushmore: Babe Ruth, Michael Jordan, Tom Brady, and Roger Federer.
Favorite Mount Rushmore: Willie Mays, LeBron James, Tom Brady, and Roger Federer.
Who's on your sports Mount Rushmore? Let Ken know on Twitter.