Wednesday, February 29, 2012

But I shall name you the fisherman three

Wynken, Blynken, and Nod one night
Sailed off in a wooden shoe---
Sailed on a river of crystal light,
Into a sea of dew.
"Where are you going, and what do you wish?"
The old moon asked the three.
"We have come to fish for the herring fish
That live in this beautiful sea;
Nets of silver and gold have we!"
Said Wynken,
And Nod.

The old moon laughed and sang a song,
As they rocked in the wooden shoe,
And the wind that sped them all night long
Ruffled the waves of dew.
The little stars were the herring fish
That lived in that beautiful sea---
"Now cast your nets wherever you wish---
Never afeard are we";
So cried the stars to the fishermen three:
And Nod.

All night long their nets they threw
To the stars in the twinkling foam---
Then down from the skies came the wooden shoe,
Bringing the fishermen home;
'T was all so pretty a sail it seemed
As if it could not be,
And some folks thought 't was a dream they'd dreamed
Of sailing that beautiful sea---
But I shall name you the fishermen three:
And Nod.

Wynken and Blynken are two little eyes,
And Nod is a little head,
And the wooden shoe that sailed the skies
Is a wee one's trundle-bed.
So shut your eyes while mother sings
Of wonderful sights that be,
And you shall see the beautiful things
As you rock in the misty sea,
Where the old shoe rocked the fishermen three:
And Nod.

Eugene Field.

(Top photo shot in Denver 2008.
Bottom photo shot in the Shenandoah 1998.)

Monday, February 27, 2012

Where Black is the Color and None is the Number

Youngest son, I hope to see you at 8 pm on your birthday at the Lost Dog Cafe in Westover for dinner. I miss you, I love you and I want to be a part of your life.

Just as I miss my middle son, and my oldest son, and love them and want to be a part of their lives. You both know how to get in touch with me, as I live in the house where you all grew up in, my work number and residential numbers are listed and my email address is my first and last name, no space,

Friday, February 24, 2012


I've been on my job for 22 years, and of course I've had mentors. They're all gone from my agency now, but I had lunch with one of them today.

We were at the Union Street Public House in Old Town well into our 2d local brew and we were laughing at reminiscences. We both have had, or had, two trials in twenty years, and that's more than most at the agency we both worked for.

My friend is one of two mentors I had, the most important one (as lead counsel he orchestrated the first trial I had, and advised me informally on the second one on which I was lead counsel), one of three persons who taught me how to be a good litigator (the 3d was an opposing counsel from whom I learned a lot). When I get to heaven I will be able to look my Dad in the eye (a legendary litigator for his Wall Street firm) and say, Yeah, I did my best.

Anyway, my mentor was recently ferrying around a daughter who is a senior in college along with her friends, and two of them were taking musical history and discussing a question on their final exam which asked, Name one song that encapsulates your generation.

On the spot at the time, he was hard pressed to throw out Wear Flowers In Your Hair (San Francisco) whereas I immediately tossed out Satisfaction to him. Then I said the problem was pinning the answer down to one response, because it could immediately become a shape-shifter.

As in Get Together. Or Volunteers. Or A Day in the Life. But I could, for sure, instantly start writing for an hour on any one of those songs, tying it in to the Vietnam generation, San Fransisco included (written by the creator of the Mamas and the Papas).

The bartendress was listening furtively to us and I could see her chest heaving as she laughed at us two old fogeys drinking and discussing the last century at her bar. Because as far forward musically as I've gotten is U2 and The Joshua Tree.

But I'm going to say it now. You're all going to miss us Baby Boomers when we're gone.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Stripped down running

Before I got injured, back when I ran five times a week, I used to run the running program at my workplace as part of its Wellness Program. Every Wednesday at noon I'd take a group out on a four mile run on the Mall, at about a nine-minute pace.

I had runners who dropped in and out of the program but mostly it was me and Marcus who ran each week. He's faster than me but we were a good match, both running-wise and personality-wise.

Things change. I was injured and out of running for a year and I changed buildings, and now I run at noon with two women co-workers whenever we can get out, but not as part of the Wellness Program anymore. We run five miles on the Mall at a nine-minute pace. The more things change...

Marcus is now into barefoot running and the other day when both my regular running buddies were unavailable, I ran with Marcus for the first time in three years. We went four miles on the Mall at a nine-minute pace.

I think I was holding him up slightly but it was fun to run with him again. He speaks several languages and is in the International Division at my workplace so he's always been someplace interesting like Hanoi or Moscow. We talked about his travels and the book he is writing, a potboiler novel.

He recently acquired a Kindle so he can read more efficiently and not have several score books lying around his house awaiting time for them to be read. Now he just has a monster que on his Kindle of several score backlogged books, at $9.95 each, awaiting time for them to be read.

We loped easily across the Mall, running up the hill by the Washington Monument and down to the Lincoln and then we retraced our steps and ran up Capitol Hill. The whole time he drew stares from passing runners because, well, he was barefoot.

Marcus swears by barefoot running, saying it is the natural way to run since it promotes a better, midfoot, foot strike. He claims it has kept him injury-free since he started running that way a few years ago. For forty minutes it was just like old times, running along easily at a swift-enough pace and talking about history, books and politics. Life isn't running but running is life.

Monday, February 20, 2012

And What'll You Do Now, My Darling Young One?

I'm sorry you couldn't join me for lunch this week on your birthday at the Lost Dog Cafe, oldest son Jimmy. I haven't seen nor heard from you since Peyton Manning won the Super Bowl.

You had no part in your Mother's divorce from me, being a child at the time. Western style domestic law is unbelievable, perhaps it'll come full circle and engulf you too in the future. (What goes around comes around.)

I hope not. I love you and miss you, and want to be a part of your life.

James B. Rogers, my address is the same as the house where you grew up in, and my number is 202-326-3274. You're a spittin' image of a Lamberton, actually.

Saturday, February 18, 2012


It was a beautiful morning for running. Temperate, dry and still.

I ran 4.1 miles at a slow pace, clocking the first mile at 10:45, then circling back to my driveway at the midway point to drink the water I had left there while I temporarily suspended my clock at 22 minutes. Glancing past my back yard as I drank, I saw two soldiers in camouflage run by on the W&OD trail behind my house carrying bulging backpacks, leaning forward and moving at a slow, steady trot.

As I continued my run, I encountered them a few minutes later returning on the W&OD Trail, moving ever forward in a brisk shuffle, running quietly in their soft-soled combat boots. I fell in beside these two lean young men.

"Who are you with?" I asked. The nearest one looked over and politely said, "112th Regiment." The second soldier stared straight ahead, sweat pouring down his face.

"What are you training for?" I asked. "The Ranger Competition in the spring, sir," he answered. "We go 40 miles with 60 pounds that first day." A runner passed us going the other way and called to these two men, "You guys are terrific! Thank you!"

"How far are you going today?" I asked. "Fifteen miles with 45 pounds. We just reached the turnaround back there," the one next to me said.

I was running on the uneven dirt shoulder of the blacktop trail, wobbling slightly due to the undulating surface. The two soldiers running abreast moved over slightly and the closest one said, "You can run up here, sir." (Left: I ran briefly this morning with heavily-laden soldiers like these two pictured finishing a marathon. They always run together in support of each other.)

Instead, I wished them well, bid them adieu and turned off the trail to finish my run, energized by the awesomeness of their presence. I finished my 4.1 miles in 39:21, with a substantial negative split after seeing those guys.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012


I run 4-6 miles at noontime a couple of times a week with a couple of running buddies; since we're in the nation's capital we always try to investigate any protest or gathering we run by, or run by any protest or gathering we hear about. Last month, upon hearing that the authorities were going to get serious about shutting down the Occupy DC movement, we determined to run by the larger of two such tent camps in DC, the McPherson Square one just north of the White House.

We don't usually (ever) get up that way on our runs because there are too many streets to cross, unlike running on the Mall, plus the run-up to there is through some mean streets in DC when we first leave our workplace. But this was history in the making, the exposition of the ramifications of the Dubya unfunded tax cuts for the 1%. (Left: Noontime running anytime in DC.)

We got there in about 12 minutes, and encountered lots of unwashed protesters living in tents on a tiny small public square in DC as expensively suited lobbyists and lawyers from K Street and M Street strolled about at noontime, asking each other if they noticed the smell or had noticed any rats about.

Those folks don't usually go to that square on their lunch hour; now they seemed to be hoping to witness a public hanging. We didn't notice any stench or see any rats; we only saw a bunch of earnest Americans, young mostly, hoping to impart their message of effective change, just like we used to do in the 60s (I can't speak for my two running buddies, both several decades younger, but I don't think they're heartless and I certainly think they're perceptive). As I ran back to my workplace I felt energized and my two friends asked me what was up, that I was bumping up the pace by a lot.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Battlin' Billy

As a graduate of the University of Virginia School of Law, I received my annual UVA Lawyer magazine recently and it disclosed to me that Professor William J. Stuntz passed on last year, practically a mere stripling at 52. He taught my Criminal Procedure class in the spring of 1988.

He was so youthful looking, still in his twenties, that he grew a beard in an attempt to look more wizened. He still looked more like a student that a professor, but he was a terrific teacher, sometimes using movie protagonist Dirty Harry Callahan as an example to illustrate police procedure gone bad such as the use of torture to extract information from a suspect (Dirty Harry stepping on the open wound of a bad guy he'd shot to find out where he'd buried alive the kidnap victim).

One day as we filed into the large classroom for Crim Pro, Muhammad Ali was just finishing a lecture to the previous class. He was a friend of that class's teacher and had been invited to speak on the subject they were covering that day.

Everyone in the prior class lined up at the lectern to get Ali's autograph. Then everyone in our class lined up to get Ali's autograph. Meanwhile, Professor Stuntz, known informally by us students as Billy Stuntz because of his callowness, was off to one side fidgeting because he was losing class time and his lectures, while always entertaining, always went right to the final bell.

Finally Billy went up to Muhammad Ali and tapped him on the shoulder. Ali turned to him, a towering figure looking down upon the slightly-built Billy, and they had a quiet but animated conversation.

Ali thereupon stared at him while he slowly gathered up his notes and then he walked slowly through the classroom to the door. The tension created by the apparently testy exchange between the two men was palpable.

At the door, with all eyes upon him, Ali stopped, turned and pointed at Billy with a tremulous finger. He rasped in a voice that couldn't have been heard save for the hushed silence, "That man there just put me out!"

The class burst into laughter at the notion that Billy Stuntz had knocked out The Greatest. Already a legend at UVA for having graduated from the law school a few years earlier with the highest GPA in memory, he acquired a new monicker that day, Battlin' Billy Stuntz.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

The steady pace wins the race

The fourth meeting of the Walk to Run 5K training program I am coaching for was held last Saturday on a beautiful temperate morning. Seven of us gathered in the parking lot of the Lady Bird Johnson Park off the George Washington Parkway in Arlington and set off for a four mile walk on the Mount Vernon Trail along the Potomac.

Northbound we walked as tons of joggers and bicyclists went by, chatting amiably and keeping hydrated. At Roosevelt Island we turned around at the midway point to return. Next week we will walk eastbound into the District over the Potomac bridges and introduce running to these non-runners, running a minute then resuming walking for five minutes.

A few months hence this ratio will be reversed and we will be running five minutes and walking one minute for recovery. Along the way everyone is supposed to do an actual 5K race, for the experience of it, at the then-achieved walk/run ratio.

It's the same program I used to return to running last year after a year layoff due to injury. It was good to be out there and coaching again as part of an organization, the Marathon Charity Cooperation (MCC), that is dedicated to inclusion and encouraging novices to participate in activity sports. (Right: Coach John, director of the MCC's Walk-To-Run 5K Program.)

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Happy Birthday Dad

Last month was my Dad's 86th birthday. He died a quarter century ago when when I was 34.

In the 20th century, Winston Churchill was the greatest person I knew about. In my life, my Dad was the greatest person I knew.

Lawrenceville standout, Peleliu veteran, Okinawa veteran, Carleton grad, Yale Law School grad, Cleary Gottlieb partner, civil rights activist, fairest man I ever knew (he made me believe the Rule of Law was attainable and would make all things possible, and that there were actually men who had no price), father, husband and heroic in death. He died in my presence, and all I could say as this transcendental occurrence transpired was "God bless you, Dad."

Maybe he went to prepare our place by the right side of the Lord in the House of my Father. I remember selfishly thinking at age 34 that the cushion between me and God had been removed.

He was 61. I'll be 60 within three months.

I came within 20 seconds of drowning two years ago and feel sorry for my three adult kids, who haven't communicated with me since before they were of the age of majority. This pretty commonplace Western tragedy is directly the work of their mother, who overbore their wills as adolescents during the divorce for her own purposes. Mother knows best, and American courts lap it up. She's a true feminist's nightmare.

If I hadn't made my peace with my Dad during those five months when he was terminally ill, I would not be a man. Did I say I was sorry for my three sons who are letting their opportunity to know their Dad slip away?

Anyway, James Wilson Lamberton, Minnesotan, son, brother, husband, father, soldier, scholar, wise man, lawyer, great man, American hero.