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There Are Still No Words

9 Nov

But a new set of pictures continues to tell the story of a joyous life and keeps Jeff’s memory burning bright…

is a little nervous that the rethugs are gonna rig the polls again, but otherwise is looking forward to an Obama landslide. Nov. 4 can’t come soon enough.

“The reality is that we don’t forget, move on, and have closure, but rather we honor, we remember, and incorporate our deceased children and siblings into our lives in a new way. In fact, keeping memories of your loved one alive in your mind and heart is an important part of your healing journey.” ~ Harriet Schiff, author of The Bereaved Parent

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The Not So Amazin’ New York Metropolitans

4 Dec

The Mets use to have a saying - "we can't lose if it is raining."

As Kleinsaucer readers are probably aware, Jeff was an avid sports fan, and a gifted writer. He had a blog, Talkin’ Sports, where he would write his thoughts about trends in sports, most memorably about his disdain for David Stern, NBA’s Commisioner. He also was a sports writer for Middlebury’s newspaper. I always admired his passion for sports, and how he translated this into flawless prose. (It’s not hard to believe this given how well Rich writes. As AB says, “the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.”)

So, out of respect for Jeff, I thought I’d chime in on the New York Metropolitans.  As many of you will probably soon find out or already know, Jose Reyes, a homegrown All-Star Shortstop, signed with the Marlins for 6 years, 106 million.

To put this in context, Jose Reyes leaving the Mets is similar to LeBron James leaving the Cavs (you can read Jeff’s reaction to the Lebron signing here). The difference is that the Cavs had a spine, and gave their best shot to keep LeBron. The Mets, on the other hand, are spineless and heartless. I never thought I’d say it, but Jeff was right, I should have been a Yankees fan.

Fans of this “franchise” know how hard it is to root for this team:

Late Season Collapses

The Mets had historic late season collapses in 2007 and 2008.

Horrendous Signings

Bonilla signed a 5 year, $29 million contract in 1992 with the Mets. His production didn't measure up to the contract, and Mets fans consider it one of the worst signings in franchise history.

Egregious Errors

Luis Castillo dropped an easy pop up on June 13, 2009 in a Subway Series game with the Yankees, costing the Mets the game.

Questionable Management

The Willie Randolph hiring for the 2005 season didn't end so well after several disappointing seasons.

And, while it has been tough, we could still wake up in the morning and look ourselves in the eye. While we did not have luck, we always had heart.

An unofficial Mets motto is "Ya Gotta Believe." After tonight, I don't believe Mets' Ownership could dare allow Reyes to leave.

What transpired tonight is unforgivable. Since most of the readers are probably (and rightfully) Yankees fans, think of Derek Jeter at 28 going to the Blue Jays or Orioles (I don’t say the Red Sox, because the Marlins are like the Mets’ Blue Jays) for slightly above market value (I’d say somewhere in the ballpark of 20-21 million a year). How would you feel? Reyes left not because of an outrageous contract demand, but because ownership’s unwillingness to spend any money. If Reyes signed a 6 year, 120 million dollar contract, I may be more forgiving. But he didn’t. The Mets will pay 15 million a year for Jason Bay, but not 17.5 million a year for Jose Reyes?!? Are you kidding me?!?

As Jeff would say, being a sports fan is not as mundane as it sounds. With an allegiance comes passion, heart and commitment. I’m through. What Wilpon is doing to this franchise is criminal. And, to take a card from Jeff’s playbook, Bud Selig, MLB’s Commissioner, should stop helping Wilpon vis-à-vis loans and other financial support. If he knows what is best, he will quietly pressure the Wilpons to sell the Mets, and restore dignity to this New York Franchise. I will not support this circus as long as the Wilpons continue to own this team.

On a larger note, Jeff taught me the value of passion. It’s important to be passionate about the things you care about. I am not saying it should rise to the level of hubris or arrogance, but passion is what gives color to the world. It’s a shame that I will not wake up tomorrow morning to read Jeff’s take on this sports travesty. I write this post in his honor.

Lonnie

There Are No Words

9 Nov

So let the pictures speak of a beautiful life…

God is Great, Beer is Good, and People Are Crazy

10 Oct

It has been a little while since I posted on Kleinsaucer. I thought I’d re enter the frey with a story bringing out Jeff’s unique and feisty character.

For those who knew of Jeff, he had quite the progressive sentiment. He abhorred what he perceived as “knee-jerk reactionaries.” More specifically, he was not fond of the southern religious conservative sect. Through his studies at Middlebury, Jeff developed a further love for politics and history. As he took more classes and read more stories, his comments became more poignant and zingy. I remember passionate conversations with Jeff about the direction of this nation during the Bush years. He sometimes made fun of figures in the Bush administration; who couldn’t!

As probably referenced in prior posts, Jeff, along with Jack, Ryan and myself, went on a roadtrip to Key West during the summer of 2009. Road trips invariably include a sizeable amount of music listening. Out of the group on this trip, lets just say my musical preferences differed. I pushed for Alt –Country, Indie, Rock and Classic Rock. The others, to put it nicely, were more mainstream. Music turned into a battle between the rest of the gang and myself; a battle I often lost. As we passed North Carolina, during my allotted time, I choose to listen to southern country stations.

And then came on a track, entitled “God is Great, Beer is Good, and People are Crazy,” by Billy Currington. This song struck a particular cord with Jeff. To him, it epitomized all that he loathed about southern religious zealots and politics. Yet, by the same token, he appreciated its simple hearted nature – Jeff was fond of drinking and hanging out with his friends. I guess he liked the song in a mocking way, but it proved to be more of a conversation starter than I first envisioned.

Interestingly, one of Jeff’s last voicemails he left for me concerned southern culture and politics. I think it was from when he was at Duke with Ryan and his friends. The message concerned a conversation with a southern girl at UNC in Chapel Hill, NC. For some reason, he choose to talk about politics with a conservative girl at a bar. What balls! It didn’t pan out, but it led to a ten-minute classic Jeff rant on politics and history, all in a southern accent. At the end, he said “God is Great, Beer is Good, and People are Crazy.”

This post is less about forwarding a political ideology, but more about Jeff’s unique and lively personality. As I listened to a country radio station on Pandora today, this song came on, reminding me of my experience with Jeff. I think the take away is that while one should be passionate, it is also necessary to take things with a grain of salt. I certainly miss Jeff for this, and hope to bring this aspect of Jeff’s personality forward with me.

Lonnie

My Good Bye Letter to The One and Only Klein: Good Bye Bro

8 Aug

Dear Klein,

Broski, how’s life up there? It has been a while since your unexpected passing. I’ve been trying to finish up this letter for awhile, but I’ve been putting it off. Guess I didn’t want to believe it was true, especially since you seemed to be in such good spirits the last time we hung out. I wanted to write you this letter and I know you can read it from heaven. Just know that I miss you my man; you were like a brother to me.

I couldn’t help but be in total shock and denial when R-Dubs called me and broke the news to me. At first I thought it was just a harsh joke, but when he kept telling me it wasn’t I began to realize the truth. My range of emotions has shifted continuously over the last few months from anger to resentment to sadness to acceptance. I was angry because I couldn’t comprehend why you would do something like this. It did not make sense to me why someone with so much to live for would take their life so quickly. People kept telling me it was because of the medication, but a lot of people take medication and don’t commit suicide. I was resentful because you took yourself from the people who loved you. You had so many people who loved and adored you. How could you tear yourself from them and me like that? In many ways you were the brother I never had. And then there was the sadness, from just knowing you weren’t around anymore, and wouldn’t be here to hang out.

Sometimes I regret not being around more recently to hang out with you. You visited me at school many times and we had a lot of fun. And I made a few trips up to Middlebury to see you as well. A lot of my buddies from Maryland especially my fraternity friends express their condolences for your passing. They thought you were such a friendly, down to earth guy. In fact I’ve never heard anyone say anything to the contrary. You were probably the most approachable guy I have ever met and had the pleasure of knowing. We bonded the last two years of high school and grew quite close those years as well as the first few years of college. When I started out in college, I grew quite homesick often and it was always nice to talk to you Klein on the phone and see you when I came home. And I came home quite often and each time we would hang out and catch up. As I grew more comfortable at school, and eventually joined a fraternity and made new friends I didn’t come home as often. The last few years we have slowly grown apart. My life was in Maryland, while you were growing closer to some people back home and that was alright. I remember one of the last times we truly hung out, you came to Maryland to visit me for a weekend. We had an absolute blast. We had a beer b q in my backyard, hit up every college bar in my town (4) before three in the afternoon, took a nap, and did it all over again at night.

We had so many good times when we hung out. It wasn’t just the numerous road trips we took together down to random places, but the camaraderie we shared. The moments I will always remember and cherish between us, weren’t any of the times we went on a road trip to a place far away (Montauk, Atlantic City, Turningstone), but simply the times we ventured into White Plains. We went to White Plains to go bar hopping, but for most of the time we were down there we just sat in a secluded park, drinking 40s and talking about life. No doubt we were bros and talked about girls, sports, etc, but in those moments in that park we truly opened up to each other. We both discussed how much pressure we felt growing up in Chappaqua, and how uncertain our futures were. We both had a lot to talk about when it pertained to these topics. You talked about how you had this job at a law firm, but you didn’t really like it and you hated the long hours. I talked about my uncertainty after college and we both talked about how we wanted to do a job that we actually enjoyed going to. We discussed how what we wanted from life was pretty simple: a nice cute wife to come home to, a nice house with a white picket fence, a few kids and the American Dream. We both had such high expectations for our lives after college and our fantasies were a lot prettier than the reality sometimes. We both expressed how much it would suck to have a desk job that we hated and that we wanted to work, but that we both didn’t want work to interfere with what was truly important. And that was our real lives, our families eventually, and living life to the fullest and having a blast.

Guys usually don’t talk about deep stuff, but in those moments sitting side by side in the park in White Plains, we let go of all of our worries and struggles. I always enjoyed those moments in the park with you bro, and I hope you know how much they meant to me. Sipping on 40s we let go of all the stresses and pressure from real life for those few hours and just talked about life.

The moments I also won’t forget include our times playing in beer pong tournaments together (team name- the Asian and the Geek- was supposed to be the Asian and the Greek but the guy misheard and you complained the whole tournament haha), obviously the road trips, visiting each other at school, playing ball at Club Fit, playing racquetball (where I kicked your ass haha), going to Friendlys and McDonalds when there was nothing else to do, our endless discussions about life over drinks, watching the Yankees and Giants together, playing poker, etc.

I want to thank you Klein. You’ve made me see how valuable life truly is and how much it should be cherished. Every minute, every moment should be lived to the fullest. I knew you pretty well and if you were here you’d probably tell me: Chang, find a job that you enjoy going to. Find a girl who doesn’t stress you out and isn’t too whiny (we both hate girls who nag a lot) and just be happy. Just to give you an update on myself since the last time we hung out, I finally started working. I’ve actually been working a lot. Currently I’m working as a financial analyst, but I’ve been working hard and trying to move up to Senior Financial Analyst. Haha you couldn’t see me working at a desk job M-F 830-530 could you? Yeah I’m slaving away, but I figure it’ll pay off eventually. I got to pay my dues first. This office work isn’t really for me, but it’s a job and I need the money and experience at the moment. I’m also going to night school. Hope your proud of me bro.

I’ll miss you my brother. At first, I kind of hated you for what you did. I thought you were the most selfish bastard in the world for taking yourself away from so many people that loved you. But then I realized maybe I’m the selfish one for wanting you around when you were hurting and never seeing it. I’ll always regret not being there for you at the end man. Instead of being wrapped up in my own world, I should of reached out to you, like a true bro would of. Hope you forgive me Kleinsauce. I hope the girls up in heaven are gorgeous, the beer is free flowing and you are finally happy and content with life. I hope you have no worries or struggles, no fears or desires up there. And if you can put in a good word to the Big Guy for me huh? I need as much help as possible coming up there, but hopefully we’ll be reunited one day and we’ll have some deep discussions over some 40s again.

Your bro always,

Chang Yu

Family meant a lot to Jeff… even other peoples.

25 Jun

It has taken me way to long to figure out what to write about Jeff. It is something I have wanted to do for a long time, but haven’t been able to think of what to say. This past week Jeff has been on my mind a lot. Maybe because my brother was telling me how him and his buddies went through the Mc Donalds drive through without a car (something I watched Jeff and his buddies do once) or maybe it was because my cousin in India and I skyped recently. But, this morning I woke up and I knew exactly the story about Jeff I wanted to tell.

My family history isn’t important to talking about Jeff, but one major fact is. I am one of 13 grand children, to some of you that is a lot, and to some of you that is small. But to me it’s something I have always been proud of. My Uncle (my mother’s brother) has 5 children, 4 girls and one boy. We are all give or take a year apart in age, Lizzy his eldest daughter, being the first grand child, me the second and so on and so on. Up until my siblings who are now 18 (yes, twins). And this is where my Jeff story begins. My Uncle decided when I was about 8 to disconnect himself from the family, and refused to speak to anyone. With that said it seperate me and my cousins for over 10 years. This was before email and way before facebook.

About 10 years later, at the HGHS class of 2005 prom, I attended with my date. At this point most of their class knew where in fact they were going to college and I was watching the gang get together for pictures. As I sat in the kitchen of the pre prom house by myself, Jeff came up behind me and began a conversation with me. I really only knew about five people at this pre prom, as I was a part of the 2006 class and they were all busy taking pictures. It had been a few months since I had last seen Jeff and so our conversation began. I asked him where he was going to college and he told me he was going to Middleberry, my face light up as only about a month ago my Aunt (my mother’s sister) had found out through some grapevine that Lizzy was going to Middleberry. That was the only thing at the time I knew about Lizzy, that she also was going to be apart of the Middleberry class of 2009.

I looked at Jeff and I said “no way” he laughed and said “Yes, I am going to Middleberry” I said “Can you do me the biggest favor ever???” He looked at me slightly confused, and I said “Can you find me my cousin Lizzy.” And with that great big Jeff smile, the one every one of you talk about, and the one I will remember for the rest of my life he said “Of course, is she Lizzy Freedman?” and I said “No, and it will be slightly difficult, I know that Middleberry is a big school…. but her name is Lizzy Pogust and you will know her because she is very short. But we look absolutly nothing a like, in fact she is half of chinese decent and looks more like her mother then her father from what I remember” and I then went on to explain to Jeff why I had no idea where Lizzy was. I honestly thought this was the end of it, and it would soon be forgotten.

Sure enough right after Halloween that October, I get an email going “HELLO FROM MIDDLEBERRY” the From column is what shocked me…. the email was from Lizzy. The email then went on to explain that Lizzy had gone to a Halloween party and met a guy from Chappaqua (Jeff) as soon as she told him her name he immediatly put the connection together and went “You have to call your cousin Hannah” Lizzy, just as shocked as I was immeditely asked for my contact email and wrote me the next day. I never got to thank Jeff for this, and I hope he knows how trully greatful Lizzy and I were, as to this day (even with her living in India) we still talk atleast once a week.

After about a gazillion catch up emails later, we decided we HAD to get together. And so Lizzy and Jeff arranged for her to drive down to Chappauqua with him. That first Middleberry break, Lizzy got to Jeff’s house at some late hour where I met them. So for the first time in over 10 years, we were reunited in Jeffs garage. Thanks Jeff for bringing us back together.

I know Lizzy and Steve (her now husband) who was also good friends with Jeff remained friends with him through there years at Middleberry, I also know that eventually through social media and technology I probably would have had a chance to find Lizzy, but forever, It will always be Jeff who brought us back together, and I can never thank him enough.

Hannah

Kleinsaucer Reappears In A Dream

9 May

Today is an eerie day. Today marks exactly 6 months since the passing of one of the greatest guys I’ve ever known, Jeffrey “Kleinsaucer” Klein, a man I have called a best friend for years, one that I will never stop calling my best friend. While today can and will be a day of mourning for many people, it should also be a day of celebration for Jeff’s life, a sentiment our friend Elon and countless others have expressed on this very blog. We should remember Jeff for the (pardon my French) fucking amazing guy he was for 23 and a half years, and not for his troubling and unnecessary demise in his last few weeks of life and the final action he decided to take with a clouded and confused mind. The guy could light up a room with his laugh and his grin – whether you knew him for years or for minutes, you couldn’t help but be brought up by the guy.

Ever since his untimely death, I have desperately wanted to reconnect with him any way possible. I’ve spoken to him in my thoughts, I’ve muttered aloud towards the sky and stars, I’ve written to him on this blog, I’ve kept in touch with his family, I’ve kept him alive through conversations with close friends like Brooke, Julie, Elon, Anish, Blake, Ryan, Andres, Thao, Jack and countless others. But for the past six months, what I’ve truly yearned for was the chance to see him again in my dreams. I know he has appeared in dreams for his parents and some of his friends, but I haven’t had that pleasure yet. Not until last Wednesday night.

Last Wednesday I got into a very serious argument with one of my very closest friends. While going into the details of that isn’t necessary for this blog, what is important is that I was incredibly upset by the interaction. It was something that was bothering me deeply as I drifted off to sleep that night, something I just couldn’t block out.

Not surprisingly I had a nightmare. A nightmare that me and this friend would never make up again, a nightmare that the situation was increasingly getting worse. I woke up in a cold sweat, very bothered and uncomfortable. I was in pain.

I soon fell back asleep, and this is when Jeff came to me. I dreamt that I was lying in my bed as I was, and lo and behold, Jeffrey Klein walks in the door! I can’t express to you the feelings I was experiencing at the moment. Incredible HAPPINESS that I got to see my friend again, SHOCK that he could actually be here, SKEPTICISM that this couldn’t possibly be the real thing. But above all I didn’t care if this was real, he was here and I was going to enjoy this moment because something told me it would be fleeting.

Jeff appeared to me in great shape as usual, wearing a t-shirt and shorts, clean shaven, hair cut, and of course, SMILING. Smiling that Jeff Klein smile that you can’t help but mirror right back at him when you see it. I had a feeling deep down that this was a dream, so I knew I had to act fast before it was all over. I leapt up and just gave him the biggest bear hug you could imagine. A hug that I had been wanting to give him for 6 months, but was never able to. And to be honest, I FELT the hug. It was like he was really there.

All I could ask him before I woke up was, “are you okay, man?”

And he responded, “yeah, I’m okay.”

And then I woke up. It was over. The whole thing lasted for about 15 seconds but it felt like an eternity because I had been waiting so long for it. In a time when I was feeling very low, Jeff appeared to me to cheer me up, and reassure me that he was okay.

There are many things that Jeff could have meant by appearing to me. I told this to his dad, Rich, and he offered the idea that he was coming to me to tell me that he was doing well upstairs, that his spirit was living on and he was watching over me, all of us. I also believe he showed up to remind me that there are more important things than petty differences among friends. That what is genuinely important above all else is life.

I truly feel that Jeff was appearing to me when I needed him most, giving me perspective. He always had a way of doing that during his life, and I’m getting the feeling now that he will continue that in his afterlife.

I’ll tell you one thing, I am just so thankful for receiving that hug. And I will never forget it. Thanks for being there, buddy. It was worth the wait.

-AB