Friday, November 22, 2013

Where were you?

Nov. 22. 1963. Sitting in a 5th grade class at Harrell Budd Elementary, in Oak Cliff, an area of Dallas, Texas.

I can’t recall the class but it was half-empty. So many parents had taken their kids out of school to go watch the Presidential motorcade move through Dallas.

The oddness of it was the principal coming on over the loudspeaker, preceded by, what I think were the GEC tones – same as used by NBC (General Electric Co., get it?) This normally happened only first thing in the morning as we said the pledge and usually had a prayer (God forbid!)

So his breaking in, in the middle of the day, for an announcement, was unusual.

I can’t recall his exact words but it went like probably hundreds or thousands of similar announcement made all over the country that day; “President Kennedy has been shot.” I should remember whether he said he had already died, but I don’t.

I felt bad, almost guilty in some odd way. It would be poignant to say I was in shock and we stopped everything and went home early. But that didn’t happen. As 5th graders I don’t think we could grasp the significance of the turn-of-events and how this would change our fair city and our country in a forever-sort-of-way.

The whole scenario was brought much closer to home when Dallas Police Officer J.D. Tippit was shot and killed by Lee Harvey Oswald in an area maybe 2 miles from my house. The movie theater, the Texas it was called, was also nearby, on a busy street called Jefferson Blvd. I can’t count how many times I saw a movie there during my childhood. Odd to think this is where police found and arrested Oswald.

My final memory is just days later when my dad and I watched as Jack Ruby almost calmly walked up to Oswald in the Dallas jail facility and shot him. I think we watched this as it happened but my memory of live-TV possibilities in that era is faulty. It may have been several hours later on hastily processed film, which is how news was shot in those days.

I do recall heading outside on that Sunday afternoon to play with the neighbor kids. I35E, the massive north-south interstate running through Dallas almost ran through my backyard. Then, under construction, it was piles of dirt and deep ditches that provided an awesome place for little boys to throw dirt clods at one another until somebody got hit in the head and went home crying.

I think a lot of people went home crying that week.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Thanks For Your Service

“Two million Americans were sent to fight in Iraq and Afghanistan. … Studies show that 20-30% have come home with PTSD or TBI (traumatic brain injury). … Every war has its after-war, and so it is with the wars of Iraq and Afghanistan, which have created some 500,000 mentally wounded American veterans.”

This, from Thank You For Your Service by David Finkel, which is already ripping my guts out and I’m only on page 11. I read lots of non-fiction and I start and then stop plenty because they don’t draw me in. Like I said, page 11 but I have to go back to work tonight and sleep sometime so …

When I heard the NPR story on this book, I knew I had to read it and it arrived today.  I’ve always felt we owe the kids who went over to fight after 9/11, plenty. I imagine after I finish this I will realize we owe them more than we can ever hope to repay.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

New music

On the way to work I listened to a few cuts of Diving Board – Elton John’s latest. Not sure why but I was looking forward to this. Still looking but not sure for what.

He still has good vocal and piano chops. But I guess he’ll always been somewhat frozen in time for me back in the Tumbleweed Connection days. Going to be hard to live up to that high standard for me. I kept waiting for Josh Groban to join him on stage (oh, this is a CD) – soaring ballads just beg for someone like Groban. Maybe EJ has been doing this for awhile and I just haven’t noticed. So far about 6 cuts in and nothing is happy. All sort of melancholy.

I went to see him back in the early 70s (he was still wearing normal clothes and glasses) at the Music Hall at the State Fairgrounds in Dallas. I was pretty close to the stage and it was a good concert.

Disc #2  - whilst munching lunch, is Bakersfield; the Vince Gill/Paul Franklin tribute to Buck Owens and Merle Haggard – parents of the Bakersfield country sound (certainly NOT to be confused with whatever identity crisis the Nashville sound has been having for more than a few years.)

I’m sure this style of country is an acquired taste. Not everybody’s going to like the tiny whiny-ness of some songs, the pedal steel and high lonesome sounds. But I can imagine this one in the 8-track while cruising down some long ole straight highway out west at about 75 or so. Thinking maybe Wyoming.

See ya.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013


Got home last night to find Patti watching Hannity. I usually don’t and after a few minutes I remembered why. It has NOTHING to do with his opinions but rather his style.

The first segment had three guests. I totally get that being a liberal on his show is not going to be pleasant and am frankly surprised why some folks even bother to accept (I guess the desire for a few minutes of exposure outweighs their dislike of pain!). I expect he will cut them off, loudly disagree etc. But it still bothers me when he interrupts people and they can’t finish a sentence or a thought. (Note: one of my absolute pet peeves is being interrupted. Which is often because I talk too much and use too many words!)

But then he had kindred spirit Ann Coulter as his next guest. Now she’s bright and even reasonably pretty (if not perhaps anorexically thin) and so not always bad to watch but …

I lost count of how many times he interrupted her.  I’m sure she made some good points but in between the interruptions, I can’t tell you much of what she said.

I don’t understand why ANY of his guests tolerate his rudeness.

I have watched Hannity a few times before in my life and usually it devolves into a shouting match where as things get louder and louder, there is less and less meaning.  Passes the time but does NOT pass for quality information or entertainment.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Dye in my veins

OK, they call it contrast but it’s an iodine dye of some sort.

Been so looking forward to this for a couple of weeks, but in reality it went very well.

They stick a needle in your arm, make you get into one of those stylish gowns (they let me keep my socks on! What a picture!) which I could not tie in the back so I needed some help. Have you ever tried to tie your shoes behind your back?

Finally you lie down on a hard table with a miniscule pillow under your head. Then every few minutes they tell you not to breathe while this contraption moves around above you.

Before the procedure they give you papers to read that basically say all medical procedures carry some risk. In a worst-case scenario, you could have a severe reaction to the “contrast” and you might die. Die from the dye – that is almost funny! Except it’s not. The radiology tech said she wished they didn’t give those things to patients right before procedures because it scares people. Uh, I might not get up from this table if I just happen to be one of those people who reacts to iodine based dyes? But since I’ve never had one of them before, how could I possibly know?

Not much to do while laying on the table and waiting except to look at the clock on the wall or the Cyclops-like thing hanging over me.

Mick Jagger sang it: “What a drag it is getting old …”

Songs always come to mind when I’m just thinking and Rodney Crowell’s lyrics to “I’m a mess” also popped into my head:
When I woke up, they'd strapped me in an MRI. (it was a scan)
Black dye in my veins, head Velcroed down (die was colorless - no Velcro)
Foam happy slippers and a blue paper grown (no slippers and not paper)
The banging went on for an hour or more. (clanking maybe)
Then they slipped me out like a boat onto shore. (scan plates were moved)