This Monday look forward to my blog's return with a major article on America and her history.
I have been tackling this for three weeks while I have been away. It is about the crossroads where our country finds itself today. About the impasse and the morass that has set in with our government and our leaders. It is about the disfuctionality of the political process.
It is 27 pages long, so you can come back to it several days if you'd like to read more. I started to release it in sections, but thought, no, one big article and you can work your way through it as you wish.
It will be live Monday.
Until then, have a safe and fun weekend and Hook 'em Horns.
Visit my new website at www.johncrawleybooks.com
Friday, August 10, 2012
Every now and then someone steps forward and rekindles my hope for the Human Race. Today it was a truck driver by the name of Terry Donald.
He was behind a pick-up that was carrying a load of what appeared to be household goods on the move. A bed, a mattress, springs, a color TV, a desk, a small dresser and several bags along with a sack of clothes, in what appeared to be a sheet from a twin bed. At the intersection where I was, the pick-up truck drove through and a mess of things bounced off and landed in the street. Terry’s truck was right behind and skidded to a stop. He hopped out and gathered the things together and raced after the pick up.
There were several people honking their horns at him and waving their fists. We were, after all trying to exit the Park Cities and those people are much too busy to stop and render assistance. Terry ignored them, packed the things up and drove on. He caught up with the woman two or three blocks away. She was in tears and he comforted her and returned all of her stuff.
Now I know all this happened because I watched it first hand, then caught up with the two in the parking lot of In and Out Burger. Her name was Melinda, and she was recently separated from an abusive husband – like that morning. She was trying to get to Oklahoma to her parent’s house where she said she would feel safe from his threats. She was so scared she didn’t dream of going back and getting the things that had fallen out of her truck. Terry and I helped her tie things down, I bought her a drink and she was on her way.
With tears in her eyes she thanked us again and drove off, heading north on U.S. 75. I hope she makes it and the beast of a husband never catches up with her.
Terry thanked me for helping him and I walked to my car, which was parked by his truck. He saw the carvings on my trunk and said, “I’m not a big Obama fan, but that is a really shitty message from some punk. Probably has the sense her old man had.” He nodded toward Melinda’s direction. I nodded back. We shook hands and he went his way and I went mine. And Melinda, hopefully goes her own way and finds peace.
Terry could have left those things lying in the middle of the frontage road and driven off. But he didn’t. He stopped and helped. He’s a good guy. They are still out there.
Today's blog will be the last for a few weeks. Taking some time off to work on a new book and a movie script. I'll see y'all after Labor Day.
Sure there is cheating at the London Olympics. There always has been as long as man has raced against man someone has cheated. Sure, there are athletes and coaches trying to get an extra edge, pushing the rules to their breaking point. That is the nature of the beast.
But by in large, these games have been very interesting in that some unknowns and some well-knowns have performed in remarkable style and grace. Countries who had never medaled before have their first. And some athletes who have more medals than most continents have scored again and again. But it has all been exciting.
Well almost all. My biggest complaint is with NBC. Since winning their billion dollar bid to be the TV source for North America, NBC has settled on a formula for the winter and summer games. Here it is. Gymnastics in the summer, figure skating in the winter. Everything else gets spot coverage.
Don’t take this the wrong way. I love both sports. A lot. But yesterday the American women beat Japan for the gold in soccer and all we got at prime time was about three minutes of highlights. It was one of the biggest matches in the history of the women’s sport. Three minutes of Bob Costas telling us what happened while promoting to stay tuned… more gymnastics were just a minutes away.
And when they do get to gymnastics, the director there almost always refuses to put up the scores, instead, focusing on the little girls who don’t win crying and burying their heads in their coaches’ arms.
NBC gets a C- in my book for their coverage. I realize that with social media and 24-hour news coverage, which includes sports, and the fact that London is six or seven hours ahead of us in time zones, it is hard to keep the surprise that Michael Phelps has won yet another medal. Okay, I get that. But show me the sports. And in the big moments of the day give me more than three minute highlights. Cut into gymnastics some and show us some other sports. Rowing, Archery, biking, hand-to-hand combat.
Yes I know I can tune into other channels throughout the day to watch the other activities in their complete form. But who has time in the day to do that? And what if your cable package doesn’t include NBC Rowing Network? In the old days with ABC, the Olympics were an event of multiple sports, multiple heroes and multiple stories going on all at once. Today the Olympics are Gymnastics and some other stories happening at the same time. And the human interest stories were just that human. With NBC I am getting food network spots for great places to eat in London and more and more coverage of the royal family than I ever wanted.
London has put on some great games. Plural – games. And the gymnastics has been swell, too. But other athletes deserve equal time.
Both books now available in hard copy. www.luu.com
Wednesday, August 8, 2012
It has to stop somewhere.
a short story
Jimmy Madison never knew his father.
Jimmy grew up the only child of Amanda Madison who was the widow of Alex Madison of Lincoln, Texas. There were days that Jimmy wished his father’s death had been heroic and noble, or at least taken in a tragic accident like out on Interstate 20 as he drove his big rig back to small East Texas hamlet.
But Alex Madison died at his own hands. A gunshot to the head in the supply shed out behind their ranch-style home on the outskirts of town. He did the deed while Amanda was with Jimmy at the doctor’s office for a newborn check up. They didn’t find Alex for several days. The sheriff’s dog posse from Carthage was who found him. After that Amanda sold the house and together she and her infant son moved into the town. They lived right by the railroad and for as long as he can remember back in time, Jimmy was rattled to sleep by the passing trains hurrying through the Piney Woods toward Houston to the south.
Then one day, Amanda told Jimmy about his father. She told him of how he died and where it happened. She told him of the demons of booze and drugs that haunted him. They even drove by the old house to take a look and see the shed, which had grown in size under the supervision of the new owners. It now resembled a real barn instead of the small wooden structure where Alex’s life had come to an abrupt end. Amanda spared few details about Alex’s life and death that day. Jimmy was twelve and old enough to take in the information and process it. He did so quietly and thoughtfully.
Years passed. Jimmy graduated from Lincoln High, attended Panola County College in Carthage and then went on to Texas A&M University where he studied chemistry. Somewhere in the back of his head he thought he might want to be a doctor.
His grades were good – excellent to be fair. He was involved in all kinds of extra curricular activities. He had an impressive resume. His test scores for medical school were extremely high. He was right on track. Then came the rejection letters. First from UT Southwestern in Dallas. Then the University of Pennsylvania. Finally UCLA said thanks, but no thanks.
Jimmy was saddened at the rejections. And there were far more than those three. In all, he was placed on the waiting list of seven prominent schools of medicine, but no one wanted to take him that semester. No reason given. He figured there were others with perhaps better grades, but that would be hard to do. Maybe some – a few– scored better on the MCAT. Finally on a Thursday before the start of the next semester, he received a letter from the University of Arkansas School of Medicine in Little Rock. The letter suggested that Jimmy reapply the following term so that the school, which thought his grades and application were of the highest order, might have a better chance in the total mix of students entering the program. Due to federal regulations the school had to take a blend – a quota – based on population and income and Jimmy was just outside the algorithm established by the department of education. They wished him well and hoped he would reapply soon.
There was his answer. Only one school had been forthcoming enough to tell the truth. Jimmy was a Caucasian – white. He needed to be a minority to score a seat at one of the schools. Nothing against him, that just the way it was.
Jimmy returned to Lincoln, moved back in with his mother, got a job at a local food processing plant, working in their quality control lab, running chemical analysis of the canned output. Day-in and day-out his anger grew, until one day he went and bought a gun. Not just one gun, but three.
Lincoln’s schools were mostly black. That’s because during integration and busing in the sixties, a prominent white family, the Ellard-Dixons, built the state-of-the art Pines Christian Academy on the outskirts of Lincoln and most of the white students in town flocked to its pristine, new corridors and classrooms. Jimmy, being without the support of a father, and with the income of his working mother only, didn’t have the money for the steep tuition that the Pines required, so he attended the public schools.
Lincoln High was a good school. Jimmy’s own mother taught there. Biology and reading. While he was there, the high school won the state basketball championship, which tended to unite the town in ways he had never seen before. Jimmy himself won first place in the East Texas Science Fair held at Kilgore College and also one the state debate championship. As established, his grades were excellent and he finished well into the top ten percent of his class. In fact, only one black student made it into the top ten percent. The others, like Jimmy, were white, too poor to crack the elite ranks at Pines Christian.
Jimmy didn’t blame Lincoln High. He just knew that is where the black students would be that day. He waited. The school bell sounded ending the day on a warm fall afternoon and Jimmy Madison began to shoot students as they exited the buildings. He killed nine outright, two more died in Longview hospitals later in the day. When he ran out of ammunition, he calmly climbed into his car, drove to the outskirts of Lincoln to a ranch-style house and entered the shed that stood behind it. There he joined the father he had never known.
The deaths were so gruesome that the Lincoln city council, five whites and four black, voted unanimously to outlaw the sale of firearms and ammunition in the city limits. If you wanted a gun you had to drive to Carthage or Longview or Marshall. Even the NRA, second amendment rights advocates didn’t protest. Lincoln was a no-gun-for-sale town. It was a small step. But at least they did something about it.
Jimmy is buried next to his father in a cemetery west of the small town. There is nothing special about his grave or its marker, except someone in the dark of the night placed a silver, toy pistol on his grave. No one has ever removed it.
Monday, August 6, 2012
So we had a swimming pool full of friends, neighbors and neighbor’s kids the other day. Our hood is unique because it is a crossroads of professionals from around the word. Down the street is a German couple who work for a computer company. A block away is a West African couple sent here to train as missionaries at Dallas Seminary. We’ve got Columbian and Puerto Rican doctors, a Chillan doctor and a Peruvian college professor. And then we have a Finish housewife, although removed from Finland about two generations. But the point is we are diverse.
And it is fun.
As I stood in my kitchen I listened to the flow of languages going back and forth and smiled a bit. It was like sitting at the UN and listening. I must confess, my Spanish is rusty and they had a good laugh or two at my pronunciation of certain words. But we all had one thing in common. We loved barbecue. I mean adored it. Couldn’t get enough of it (mainly because I had not fixed enough.) They had barbecue in common and not soccer. The guy from Puerto Rico likes NCAA football better. Go figure.
Every now and then one would break away from the conversation to stick his or her head into the TV room and see if their country’s wrestlers or swimmers or fencers or whatever were on the Olympics. They had great pride in their homelands, but each had an unwavering pride in the USA, as well.
At the end of the day when good-byes were being said all around and new neighbors had developed into new friends, there was a camaraderie that felt very natural. We are, after all, a melting pot in America. Other than the Indian tribes that were here since the beginning, none of us are native to these shores. We all came from somewhere else. Even you white folks in East Texas came from some other shore.
It was quite refreshing to enjoy so many people from such different backgrounds and my only regret is that I ran out of barbecue. We will do this party again and again and it will be a blast to watch as our new neighbors assimilate into the culture of Dallas and the neighborhood in which we live.
But one thing is for sure. There will be differences and we will celebrate those differences – not shoot at them like the fools we watch on TV.
Both books now available in hard copy at lulu.com
Sunday, August 5, 2012
The other day I was in a grocery store and their intercom music service was playing Bob Dylan, the Rolling Stones, the Beatles and Jefferson Airplane.
We are officially over the hill when our music becomes the centerpiece for MUZAK.
But I found myself shopping with easy and having a good time and rocking out just a tad. It was great. I didn’t have to suffer through Frank Sinatra singing off-key (sorry if you think he’s great, I have never thought they recorded him on key. Kind of like Taylor Swift.)
I like big bands. Jazz. Country (more the western than the country) and I love bluegrass. But give me blues and rock anytime. And give me good solid rock and roll, not that big hair stuff that came out of the late 70’s and early 80’s. Give me Buddy Holly and the Everly Brothers . Give me Roy Orbison…give me the Traveling Wilburys. Give me Keith and Mick and the gang. I’ll take the Kinks or the Dave Clark Five or the Byrds. If I like the Byrds I gotta like me some Tom Petty. And I was wild about Creedence Clearwater Revival. I adored the Band. Was never big on the Beach Boys, but my gosh they had good harmonies, as did Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young. Plus I love the group that spawned them and so many, Buffalo Springfield.
That alone would make a pretty good MUZAK list in anybody’s grocery store. Throw in some Luther Allison, BB King, Steve Ray Vaughn and his Brother Jimmy, not to mention a little Cream along with Led Zeppelin and you’ve got yourself a pretty good line up. Oh yes, Mississippi Queen by Mountain could play every other song…fine by me. Super Session with Al Kooper and Mike Bloomfield was a huge album in my life. As was King Crimson.
That’ll have you humming in the aisles, while you buy the milk and bread for the gang back home. They don’t make rock and roll like this anymore. Just like they don’t make country and western like they used to. Too much formula. Too many boy bands. Too much plastic and glitter and not enough substance
But here’s the catch. The Classic Rock radio stations have forgotten, we listened to the entire albums. All they want to play is the veneer of top five hits. It gets boring. It gets trite. It gets old very fast. The music we listened to in the 60’s, 70’s and part of the 80’s had depth. The seventh cut was as good as the first three, in many cases. And we knew the words to all twelve songs on the album. (Although we probably couldn’t recite them today – too much smoke and loss of brain cells???)
Our music, like every generation’s music – was the best. I’m just sorry the record companies had to get involved. Like all big businesses, they ruined it. They gave us Dance Fever and Euro-electric groups. Sorry if you like Abba. Not my cup of Swedish tea.
I saw Joe Cocker the other night in concert. He’s gotta be pushing 75 if a day. And he’s still got it. His band kicked and he was right there with them.
Rock isn’t dead. It’s living in retirement homes in the Simi Valley. It’ll come back. Back to your favorite grocery store.
Thursday, August 2, 2012
I was going to write an article today about lowering the temperature of the madness surrounding the election. But not so. I was also going to poke a finger at President Obama and say let’s slow down on this under the table Syrian deal. It’s not our business. But no. Some nut just made this election really personal
I was going into the grocery store yesterday and was getting a bag out of the truck when I noticed someone had taken a key or a nail and scratched in giant letters OBAMA across the face of my trunk. Then they circled it and then put a giant X through it. All because I have an Obama/Biden 2012 sticker on my car.
You see this cowardly idiot thinks if I have free speech with my bumper sticker, he gets it too – in the paint of my car. That’s the kind of low-life mentality we are dealing with on the extremes in this election. Destroying personal property on a lark because they don’t like it that Negro is in the White House. It burns their little Texas-Tea Bagger brain cells out and they can’t think clearly – as if they ever could. When they say we want to take our country back, they mean away from the blacks in 16000 Pennsylvania Ave. (For those of you going to public schools that is the address of the White House.)
Sure, I’ll get my trunk re-painted, just in time for the lease to be up. But I can tell you, it has solidified my feelings of the Right. Hate-filled, small-minded people who are always looking backwards instead of forward, who would rather scratch their thoughts in someone’s private property than use logic and argue their points in a coherent civilized manner.
But hey, it’s more fun being an incoherent baboon. Just ask their leader, Rush. That is where this vile contempt for others comes from. From the large mouth himself. Who calls the President of the United States, Un-American, makes fun of the First Lady for trying to help our kids eat a more healthy diet and is glib about students shooting other students, and for that matter weirdoes shooting Congresswomen in Arizona. Actually jokes about it on air.
No, the guy that scratched his political mantra into my car was just acting out what Limbaugh dishes out. Daily hatred.
God bless America. And save us from these fools.
The Economist recently wrote: (Spellings have been changed to reflect US English)
But the Republicans’ main problem is taxes. Successful deficit-reduction plans require at least some of the gap—perhaps around a quarter—to be closed by new revenue. If the Republicans got rid of loopholes, they could cut all the main tax rates and still raise more money.
This is an idea that Mitt Romney stood for. Before. Before he got Kock money. Before he got Rove money. Before he got billions from his fellow rich friends. And before the Tea Part showed up to wag the tail of the dog.
Prediction: Mitt will win the general election something like 53-47. It may be worse than that. He is going to kill Obamacare and replace it with something very, very similar if not exactly the same under a new name. He will structure it differently. He will force the Tea party to go along with him. the new insurance plan will be under the guise of tax relief.
Mitt will slash taxes. Rather a Tea Party congress will and Mitt will sign the legislation. And Mitt will then spend billions on revamping the military – money we do not have. Mitt must go along with it or …well let a Tea party strategist says it…
"If we can elect a really conservative House and Senate that will force Romney to go along with our bold conservative agenda," Shell said. "He's going to have to really, really go to the right. He'll be working with guys in the House and Senate. He won't be able to get away with too many middle of the road policies, especially on things like the deficit." said Andrea Shell, a spokeswoman for Tea Party group Freedom Works.
Mitt will probably get us entangled in yet another mid east conflict, if President Obama doesn’t beat him to it. More on that tomorrow.
And we will go back into a deep recession. Key word – deep. Why? See the Economist article above. And use your head.
The Tea Party is making big headlines right now for their crusade, but they are dangerously single-minded in their ranting and their agenda. There are many more chords to pull on to control the economy than just there simplistic view.
And, unfortunately, Mitt is not strong enough to stand up to them. He has already shown that by his flip flopping on almost every major point from his early campaign.
Save this blog and see how close I am.