Monday, May 16, 2016

To The Wheeler Class of ’77

My latest book, Surviving The Smoke Hole & Other High School Accomplishments, has just been released.  Needless to say, I hope all of you and several million more people buy it so I can retire. It is a personal book. At least, as personal as I will get. I hope you enjoy it and it brings you laughs.

A few things.

First of all, it is not a history of Wheeler. It is my history at Wheeler. I don’t mention the football team at all, even though they totally rocked back then. I was going to name the book Eat ‘Em Up, Beat ‘Em Up”, because that’s the only cheer I remember.  I don’t talk a lot about the pep rallies, even though they were all great and I always think about the cheerleaders’ high kicking every time I hear Chicago’s “Make Me Smile”.  I mention in passing Mr. Diffly’s obscene gesture to the members of the sophomore class only because it was so epic. Today, students at elite universities flip out when they see the word “Trump” written in chalk. I don’t remember many sophomores being upset at a teacher flipping them off because they lost a cheer contest.
In the forward, I explain there were a lot of people and events I did not mention, but it does not mean those people and events were not important. Like the children of Lake Woebegone, you are all above average.  So if you were not mentioned in the book, it is probably due to my faulty memory, which I discovered was pretty rotten for a history major writing a memoir. 

One thing you learn majoring in history is that memoirs are often used to “settle scores”. That’s where my faulty memory comes in handy because I’m sure there were some scores I needed to settle, but I just can’t remember any. 

(There’s a website called “Rate Your Teacher” and I found a comment about one of our teachers. Really.  It said: “Was not very nice in 1978”.   That’s what I call settling a score!)

Some of our classmates are named. Others were not by their own request. Some were not named due to common sense. There were those not named simply because I couldn't remember their names  Others have been given a pseudonym.  Lisa Randall, who proofread the book, said I should have a special “Key” for our class which identifies those people.   I decided against it because I either didn’t name the person or gave them a pseudonym to protect their innocence and/or my face. 

So don’t ask me to name anybody. Because I’m not telling.

There are some topics not mentioned, like race. Let's face it: just about everybody at Wheeler was white. 

I don’t mention the deaths in the class.  A girl named Sabrina was killed in a car wreck our sophomore year. A teacher committed suicide. Of course, I will always remember where I was when I heard about Steve Tew.   But I don't remember any counselors being sent to the school to help us deal with any grief.  I loved and appreciated Steve. He laughed at my jokes.

All of us remember Steve Leary.

I will always remember him in Spanish class in 7th grade, picking his nose just to irritate the teacher. The Spanish teacher, a Cuban exile, would always freak out because Steve was a hemophiliac and she thought a finger nail would cut him and he would bleed to death. It would be death by nose picking. They made only one Steve Leary. He passed away in the early ‘80’s.  

One event I should have discussed was the original painting of the Cat Paws on Holt Road in 1973. You would be surprised how much I have read about this event and all of it wrong. I know because my brother was there and he set a Manis Land Speed Record running back to our house when the cops came. 

I do want to acknowledge that for some of our fellow Wildcats, things were not hunky-dory.  One person told me, “To be perfectly honest, I have very few fond memories of high school”.  This individual said, “I hold no grudges and am FB (Facebook) friends with a few Wheeler peeps that were less than kind in those days but I doubt they even remember. Life is too short to hold grudges or assume the behavior of 16 year olds never changed.  Who knew what was going on in their lives?”   
One time, during my one brief shining moment (May, 1977), a person made it a point to walk up to me, as I was basking in the glow (of what I thought was) popularity and say, "You know, some people think you are really funny. I think you are sick."  But life is too short to hold grudges. Plus, as John Lennon once remarked, "Time wounds all heels".

We were a blessed generation of kids.   My dad, when he was 13, hitchhiked all the way from East Tennessee to Maryland to look for work.  When I was 13. I had to stand up and actually walk over to the television set to turn a knob to change channels. I think my son would have passed out at 13 if he had to turn a knob to change channels.

Aside from the channel changing bit, we had to made. We were smack dab in the middle of a youth culture. Everything we did was cool. Except for disco. That was stupid and I would like to apologize for it.

All in all, this book is a Valentine to all of my fellow Wildcats.  I love all of you. Some more than others.


Wednesday, May 4, 2016

The Grass Keeps Right on Growing

The grass keeps right on growing
The sun goes right on shining,
there are apples on the apple tree.
Ain't life a funny thing? Flowers bloom and birds still sing
and everything's the same except for me .
  ~ Gloria Shayne

You know, I thought I wouldn't have to write this blog post.

I thought, at least I hoped, the Republican Party-the political party of mature adults-the political party that was not given to whims or flights of fancy, would send Donald J. Trump back to reality television. It turns out, in reality, Trump will be the nominee of The Republican Party.

God, have they lost their ever lovin' minds?

I have been pretty clear as to why I was a founding member of #NeverTrump.

1. The man, who wants to be the Commander and Chief, denigrated John McCain's service to this country as a Prisoner of War. The man who got four deferments for a medical condition of his foot and he can't remember which foot. Incidentally, McCain was the Republican standard bearer in 2008 and Trump will expect McCain to fall in line. Not likely.

2. The man, in a public speech after Mitt Romney's speech blasting him said, "He was begging for my endorsement. I could have said, 'Mitt, drop to your knees.' He would have dropped to his knees." I don't have to translate this for you. Trump is tacky and vulgar. Apparently, money cannot buy you class.

3. Speaking of Romney, it is said Romney spoke Conservatism as a second language. Trump speaks conservatism as if he's carrying around a Berlitz Language Book and saying words loud as he possibly can like he's an ugly American tourist in Paris.  Trump is not a conservative in manner, thought, or deed.  He's gaudy, ostentatious, and I would be shocked if he ever heard of Edmund Burke.

4. My nickname for Trump: Dumb Donald. Look, he was unfamiliar with The Nuclear Triad. That's like a builder not knowing about concrete. He doesn't know or care that The Smoot-Hawley Tariff exacerbated The Great Depression and yet he argues for high tariffs if other countries doesn't give us "good deals". He doesn't know or care that the phrase "America First" carries baggage because of The America First Committee which tried to keep the US out of World War II and was full of German Sympathizers.

5. He has a penchant of accepting, apparently at face value, any stupid conspiracy theory that comes down the pike. Four years ago, he was going to "prove" Obama was born in Kenya (Obama wasn't and Trump didn't)  Now, he's peddling that Ted Cruz's dad was somehow involved in The Kennedy Assassination. If the race had gone any further, I'm sure Trump would have figured out some way of tying Cruz with the Manson Family or O.J. Simpson.

Those are just five reasons, and I could come up with more if you give me another second, of why I don't think Trump is fit to be President.

Look, I know everybody on my side of the river is "mad" at "career politicians".  I know Ted Cruz is a goofy looking guy-the kind that would look at you like you really shouldn't have that beer because God doesn't want you to drink. But really, Trump?

I have no idea what I'm going to do in November. If Trump somehow transforms himself from this ugly duckling of a candidate into a beautiful swan of a possible President, maybe I could hold my nose and vote for him. Maybe if he has a good running mate.  But it is going to take an industrial size clothes pin.

I could vote for a Third Party, although that 's kind of like going ahead and voting for Hillary. Just thinking about it makes my head hurt.

By the way, don't start the brow beating that "this is the most important election of our lifetime" and I "must" vote for Trump.

Inez (my mom) always stressed to me to vote for the man and not the party. The problem is both candidates are deeply flawed, to say the least.

But the grass will keep on growing no matter who wins and the sun will keep right on shining. Just the thought of having to choose between these two amoral snakes makes me shudder and it is really disappointing that we can't do better.

I will say this: if Hillary wins, y'all are going to get an "I told you so".

 It will be huge.