It is always possible that one day I might have a Saul on the Road to Damascus moment, and feel sorry for the Skyhook incident . . . but probably not in this century.
This piece originally ran in the Arkansas Free Press (originally Little Rock Free Press) in 2007.
The Night of the Skyhook and other Adventures: Finding ways not to go insane in the modern American workplace
How can you tell that God is a Union Man? You have to belong to the Union to get into the Shop.
I tell this joke to people every year around Labor Day. And every year I try to write the traditional “working class” sort of articles. This year I thought I’d try something different to celebrate the upcoming Labor Day. I thought I might show you how much fun we had - or didn’t, as the case may be.
Though union membership is on the decline in this country, many workers still find ways to band together to thwart bad management. In 1988, I learned that lesson firsthand.
I was working at Mexican Original, in Fayetteville, and had just transferred into the warehouse. One of my jobs on the night shift was to take the metal trash dumpster out to the compacter each night.
I had just gotten my forklift “license” that week, and I was eager to leap aboard the beast. Now, in 1988, on battery powered forklifts, all we had to do was watch a film, and take a test - and the answers were supplied to us.
No actual time in the driver’s seat.
This would prove to be a distinct disadvantage.
I climbed aboard my faithful steed, and scooped the dumpster up on my forks - so far, so good. Driving forward, I raised the dumpster up, and headed out of the warehouse, and collided right with the corner of the wall by the office.
Several large bricks - the size of cinder blocks - came out of the wall. I slumped in the seat, all the blood draining from my body.
What was I going to do now? Depending upon his mood, my supervisor could shake his head and tell me to be more careful, write me up, or even suspend me.
I was up the proverbial creek, and I had just run over my paddle. Luck was on my side, though, in a most unexpected way.
The maintenance crew - which I got along well with - put their heads together, and thought up a plan that was breathtaking in its audacity.
As luck would have it, the storage area for small motors was along the path I traveled with the forklift on my route to disaster. Getting down on their hands and knees, the maintenance crew proceeded to smear machine oil on the floor.
Following that, the forklift was driven through the oil several times. When my supervisor arrived the next morning, the maintenance lead “explained” that they had been working on motors all night, and that they hadn’t cleaned up after themselves.
The forklift had lost traction in all the grease on the ground. It was entirely their fault, it was explained. I don’t think my supervisor ever truly believed the story, but what was he going to do?
Call them all liars?
It was one of the single most decent things I’ve ever experienced in a factory setting.
Though I try to be a nice guy most of the time, when I am very bored my sense of humor can get a little off. The Great Skyhook Caper was the result of such extreme boredom.
One night - again at Mexican Original - I was working in the warehouse, and a fellow from a temporary agency was assigned to help me. His idea of “helping” seemed to consist of ducking out for a cigarette every time I actually needed him.
Finally, after a few hours of playing Hide and Seek, he sauntered into the warehouse after another break.
“I’m going on break,” I told him. At the office door, I paused and looked back at him, very intently. “Don’t let anyone check out the Skyhook. It hasn’t been repaired yet.”
I had no idea what a Skyhook would look like, if such a thing were to actually exist. It just sounded good.
“Okay,” he said, already bored.
I went to the loading office to relax. After pouring myself a cup of coffee, I turned to the night shift lead, “Hey,” I said, “call the warehouse and tell the guy you need the Skyhook.”
“What the hell is a Skyhook?”
“Beats me,” I said.
He laughed and picked up his phone. After introducing himself, he told the poor fellow on the other end of the line that he needed the “Skyhook.”
His voice rose. “What do you mean, you can’t give it out? I need it! Page Richard and get me the damn thing.” He slammed the phone down.
Thirty seconds later I heard my name over the plant intercom system. I called the warehouse and asked what was up. The dock needs the Skyhook, he told me.
I put an irritated tone into my voice. “No, they don’t. They haven’t even been trained on it. Under no circumstances are you to give the Skyhook out to anybody. I’ll be back in a while. I’ve got some crap to take care of in the front offices.”
I poured myself another cup of coffee.
After another few minutes, the dock lead reached for the phone again. “What about the Skyhook?”
I don’t know what was said, but what happened next I will always remember. Gripping the phone, the lead yelled into the receiver, “Goddamn it, I’ve got a man down back here! I need that Skyhook!”
He slammed the phone down.
A man down? I wish I had thought of that one.
Now came a voice over the intercom that I could almost swear was tinged with panic. Calling the warehouse, I calmed him down, and said I would go out to the dock and see what the problem was.
When I returned to the warehouse, he ran over. “Was anybody hurt?”
“No, “ I said. “They always blow things out of proportion back there.”
I went on a Nature Hike a few weeks ago. Not the sort with flowering shade trees, and lovely plants - though there were lots of weeds growing about. That Sunday I took a walk around outside the old Mexican Original Plant on Huntsville Road, where I spent 13 wonderful years.
13 years! What the hell was I thinking?
The truth is, most people I know who worked at M.O. only saw it as a sort of pit stop until something else came along. But then you get used to paying bills on time, and having health insurance, and working 40+ hours a week can sap the energy you thought you'd have looking for another job. Before you know it, you've spent 13 years working in a building that should have been torn down years before you began working there.
Not all the memories are bad. I remember hot nights in the early 1980s, when plant manager Bill Parker would join some of us in the parking lot for a few beers after work.
I remember one of my co-workers in the warehouse bringing his bow and arrows to work, and we had archery practice in the warehouse, firing arrows into sacks of flour. Sorry, Taco Bell.
We took ‘em out again when we were done.
Walking around the outside of the building - where I haven't been since I quit in 1993 - was like walking around a ghost town. The rusting corn towers, the empty truck bays, the stacks of wooden pallets left behind to rot. This was the flagship plant, the "original" Mexican Original. Now it just sits there, with all of its ghosts.
In the early 1990s, Tyson (which had taken over M.O.) stopped the policy of promoting from within, and decreed that supervisors must have college degrees. This was very bad for morale - I hope they have reversed themselves since then.
By this point I was working in the warehouse parts cage, handing out parts - bearings, sockets, etc. - to folks. A batch of bright young supervisor trainees had just come in, looking for all the world like Boy and Girl Scouts in their neat new uniforms. A grim joke was told behind their backs:
"Grocery sackers one week, Tyson supervisors the next."
As I stood at the parts window, talking/gossiping with maintenance folks, a young supervisor pushed himself to the window, and demanded the instructions to the tape gun.
The tape gun is just a larger version of the small tape dispensers you buy at the grocery store.
:"What?" I asked, unable to believe my ears. He might as well have asked for instructions on buttoning a shirt.
"I need the instruction manual for the tape gun," he said impatiently. Obviously he was dealing with yet another stupid hourly employee.
The maintenance guys backed away, so he wouldn't see them smirking.
"Well," I said. "We don't have any on hand right now. But I'll call the manufacturer and see if they'll fax us a copy. In the meantime," and I smiled brightly, "I have some crayons in the office. I'll be glad to draw you some instructions."
He turned on his heel and left.
And now it's all just empty. That just seems so strange to me. All that life - the people, the machines, the forklifts, the gossip, the relationships - is all gone. I'm not trying to make Mexican Original seem more romantic than it really was; in a lot of ways, it really sucked. But you don't spend 13 years somewhere without feeling a little odd when you realize that Life has packed up and gone away, leaving just this old husk behind.
I've never been sorry I left Mexican Original. And the truth is, I've been able to write a few articles over the years about my experiences there. So in a sense, I'm still drawing a paycheck. Hey, I didn't sign a non-disclosure form . . .
Before Mexican Original, I worked at the Campbell Soup plant in Fayetteville in the 1970s, where I served as union steward for a time.
Whatever I had imagined it might be like - I had belonged the United States Steelworkers’ Union in Pennsylvania - the job of union steward at Campbell Soup was mainly that of a social director.
I collected money for flowers when people died. I organized coffees when folks got married. I got to sit next to the supervisor when folks got written up - where I was expected to keep my mouth shut.
Until, one day, I realized something amazing. Though union handbooks were floating around the plant, very few people - including management - had actually taken the time to read the damn things.
I started making things up, just to see how far I could go. I had everyone in the department convinced, for example, that no one from management could talk to them unless I was present. At plant safety meetings, I wanted to talk about actual safety issues.
People were cutting fingers off on bandsaws (which cut chicken breasts in half), and our safety committee was concerned with urging folks to watch TV specials on workplace safety in America. How do you spell misplaced priorities?
I became known as a “troublemaker,” and was voted out at the next election.
This last story happened to someone else, but it serves to illustrate a universal maxim:
Don’t piss off the cook.
We’ve all had the pleasure of dining in the restaurant that’s open 24 hours a day - the kind of place that offers everything on the menu, any time of the day. That’s great.
Hamburgers for breakfast. Steak and eggs for supper. Modern American convenience. Well, except for one small detail. It really isn’t convenient for the cooks, who often have a tendency to have all the breakfast ingredients out in the morning, lunch ingredients out in the afternoon, etc.
The cooks I have spoken to over the years really hate the whole “anything you want, 24 hours a day” notion.
One young man recounted a story to me about a time when a man came in during the supper rush and ordered pancakes. Cursing, in the midst of cooking burgers, steaks, and other dinner items, he grabs the batter and makes room on the griddle for the offending pancakes.
A few burgers later, he notices that the pancakes are taking what seems like forever to cook. He fusses with them, but they just sort of sit there. The night manager comes in and prods him, saying the customer is getting impatient.
The cook points to the stove in exasperation.
Finally, the pancakes are done, and the plate goes out to the customer. The cook goes back to the dinner rush.
A few minutes later, the night manager comes back in, and says, “The customer says these are the worst pancakes he’s ever eaten in his life.”
“What the hell is he talking about?” the cook sputters. He grabs a fork and bites into a pancake - and spits it out immediately. What on earth? These are the worst pancakes in the world.
At that instant both their eyes fall on the batter container. In his rush to make the pancakes, the cook had grabbed not pancake batter, but fish batter.
The manager laughed. “Just make some more,” he said.
Remember this story the next time you think it’s so “convenient” to order breakfast at nine o’clock at night.
Richard S. Drake is the author of a science fiction novel, “Freedom Run,” and “Ozark Mosaic: Adventures in Arkansas Alternative Journalism, 1990-2002.”
Arkansas Free Press - August, 2007
Sturgeon’s Law - 90 percent of everything is crap - is never more evident than in the world of TV remakes, reboots, and the ever-dreaded “reimaginings.” For every bit of brilliance that is Battlestar Galactica, you have hordes of unlamented dreck like the recent version of Ironside, which didn’t even respect the source material so much as to put the detective back in San Francisco, but instead transplanted him to New York.
New York . . . now there is a city which is crying out for a cop show, there being so few in the last few decades to take place there.
And let’s not forget the remakes of Knight Rider and The Bionic Woman - on second thought, let’s pretend they never existed.
There was even an attempt to retell the early days of the Cartwrights on the Ponderosa some years ago, with Nevada looking an awful lot like Canada. The origins of several characters were drastically rewritten in this show.
Now comes Murder, She Wrote, about a young hospital administrator who also happens to be an amateur sleuth (well, aren’t we all?) who after publishing her first mystery novel finds herself helping the police in their investigations.
Yes, she is a hybrid Angela Lansbury/Dick Van Dyke.
Dick Van Dyke, as we will recall, was the doctor and amateur sleuth who often (like, dude, every week) helped his son move up the promotion ladder in the police department by helping to solve murders. Well, not so much “helping” to solve them, as actually solving them, but why quibble, especially when it’s your son’s career on the line?
Yes, they really aren’t remaking Murder, She Wrote so much as they are Diagnosis Murder - though I suspect the producers may be too dumb to realize this - or are hopping the audience is too dumb to realize it. I was never the biggest MSW fan, but you sort of don’t mess with what made it so successful to begin with. And if you have to steal your ideas from other shows to start with . . .
Somewhere out there is the disastrous Rockford Files reboot they attempted a few years ago, as well as the 2004 Lost in Space pilot episode which also never aired. The Lone Ranger pilot (made about the same time) may have aired, but it is generally considered to be a real stinker.
I began by quoting Sturgeon’s Law. Well, it wasn’t just the Galactica remake which was prime stuff. You’d probably have to buy The Time Tunnel DVD to get this, but included on the second volume is the unaired pilot for the proposed Sci Fi Channel remake. Now, that was a good effort, and beats anything the low-end cable outlet has put on for years.
And yes, Remington Steele is right around the corner
One can’t wait for the retooled Remington Steele pilot. No doubt he’ll be an NRA lobbyist who is also an amateur sleuth, just like the rest of us.
Wonderfalls: Once again, TV execs let magic slip between their inept fingers
Making its debut on Fox in 2004, Wonderfalls was unceremoniously yanked off the air after only four episodes. Which is pretty good, I suppose, compared to what we might see in the future. Many of us can foresee a time when incompetent TV executives might yank a show off the air after the first commercial break.
Part of the problem was that the network simply didn’t know how to promote this quirky little series, in which various stuffed, plastic and brass animals give advice to young slacker Jaye Tyler (Caroline Dhavernas), a recent college graduate (degree in philosophy) who seems unable to find a direction for her life, and finds herself working in a tacky gift store in a Niagra Falls tourist trap located in Wonderfalls, New York.
Her immediate supervisor is the sort of suck-up that we have all learned to recognize and despise over the years, and it doesn’t help matters when, out-of-the-blue, strange creatures begin to give her advice.
It really doesn’t help that the advice they give is so seldom straight-forward, which often results in the comic plot twists that each episode delivers. The advice is usually meant to guide her to helping a perfect stranger, who may or may not appreciate the help they are suddenly receiving.
But Jaye isn’t alone in her adventure, which is also a sort of spiritual quest for self-knowledge. Along the way is her best friend (Tracie Thoms - Cold Case), who helps her, even though she may not always believe the source of her inspiration, and her family - who try to be supportive, in a sort of non-understanding way.
Her family include Lee Pace (Pushing Daisies) as her brother who is studying religion, and her sister, played by the brilliant Katie Finneran, an attorney who is struggling with being a lesbian.
When asked if she was uncomfortable playing a lesbian, Finneran told an interviewer that she’d rather be thought of as a lesbian than an attorney.
Jaye is also provided with a love interest (Tyron Leitso), who is constantly frustrated because of her failure to realize that she is able to commit to a relationship. Of course, the fact that he is still technically married to a bride he left on their wedding night doesn’t help matters.
The writing is sharp and funny, and while the series was pulled off the air after four episodes, the entire run of thirteen episodes is offered here. And not only that, but a sense of closure is provided, in that at least the relationship issue between Jaye and her erstwhile boyfriend is settled.
Extras on the DVD set include a behind-the-scenes documentary and a video of the show’s theme song, by Andy Partridge.
Forget about buying Wonderfalls for anyone else; this is one you need to buy for yourself.
Trivia note: Tim Minear co-produced the cult favorite SF series Firefly - also canceled during its first season. Yes, once again by Fox.
Quote of the Day
The lowest action trash is preferable to wholesome family entertainment. When you clean them up, when you make movies respectable, you kill them. - Pauline Kael
Making one’s way down sunny streets, it is sort of hard to get into the sentiment that “It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas . . .”
Cuz it doesn’t, no matter what the desperate voices on the radio keep insisting on telling us.
Then again, maybe if they just played that song at night, when one wasn’t looking out at the bright, sunny landscape might be more effective.
Now that Christmas shopping season officially starts even before the Halloween candy is taken out of the bags, TV and radio are full of Christmas carols hawking products and services. Television would be the worst offender, taking long-beloved songs and turning them into jingles for everything from cars to shoes. It especially gets my hackles up when my own personal favorite, “Carol of the Bells,” is used incessantly by advertisers. It is at such times I truly love the “mute” button on my remote control.
I suppose it is radio that especially earns my ire (not outrage, you understand - that is the emotion owned almost exclusively by Facebook posters and those who write letters to the editor) - why, you might ask? Why have I become so cynical about Christmas carols on the radio?
I’m not a Scrooge, nor am I one of those precious souls who sneer at the holiday (“It’s really a pagan holiday!”) but I have noticed this trend over recent years.
Come Christmas Day, when the families are together, opening gifts and sharing a mug of Yuletide Grog with family and friends, if you want to listen to any holiday music, it might be best to slip a CD on, or have a sing-along. Because at a certain time on Christmas Day there will the cut-off time - usually pretty early in the afternoon - and “regular programing” will resume.
No easing down gradually, just . . . SPLAT goes the holiday spirit. I have thought about this quite a bit, and I can only assume it is because the songs, the carols, the I saw Grandma kissing Santa Claus while singing Carol of the Bells, have served their function.
They have gotten folks into the market place. Stores are closed on Christmas Day; why waste the air time?
Black Friday Week is always the best time of the year to skip watching the news
Now that national news is becoming more and more like local “news” programs, and offering up press releases from Walmart as though they were reporting on the discovery of one of the Lost Cities on Mars, Tracy and I pretty much stop watching American TV news every year during this week.
Really? Shopping tips for Black Friday? Telling us what great deals might be found at Wally World? And mixed in with the Three Gs of local news - Grins, Giggles and Guffaws - it’s all just a little too hard to take. So we don’t.
Television news is all pretty much an embarrassing joke this week, and is not an invited guest at our home.
Today’s blog was brought to you courtesy of the CD Jed Clampit Live, which consists of Jed’s performances at Jose’s in Fayetteville, on December 27 and 28, 1999.
A Jed Clampit CD for someone for Christmas? You could do a lot worse than to bring this much magic into someone’s life.
Quote of the Day
Writing is one of the few professions left where you take all the responsibility for what you do. It’s really dangerous and ultimately destroys you as a writer if you start thinking about responses to your work or what your audience needs. - Erica Jong
Once again, I find I find myself wearing the Shroud of Chagrin, as it has been pointed out to me that Lee Harvey Oswald actually died 50 years ago on November 24, and not on November 23, as I wrote last week.
I’d offer up some lame excuse about cataracts, or rips in the space/time continuum, but the truth is this:
I was just real little when it happened, and I got the days confused. All of these years later, I still managed to hold on to that particular bit of childhood misinformation.
The Moon did still go out of orbit in 1999, though, right? I wasn’t imagining that, was I?
Quote of the Day
Good movies make you care, make you believe in possibilities again. - Pauline Kael
And all he had to do was get shot in a hallway.
We had gotten off school early the day before, and I clearly remember the janitor coming in and telling our teacher what had happened in Dallas. “Will there be a war tonight?” I asked my father, who was stationed at Ethan Allen Air Force Base in Vermont (just outside Burlington).
“No!” he assured me, but at nine years old, if the president of the United States could be shot and killed in his car on an American street, anything was possible. After all, despite the jokes people make today about “duck and cover,” we were living in the midst of the Cold War.
And as opposed to the imbecilic “Doomsday Preppers” on TV (who all seem to have extreme world-views) serious folks actually stockpiled food and large glass bottles of water in their basements.
Just in case . . .
You didn’t have to be a rocket scientist at eight years old to understand that we had dodged a nuclear bullet during the Cuban missile crisis.
In my desk is a copy of the Burlington Free Press with the headline:
Professed Marxist Held in Slaying
We were glued to our TV’s and radios. We were numb, in a state of shell-shock.
But even as we watched our televisions as if they were the only thing that mattered in the whole wide world, all we could do was take in the sad images from the capital, or Dallas, or images of mourners around the country.
We were swept up in the tide, the maelstrom of events, helpless passengers on the lifeboat.
We were blessed in not having the Internet in 1963, when those who sleep nightly in quilts of conspiracy would have been spinning their theories within minutes of the shooting.
But it was the next day, November 23, when things changed for me even more dramatically.
Lee Harvey Oswald is being led down the hallway of the jail, and millions of Americans are watching the suspected assassin making his way down the hallway, flaked by lawmen.
Suddenly, in less than the blink of an eye, a man lunges from the crowd, and fires his gun into Lee Harvey Oswald, Even as Oswald doubles over in agony, my father is on his feet, screaming for my mother to come in from the kitchen, where she is making our lunch.
Though the image would be replayed constantly, it never had the same impact for me as in that moment, on live television, I saw an accused assassin shot down.
Where before TV was talking horses, madcap comedies, the annual showings of Peter Pan and The Wizard of Oz or westerns, now it had evolved before my eyes.
There was an immediacy to it I had never noticed or appreciated before.
My fascination with the immediacy of television had its roots that afternoon when Lee Harvey Oswald was shot. And the love of that immediacy has stayed with me for so many years, whether it be seeing a young black man win the world boxing championship on English TV in the 1960s, launches to the Moon (was there ever a more beautiful rocket than the Saturn V? I don’t think so), men walking on the Moon, or the Watergate hearings.
For me, TV changed the day I saw Lee Harvey Oswald go down on national television.
I just wish my awakening had come under better circumstances, on a happier weekend.
Quote of the Day
A minority group has “arrived” only when it has the right to produce some fools and scoundrels without the entire group paying for it. - Carl T. Rowan
You don’t have to be that good at math to figure out that the last person in line for the day is going to literally make out like a bandit.
Television news, never much for deep analysis, but great for the shallow story (Ooh! Pretty pictures!) has gone quite ga-ga over the concept of “paying it forward” at the fast food drive-through window, with succeeding customers paying for the meal of the car immediately behind them.
I’m sorry, but didn’t I see a version of this several years ago, when an attractive woman bought coffee for the very attractive man behind her in a commercial for a fast food place?
It was just flirting then, I think.
Pardon me for being a stickler here, but doesn’t the whole concept of “paying it forward” mean that society as a whole benefits? I ain’t for real sure that just confining our efforts to the fast food line is really helping society all that much, myself.
Okay, maybe I’m just miffed that when I go to Hardee’s, I never get told that someone else has already paid for my coffee and chicken sandwich.
But simply “paying it forward” - or backward, as the case may be - when you are getting your caffeine and semi-meat breakfast or lunch really helping for society as a whole, and really is making a mockery of the whole notion.
As has been pointed out by more than one writer across this country, the folks who might really benefit from someone paying it forward/backward are the poor rascals who have to run around filling everyone’s orders. What a great news story that would be, if customers “paid it sideways” by slipping a few dollars towards the folks in the restaurant.
Not only would that be a more interesting story, Jacobean Reader, but it would be a great social justice story.
Yeah . . . which pretty much knocks it out of the running for being included on the evening news, recounted for us by beaming anchors.
Still, a man can dream, can’t he?
More Attempted Comedy from Richard S. Drake
I sauddenly felt the urge to rush into the studios of Fayetteville Public Access Television before we did my show last week, and recorded a joke for Short Takes, which is the service provided for all who live in Fayetteville. Need to talk about something political? Social? Environmental? Sing a song? Tell a bad joke? This is the place for you!
You can see my “performance” every day at 5pm on Channel 218 on the Cox Channel line-up - along with all the other brief pieces taped for Short Takes (Aubrey Shepherd and Dick Bennett are just two of the folks you can see this week). FPAT can also be seen on Channel 99 of AT&T’s U-Verse, which reaches viewers from Bella Vista to Fort Smith. Fayetteville Public Access TV can be seen on line at:
For information on how you can take advantage of the Short Takes service, call 444-3433.
Warning about the joke
I first heard this joke on American Forces Television while we were stationed in Germany in the early 1970s, and it takes a few minutes to tell. I once told it to Mark Swaney while we were walking along the streets of Eureka Springs, and he said, “You know, that’s the kind of joke that when you hear the end of it it, you feel violated.”
Ha! Handle puns with care . . .
Quote of the Day
There is only one thing that can kill the movies and that is education. - Will Rogers
It is one of the most classic scenes in film - almost as famous as the image of the young boy who adopts a young animal whose later death moves him further into “manhood” - the business owner taking an employee aside and firing him, throwing him out the door, lips pressed together in Puritanical contempt, as he says to him:
“I’m not firing you because you are a convict. I’m firing you because you lied to me, and didn’t tell me about it when I hired you.”
At which point our dismissed employee puts down his broom and walks out of the store, head down. In lots of movies, this is usually the point where he goes out and robs a bank.
If only he had the moral integrity to tell Mister Storekeeper about his rap sheet. All would have been well.
Even as a kid, long before I moved to a Right-to-Work state, that scene always struck me as being inherently unfair. I was never convinced that Cotton Mather’s Dry Goods would have welcomed this fellow with open arms, if the owner had been aware of the applicant’s criminal past.
Of such small things political activists are made.
But even beyond the confines of the small screen, we must face the reality that those who have prison time on their resumes may have a difficult time finding employment at the best of times. And the jobs that are open to them are not likely to lead to management.
We have one of the highest incarceration rates on the planet, and when you mix court-mandated early releases with what many see as a jobless recovery, you have to ask yourself what sort of situation we are creating for ourselves? How many folks may return to crime simply as a way to survive?
And with less help coming their way to ease into society again? It seems as though we have found a way to keep punishing men and women long after they have paid their debts to society.
If I had a criminal record, I’m not terribly sure I would tell a potential employer, myself.
Quote of the Day
As long as you keep a person down, some part of you has to be down there to hold him down, so it means you cannot soar as you otherwise might. - Marian Anderson
I always hate reading of dog attacks, and the details of humans or pets killed or maimed because some buffoon has allowed a dog to attack others. I especially hated reading about how the pit bull Damian attacked and killed Chewie, the pet of a young girl in Springdale.
The very name given to this dog conjures up an image of evil, of savagery.
But what name might we give the name of this dog’s owner? Well, Stupid Horses Ass might be a good start, since he was driving around town with a dog running around loose in the back of his pick up truck, for one thing.
Damian has been put down, which just means that this buffoon might well buy himself another dog, “train” it the way he likes, and drive around with what might be considered a dangerous weapon running loose in the back of his truck yet again.
Pit bulls can be fearsome looking creatures, and trained by the wrong people, weapons of terrible destruction. On the other hand . . .
. . . pit bulls are dogs, and are as mean-tempered or as sweet as the environments they are raised in.
Not so very long ago, pit bulls were considered the perfect pet to have around children, and in fact many are used today as rehab dogs. So what has happened to their reputation? In the 1970s, movies and lazy folks in the media conditioned us to fear the Doberman. Later, both the Rottweiler and even the poor Saint Bernard caused panic attacks by lazy reporters and movie makers cashing in on the latest scare-craze.
There are three factors which are the main cause for dog attacks:
According to the ASPCA, most fatal dog attacks result from dogs which were not spayed or neutered.
In addition, the vast majority of attacks have come from dogs who are not family pets, but are isolated from contact with people, such as dogs who are simply kept outside.
And, just like people, most dogs who attack have been abused themselves, or not treated humanely.
Because of their strength, pit bulls have been chosen (or perhaps targeted is the right word) by those who feel a rage at the rest of the world, and often turn that rage upon the dog.
Yet another good reason to have laws protecting animals; such laws help protect the humans we love.
Several years ago in our neighborhood, a fellow’s two dogs would escape the confines of their yard, and somehow end up in our front yard. Tracy and I would slip them into our backyard and wait for the owner to return home from work and then call him.
One of the dogs was a rambunctious pit bull puppy. I will tell you that this dog did almost knock me out once, when I went back to check on how they were.
“Hey! A person! I’m so glad to see you!” The puppy reared up and our heads collided for a second as its tongue lapped all over my face.
In the wrong hands, this dog could be a killer, but it was obvious that this dog wasn’t in the wrong hands. It lived with someone who loved and treasured him - but who just needed to build a stronger fence.
Dogs are put down when attacks take place, and cities debate the “need” to ban them.
But what about the owners? I realize you can’t really ban all the folks who have an animal which actually attacks a person or another animal, but perhaps if you gave them a home in the county jail for a short time?
It might do wonders for them, and lift the morale of the community, as well.
Quote of the Day
Two centuries ago when a great man appeared, people looked for God’s purpose in him; today we look for his press agent. - Daniel Boorstin
“Being like everybody is the same as being nobody.” - Rod Serling
There are men who will rail angrily at the company they work for, charging that they don’t care about the safety of their workers, but will stoutly defend the NFL when it comes to the matter of football players and head injuries.
The same holds true for bullying; behavior we would not tolerate in family members, friends or co-workers is laughed off with a nudge and a wink when an athlete like Richie Incognito of the Miami Dolphins indulges in it, even going so far as using what we now refer to as the “N’” word - oh, what a load of crap.
Not crap that Incognito indulged his Inner and Outer Moron, but that we (and I am one of those) who are such delicate wallflowers that we only use the first letter of that ugly word. It cleanses such incidents when we do that.
Incognito has now sought refuge in the old, “Some of my best friends are black” defense used by so many from the 1960s, as he now says that he was victim Jonathan Martin’s “best friend” on the team.
Those of us who survived high school with our personalities and sense of humors intact have met lots of guys like Richie Incognito - and his enablers, both on and off the field.
Lydon Murtha , one of Incognito’s former teammates, had this to say in “Incognito and Martin: An Insider’s Story”:
“From the beginning, when he was drafted in April 2012, Martin did not seem to want to be one of the group. He came off as standoffish and shy to the rest of the offensive linemen. He couldn’t look anyone in the eye, which was puzzling for a football player at this level on a team full of grown-ass men. We all asked the same question: Why won’t he be open with us? What’s with the wall being put up?”
Well, I’ve known guys like Incognito (do “grown-ass men” really call themselves Richie?) and the eloquent Murtha for years, whether they be in high school, politics or the workplace. Cretins for whom the very idea that someone not want to graze with the same herd, on the same hillside, is abominable to them.
Such creatures must be bent to their will or sent to the slaughterhouse.
People like Incognito and his ilk are no better than the bully in the workplace, whether they are harassing you over the work you do, or sexually harassing you. They shouldn’t be tolerated, and should be culled from the herd.
Today’s blog was brought to you courtesy of David Sanborn’s jazz CD, “Inside,”
Quote of the Day
There may be times when we are powerless to prevent injustice, but there must never be a time when we fail to protest. - Elie Wiesel
It might be okay if you are in the middle of a war zone, forest fire, hurricane or unable to make it to anything resembling a television studio, but for the most part, allowing yourself to be interviewed while peering intently at the camera on your computer all-too-often makes you look it seem as though you are just a few fries short of a Happy Meal.
This is especially the case when you are perhaps talking about world-wide conspiracies to hide the “truth” from the public on . . . alien visitors from the stars, for example, or the Masonic/Vatican links to the cancellation of Gilligan’s Island.
Even more so if you dart your head back and forth, as if to emphasize your points.
I actually think that the cameras that come with today’s computers are a great thing, and I am always impressed when someone is able to send a report from a far-off location, whether they be covering armed conflicts, or disasters around the world.
You can have too much of a good thing, though, and when “documentaries” about such important subjects as Nazis and space aliens, aliens helping the ancient Egyptians, aliens aiding in the exodus of the Jews from Egypt, and George Washington having contact with beings from beyond the stars . . . well, you get the point.
To wander into the Woods of Digression briefly, has anyone noticed that the very same folks who claim that aliens aided the Egyptians also often claim that the the space folk aided the Jews to escape from the very same Egyptians? Sometimes in the very same program?
I suspect they’d rather we not notice this.
Leaving the Woods, we find ourselves once more facing the men (and they are, primarily, guys) who seem to believe that glaring at their computer monitors will somehow enhance their Jedi mind powers, and draw us us into their world.
There are, of course, ways around this. Folks don’t actually have to lean so far forward that it looks as though they might spill into our laps - they might at times practice sitting back in their chair, for example.
Extreme emotional intensity - unless you are reporting from that aforementioned war zone or natural disaster - actually works against you, especially if you are trying to convince me that space people had nothing better to do than help early humans with architectural projects.
Then again, since most of these “interviews” aren’t actually Q&A sessions, one could always set up a camera on a tripod in their office, garden, or even their doctor’s waiting room (waiting for meds to be refilled, perhaps), and impart the information we so desperately need in a manner which might just possibly come across more like 60 Minutes than a scene from The Blair Witch Project. Then you can send that damn recording to any of the cable networks which persist in showing these “documentaries” to the intellectually unwary.
That’s just me, though. For all I know there may well be thousands of folks who are more readily convinced of an argument if the person making it looks as though they expect jack-booted Men in Black to kick in their door at any second.
Writing letters to my TV set
So annoyed was I last weekend listening to one “ancient astronaut theorists” repeating a story which is patently false on not one, but two shows, that I wrote a letter to him, via his website.
No reply as of yet, which, of course, merely sets the stage for a future blog . . .
Quote of the Day
All publicity is good, except an obituary notice. - Brendan Behan
Finally, after years of trying to catch up this movie on various movie channels, Tracy and I had a chance to watch - and enjoy - Fighting Mad, the 1975 Peter Fonda movie which was filmed in Washington County.
Over the years, there have been a number of motion pictures shot in Northwest Arkansas; in 1994, the train car that is now the Dickson Street branch of the Bank of Fayetteville served as the background for a scene for the HBO movie Frank and Jesse, featuring Rob Lowe and Randy Travis.
All part of the magic of movie making. Anyone who has been to Estes Park in Colorado has been amazed when they see the hotel used for The Shining, which overlooks (a cheap movie pun for you) a bustling tourist community mere streets away.
Leaving the Waters of Digression behind us, let’s get back to Fighting Mad, with Peter Fonda - which is also a Roger Corman production, though he didn’t direct it.
Fighting Mad tells the story of a man who returns to his home after many years, only to find that a greedy land developer, played by Philip Carey (Laredo, One Life to Live), has his eyes set on the land in the area. There doesn’t seem to be much in the way of any legal help as folks are driven from their homes, both by shady moves and then by outright murder.
Fonda doesn’t want trouble, but soon he must - as all stalwart heroes must - takes the law into his own hands to stop those who would drive folks from their homes simply to make a dollar.
Along the way, he engages in what some might describe as “eco-terrorism,” in that he blows up some equipment belonging to the company, but in the absence of any effective law and order . . .
The film is notable for its many scenes shot around Fayetteville, including the old Swinging Door on Dickson Street (which is actually referred to by name), old county buildings, an area I’d swear was Wilson Park and Mount Nord.
Supposedly there is a shot of Brenda’s Bigger Burgers in there somewhere, but it must have happened so quickly I missed it; I was probably talking.
But as I watched Fighting Mad, even more than the fun of spotting Fayetteville landmarks, I was taken with the idea of greedy developers managing to move folks out of their homes. Thank god something like that has never happened in Fayetteville!
Or . . .
Like the folks forced to leave their land and homes in the movie, many are the folk in Fayetteville who have been moved out of places they call home, even though they may not actually own them, so that newer, pricier, more “environmentally-friendly” apartments can be built.
In at least one case, folks were shunted out so that a . . .
. . . parking lot could be created.
Where do they go, and do the folks who gather around the developers hoisting a glass of wine and a hunk of cheese in a salute to the future really give a tinker’s damn? After all, in a sense they are just swapping out one set of voters for another, in the long run.
There are lots of movies on my “Movies I Would make Other People Watch” list, but just maybe, this one could be suggested viewing for anyone who wants to run for office in Fayetteville or Washington County.
Fighting Mad may essentially be a modern-day western, along the lines of Shane, but there is an immediacy to watching this movie when you see the issues raised with your own city and county as the backdrop - even though we’re never quite sure where we are, those in Fayetteville will know. And maybe as we see Fayetteville backdrops, we might see the issues raised with new eyes.
Perhaps seeing a bulldozer rip through a small house might give someone pause before they go ga-ga over the next development which would require the removal of a few human beings.
I’m sorry, did I say “removal?” That sounds so harsh.
I meant to write “eviction.” That’s much more humane.
Quote of the Day
One thing must be said for idleness; it keeps people from doing the Devil’s work. The great villains of history were busy men, since great crimes and slaughters require great industry and dedication. - Philip Slater
I’ve always sort of thought it was because our plant didn’t have a union; worker solidarity was something that happened in other countries, or at least in other states - states which weren’t Right-to-Work states. Which may well have been have other countries, for all some could have imagined, or thought.
But even without a union, most of us thought that hourly workers stuck together, that we had each others' backs in a crunch. This was a romantic notion, and rarely, if ever, put to the test.
But one hot night in the mid-1980s, that romantic myth crashed around our ears - or at least the ears of those who were paying attention.
Most of us have worked in places where, at the end of a long week, employees might get together at a local diner and celebrate surviving yet another week of drudge work. In the 1970s, some of us from Campbell Soup used to go to the International House of Pancakes, when it was located on North College, a place where burritos now fly through the air where pancake batter once sizzled on the grill.
Different jobs, different friends, different traditions. Still, it has always been something to look forward to.
This night, though, was different.
The plant I worked in was not very well insulated -it could be hot as hell (over 100 degrees!) in the summer, and cold as an Arctic tomb in the winter. In later years, after the roof began having serious problems, rain would pour in during thunderstorms, and many is the worker who might find themselves standing in water as they shuffled tortillas.
When the weekends came, you were ready, especially since we were working ten hours a day, four days a week. The weekend couldn’t come soon enough.
You just wanted to go out and relax.
On this night, though, the Perfect Storm hit.
Not a pancake house, but a smaller establishment, whose main claim to fame seemed to be waffles (though I honestly can’t recall anyone I know actually ordering waffles), it could barely handle the crowd from the plant that night.
That hot, miserable night.
And to make matters worse, they were short-staffed. The new American mantra for success being to get the most work of the fewer people, well, if just one or two are missing from the chain of command on a night like this, everything just gets slower, as people are doubling up on their responsibilities. You can’t, after all, just shut the doors and say, “Come back tomorrow night, please. Oh, and here’s a coupon for ten percent off your next meal!”
No, you muddle through, as best - and as quickly - as you can.
Even someone who has only worked in a factory for a short time knows what it is like when you are short-handed; the boss still expects the work to be done. Excuses are for people who don’t have a job any more.
And in the workplace, especially one where there is mutual respect, folks chip in and get the work done. The supervisor will climb off their horse and take a place on the line, shuffling tortillas, pulling chicken guts, flipping burgers, stacking boxes, unloading trucks.
The good ones, that is. The lousy ones will just tell you to work faster.
If the events of that night were taking place in a movie, and the diner workers were swamped with work, and food orders were taking 30 minutes or more to be filled, one or two customers, even though they had already put in 40+ grueling hours at work, would step behind the counter and volunteer their services.
What had once looked grim, would now look hopeful, jokes would be told, someone would put a quarter in the jukebox, and there would be dancing in the parking lot while order was being restored.
And then, a grateful waitress would look into the eyes of the handsome young man who had come forward and begun flipping burgers, and the audience would know that soon, love would be in the air.
Life not being a movie, though, none of that happened.
Derisive remarks, each one louder than the other, made their way through the air. Grown men and women, who had been in this very same situation themselves on more than one occasion, began acting with the impatience of children, and not very nice ones at that.
Customers - who I am sure were perfectly friendly and decent on any other trip they had made here - loudly made fun of the staff, hurling insulting questions though the night. When they left, some bragged that they had left no tip at all.
I wish I could say that I left a larger tip than usual, but I just don’t remember, and I’m too damned old to lie just to make myself sound enlightened, or cool.
I went back to there to eat on occasion, but never on a weekly trip with fellow employees, who I am sure behaved as nice as pie when things ran smoothly, and promptly forgot their churlish behavior soon after they left the diner.
I’ll bet the employees working that night didn’t forget it for a long time, though.
If you’re gonna buy something, shouldn’t you have a clear idea of what you are gonna do with it?
I’m just old fashioned enough to think that if an entity buys a piece of land, they should know what they plan to do with it before they sign the check to buy it.
Quote of the Day
Why do you throw away five-hundred dollars of our money on a test for that big ape? Didn’t you see those big ears when you talked to him? And those big feet and hands, not to mention that ugly face of his? - Jack Warner to Mervyn LeRoy, after he had given Clark Gable a screen test
I wrote this in 1996, after a young deputy and another man were killed by a man who had managed to take the deputy’s gun. The prisoner in question also shot and killed himself.
There was a great debate at the time over the type of holsters and weapons that county law enforcement officials carried. I learned a lot about holsters which I had never known before. Sometime after this story - with the deputy’s permission - during a press conference in the sheriff’s office I demonstrated just how easy it was to slip a gun out of the holsters they were currently using.
The other newspaper reporters, who had also been covering the story, understood what I had just done. The television folks - who were basically just there to get a statement and some video -literally had no concept of what they had seen.
The Killing of a Deputy: “They Knew this Guy was Crazy”
Cop killer gave plenty of warning
Recently the Washington County Jail has been the target of serious allegations. In the most recent, Terry Lee Boatwright, victim of a January beating at the jail, claimed that jailers had left cell doors unlocked so that inmates would have access to each other.
While admitting that inmates did indeed attack and scald Boat wright with hot water, a joint investigation by Sheriff Kenneth McKee and Prosecutor Terry Jones' offices indicates that jailers had nothing to do with the incident.
In a raucous press conference this past week, Sheriff Kenneth McKee locked horns with Boatright's controversial attorney, Dan Ivy. The appearance on the scene of Ivy, a perpetual political candidate with an increasing tendency to refer to himself in the third person, seems to be the final nail in the case's coffin.
Because of Ivy's personal reputation, many have dismissed the case from their minds simply because of his participation.
However, the Ozark Gazette has learned of a former inmate of the Washington County Jail, now an inmate at the Arkansas Department of Corrections’ Delta Regional Unit, located in Dermott, who describes similar incidents during his incarceration in Fayetteville last fall.
In a phone interview this week, George Ashley Kazery told of situations at the Washington County Jail which go to the heart of allegations made about jail security. Kazery claims that he has never met Terry Boat wright, the man recently attacked.
"I wish somebody would hit me."
In fact, Kazery has revealed details about John Manning, who during an escape attempt last November, managed to wrest an officer's gun away, killing Deputy Pete Williamson and a civilian, before fatally shooting himself. While incarcerated in Fayetteville, Manning was a known risk who had attacked a number of inmates with little if any provocation.
While confined to the Washington County Jail in 1995, Kazery called his mother in tears, after his own confrontation with Manning, who he referred to as a "crazy man." He asked her to forgive him, because he was afraid that the charges against him would be much worse. He told her that she couldn't possibly understand how things worked on the inside, and that he had never intended to hurt anyone.
Kazery, who has been confined several times in the past, and has himself escaped previously, was terrified that additional charges would be laid against him, as a result of defending himself from Manning, who had attacked him without provocation. For whatever reasons, the incident was never written up by jail officials.
The first time that Kazery had ever heard of Manning was from another prisoner, a Mexican who told him about a "crazy white dude" who had beaten up everyone in his cell and had to be shifted around the jail. Kazery had heard of a fight in which Manning had assaulted two large black men. After putting one of the men down, the man's friend attacked Manning.
According to the account Kazery heard, the second fight lasted for a long time before the officers knew of the fight and ran in to break it up.
After Manning was put into Kazery's cell block, the Mexican prisoner was wildly agitated, saying, "That's the guy that jumped on me."
Kazery: "This guy comes in the cell block and he's got this air about himself. You could tell that he was a little bit off. While it was quiet, he was staring everybody down, and he was walking in different people's cells and just sort of looking at them . . . Right about the time they were serving chow, there were a couple of guys standing in line, this guy was watching these other fellows horseplay with each other, just playing around, and he said, ‘I wish somebody would hit me. I ain’t through. I’m still ready to fight.’
“So he had a lot of other people in the cell intimidated, and before the night was over with they had to move him out of the cell because he had an argument with several other guys, and they had told the jailers to get him out of the cell.”
Even after being moved to another cell block, he still managed to have altercations with other prisoners. Finally, they had to put him on “lock-down,” in a cell by himself. While going to visitation, Kazery’s path took him past Manning’s cell, and Manning would always ask him for a cigarette. Kazery would make it a point to have a cigarette ready for Manning, even going to the extent of running back to his cell for one.
“I’m gonna kick your ass.”
Kazery: “I knew the guy was crazy, but I didn’t know it didn’t take anything at all to set him off.”
One day, during a Bible class in the multi-purpose room, an officer led Manning in. In what must have been a surprising request, he had asked to be allowed to attend. But as soon as Manning stepped through the door, it was obvious that Christian brotherhood was the furthest thing from his mind.
Looking directly at the unsuspecting Kazery, Manning said, “I’m gonna kick your ass.” At first, Kazery, who was sitting on the floor, thought that this was said as a joke. But the attending officer took it seriously enough to come running in from his post at the doorway to come between the two men.
He cautioned Manning that if he had known this was going to happen, he would never have allowed him in. Manning replied, “Fuck this. I’m whipping his ass.” He began pulling his shirt off.
Kazery: “I don’t know exactly what he did to his body, but he had at least seven lacerations across his stomach that were about ten inches from side to side. They were obviously pretty deep. You could tell by what the wounds looked like when he pulled off his T-shirt . . . you could tell they were self-inflicted. I don’t know what he had done to himself. It looked like he might have took a razor blade and just went to cutting across his stomach.”
With mounting agitation, Kazery realized that Manning was serious. He stood up, in a defensive posture. Manning walked past the deputy around a table and picked up a folding chair. Raising it over his head, he began running at Kazery. Snatching up a folding chair himself, Kazery swung it up hard against Manning’s weapon, knocking it to the ground.
Realizing that the fight wasn’t over until one of them was put down, Kazery aggressively fought back. Quickly and savagely, he knocked Manning to the floor and “cut loose on him.”
His fear of the violent man he considered crazy gave Kazery even greater strength, and he brought it all to bear on Manning, not stopping until he had punched and kicked him repeatedly. Kazery didn’t stop until the other man was bloodied considerably.
Even after being kicked in the head, Manning still wanted to fight.
After the fight, Manning was taken back to his maximum security cell. That was the last occasion where the two men came into contact with each other, though Kazery heard through others that Manning continued to be a discipline problem, ending up in solitary once again.
Contrary to Kazery’s fears, the incident was never reported or held against him.
Kazery: “He continued to cause problems. What was weirdest to me about the whole situation is how they knew this guy was crazy. They knew he was off. They really didn’t have any business sending him with one officer, especially a rookie.”
Ozark Gazette: February 19, 1996
It has long been my view that those who hide behind “company policy” for repulsive decision-making are those who tend to leave their sense of morality at the door when they come to work.
This may the case with all-too-recently employed Walmart worker Kristopher Oswald of Detroit, who was sitting in his car on his break around 2:30 in the morning, when according to an account he gave to WXYZ-TV news, he saw a man grabbing a woman in the parking lot.
Oswald then did what we have all been taught to do . . . simply because it is the right thing to do. He asked the woman if she needed help. At this point her stalwart companion began punching Oswald in the head, telling him that he was going to kill him.
Oswald was able to get on top of the man, but two other men sprang upon him from behind.
Walmart, looking at the situation with the Solomonic wisdom we have come to expect from them, fired Oswald.
No, we don’t want violence in the workplace and Walmart wisely has policies against that sort of thing. But terminating someone because they did the decent thing and prevented harm from coming to another human being?
Especially in a time when so much effort is being made to educate men about domestic abuse, and how none of us should just stand by and allow it to happen?
Well, Icky Reader, not so much in this case. The company said that it “understood” the reasons for Oswald’s actions - while taking care not to praise them - but hey, orders is orders.
According to Ashley Hardie of Walmart, “We had to make a tough decision, one that we don’t take lightly, and he’s no longer with the company.”
To say that there is something morally obscene about this would be putting it lightly, I think.
Is Walmart so hidebound, or intellectually rigid, that there are folks in the dark levels of decision-making in Bentonville who don’t realize that Kristopher Oswald, far from being someone they should boot out on his ass, should perhaps be Employee of the Month?
It’s a tough world out there, and like most guys, I fantasize that I would have the guts to intervene if I saw somebody hassling a woman in public.
But Kristopher Oswald actually did, and at 2:30 in the morning. What was he supposed to have done? Sat in his car and watched? Waited until the woman was seriously hurt - if not killed - so he could be a witness in court?
Or just look the other way, and go on back inside the store at the end of his break, and forget about the whole thing? That would be quite a story to tell his kids, if he has any.
“I would have saved her, but policy prevented me.”
Public reaction to Oswald's termination was swift and and predictable - something Walmart should probably have expected, if they had any common sense about the matter.
I hope that someone, deep within the bowels of the Bentonville Behemoth, is capable of feeling a modicum of shame when they consider the matter of Kristopher Oswald. I hope that they are capable of putting themselves in the shoes of a woman being physically assaulted in the wee small morning hours in the parking lot of a Walmart, only to see the one man who dares come to aid her pummeled to the ground.
What is her life like today? Have they given one tiny thought to her?
I hope that somewhere inside Walmart someone can push for a change in a policy that means well on the face of it, but when it punishes the wrong people, and extraordinary circumstances are not recognized, then it is time to revisit that policy.
And them perhaps even a Walmart executive might muster the courage to leap from their vehicle, should they find themselves facing the same situation that Kristopher Oswald found himself in.
Quote of the Day
Without doubt half the ethical rules they din into our ears are designed to keep us at work. - Llewellyn Powys
It's an evil thing the liberal community does; it wants to see the slums cleared but doesn't fight to see housing for lower-income groups built first. It reinforces all the terrible things we're talking about in the big cities. - Florence Scala, quoted in Suds Terkel's "Division Street: America."
Rounding the corner one morning, I happened upon one of our new “upscale” apartment complexes. It isn’t all that often that I stop, stare, and exclaim something out loud, but I sort of felt like astronaut Dave Bowman in 2001: A >Space Odyssey (the novel, not the film, though the sequel includes his line) when he says, in wonder, “My god, it’s full of stars!”
I stopped in my tracks and said, in true horror, “My god, it looks like a prison!”
And then - no offense to architects in the world - I thought of George Costanza of Seinfeld, who was fond of telling women that he was an architect, in the hopes of impressing them. This, I reflected to myself, was exactly the sort of building the hapless George might well come up with, should he be forced to demonstrate his “talent.”
Except for the balconies, it doesn’t look that much different from the large prison that Tracy and I pass by when we drive through Oklahoma several times a year. Ah well, maybe they are real pretty on the inside . . .
Fayetteville, which has many working class residents, has few - and “few” is a charitable word foir it - housing services which cater to them, despite the numbers of working class workers in our city. We have “student” apartments (if you are not a student and get turned away, would you have grounds for a great lawsuit?) or “upscale” (again, read “student”) apartments.
Thank god we have a city council which springs into action anytime existing housing - no matter the form - is torn down so that new upscale apartments can be built. Cuz, you know, nothing spells success like protecting the rental homes of voters.
Yeah . . .
One might think that if a project promotes itself as “upscale” (meaning expensive - because nothing says “I despise my kid” like putting him in a place without a sauna or a communal game room) it might actually look upscale - especially if building the damn thing forces folks who already live on the land, whether it be in trailers or apartments, to move - maybe even out of town.
There is the infamous story of the Fayetteville politician, when asked about a certain part of town, responded that some trailer parks were demolished and nice new apartments were built. It never seemed to enter his mind what might have happened to the people who were forced to move out.
Would that he were the rarity . . .
Quote of the Day
“[MGM] had us working days and nights on end. They’d give us pep-up pills to keep us on our feet long after we were exhausted. Then they’d take us to the studio hospital and knock us cold with sleeping pills . . . Then after four hours they’d wake us up and give us the pep-up pills again so we could work another seventy-two hours in a row. - Judy Garland
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