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
"We wish to thank the United Network Command for Law and Enforcement, without whose assistance this program would not have been possible." - from closing credits of The Man from U.N.C.L.E. television series.
Many years ago, when I was just a young sprig of a lad, there were these things called the closing credits following television programs - similar to what we see when we go to the cinema.
Of course, lots of folks have only a passing relationship with the closing credits in movies, since this is the time they use to gather up their belongings and skedaddle, hoping to beat everyone else out to the parking lot - all to no avail.
In Britain, traditionally the national anthem was played at the end of the movie. I only mention this in passing because there is a hilarious scene in Till Death Us Do Part, the film based upon the TV series which inspired All in the Family, which has the Archie Bunkerish father standing at attention while the anthem is being played, and his being upset that his family is leaving him to catch the bus home.
I like end credits. I like listening to the brief bits of music, and I appreciate the fact that folks get screen credit. But also because it means that the advertising folks at the network/station haven’t gotten their greedy little hands on the show, ruining the experience for the audience.
For a truly bizarre experience, try watching anything on TV Land - or any of any of a host of other cable networks - as sometimes one isn’t sure quite whether an episode is actually over - because they have done away with the end credits altogether - unless you count those dinky things along the bottom of the screen that run just as the next episode is beginning.
I read an explanation in an entertainment magazine some years ago explaining why the end credits have been chopped up, and why, indeed, so many new shows don’t have any real openers at all - the editor described them as “video real estate,” a concept which surely makes one gag, especially one who appreciates the care which goes into a well-crafted opener.
In 2013 the opening to The Prisoner might well be nixed by the folks who only see art in dollar signs, or even Gilligan’s Island, for crying out loud. The Six Million Dollar Man, while not Shakespeare, has a remarkably complicated opener, and conveys an incredible amount of visual information - information you won’t pick up until after repeated viewings.
And on the end credits, you sometimes get nuggets like this, slipped unobtrusively at the end of each and every episode of The Man from U.N.C.L.E.:
"We wish to thank the United Network Command for Law and Enforcement, without whose assistance this program would not have been possible."
It was also put into the credits of the reunion movie, The Return of The Man from U.N.C.L.E. The Fifteen Years Later Affair, in 1983.
All complete hokum, of course, but this ten-year-old boy believed.
I mean, really, really, really believed.
Not only that, but because of the frequent shots of the United Nations building, I was convinced that U.N.C.L.E. was somehow connected to the UN. Ah well . . .
I bought all of the novels, including one with a distinct John le Carré inspired feel to it, The Affair of the Gentle Saboteur, by Brandon Keith. As with the Raymond F. Jones Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea novel, several are better than the actual show. But getting back to our missing end credits . . .
I miss credits, both opening and closing, on TV shows. I don’t think that the grubby little hands of those who sell advertising should have any say at all about how shows are presented to us. That’s an old-fashioned view, perhaps, but even so . . .
The best Man from U.N.C.L.E. joke ever
In The Return of the Man from U.N.C.L.E.: The Fifteen Years Later Affair, agent Napoleon Solo asks the U.N.C.L.E. version of Q where the “special U.N.C.L.E. guns” they used to use are - you know, the ones we could order from the toy department in the Sears catalog at Christmas.
“They’re in the special U.N.C.L.E. wing of the Smithsonian,” she tell him.
Are TV credits put on by people who don’t like actors or writers?
Have you ever noticed how light the text is on some programs, or how small, when they tell you who the guest stars, writers, producers and directors are?
Sort of like giving you credit but not giving you credit at the same time.
Quote of the Day
Americans are optimists. They hope they’ll be wealthy some day - and they’re positive they can get one more brushful of paint out of an empty can. - Bern Williams
If you just drive by the empty property on Appleby Road, once the home of a long-time printing business, you may just notice the American flag, waving in the wind. No big surprise there - we are a nation given to flying flags, from the ones over government buildings to the laughably huge flags which serve to alert folks that, hey, we sell cars here!
But if you are prone to walking tours, as I am (never on the trails - I prefer to be around the sights and sounds of the city I live in), you may notice something else about the flag, which isn’t quite at half-mast, but isn’t at full-mast, either.
And there is something else about the flag which commands one’s attention, as well; it is a tattered flag.
And not just tattered as in the sense that it is a flag which someone has simply owned for far too long, and not disposed of in the proper manner, but it has been ripped, torn and cut deliberately before being hoisted up on the flagpole. The flag just appears too new for it to seem anything else.
This is a political statement, pure, raw and simple.
Given what has been happening in Washington over the past few weeks, I can easily imagine someone coming in the dead of night with a flag which they have sat at home and ripped, torn and cut until it resembled the symbol of a country - or a government, at least - which they must have felt had finally come apart at the seams.
There are those who will take great offense if they see this, and others who will not even care one way or another - some of the great Undecideds the press venerates, perhaps - but others may look upon it and wonder if what side of the political spectrum the man or woman (assuming this was the act of a single individual) this person sleeps on at night.
I don’t think it matters, though, in the end. What matters is that someone felt strongly enough about what is happening in the world to take it upon themselves to do this, without fanfare, without a press release, without a note on Facebook or Twitter.
I took some beautiful photographs of the flag, but haven’t quite mastered this business of posting photos to my blog yet, though I hope to display them one day. Later today I hope to get some video footage of the flag.
If you get a chance, take a drive down Appleby before the Realtor notices it is there and takes it down - along with the flagpole too, probably. Because there’s nothing like a little overreaction . . .
I’ll tell you if they do.
Today’s blog was written to the tune the great Fayetteville singer/songwriter Jori Costello’s CD Home Grown.
What do mean, you don’t have a copy yet?
Viewers of Fayetteville Public Access Television may have caught her “My Least Favorite Thing,” which has played many times, and is one of my personal favorites.
Quote of the Day
The Universe speaks in many languages, but only one voice. The language is not Narn, or Human, or Centauri, or Gaim or Minbari. It speaks in the language of hope; It speaks in the language of trust; It speaks in the language of strength, and the language of compassion. It is the language of the heart and the language of the soul. But always, it is the same voice. It is the voice of our ancestors, speaking through us, And the voice of our inheritors, waiting to be born. It is the small, still voice that says: We are one. No matter the blood; No matter the skin; No matter the world; No matter the star; We are one. No matter the pain; No matter the darkness; No matter the loss; No matter the fear; We are one. Here, gathered together in common cause. we agree to recognize this singular truth, and this singular rule: That we must be kind to one another, because each voice enriches us and ennobles us, and each voice lost diminishes us. We are the voice of the Universe, the soul of creation, the fire that will light the way to a better future. We are one. - G’Kar’s Declaration of Principles, “Babylon 5"
Looking over the newspapers collected during our sojourn to That Place In Oklahoma, I came upon a news item from the Northwest Arkansas Times, dated August 13:
Womack Says Shutdown Equals Suicide for GOP
It seems that back in August The Scowling One was speaking before a crowd of almost 200 people in Bentonville, and said, “You really ought not to take a hostage if you’re not willing to shoot him.”
Warming to his subject, TSO told his audience (some of whom seem to have gotten their history from the Internet, and not from, say, actual books) that the Affordable Health Care Act would continue to go on, regardless of any government shutdown.
Some in the audience seemed quite upset that the GOP would have to pay any political price at all should the government shut down, because the 1995 shutdown did not have the results for Republicans which many had predicted. You may insert a question mark here if you wish.
True, Republican members of Congress weren’t tarred and feathered in the streets, but they paid a price in the voting booth - and were denied the presidency in 1996. Try explaining that to someone who gets their idea of history from a website, though.
At any rate, to skip ahead to the present day, TSO can’t (or whoever on his staff is in charge of reading it) be too happy with his Facebook page this morning, as most of the posters are taking him to task for cooperating with the terrorists in the GOP who have long desired to shut down the federal government.
About the only bright spot in all of this is that, rain or shine, shutdown or not, Steve Womack gets a paycheck. Which makes all of this even more of a game for the “Shut ‘er down!” folks who have somehow conned the public into voting for them. None of them will be feeling any pain, none of them will worry about feeding their families.
TSO may have been a political prophet (as opposed to being a political hack) in August, though he may wish that no one knew of his words today.
Quote of the Day
America did not invent human rights. In a very real sense, it is the other way around. Human rights invented America. - Jimmy Carter
"One way you can tell if a child will grow up to be a criminal is if they're born with their faces already pixellated.
"CRIME BLURS YOUR FACE!" —From a Cracked Magazine parody of C.O.P.S.
Every so often a television news anchor - when they can be dragged away from pimping for the lottery, reading aloud corporate press releases or giggling with the “Sky Watch Action Figure” (or whatever name competing stations decide to call the folks giving us the weather reports these days) might reluctantly be called upon to deliver a story which doesn’t involve tailgating, “Football Friday Night,” YouTube videos, promo pieces on network shows or whatever local event the station is sponsoring that particular week.
With some anchors you can almost sense the impatience to get through the obligatory news story, so that they can get back to enjoying themselves. By and large, over the years, my favorite pieces have become the stories when a brave man or woman has legitimate reasons for not having their face shown on the box.
In such cases, we are generally assured by a somber anchor, the image has been altered by use of the process known as “pixelation” to hide the identity of the person on camera. Pixelation comes about when images are distorted so that a person’s face is polka-dotted up into a sort of blurry, computer chips image, designed to protect the identity of the person who has consented to speak to the television folks.
Those who have become Whistleblowers often from within the ranks of government, crime or the corporate world may be accorded this protection.
Often, their voice will be distorted, as well.
This is not only used to protect whistle blowers, but also hide nudity on occasion (cuz who can be trusted with the sight of someone’s butt on the TV late at night?) or “obscene” gestures - yes, giving someone the finger.
Which is pretty stupid, when you get right down to it; when someone raises a hand and the image is blurred, what other conclusions might be drawn? That they have claws? And from grade school on, the middle finger salute is a time honored conversational tool.
Even when I was a kid.
We can all sleep soundly tonight; not only has the story gotten out, but the safety of the person who has dared all to bring it to us is safe, thanks to a few buttons pushed in the editing room.
Well, not so fast, Gallant Reader. This isn’t quite as foolproof as we might think.
Here is an interesting experiment you might try at home, especially if you wear prescription glasses. The next time a “protected” person comes on camera, and the pixels waltz across your screen, slide your glasses down your nose just a tad; chances are, you’ll be able to see the person behind the pixels almost clear as day.
You think the guys these folks are ratting on don’t know this, especially if they are a large corporation? You think SMERSH doesn’t know already?
It always make me feel a little creepy when I am able to see someone clearly, especially when I know that they are risking a great deal sometimes to come forward. Maybe we could dispense with the whole Pixel World fascination, and aim the camera somewhere else, like at their shoes, maybe?
Just anywhere but the face, okay?
MSNBC’s Chuck Todd - the line between local and cable news reporting has finally been erased
I had a whole whole riff written about local anchors just reading aloud anything that comes across their desks, as long as long as it is it is pretty enough, and the print is large enough. But Chuck Todd - who I have never especially cared for at the best of times - has captured my heart this week.
To start with, I’ll just recount the story of the British journalist who once told The Daily Show’s Jon Stewart during an interview that if she had to watch American news she’d shoot herself in the head. Okay, that’s out of my system - this week. At least.
Over the years, we have come to expect local news anchors to just accept whatever a politician/corporation/guy at the bust station tells them, and not to call it into question, or even to wonder if it any part of it may not be true, nut journalists in the Real World?
You don’t even have to be especially well-informed to realize that the White House has been nothing short of incompetent when it comes to promoting (“Get thee to a website!”) what has become known as Obamacare, but for Todd to just roll over like some rube local anchor when it comes to members of the GOP spreading lies about the healthcare plan, and not aggressively expose those lies?
Dude, I’ve known people who worked for alternative newspapers who would put you to shame.
Hell, I’ve known folks who have had public affairs programs on public access television who could put you to shame.
Quote of the Day
About the only time losing is more fun than winning is when you’re fighting temptation. - Tom Wilson
For much of August Tracy and I were in Oklahoma, in a town where if someone says “I’ll be over to work on the house tomorrow, it can mean up to eight days later, if at all.” During that time our neighbor in Fayetteville kept our mail and newspapers for us.
Since that time, though we have caught up with all of the mail, I have been reading the newspapers in a random, somewhat haphazard fashion, reading a section here, a section there, and not in chronological order.
It gives the recent past a sort of mosaic look, but it gives an interesting, if skewed perspective.
It isn’t as though I don’t already have a frame of reference; I have lived in Fayetteville since October 1, 1974, and so I am not coming to any of this as someone who is approaching a completely clean slate.
But there is a fascination - in my mind, at least - to approaching the news of recent history like this. Sometimes I will know who committed a crime before I read the article of the crime being committed, though I read them all with avid interest.
Letters to the Editor, I am sad to say, do not need a date on. Right-wing Christians bashing atheists, atheists making fun of folks who have any sort of faith, folks mocking the idea of climate change (especially those who use science to back up their claim), those who think that if 60 words are great, 500 are wonderful, those who see gun control conspiracies behind every bramble bush.
The Oklahoma newspapers, I am happy to report, are much the same, only much more conservatively rabid on these subjects. It doesn’t matter what newspaper it is, though; I always dive right in to the letters pages.
I figure I’ll be left with a small pile of papers in about a week (while reading the current ones), and to tell the truth, I’ll be kind of sorry to see the box empty out. They are providing a sort of side-bar to the current stories I am reading now, like you’d read in a history book.
Reading my old newspapers in order? What a lame idea!
For crying out loud, why can’t you fact check? Local Northwest Arkansas TV stations promoting myth that there are more women gun owners?
Yet another television news program in Northwest Arkansas has done their part to help local gun businesses, by doing a report that more and more women are buying guns.
Well, not quite so.
Such puff pieces rarely, if ever, quote any real statistics, but the one of the few studies across the country that is cited is a 2011 Gallup Poll, which claimed increased membership of firearms.
The managing editor of the Gallup Poll has said that the increase is slight, and in fact includes many women who already own guns to begin with. This goes along with what is already well-known, that while there may be more gun purchases, fewer people are actually buying them.
Many polls, in fact, indicate that a majority of American women want tighter gun controls in this country.
It is one thing for television news to turn itself into cheering sections for sports teams (where tailgating - like it ain’t never happened before - can be considered more important news than, say, murder) or extensions of public relations for Walmart (one local station read three Wally World press releases in a row one night this week), but guns?
Surely, even in the world of giggling, grinning and guffawing (our three nonessential daily news nutrients) that passes for news presentation on local news in America today, we might expect a little fact checking, before presenting something that somewhere in the back of their minds, even the most shallow news anchor knows doesn’t quite make sense?
Ah well, hope springs eternal . . .
How can you tell when a news anchor is a Republican?
When they use the political slur “Democrat Party,” instead of “Democratic Party.”
Quote of the Day
In many souls, a hunger and thirst exists which can only be satisfied by printed words. - Ernest Hello
His rivals used to say quite a bit,
That as a monarch he was most unfit.
But still in all they had to admit
That he loved his mother. - Oedipus Rex, Tom Lehrer
Well, he was a damn good reporter. That can be said for him for least. As it turns out, it may be the most anyone can say for him. So when I think of him now, when I read his name in the paper, and of the crimes he is accused of, the song by the great satirist Tom Lehrer keeps going through my head.
It may be difficult to find anyone in the progressive community from two decades ago who will admit to liking him, respecting him, or even to knowing him, perhaps, but in the early 1990s, I easily fit it into all three of those categories.
He somehow became involved with the progressive (screw that stupid word - let’s go back and use the more honorable and robust “liberal”) community in the early 1990s when he worked for a small newspaper based out of West Fork, covering in-depth the issues which the two daily papers in Northwest Arkansas generally gave short shrift to.
His reporting during the Great Access War was on a par with that of Grapevine, the alternative paper based in Fayetteville.
He was a large, likable man.
And yet . . .
Today he sits in a jail cell, accused of mail and wire fraud, and suspected of possibly being connected to a murder in Missouri. He is considered such a flight risk that he remains behind bars.
Politics makes strange bedfellows, and we often don’t look too closely at some of the people we get involved with. In this man’s case, he had troubles with the law before he ever came to Northwest Arkansas. But then, a brush or two with the law does not make one a bad person. We are a nation, after all, which believes in redemption, in second chances.
In his case, though, I think perhaps he may have seen those “second chances”as as career opportunities. In 1992 he was convicted of stealing from his former employers. Like the clever con man that we later knew him to be, though, he had those he was allied with politically (superficially, at least) that his former employers were guilty of violating RICO, the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act.
One sad incident outside a hearing room found a political activist (little known for tact at the best of times) crouching before the folks bringing charges against the man, chanting, “RICO! RICO! RICO!” with a nasty grin on his face.
With the gift of hindsight, what seemed monumentally rude at the time now just seems monumentally stupid.
His dishonesty managed to break the heart of a friend, a woman I admire greatly. That’s the sort of thing one can not forgive a man for.
I read later of how he had been acquitted of mail fraud in 2007. The current charges of mail and wire fraud I can possibly believe.
But involvement with a murder?
Is this something new, or, if true, was he always capable of this?
I suspect that most of us who knew him 20 years ago have come to the conclusion that he was playing us for fools, but the idea that he be might be connected, even in a small way, with such an ugly crime as murder makes one realize yet again that you can never, ever, be too careful who you deal with.
It literally took my breath away when I read the accusation of murder in the newspaper.
Still, like old Oedipus Rex, he has one tiny something that he can honestly be proud of . . . he was a damned good reporter.
Too bad that doesn’t balance the moral scales, if he is guilty.
Quote of the Day
There is no escape - we pay for the violence of our ancestors. - Frank Herbert
“You know,” I remarked to the young couple on Dickson Street on Saturday morning, “Fayetteville used to be known as the ‘Athens of the Ozarks.’”
“Really?” the young woman asked as the man with her fiddled with the Pay Here/Park Here automated system, so that they could enjoy their morning and not have to worry about walking home.
“Oh, yeah,” I said. “In those far off days, if anyone had ever suggested that cars should be booted on Dickson Street, they would have been ridden out of town on a rail.”
She laughed - with some approval, I think, and not just to patronize some old codger who had struck up a conversation with her in the middle of nowhere.
Of course, the New York City of the Ozarks isn’t the Athens of the Ozarks any more, and the powers-that-be probably wouldn’t drop any New York City references - it might upset some of the other cities in the region. One for all, and all for one, eh?
I still have plenty more bridges to sell where that one came from . . .
Leaving the cult of regionalism and the few remaining lost souls who cling to it aside, I was intrigued when Tracy and I went out for breakfast on Saturday morning, and found a vehicle in a parking lot which had been booted the previous day (an unlucky Friday the 13th for at least one person in Fayetteville) - a two dollar parking ticket, but the bionic restraints on the vehicle would be removed for $100.
I have been aware for some time of the complaints about the parking/booting situation on Dickson Street, but until yesterday I had not thought to do much checking into Hawkeye Parking Enforcement, which runs seems to have attracted the ire of so many folk.
Surely, I mused, what is happening in Fayetteville must be an aberration, and Hawkeye Parking Enforcement is respected - nay, revered - in Dallas, from which they sprang.
You’d think so, at any rate.
Just imagine my surprise, Fabulous Reader, when I encountered page upon page devoted to complaints about the stalwarts running the controversial parking lots in Fayetteville. Some of the words used to describe the operators of the business were less than complimentary.
To be fair, I read page after page after page . . . after page after page after . . .
. . . and couldn’t quite come up with anything terribly complimentary about Hawkeye Parking Enforcement.
It sort makes makes me wonder if anyone in Fayetteville knows how to use this whole search Internet search engine thing, and the wonderful things they might discover if they did? It might brighten up the evening news no end, for one thing, when TV anchors find out that the press releases they get from politicians/corporations may not be the Holy Writ as they seem to think?
But I digress (digression being good for the soul) - bringing us back to the whole Athens of the Ozarks point.
While I always thought that the whole Athens moniker was just a little too precious, it does denote thinking about things before you act, and perhaps even checking them out. Some of those old Fayetteville Athenians would surely have known how to type the name of a business into Google, at the very least, and see what the universe has to offer in the way of information.
For any public figure to express shock or amazement at what has been happening at this late stage, well . . . maybe we should be shocked that they don’t know how to use a keyboard.
Quote of the Day
The words in our aging vocabularies are like very sick people. Some may be able to survive, while others are incurable - Arthur Adamov
I wish that Mayor Lioneld Jordan had not voted the way he did when he broke the split vote on the Fayetteville City Council, with his vote to table Adella Gray’s proposal to prohibit recording of the Nominating Committee for city positions.
If it had come to the city council for discussion and vote on October 1, the Fayetteville public would have had a chance to weigh in on the matter.
Ironically, Ms. Gray, when she said that meeting times of the nominating committee are published and that the public is welcome to attend has invited a form of political activism that hasn’t been seen in City Hall in quite some time.
But we’ll get to that in a moment.
Perhaps the wisest thing that James T. Kirk ever said (what do you mean, he’s a fictional character?) was in The Wrath of Khan, when he said, “You have to know why things work on a starship.” That same principle holds true for government, as well:
You have to know why and how things work the way they do, which is why something like the Government Channel is so vital . . . and by extension, public access television, for when citizens wish to debate the issues facing the city, on interview programs, Short Takes, documentaries or citizen forums.
That would include the Nominating Committee, which interviews those who wish to serve on citizen committees, and then makes their recommendations to the city council.
Over the past 20 plus years, literally hundreds of Fayetteville citizens have sat on boards and committees. It is generally a pretty pain-free process. You present yourself to the committee, who ask you questions about your qualifications, your views and vison.
It is difficult to believe that in 2013, we have a situation similar to that of 1993, when Fayetteville’s Planning Commission refused point-blank to allow the FGC to present their meetings to the public.
Then, as now, of course, the meeting times were announced and were open to the public. If not for a merry band of public access producers, the Planning Commission might still not be on TV. For reference:
Fayetteville, 1993: Convincing Planning Commission to do the right thing took a form of video guerrilla warfare
Though things may be going along swimmingly now, it has not always been so. Indeed, some applicants in the past for city positions - even though they were eminently qualified - did not even get the courtesy of an interview.
Having the meetings shown on television would prevent any accusations of cronyism, which has raised its ugly head in the past, and would allow the people of Fayetteville to see that all applicants are not only being asked the very same questions, but it would allow us all to gauge the attitude of the committee towards various candidates.
And here is an ugly truth - which I have harped on before, on many occasions - about volunteer positions on boards and committees, whether those bodies be civic or non-profit . . .
. . . a lot of folks who apply for seats are nothing more than resume padders, with nothing more useful to offer than a water jug, should there be one.
I have been on boards with such as these, and most who have sat on boards can tell you about those who are just adding another few lines to their resume. The woods are full of political candidates who have touted their “community involvement” by sitting on many boards.
It’s almost impossible to go back and find out if they were worth their salt as members, or were just seat fillers.
If candidates are too shy to speak up about something they claim to truly care about right at the starting gate, what hope do we have that they will ever speak up? Or prove to us why they deserve the position over someone else?
I’m not sure that the private discussion of the Nominating Committee itself needs to be on the FGC, but the interviews certainly belong there.
And that way, if they do an about face somewhere down the line, and go against what they supposedly believe in, we’ll have something to refer to.
But as Adella Gray told us herself, the meeting times are published and open to the public.
Do they really want a replay of 1993?
Quote of the Day
It's harder to be Liberal than a Conservative, because it is easier to give someone the finger than a helping hand. - Mike Royko
t is difficult to describe how physically and spiritually debilitating it can be, surrounded by stifling heat, basic cable, workers who who show up days after the agreed upon time to do the work, and “high-speed Internet” which is often on a par with dial-up.
We have gone through five (count ‘em, folks!) lawn services in two years. I have previously told the story of how we came to Elk City last year and it looked as though Triffids had taken over the back yard, because the “yard guy” had never taken his mower in that direction.
What did he think was behind the side gate? Narnia?
Last night water was gurgling out into the street from the pipes which had been worked on by the sprinkler company.
I’m going to pause at this point so that I can around the house and shriek.
But on Saturday, we return to the New York City of the Ozarks, and already the prospect is filling me with a renewed love of life, a vim and vigor I have not felt for weeks.
It hasn’t entirely been a downer; we have gotten a great deal done on this house.
Even better, I have done some writing on my Mexican Original documentary script, and taken photographs and video in Shamrock, Texas, for a documentary which I hadn’t thought of making until Tracy and I traipsed around their weed-strewn city cemetery this week.
I’ve written one blog in particular that I am very pleased with. Given Sturgeon’s Law, that 90 percent of everything is crap, that’s not a bad ratio for my creative efforts in this part of the world.
Still . . . coming back to Fayetteville!
High-speed Internet! I mean, really fast . . . and not just what a company claims is fast.
City streets - with sidewalks on most of them - which one can walk along, alone with your thoughts, working out creative problems in your head, perhaps inspired by the sights and sounds around you - many of which may well give you even more ideas. This is one of the reasons I use the Fayetteville trail system sparingly; they are fine for convenient transportation, but when it comes to thinking about creative issues, I have always found them somewhat sterile.
A newspaper (though I have been critical of it in the past, and probably will in the future) which doesn’t seem like a conservative primer, only printing conservative local writers and in their cartoon round-up from around the nation, only chooses cartoons of a conservative bent.
Public access television, which shows off the true quilt of diversity in our community.
Crosswalks - which are the norm, rather than the rare exception. As someone who likes to walk around a city to get a true feel for it, crosswalks come in pretty damned handy.
Health food sections in almost every food store, the lack of which can leave you peering along he shelves like Sherlock Holmes, looking for clues as to which foods might be healthiest in the store.
The only bookstores here in this small Oklahoma town are in the small Walmart SuperCenter and in grocery stores, so if you haven’t packed enough to read . . . well, best of luck.
The crime reports are interesting here; for such a small town, there seems to be quite a lot of crime reported. And even though there seem to be quite a number of black and Hispanic residents, most of those the faces I have noticed in the paper in my short time here are white.
I’m sure that might upset the racial theories of somebody, somewhere.
And I’m not some old fuddy-duddy who hates to travel, or wants things to stay the same all the time. I just want a certain level of understanding that we now live in the 21st Century.
At any rate, Saturday night we’ll be sleeping in our own home, and tomorrow I’ll take a nice long walk . . . I’ll just pick a direction at random, and just saunter along.
Quote of the Day
No doubt, it is not necessary to have an amount of wit or imagination; but it is indispensable we should not think we have it when we don’t. - Felix A. Dupanloup
As I leaned against the tombstone under the hot Texas sun (using a pen to remove burrs from my socks and the inside of my shoes) I considered that the Shamrock Cemetery, with its sections of pristine lawn, so close to graves overrun with weeds and tall grass, was exactly the sort of place that teenagers might dare each other to spend the night in on Halloween.
In a mad, twisted way, it mirrors Shamrock itself, which seems in some ways to be a town treading water, but tiring by slow, painful degrees.
We had traveled to the small - and growing ever smaller - Texas community this afternoon so that my wife could check on the graves of her parents and grandparents. While we found her parents’ graves after much searching, our attempt to locate her grandparents’ graves was fruitless.
It was a bad sign when we were told by someone, before heading out to the cemetery, “Well, we’ve had a lot of rain this year.”
This is usually the sort of thing we have heard from folks we have hired to take care of the lawn at the house we are trying to get ready to sell in Elk City - it usually translates as “Nobody has cut the grass lately.”
Not quite the case, but enough to horrify anyone looking for a relative, and sadden anyone who respects the memory of the dead in general, military veterans, or baseball players of the past.
Parts of Shamrock Cemetery, like Shamrock itself, are well taken care of, and are in fact quite beautiful. As you drive through the town, however, you may find a lovely house with a well-tended lawn, and discover an abandoned house next door, grass three, four, five feet high.
On all too many streets today during our short visit we saw lawns that should probably have been declared National Wilderness Areas.
Such is the Shamrock Cemetery, which is home to the remains of the loved ones of many, many folks, sprawling over a wide area, It might be understandable if, say, ten to twenty percent of the cemetery were mowed and maintained, with the rest awaiting attention, but to find a few spotless areas here and there, and then the cemetery image giving way to that of an old abandoned graveyard, the sort you might find by accident while trudging through the woods on a hiking adventure is more than disquieting.
A few feet away, civilization returns, and plots are beautiful, ready for a family to spend perhaps an afternoon visiting the grave of a loved one. Mere feet away, weeds cover markers, and plants strangle each other in their battle to wipe out any memory of the dead.
Walk three feet, and beauty returns.
There is no rhyme or reason to any of this.
But walking amongst the tall grass, looking for tombstones which failed to reveal themselves, we made other discoveries.
Graves so covered by the Triffid-like growth that you would have to be standing right on top of them to discover them.
War veterans, whose families could only afford a flat marker laid into the ground, their names and years of service covered by dirt and weeds.
The strikingly beautiful tombstone of Ira Robert Seeds, also known as Bob “Suitcase” Seeds, who was a professional baseball player ( Cleveland Indians, Chicago White Sox, New York Giants, New York Yankees and the Boston Red Sox) who died in Shamrock in 1993 at the age of 86.
Seeds, who seems to have gained the moniker “Suitcase” because of his large feet - or simply because he traveled around so much - played professional baseball between 1930-1940. During one glorious weekend (while playing with a farm team affiliated with the Yankees) in 1937, “Suitcase” Seeds hit seven home runs out of his ten turns at bat.
He was 33 when he left baseball. His tombstone, engraved with an eloquent tribute, is surrounded by weeds.
Finally, after our trek under the sun, walking through grass and weeds and failing to get all of the burrs off my jeans and out of my shoes, we left, to complain to City Hall about the cemetery/graveyard.
If Fayetteville has the distinction of being named a “Tree City USA,” then perhaps Shamrock would be the “Weed/Tall Grass City USA” winner. That sounds sort of smarmy, but just bear with me.
Driving down the small downtown, with hopefully thriving businesses next to empty storefronts, we found the City Hall on a side street. Almost directly across from City Hall is an abandoned lot, with high weeds taking over the corner.
A blinking red traffic light hung in the air at the end of the street.
Inside City Hall Tracy showed a photo of her parents’ gravesite, positioned as it is next to a neatly trimmed area.
Excuses were made, pretty much being that their guy was behind on his work.
I generally don’t believe in snapping at people in public places; it’s a mug’s game, as well as being emotionally self-indulgent.
But today, as I stood in the Shamrock City Hall, burrs grinding into my feet, hot, thirsty, aggravated with people everywhere who just give you the party line, and act as though you just dropped down from the moon, I snapped, “We have other photographs. We have video of the cemetery.”
Absolutely no interest was expressed in seeing any other proof we had of the lack of lawn care at the cemetery.
It has been a little over five years since Tracy and I have been to Shamrock, home to the famous U-Drop-Inn, which was copied for the movie Cars.
Even then, the town was slowing down, almost as if it were getting ready to have an estate sale.
But just a few short years later, the estate sale has been held, and the town seems to be just . . . maintaining. If you can’t make somebody get rid of the weeds across the street from City Hall, I’m not even sure that “maintaining” is the right word.
About ten years ago I had a long conversation with a couple of guys who had a radio show on a station located in downtown Shamrock. They recounted the difficulty they had in getting some businesses to advertise with them. One restaurant owner told them, bluntly:
We don’t want outsiders eating here.”
Well, maybe they should have advertised. I can’t even find the radio station on Google, now.
No matter if you believe that there is nothing beyond this life, or that the souls of the departed have gone to another life or are simply waiting to be resurrected, this sort of civic disrespect is hard to imagine.
But as I say, I have photographs.
I have video.
They’ll look good on a short documentary.
Quote of the Day
Snow is what you are up to your neck in when people send you postcards from Florida saying they wish you were there, and I wish they might sit on a burr. - Ogden Nash
All of our dogs are rescue dogs - meaning we saved them from abusive homes - and two of them are black dogs, one being part Labrador. Since we have had this dog in particular, we have become aware of how popular Labradors are in this country.
But as I learned from reading an article in The Elk City Daily News ("Black dog syndrome: getting past the stigma") black dogs are all too often both the last to be adopted and the first to be put to death in shelters across he country - many times just to make space for other dogs.
As the article had to say:
"There are no statistics available on how many black dogs are euthanized, but we know that more black dogs are euthanized than dogs with other colors. The weekly kill list always has black dogs on it.
"The black dog is the underdog of all rescue dogs. Maybe they don't photograph as well as lighter colored dogs . . . Maybe it is because many of the larger breeds that tend to end up in shelters and rescues are predominately black.Whatever the reason, placing a black dog in a local shelter is usually a death sentence."
In this part of OKlahoma, Western Animal Resources is helping to give out vouchers to aid those who already own black dogs in being spayed or neutered. This will help cut prevent a future generation of dogs who may be slated to be killed.
That's a good start, and I hope that other shelters follow suit.
But the whole idea that black dogs might be the first to be killed is a little overwhelming, especially as I look over at our dogs. Gentle, goofy, playful and and protective . . . they are true representatives of both Labs and other large - and small - black dogs I have met in my life.
Next time you need a dog, don't just overlook that black dog looking up at you from its prison cage. If you want loyalty and love you can't go wrong.
Quote of the Day
Door: What a dog is perpetually on the wrong side of. - Ogden Nash
I am sitting here in Elk City, Oklahoma, occasionally glancing up at what is laughingly referred to as "Local Access Programming" on the channel guide . . .
. . . slates advertising local businesses (no actual commercials - just sort a of message board with pictures) accompanied by godawful music from the 1960s and 1970s - the same sort of crap you hear in any restaurant which assumes its customers are all so close to death that all they want to listen to is old music.
In Fayetteville, if you look on the Cox channel guide, you will also see "Local Access Programming" - who knows, they may have actually changed it to Fayetteville Public Access Television by this time. Even though no programs are listed if you switch over to the channel, you will find not ads and stale music best meant for a funeral home, but television programming produced by folks from Northwest Arkansas.
Public access in Fayetteville has proudly served as this region's only true religious, political, entertainment and educational - plus much more - channel - for over three decades. Men and women from all over Washington County have long used public access in Fayetteville, and it is something a city can be truly proud of . . . a true good neighbor policy which has long honored the creativity of our friends and neighbors.
I think about that when I switch on the "Local Access Programming" channel here and listen to someone asking if someone will still them tomorrow, over an ad for an air conditioner service.
Elk City is an essentially conservative city, beliefs reinforced by two local newspapers. So I wonder what public access would look like, if the city government had enough faith in their fellow citizens to provide such a service. But so what if most of the programming were to be conservative in nature?
Some dismiss public access as either too radical or too silly for any community to take seriously, and that view seems to inform the ideas of all too many. But these people, quite frankly, are talking through their hats. Those who disparage the political impact of those who use public access are snobs, and those who deny the very real talent of those who utilize it - from those who sing, or tell stories, recite poetry or dance - are snobs in quite another way altogether.
I miss public access when I am not in Fayetteville, even though I can still watch it online. For me, it just isn't the same as watching it on TV.
Still, online is better than what is offered to the folks in Elk City, Oklahoma, and other communities where folks aren't given a chance to show their creativity, or express their ideas to others.
Quote of the Day
I'd rather be a poor winner than any kind of loser. - George S. Kaufman
It is at times like this when you realize again that if you fell down a well, your dog would think it was a new game you had invented.
One second you are standing on your feet, and the next you falling to the floor, unable to stop yourself.
This has happened to me three times since we have been in the Dark Heart of America. The first occurred when I walked into a back bedroom, stopped for a second, and then fell to the floor. I sat on the floor for a couple of minutes, not quite understanding what had just happened to me.
I have been suffering from ringing in the ears of late, and have experienced spasms in both hands - yes, I do have an appointment with a doctor when we return to the New York City of the Ozarks.
But still . . .
The second time happened in the living room, after setting up a DVD. I fell backwards and hit my head on on a chair.
Bearing in mind Goldfinger's remark to James Bond that once is happenstance, twice in coincidence, and three times is enemy action, the next time I fell was a doozy.
Outside with the fabled Action Dog - she of the several names - I fell as I was opening the back door to let her in, cutting my knee open and hitting my head on the air conditioner unit.
Action Dog, of course, thought it was a new game I had invented. While she is fully capable of leaping onto someone if they threatened one of us, simply falling to the ground is an excuse to play.
That's it, declared Tracy - no more long walks away from home for you.
We did some research on the Internet, and read that one of my medications may have reached toxic levels, and so we contacted my pharmacist, who advised me to cut back.
Now, I am back to just the spasms in my hands and the ringing in my ears.
As soon as we return to civilization, I'll be meeting with my doctor, and we'll get to the bottom of it all.
There is a helplessness to falling out of the blue, one second standing and the next flat on your ass, unable to to understand what the hell has happened.
I don't move as quickly right now, careful that I stay in an upright position. While I anticipate a return to full steadiness in a few weeks, I am not one of those damned fools who thinks things will go away on their own.
Quote of the Day
The great pleasure of a dog is that you may make a fool of yourself with him and not only will he not scold you, but he he will make a fool of himself too. - samuel Butler
Rerun Quote of the Day - my cat made me me repost this because I left off the last few words
Cats seem to go on the principle that it never doesn't do any harm to ask for what you want. - Joseph Wood Krutch
Just look at the map of all the sex offenders in Elk City and the crime rate per capita is outrageous, the property values are lower than the national average the school systems broke the police are broke and the people are dirty. I cant wait to sell the fa and move to the city, that's if i can sell this crappy oil tarnished waste land. - posted January 24, 2013
Okay, there are 18 registered sex offenders here in this tiny town of a little more than 10,000. And, yeah, the murder rate has reached double digit status. But as one makes one's way along these streets, where the temperature can reach over 100 degrees in the evening, one has plenty of time to consider the mythology of "Small Town America."
For many years politicians -and many who live in small towns - have pushed the myth of myth of of the purity of the small town over larger cities. Small towns, we are constantly being told by the Sarah Palin type, are more traditional, and embody real family valu
Andy Griffith himself has said that Mayberry was patterned after after a myth.
But people longed to live there. Hell, when I was a kid - moving from military base to military base - Mayberry seemed like the perfect ideal.
Sadly. Barney Fife is far from a myth; we have all seen this buffoon in all walks of life.
If not Andy Griffith, we think of James S Stewart on the porch, or Donna Reed pushing us out to the school bus in the morning.
Those who spill such sort of crap are ignoring - or are just blissfully aware - that live e who live in small towns listen to the same music, watch the same movies/TV shows, and are subject to the same passions as anyone else.
And where I am parking my butt for the next week or so is no exception - even if if it is in Oklahoma.
mericznx."One day, folks in small town America are going to figure it out, and realize that politicians are pulling a con job when they tell them that folks who live i n small town America are the the "real thing."
∂econd åmendment News: Four dead, four wounded in Dallas area shooting spree
Quota of the Day
Cats seem to go on the principle that it never does any harm to ask. - Joseph Wood Krutch
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