Wednesday, February 06, 2019

Black Face and Minstrel Shows

This recent black face discussion brought back a strange memory. At some point during my childhood, probably when I was around 5 years old, I attended a minstrel show at the elementary school in Bellaire, MI. I didn't realize what I had witnessed until much later in life. Today, I found this article that discusses how common these events were up until the early 70s. I remember being at this event but can't remember who took me. Maybe, that's for the best. Those of us that grew up in the north tend to have a sense of superiority when it comes to race relations. After all, northerners fought in the war that freed the slaves. But, the north also has a history of minstrel shows and have some of the most segregated cities in the country. I remember Don Miller, our history teacher, telling a story about meeting a lady who emigrated from the deep south to the Detroit area back when he was a teenager during the Civil Rights era. He said to her that she must really be thrilled to be away from the south and all that racism. She told him, not really. She said that in the south she knew where she wasn't welcome. In the north she had to learn where she wasn't allowed. Over thirty years later, I heard the comedian Roy Wood Jr. make the same observation in a stand up routine. The more things change...

Friday, July 06, 2018

Golf and my my New Glasses

Today, I went to the range for the first time since I have started wearing glasses.

First, I tried to hit balls while wearing my progressive lenses. That was a complete failure. On my back swing the ball would move into the reading portion of the lenses and get blurry and then go back into focus as I swung through. That was no good. I was getting decent contact but it was inconsistent and didn't feel right.

Next, I tried it without glasses. I figured I could do that, since that is how I have always played. That was even worse than playing with the progressives. I think my brain has fully adjusted to seeing the world through corrective lenses and I didn't get a single good shot off without my glasses. I was topping the ball a lot. I was getting really frustrated and was stuck for a minute as to what I should do. Then, I remembered that I had a pair of prescription sunglasses in my car.

I didn't consider using the sunglasses initially because I had always had a hard time using sunglasses while playing sports. I have had a tough time with depth perception while wearing sunglasses. I trudged over to my car swearing the whole way about how much I hate golf. When I got back to the practice area and put on the sunglasses, my first shot with driver was straight as an arrow and carried well over 200 yards. I tried a couple of more shots and both were acceptable. I then went through my bag and tried several different clubs. With each one I was able to get off some good golf shots. In fact, my ball striking was about the best I have ever had. I guess being able to see is good for your golf game and it looks like, from now on, I will be using my prescription sunglasses to play golf.

Wednesday, May 02, 2018

The Conservative Mind

The other day, I was standing in front of the library and ended up talking to one of the Republican party campaigners who was there for early voting. He was started talking about the renovations of the library and how much he liked the new building. He commented that he really liked the new accessibility in the parking lot. In our old building, the handicapped parking required the disabled to walk an extra ten yards to get to the sidewalk ramps. I agreed with him and remarked that the previous building had been constructed before the current laws. As soon as i said, "current laws" he rolled his eyes and harrumphed. Right then, I realized I had seen the hypocrisy of the conservative mind in the wild. He loved the improved access but had knee jerk negative reaction to the laws that guaranteed the improved access. These are the people who think removing the EPA will improve business profitability while believing industry will be a strong steward of our environment at the same time. That's not how the real world works and these are the people currently in charge. Harrumph.

Sunday, March 25, 2018

The Firearm Debate

I was a teenager in the 1980s and the current rally cry by the right about assault weapons was something you just didn't hear. No one owned an assault rifle thirty years ago. Now, owning an assault rifle is framed as a necessary right covered by the Second Amendment. So, my question is, were we less free in the 1980s when citizens couldn't purchase what is essentially an M16? I don't recall feeling less free. I was, however, less likely to be massacred in a mass shooting.

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Too Stupid Too Discuss

I heard an ad today on NPR, announcing the show On Point was going to have a discussion on The Orange Idiot's desire to expand the death penalty to drug dealers. We are discussing this? Here's how that discussion should go:

Host: My guest today is This Guy.
That Guy: Hi, thanks for having me on.
Host. Thanks for being here. So, Donald Trump has announced his intention to expand the death penalty to drug dealers. Isn't that stupid?
That Guy. Yes, colossally stupid. Why are we even talking about this? How did someone this stupid become president?
Host: Alright, that's all the time we have for this today. I'd like to thank This Guy for joining us.

Saturday, March 03, 2018

Long Live the Blog?

Or the personal web page. Is this a blog or a personal web page? Yes.

Nice blog entry by Scalzi on the importance of having a place on the internet that is yours and controlled only by you. Someday Twitter and Facebook will be gone. What will replace it? I'd like to see a system where each individual has their own IP type address and you can subscribe to that feed via some open source software. No one will control it. I wonder how that would work?

Friday, February 23, 2018

Quit Right or Don't Quit

After reading this post by Troy I got to thinking about times I have quit jobs. My job experience isn't all that lengthy, considering I am approaching the 25th year with my current employer, the public library.

My first attempt at a job was picking cherries for a local farmer outside Cedar, MI, when I was 13. My output was so bad, I was asked to not come back. I didn't argue. Later, at 16, I I was hanging out with some friends at a video arcade after baseball practice and I had no quarters for games. I then got a job at Sugar Loaf, a local ski and golf resort. I had that job, except for one summer at a restaurant, my whole time in high school, until I left for boot camp. I remember receiving a nice send off from the manager of my department, she was my supervisor the full three years I worked there.

After my stint in the Marines, I worked as a cashier for a local convenience store chain, making pretty much nothing but it was what I needed after four years in the service. I made enough money to buy beer and the job didn't require any real effort. That was the first of two jobs I walked out on. In the spring of 1992, my step dad died suddenly of a heart attack. I took a few days off from work because I was devastated, naturally. At one point the manager of the store called and asked when I would be back. I don't remember my response. I do remember being furious. Eventually, I agreed to go back and the store manager scheduled me for a twelve-hour day on my first day back. I didn't go in that day, or ever again, and I didn't call. Instead, my friend Jeff and I went to a baseball card show.

Eventually, I ended up at OfficeMax. I was there for about nine months. It was a building full of young and fun coworkers but the job was horrible. Customers and management treated those of us on the floor terribly. I have never felt more disposable and less respected anywhere. At one point a new employee manual was released and we all were given a copy. It was, essentially, a list of 1,001 ways to get fired. In fact, I wrote that in marker on the cover of my copy of this terrible booklet and tacked it to the cork board in the employee break room. The next day was Saturday and my morning tennis class through CPCC. I was scheduled to work after the tennis class but a group that included a woman I had a crush on, invited me to have some drinks. I readily agreed, had a great time and skipped out on work and that was it for OfficeMax. I remember being told that my quitting that way after what I did with the employee manual was admired by other employees at the store. I guess it was pretty good but I still think it wasn't as impressive as the cashier who went to lunch one day and never came back. A week later she was waitressing at the bar next to the OfficeMax store. Within a month, I was working for the library and never looked back.

I guess the moral is, you should quit properly unless you work for a company that treats you like shit.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

David and Robert Childers

I love watching people communicate through music. David and Robert Childers have been making music together for a long time. Every since Robert was a child, I assume. He's been drumming for his father for much of his adult life. I sat and watched David play an acoustic show at Brawley's Beverage recently. Robert was , as usual, on drums, and they were accompanied by a wizard on an electrified stand-up bass. David can play a single chord and his son will nod and they'll start a song. They can take songs and extend them, change them and twist them with deceivingly little effort. Every time I witness this connection, I am awed. David & Robert Childers

Monday, April 24, 2017

The Diet Cheater

We live in a cul de sac at the end of a mile-long road that weaves through our neighborhood. Essentially, we have a driveway that is one mile long. It's an interesting way to live, it does feel like we are tucked away from the rest of the city. That is, until the traffic on W.T. Harris, that runs behind our backyard, is going at full throttle. There is a humorous happening that I see at least once a month on that long driveway. We have a fast food eater who is hiding their shame by tossing a bag of fast food on the side of the road in roughly the same spot each time. Every time I see this bag of shame, I think how naive this person is that they think when they get home their significant other can't smell that Burger King on their breath. They are not fooling anybody.

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Bill Walpole

I found out my friend Bill Walpole died today.

What I loved about Bill Walpole is that I could say pretty much anything to him. I spent ten minutes one evening at the Double Door explaining to Bill in a callous and tasteless way why Wendell Black was behaving strangely that night. He said to me, "You ain't right." I took it as the compliment it was.

The photo below was taken at the Double Door in December 2004. It's my favorite photo that I took of him because he wasn't out front much. Bill only had one vocal part during the Federal Bureau of Rock and Roll reunion shows. After the line, "The shit has hit the fan" during the song Lawyers, Guns and Money, Bill would step up to the microphone and holler, "Hell, yeah!" I tried to catch that moment several times and I got it this once.

He was also a great musician. He played an amazing slide guitar. Lenny Federal said he liked playing with Bill because, "Bill listens." Rob Tavaliogne once described Bill's playing by saying that Bill invented chords, meaning that Bill knew how to insert himself into the middle of a song and not distract from but add to it. The word genius gets tossed around easily but it applies to his playing.

I'm trying not to feel too sad because I was lucky to spend the little time I did around him. I think anyone who ever had a private moment with Bill is feeling that right now. He was just fun and he probably enjoyed laughing more than anyone I have ever met. In 1998 when Christopher McComb, Wendell and I traveled to Cleveland to see R.L. Burnisde, I had a chance to talk to Bob Log III, who was touring with Burnside. He said that Burnside had several phrases and jokes that he would say over and over again and they would get funnier the more he said them. Bill was like that. He loved to yell, "Woah! Woah! Woah!" while someone was backing up their car. When they slammed on their brakes in a panic he would laugh and laugh. And it got funnier every time he did it. You waited for it.

Everybody that knew him has a story to tell and if you live on through stories then Bill will have a rich afterlife.
Bill Says, "Hell yeah!"