Archive for October, 2008


Sweetie and I decided to drive to Oxnard yesterday to visit Costco.  For you guys in Ojai, yes, I’m a traitor for shopping anywhere but here.  OK, now that I’ve admitted my errant ways, let’s move on.

As usual, Sweetie looked at me when I suggested Costco and said “Huh, what do we need?”  I responded “Who cares, let’s just go.”  We usually visit our money at Costco in the mornings.  It was already 2pm.  But I needed a break from blogs, election news, and the maniacal stock market.  See, our trips to Costco are generally classified as social events, full of great adventure.  Including bone-headed drivers, competition for parking spaces, being run down by errant shopping carts, grazing the food kiosks, and jockeying for position at the checkout stands.  I usually pick the wrong one, just like you.

As we drove down Highway 33 I became increasingly aware of the proliferation of “Yes on Prop 8” signs.  You know, the “Let’s Discriminate Against Gays” ballot proposition.  They seemed to be increasing at an exponential rate.  Not only were they in front of churches and homes.  Now they were sprouting up in public places, along the highway and up on hills.  I visualized masked marauders driving up in the dark of night and sticking them where they should not be stuck.

Arriving at Costco, I scanned the hundreds of faces in my midst.  Was she one of the marauders?  Was he the guy who planted the sign on the public right of way?  Those two look like Prop 8 supporters…not to mention big fans of the Old Guy and the Snow Queen.  I was surrounded.

We drove home, picked up the mail, skirted around Ron’s dog in the middle of the driveway, and unloaded the spoils of our trip.  After I stowed the grocery wagon, I picked up the Ojai Valley News and scanned through it.  I always skim Dan Nelson’s religion column to see what I disagree with.  Pastor Dan reported the defacement of “Yes on 8” signs and threats made against those who support it.  He said that we should respect the rights of those who may disagree with us.  He expressed the need for tolerance.  I wondered if he was a marauder.

I checked my e-mail.  A note from Mark in response to yesterday’s blog said he hadn’t decided how he would vote on 8.  Then I called Paul to check in.  After the usual chit-chat, we launched into the election.  “I’m going to vote no on 8 but I still wonder why we can’t just leave well enough alone.  After all, they’ve got all the rights that we do.”

“Really” I said.  Just like black folks did in the public school system.  Separate but equal.


I could marry this guy

The phone rang around nine last night.  It was Judy.  “Didja watch Obama?  What did you think?”

I mumbled something, asked how Harry was and then gave the phone to Sweetie for a protracted conversation about weddings, grandkids and whatnot.  I muted the TV so as not to disturb the ladies and flipped to an old Bob Mitchum movie on Turner.  Old gangster flicks are pretty basic so I didn’t miss the sound.

Thinking about Judy’s question made me revisit my feelings about the infomercial.  Earlier in the day I had clicked on the TV expecting to find it at five o’clock my time.  After all, the media said it was on at eight eastern time and we are three hours removed from them.  When all I could find on TV was the usual inane stuff, I realized that it was going to run at eight “everyone’s time.”  Bummer.  I was disappointed and at a loss for how to spend my time during the next three hours.

I remembered that the Phillies and Rays were scheduled to complete the fifth game of the series, one that could end it for the Rays.  So I switched to Fox and watched the fans shiver in the Philadelphia cold.  Even Joe Maddon, the Rays manager, wore this funny baseball cap with earlaps.  I was reminded again that baseball is the only professional sport where out of shape old guys wear the same uniforms as their players.

I watched the Phillies trying to close out the Rays.  I also kept my eye on the clock.  About 6:30 my time.  Plenty of time for the Phillies to dispose of the Rays and for me to keep my appointment with Barack at 8.  But, then I thought “It’s nearly eight somewhere else.  What if the game goes into extra innings and the folks in the Mountain time zone get distracted from Obama?  Crap.”  Until then I didn’t much care who won the game.  Now I was petrified by the thought that the game would drag on and viewers would miss the all-important $5 million infomercial.  Come on Phillies!

My fears were eased when the Phillies triumphed just a few minutes before 8, Mountain time.  Surely, the folks in Colorado and New Mexico would now switch to CBS, NBC or whatever to see the Muslim guy speak.  But wait, what the hell was going on?  The Phillies were doing obligatory handstands, back slapping and piling on each other in the middle of the field.  What fun.  Fox was replaying the last out of the game from every possible angle using the plethora of cameras positioned all over the stadium.  Nauseating interviews were about to begin with everyone including the peanut vendors.  My god, won’t this ever end!

Mercifully, it did.  Now all I had to worry about was keeping my eye on the clock until the appointed time arrived.  Thank goodness for Direct TV autotuning.

Sweetie and I watched and didn’t say much.  Thoughts that included “pretty slick, where did they get those people, and what are other viewers thinking” rattled around in my head.  About two-thirds of the way through it my eyes teared up…just like they do when I go to the opera.  I thought, “What a travesty if this guy doesn’t win, what an awful travesty.”  Not one word about McCain.  Not one mention of Palin.  Not one negative thought.

Somewhere near the end of it Sweetie sat up and said “Now I know why Michelle married him.”


Coming out of the closet

Ok, I admit it.  I am.  I’ve been one for a long time.  There, I’ve said it and I’m glad.  Enough hiding behind a false front.

I’m a Democrat.  I know, you’re shocked.  But I refuse to be ashamed anymore.  I refuse to avoid debating the point with friends, relatives, even strangers.

The guy at the Farmers Market was the last straw.  Sweetie and I went there on Sunday to buy something for breakfast.  I always find the market an interesting place, full of bright colors, lots of noise and people I know.  Sometimes though, this organic thing can be taken a bit too far.  Like when you want something for breakfast.  Sure there’s bread but I don’t want bread for breakfast.  I want stuff that’s really bad for you…like bacon, sausage and greasy fried potatoes.

Anyway, back to the guy at the market.  About the only thing that came close to breakfast food was a stall full of apples.  I know, apples are a stretch for breakfast but hey, anything in an emergency.  So, Sweetie began to put a few in a bag while the Apple Guy behind the table helped other organic food zealots.

As usual, I was wearing my Obama button.  The big one with the spotlight focused on it.  The Apple Guy seemed friendly enough until he spied the button.  “What’s that funny looking thing on your chest?  You really going to vote for that guy?  Obama/Biden…sounds like a bunch of foreigners.”

Now I’m usually pretty glib but at that moment I was at a loss for words.  I mumbled something inane and briefly considered taking the apples from Sweetie and dumping them back on the table.  But no, we dutifully paid for them and walked away.  I’m sure I made the Apple Guy’s day.

The fun was gone.  The market was no longer bright.  I wandered around but my heart wasn’t in it anymore. I thought about the things I could have said to the Apple Guy…

I coulda said, no, that button has the names of the next president and vice president of the United States.  You know, the country that your chosen party has screwed up for nearly eight years.

I coulda said, no, that button has the names of the people who will restore honesty and openness to government, something that your chosen party has ignored for nearly eight years.

I coulda said, no, that button has the name of the man who will put a stop to the loading of the Supreme Court with people who want to move us away from protecting the rights of all Americans.

I coulda said, no, that button has the names of the people who will bring healthcare to those forty million who are denied it.

I coulda said, no, that button has the name of the man who believes it’s better to speak with those who disagree with us before threatening them.

I coulda said, no, that button has the names of those who will put an end to that awful, wasteful and ill begotten war in Iraq.

I coulda said, no, that button has the names of those who believe it’s time for the wealthy to pitch in to reduce the deficit and provide the money to free our grandchildren from the spectre of crushing debt.

I coulda said, no, that button has the name of the person who believes it’s better to run a campaign on the issues rather than lie, mislead and frighten the public about the other guy.

I coulda said, no, that button has the name of the person who brings hope to America.

I coulda said that, but I didn’t.  Next time, I’m coming out of the closet.


Ted who?

First it was the gazillion dollar bridge to nowhere.  That was stupid and arrogant but legal.  Now it’s a few house renovations and a couple of trinkets that Senator Stevens forgot to declare on a federally mandated disclosure form.  That’s fraud.  Obviously the amount of money isn’t the issue.

Ted says that his wife was responsible for supervising the renovations that doubled the size of his Alaskan home and that, as a U.S. Senator, he couldn’t be bothered with such trivialities while trying to build a bridge that went nowhere.  The trinkets included, among other things, a $2,695 massage chair, a stained-glass window and a blue-eyed sled dog named Keely.  Ted says that he tried to get the gift givers to take back the trinkets but couldn’t make it happen.  The Federal prosecutor’s eyes rolled back in his head when he suggested that one of the most powerful people in the U.S. Senate ought to at least be able to commandeer a U-Haul.

Ted’s got a week left to convince his Alaskan constituents that he wuz robbed.  That he deserves to retain his Senate seat and that he loves them.  Tough job for an 84 year old guy whose only friend at the moment seems to be Keely.

Senate rules say that even a convicted felon deserves to occupy a seat in that austere chamber.  Until an ethics committee deems otherwise, Ted can sit in his chair and build bridges.  Of course, if the judge sends Ted to the hoosegow, that’s another matter.

The wolves are already circling.  Both the other Old Guy and the Snow Queen said today “off with his head.”  Don’t wait for an appeal.  Ted must go.  It’s for the best they said.  It’s only right, they said.  The Old Guy…

I hope that my colleagues in the Senate will be spurred by these events to redouble their efforts to end this kind of corruption once and for all.

Right…when pigs with lipstick fly.  And that makes it three for three for the Old Guy.  To get elected, he first  disses the Dictator in Chief and all the policies that he supported ninety percent of the time.  Second, he claims to be a maverick who doesn’t even know the names of his fellow Republicans…in fairness, that could be due to his advancing age.  Now he writes off the other Old Guy.  What’s next, send the Snow Queen packing?

Not to be outdone by her supposed running mate, the Snow Queen said…

I had hoped Senator Stevens would take the opportunity to do the statesman-like thing and erase the cloud that is covering his Senate seat.

Look who’s talking about clouds.  Obviously, abusing one’s power as Governor apparently doesn’t rise to the same level as giving blue-eyed Keely a home and not reporting it on a Federal form.  But maybe the Snow Queen has discovered the error of her ways and is inflicting appropriate self-punishment by refusing to continue to dress in the duds bought with money contributed to the RNC by Joe the Plumber.

But there is a possible bright side to all this.  For Keely’s sake, Ted could be pardoned by the Dictator in Chief.


P.S.  Even though Keely may not be able to vote, my very good friend Bert asked me to tell you to get your fanny down to the polling place…by way of this YouTube Video

A Difference of Opinion

Since we last talked about signs I’ve been doing a comprehensive study of them.  I get a lot of time to do that while shlepping the old folks around on the bus.

For example, I’ve noticed that colors seem to denote a difference in character.  Brighter colors are associated with brighter candidates…like the Muslim Guy.  Duller colors seem to be associated with…well, duller candidates like the Snow Queen and the Old Guy.  Size seems to be a factor too.  Smaller signs seem to go hand in hand with simple requests…like vote for me because I’m best suited for the job.  Larger signs are a bit intimidating…like vote for me or you’ll go to hell.

I’ve also determined that certain signs seem to go together.  Obama/Biden signs and No on Prop 8 signs, the gay marriage travesty, share space on the lawn.  Yes on Prop 8  signs always go hand in hand with McCain/Palin placards…a sure sign that the Old Guy and the Snow Queen are far from being uniters.

Opposing signs seem to be dueling with each other as I drive the bus down the street.  Yes on the left, No on the right…hmmm.

Another duel of sorts took place in the Ventura County Star yesterday.  Prominently displayed in the opinion pages were two opposing pieces about Prop 8.  Rabbi John Sherwood , Rabbi Emeritus, Temple Emet, Woodland Hills, California took the No on 8 position.  Gerald Christian Nordskog, chairman of the Ventura County Christian Leadership Council, tried to convince me to vote Yes and keep those homosexuals in the second class citizen status they deserve.

Rabbi Sherwood, wearing the bright colors, simply asked for someone to explain why granting the right of marriage to gays threatens his own marriage.  He strongly supports the opinions of colleagues who disagree with him on moral issues, but…when arguments for this attempt to take away the civil rights of literally hundreds of thousands of our citizens…I am obligated to call attention to the truth.

The Rabbi deftly takes on the Yes on 8 arguments about how whips will be used on teachers who refuse to teach gay marriage to Johnny, and how bamboo will be inserted under the fingernails of clergy who refuse to unite Joan and June.  He finishes his indictment of Prop 8 by reminding us that we are all created equal.  Simple ideas to go with bright colors.

But none of this antiquated “do unto others” stuff is nearly as effective as Chairman Nordskog’s arguments in support of the proposition that gays are unworthy of marriage.   After providing us with a stern warning from that great Jewish humanitarian Dennis Prager, and a reminder about those activist Supreme Court justices who had the unmitigated gall to protect the rights of all Californians, he proceeds with a lesson in anthropology…

Not a single religion or moral philosophical system — East or West — since antiquity ever defined marriage as between members of the same sex.” The audacity of those today, 6,000-plus years after the creation, to think they are suddenly smarter than any prior civilization, and wiser than almighty God.

He then invokes the Ten Commandments which he would undoubtedly etch on the foreheads of those activist judges but for the Constitution of the United States…

The Ten Commandments, handed down by God on Mt. Sinai to Moses for all the people for all time and eternity, clearly spells out…“Honor your father and mother.” (man and woman) — the Fifth Commandment. God indeed created Adam and Eve, and guess what?  Surprise, surprise!  They match and fit together perfectly. They are, in all ways, an ideal complement to each other.

After a lesson in physiology reminding me that it takes a man and woman to create a child, he gets to the heart of the matter…

Homosexual conduct is sinful and unhealthy, according to the Bible. There has never been any proof that a same-sex or bisexual person has an extra gene or is born different in his physical and emotional makeup.  In truth, it is not genetic, but a learned-behavior which is abnormal, irresponsible and most unhealthy.

Remember my earlier blog?  You know, the one about that huge “Yes on 8” sign in front of the Baptist Church that made me nearly drive off the road.  See, it all supports my signage hypothesis.  Small signs say “Vote for Me, I’m Best Suited For The Job.”  Big signs say “Vote for Me…Or You’ll Go to Hell.”


Hats and buttons

Sweetie and I were in Westridge market yesterday.  As I was picking out some shitake mushrooms for the chicken dish we were planning that evening, I looked up and found my old friend Steve walking toward me.  Hadn’t seen him for several months.  Fact is I only see Steve at the local markets.

He’s a working stiff in the construction business and a bright, amiable guy.  Steve’s always ready to give me some help figuring out a plumbing problem, carpentry challenge or anything else at which I exhibit the qualities of a certified doofus.

As usual, my Obama/Biden button was securely pinned to left side of my t-shirt.  My old friend Steve was wearing a McCain/Palin baseball cap.  A really good looking, obviously American-made one.  As my mother-in-law Marge might have said, “I was shocked.”  How could Steve, who is no dummy and who must be impacted by the economic meltdown, possibly be a supporter of the Old Guy and the Snow Queen?  I thought “What’s a nice guy like Steve doing supporting two people who are not?  Doesn’t he read the papers?  Doesn’t he watch TV?  Doesn’t he read my blog?”

I wondered if he knew about the Rudy Giuliani robocalls where he says Obama is a weak-on-crime liberal who’s against mandatory prison terms for sex offenders and murderers.  Or the other ones from faceless callers that warn old ladies about the Muslim’s nefarious relationship with terrorists.  Why wasn’t Steve outraged about the Snow Queen’s gazilliion dollar wardrobe and the $22,000 paid to her hairdresser by the Republican National Committee in the first two weeks of October?  Money that came out of Steve’s pocket.  Doesn’t he care about the Old Guy’s quick trigger temper and rapid fire u-turns?  Wasn’t he just a teenie weenie bit concerned about McCain’s mental state as evidenced by his choice of a running mate?  And why wasn’t he worried about the Old Guy dropping dead during his inaugural speech and turning the reins of government over to someone who thinks “foreign relations” refers to my ancestors in the Ukraine?

My life was flashing before my eyes.  I kept talking to Steve about the weather, his job and his family.  And eyeing that awful baseball cap.  I’m sure he saw my Obama button especially since at that moment I felt it must measure three feet across and have a spotlight focused on it.  I wondered if Steve was thinking stuff like “How can that nice old guy support someone like that Muslim?  What can he possibly be thinking?  I always thought he was a pretty sharp guy.  Maybe he’s senile.”

Maybe I am.  Maybe I think we can actually win this election.  Maybe I think that Colin Powell’s endorsement must mean something.  Maybe I think that this country is in need of a change…a big one.  Maybe the fact that American Muslims are fighting for this country alongside non-Muslims means something to those who are afraid of anyone different.  Maybe we actually think we want smart people leading us instead of someone who’s just average…at best.  Maybe Steve needs a new hat.


Ted the Telemarketer

“Hello. I’m calling for John McCain and the RNC because you need to know that Barack Obama has worked closely with domestic terrorist Bill Ayers, whose organization bombed the U.S. Capitol, the Pentagon, a judge’s home and killed Americans. And Democrats will enact an extreme leftist agenda if they take control of Washington. Barack Obama and his Democratic allies lack the judgment to lead our country. This call was paid for by McCain-Palin 2008 and the Republican National Committee at 202-863-8500.”

WKOW in Madison, Wisconsin , the home of the great University of Wisconsin, did an article about this piece of trash.  Except it’s not trash.  It’s another desperate attempt by the Old Guy and the Snow Queen to inject a little homespun hatred into the campaign.

Sweetie told me a few months ago that she was worried that trash talk, swift-boating and other outright lies would make make a loser out of Obama.  Three for three she said.  George did it twice and now the Old Guy would do it again.  I said “You know, I think the American public has had enough of that crap.  I think they’ll stick it back into the cesspool it comes from.  I think they’ll do what’s right…this time.”  But I kept my fingers and toes crossed anyway.

At least one guy had enough of the lie.  Ted Zoromski of Middleton took a job as a telemarketer for the Republican National Committee.  Ted thought that he could make a few bucks by calling some folks and telling them to vote for the Old Guy.   When he saw the script at the top of this blog he blanched, put his hat back on and quit.  He wasn’t up to scaring people with guilt by association lies.  And that’s saying something for a telemarketer.

But lest we get too complacent, we should heed the immortal words of Rep. Robin Hayes of North Carolina…

Opening for a McCain rally in North Carolina last weekend, Representative Robin Hayes said he wanted “to keep the crowd as respectful as possible.”

In order to pursue that goal as efficiently as possible, Hayes then announced that “liberals hate real Americans that work and accomplish and achieve and believe in God.” This was an especially unfortunate turn of phrase given the fact that he had begun his remarks by saying he wanted to “make sure we don’t say something stupid.”

But I shouldn’t be so hard on the Old Guy, the Snow Queen and their pit bull handlers.  Things are tough out there.  Behind in the polls, campaign funds down to petty cash, people out of work, the market in the crapper and the Iraqis want us out.  Some folks can’t even afford to clothe themselves.  The Snow Queen is one of them, the poor dear.

Sarah had to augment her hockey jersey and moose cap wardrobe with $150,000 of thrift shop clothing from places like Neiman Marcus and Saks.  But don’t worry about the Snow Queen’s pocketbook.  All of it was paid for by the Republican National Committee.  The Committee said she needed the stuff “to  match climates across the 50 states.”  Wonder if she needs the Hawaiian shirt in my closet.  Better yet, I can send her the phone number of John Edward’s hairdresser…after all, what’s another $400?

Signs of the times

I drove the Help of Ojai bus on Monday morning.  I generally start before eight, pick up a bunch of folks, drop them at the senior center and then find time for a cup of coffee.  My normal early morning route takes me through Mira Monte, the Arbolada, Meiners Oaks and Ojai’s west end.  I’m not totally with the program until I’ve purchased and disposed of a large cup of dark roast coffee from Java and Joes.  It also helps to munch on a few small sandwich quarters put out by the kind women who work in the Little House kitchen.

Late morning is when I set out to pick up the “Lunch Bunch”, a group of seniors who spend an hour eating and talking with others in Help of Ojai’s dining room.  Bob and Charlotte live up the hill in Oak View.  I get Bob first and then wind around the corner to pick up Charlotte who generally announces that “I’m hungry, can’t wait to dig into that T-bone steak!”  We all know there’s no T-bone at Little House but we go along with the joke.

One of the houses in Bob’s neighborhood has been displaying a gaggle of political signs along the road including “McCain-Palin”, “Gallegly for Congress” and “Yes on Prop Eight”.  They leave little doubt as to the homeowner’s political persuasion.  I generally drive by and stick my tongue out.  I feel stupid.

The number of political signs stuck in the ground has increased geometrically in the last two weeks.  In public areas there are often competing signs…”Yes on Eight”, “No on Eight”, “Obama”, “McCain” and even some signs that leave you scratching your head.  People accusing Democrats of stealing Republican signs and Republicans accused of stealing Democratic placards is a common form of entertainment in the twice-a-week Ojai Valley News.

I thought “Why do people bother with signs?  Is anyone really influenced by them?  Does anyone change their mind when they see one?”  I was beginning to think that they only serve to agitate people like me who disagree with a particular sign.  Thereby provoking one to stick out one’s tongue.  Some display of political savvy, eh?

Then I realized that I was more influenced by signs that I disagreed with than the ones that supported my political persuasion.  The disagreeable signs made me huffy, ill-tempered and just a tad irrational.  I even conjured up pictures of what the offending sign hosts must look like…cranky, hair growing out of their ears and loaded with adult acne.  I felt stupid, again.

But the offending signs also made me want to vote and, as they used to say in old Mayor Daley’s Chicago,  to do it early and often.  Fifty-four percent of those eligible to vote made an appearance at the 2000 general election.  The number rose to sixty percent in 2004.  Four out of ten eligible voters slept through it.  Even Iceland eclipsed us at 89%.  Italy bested us at 90%.  With elections that seem to occur every two weeks, you’d think that the Italians would concentrate on pasta and ignore the election booth.

The Snow Queen was asked yesterday whether she supported a Constitutional amendment that restricted marriage to a man and a woman.  It will come as no shock to you that she supports it.  In a time when the economy is in the crapper, when we’re still loitering in Iraq, when healthcare is unavailable to forty million people and unemployment is likely to affect our friends, neighbors and loved ones, it should come as no surprise that the Governor is focused on limiting the rights of our fellow Americans.

It makes me want to stick my tongue out at her.  But I think I’ll vote instead.  At least I won’t feel stupid.


God help us

Sweetie and I drove back from Lake Casitas this morning after taking photos of docks, herons and reflections in the water.  I love going to the lake.  When  I told Yoram that I had chosen Casitas as my next subject for a photo project he said “Why?”  Good question.  We’ve been there a bunch of times and each time, if we wait long enough, an interesting subject generally appears.  Not always but, like one good golf shot in an otherwise unmemorable eighteen holes, it brings you back again and again.  The trip focuses your senses on the task at hand and that in itself is calming.

We finished taking photos of docks and, as has become our custom, got back in the car determined to drive around the lake in the hope of that once in a lifetime photo-op.  We didn’t get very far when I spotted some rowboats stacked up in drydock looking very forlorn.  We parked the car, got out, and looked for something that said “shoot me.”

A paunchy guy about my age joined us and stood by a heavy, black metal box that looked like an old boiler.  “What’s that” I said.  “A barbecue” he said.  “Built it myself.  Fact is, it’s one of four I put together awhile ago.”  He stared at the tow bar extending from the end of the barbecue.  It was lying flat on the ground in a position that didn’t look quite right.  “Loaned this thing to a guy who works in the coffee shop.  Broke the tow bar.”  I thought “What a nice thing to do for that guy and it’s a shame that he broke the bar.”  Before I could verbalize my thoughts, he said “What do you expect from a Mexican.”

Ila and I stared at each other with the kind of look that says “What a jerk.”  In a nanosecond I weighed the consequences and benefits of confronting the bigot with “What’s being a Mexican got to do with anything?”  Or…  But we just walked to our car and drove off.  Cowards.

That was our tasteless encounter for the day, I thought.  Driving down Highway 150 we looked at the mountains, yellow grass, blue sky and absolutely no other cars.  Beautiful.  We turned left at the 150/33 junction and came up on the Baptist church.  Nice looking property.  Rolling slopes, trees…and a very large painted sign stuck in the ground that said “Vote Yes on Prop. 8…Save Marriage.”

I forgot about the old bigot at the lake and focused on the new bigot stuck in the church lawn.  You’ve read all kinds of stuff about Prop 8, the California ballot proposition that amends the state constitution to proclaim that the word “marriage” only applies to the union of a man and a woman.

All sorts of arguments have been advanced that support the proposition.  All of them are a facade.  There is only one honest reason why proponents want to change the constitution…they dislike gays and lesbians and many are using the bible to justify their feelings.  No right thinking Prop 8 proponent believes that the institution of marriage will end, or that Junior will bring home pictures from his first grade class that show the seventeen sexual positions preferred by homosexuals, or that their very own pastor will be forced at gunpoint to conduct a wedding ceremony for Jack and Jim.  No, they just don’t like them.

But this was the first time I had actually seen a big sign, undoubtedly approved by the minister and his lay leadership, planted in the front of a church that said “Gays and Lesbians Not Welcome Here.”  I wondered if there were other signs, used long ago and gathering dust in the shed behind the church that said “Negroes Go Home” or “Jews Stay Out” or “Mexicans Leave Us Alone.”  I wondered if Barbecue Bob was a member of the church.  I wondered whether there was a sign, in temporary storage til after the election, that said “Do Unto Others.”  Probably not.


Getting older

I remember attending my folk’s 25th wedding anniversary.  I must have been about ten.  It was one of those events that leaves an indelible marker somewhere in your brain.

The party was held at Uncle Al’s apartment on the south side of Chicago.  It was, by our family’s standards, a big bash even if it was in a second floor flat that had three bedrooms and one bathroom.  In my young mind there could have been a couple hundred people there, but I bet there were less than thirty.

My mother once had a diamond ring but my dad had to sell it in order to eat during the Depression.  She never complained about the loss of the ring but my dad must have known how dear it was to her.  So he bought her a new one for the 25th.  There was a cloth napkin next to the dinnerplate at my mother’s place at the table.  My father hid the ring in the folds of the napkin.  It seemed to me that every guest knew about it and waited with great anticipation for my mother’s reaction.  They weren’t disappointed.

I’ve always remembered that day and until a number of years ago thought that twenty-five years of marriage was a long time and that, on that day, my folks were old.  Sweetie and I have been married for nearly twice that long.  And, until recently, I never thought of myself as “old.”

Now I notice some things that tip me off to my age.  A chronic heel problem that stopped me from dancing with my sweetheart last Saturday.  I lost my keys twice and my wallet once in the last two months…now I wear pants with zipper pockets.  My stomach regularly reminds me that I can’t eat everything that used to please me…like last night’s sausage lasagna.

But most of all my temper tends to be a little shorter than usual.  I try not to react to everyday slights like the guy who parks his convertible in two spaces at the bank, the woman who wants to cut in line at Vons, the kid who skateboards down the Arcade sidewalk, or yesterday when a biker left his Harley at the front gas pump in the Chevron station effectively blocking my exit while he sucked on a Marlboro.  And, please, let’s not even think about my reaction to the current stock market madness.

I know I shouldn’t get excited about these things and sometimes my thought process calms me and I exit the situation without reacting.  But sometimes my emotions get the better of me and I rush to judgment.

So what has this got to do with the price of bananas?  More importantly, what’s this got to do with the election?   Think about it.




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