Sunday, July 29, 2007

Aunt Charlsie Would Not Approve.......

From today's edition of the bound-for-hell New York Times, we have an interesting, if utterly irrelevant, discussion of whether God is absolutely necessary for immortality.

Hit the link. But don't tell Aunt Charlsie I put this up on the blog. On second thought, don't even tell her that I do a blog.

My Sunday Feeling

What a week. Barry Bonds continues his remorseless march toward # 756. Michael Vick gets indicted for dog fighting. It is disclosed that an NBA official fixed games.
Now this. Aquafina comes from tap water. Hit the link.
What more shall we as a Nation be forced to endure? Thank God it's Sunday.

A Dispatch From The Field: The following is a IM conversation I had with my brother John
earlier this week.
Junior: I have a great idea to make some extra money.
tmfw: This ought to be good.
Junior: Dogfighting. But with a new angle.
tmfw: Isn't it a little early for you to be shaking hands with Mr. Whiskey?
Junior: You're one to talk.
tmfw: Go on. Much to my surprise I'm still listening.
Junior: Instead of pit bulls we use Shelties.

Insert stunned silence here.

Junior: You still there? Hello?

tmfw: Shelties? If my experience with your goddamn dog is any measure of future performance, about the only thing they could be counted on to do in the ring is to run around nervously and bark at each other.
Junior: That's where you're wrong. They can fetch squeaky toys like you wouldn't believe.
tmfw: You're a business person. What is your target demographic? Off the top of my head I can't think of anyone other than elderly gay men who would be remotely interested in such an exhibition.
Junior: Again, that's where you're wrong. Smokin' hot young women make up a large chunk of the available Sheltie owner population. I know these things.
tmfw: Really?
Junior: Trust me on this one.
tmfw: Smokin' hot women, huh? OK. I'm in. As long as we aren't doing something stupid.
Junior: Trust me. We won't even have to cross any state lines or anything.
tmfw: Good. Although this sounds surprising legal for one of your business plans, no sense in unning any risks. State lines can be troublesome things. Ask Michael Vick.
Junior: Keep your eye on the ball, Elder Brother. Hot chicks and squeaky toys.
tmfw: Hot chicks and squeaky toys.
Junior: There you go. I knew you would come around eventually. I love it when a plan comes together.
tmfw: Woof!

Will keep you posted.

The Right Stuff Is 90 Proof: NASA is investigating reports that at least 2 of its astronauts may have flown while drunk. Who can blame them? Those things DO blow up from time to time. I would have to be drunker than a barrel of Vikings to go up in one of those high tech roman candles. The bigger surprise is that more of them haven't gone kablooey. My excellent friend Jenny came over today to show me her new IPod. When you consider that the little device in her hand has 10 times the computer power that Apollo 13 possessed.....well, it's just a miracle from God that NASA got those boys home.

Speaking of Miracles: A man was basically killed on the job last week while coaching first base for the team playing the Arkansas Travelers, our local AA team. A hot shot off the bat of a left handed hitter struck the man in the carotid artery. According to the news reports he was pretty much dead when he hit the ground. I have watched baseball all of my life. I have seen all kinds of hard hit foul balls go into bleachers and dugouts. I have never heard of anybody getting killed. The poor man was felled by a million-to-one possibility.

However, it is only a matter of time before somebody gets killed playing college or American Legion ball where they use aluminum bats. Indeed, every year some little kid gets killed playing Little League or tee ball. One little girl was killed last week. It is a miracle from God nobody in the college game has gotten his head knocked off. You mark my words. It will happen.

Found money: I got a letter the other day from Bank of America's "Unclaimed Property Department." The letter said that BOA had remitted a check to me for @ 2 grand back in 2000 that I had never negotiated. I have to sign the form enclosed in the envelope and send it in or the money will escheat to the State of Arkansas.
I have no earthly idea what this money represents. I seem to recall that they held the paper on my house at one time until they pissed me off and I refinanced with somebody else. But I certainly don't remember getting a check from BOA in that amount back then. I have to think it is a mistake. I'm going to buy a Certificate of Deposit with it and wait and see if they ever ask for the money back. Strange.
Blogs from NOLA: With all of the shit hitting the fan over L'Affaire Vitter down there, I have been catching up with the bloggers down in the Big Easy. First of all, here's a link to The Gambit, which is the New Orleans equivalent of the Arkansas Times. It was there when I was at Tulane eons ago although I preferred The Figaro which was the other "free paper" published in New Orleans at the time. Go to: to read this week's issue in which they posit 5 good questions for Senator Vitter to answer.

Go to for a political weekly. As for the bloggers, here are some others I like: contains the musings of a pregnant goth writer of horror stories. and are political bomb throwers, while is mostly a hoot.

Reading these blogs and talking to my buddy Chris Riviere last week, who talks just like you would believe somebody named Chris Riviere would talk, has got me missing South Louisiana. I haven't been back since Katrina, mainly because I think it would make me sad. But you read these blogs, especially pistolette and dangerblond and you come away impressed with how determined those folks are to save their marvelously fucked up city. A city that was waaaaay fucked up long before Katrina hit.
I miss New Orleans. I wish I were at the Napoleon House with someone special right now, drinking Dixie and watching it rain while listening to Beethoven. I need to go back. Check it out at . One of the truly great watering holes in a town full of 'em.
That's all for now, cats and kittens. As you can see, I don't have much to allow today. I have some Dixie in the fridge but it's not the same. Guess I will just go to the kitchen and get me a glass of Aquafina from the tap.

Addendum: Please note the changed e-mail address. I've heard a lot of good things about gmail so I decided to give it a try. Write me!

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

The Sum Of All Fears

Tim Donaghy was a referee in the National Basketball Association. He evidently had a pretty serious gambling problem. It is alleged that he bet on games that he officiated. It is alleged that he "fixed" some of them although more likely he helped gamblers-and himself- make informed wagers about the point spread rather than altering the outcomes of games outright. That would be too hard to do. He is supposed to be cooperating with Uncle Sam and it is said that he will turn himself in to the feds up in New York. This is a likely scenario seeing as how the U.S Attorney has filed a Bill of Information against a "John Doe" up there that alleges these facts. They don't stick a target who is cooperating up in front of the Grand Jury.

This is NBA Commissioner David Stern's nightmare scenario. This is the sum of all fears.

NBA fans tend to be a paranoid lot and this paranoia reaches full flower during the playoffs. The most persistent complaint you hear is that the NBA instructs the referees to emphasize certain calls which is calculated to skew the game toward the team that will bring the best TV ratings in the Finals. As I have written in this space, the notion that the NBA brass could manipulate the outcome of games from the corporate offices in New York is laughable. It would take too many people acting in concert while simultaneously keeping their mouths shut to pull that off.

Me, I watch a lot of basketball on both the professional and college level. I have seen things done by the zebras that have made me scratch my head. I have watched any of a number of games in which I thought the officiating wasn't very good.

It has never occurred to me-not once, not ever-that the officials might be on the take. That idea, up until now, was completely unthinkable.

And this is the problem. From here on out, the notion that the refs might be on the arm to some bookie somewhere will be merely outlandish. It won't be unthinkable.

In the first place, this sort of thing is not unheard of in basketball albeit, up until the recent disclosures, it has only been uncovered on the college level. You had the point shaving scandals in the fifties and the gamblers got to players at Boston College, Arizona State and Tulane (full disclosure: one of my Alma Maters) in the eighties.
Emphasis on players. This is what has got to be causing Stern to lose sleep. The odds are good-pardon the expression-that there are no players involved. They make too much money. They are probably not susceptible for the most part to an overture from the wrong side of the street. Even the ones with gambling debts and/or legal problems. They simply make too much money.
But an NBA official makes only about 200 grand which isn't enough to pay the mortgage and keep the flat-nose types happy at the same time. And lest you think they won't give trouble a listen, I remind you that more than one NBA official got indicted a few years back for tax evasion when they cashed in their frequent flier miles and didn't tell the IRS. So Stern can't be too sure at this juncture if indeed this is an isolated case despite what he said yesterday during his press conference on the subject.
Professional sports requires much of its patrons. A night out at the game with the family can take a chunk of change. In exchange, the average fan deserves to know that what he is watching isn't a taller version of the World Wrestling Foundation.
Wondering if the refs are on the take is no longer unthinkable. This is the nightmare scenario.
This is the sum of all fears.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

My Sunday Feeling

Where to begin? Just when I've allowed myself to become desensitized by the hubris, the ravenous sense of entitlement and the mandarin proclivities of the modern athlete, somebody always steps up to the plate and gives 110% in the I'm- an- asshole- department.

By the way, it's officially Sports Cliches week in case you haven't heard. Really.

Barry Bonds is a complete and total jerk and a possible felon. Terrell Owens is a preening narcissist and one man destroyer of locker rooms. John Daly is a wastrel, albeit a lovable one. Marion Jones is a head case.

As bad as he is, Terrell Owens never killed a dog by electrocution. Barry Bonds never did one in by repeatedly slamming it against the floor.

According to Uncle Sam, that's what Michael Vick and his buddies (some of them are now referred to as co-defendants) did to the losers in the dogfighting operation known as "Bad Newz Kennels." To examine the length and breadth of these allegations of illegality and depravity hit the link. Warning: it is not for the faint hearted or the dog-lover.

The mind reels

One goes through the counts in the indictment and one is struck by the utter barbarism of it all. What kind of a person would breed dogs to fight and kill for the amusement of others? What kind of person would attend such an exhibition? I can only assume that their chosen brutal mode of euthanizing these animals was because the sound of gunshots would arouse suspicion. But maybe I'm wrong. I wouldn't put unrequited sadism past these bastards.
Some of the pundits have said it is a Black thing but clearly this is not true. White folks are equally susceptible to such grisly fare as recent arrests in the Ozarks have shown. Some commentators have said it is a "Southern thing" and, indeed, the mascot for the sports teams put out by the the University of South Carolina is a Gamecock. I don't know what to make of any of this except to say that I have lived in the South all of my life and I know a slew of black folks and I have never heard of anybody attending a dogfight or a cockfight. In any event, we need not worry overly much about the cultural origins of this sordid enterprise. As the indictment amply demonstrates, such traffic in misery is an illegal thing.

I seem to be surrounded by dog people. Their dogs are an extension of themselves. My friend J used to breed Goldens. She was so protective of her pups that she wouldn't let just anybody buy one. I have been entrusted with the care of many of these mutts and I pretty much view it as an honor. I have also seen the anguish my friends have gone through when the time came to put one of their 4 legged companions down.

And so the question presents itself again: What kind of human derives pleasure- Is that the word? Entertainment? Excitement?-from the pain of animals? Whither human dignity? Was there no spark of decency in Michael Vick that gave him pause? And was there nobody in his entourage of acolytes and hangers-on that had enough goddamn sense to say " Hey Mike, maybe this dogfighting thing is not such a good idea?" If he needed a hobby why not take up golf? If he liked to bet on animals why not go to the track?

But let's go back to the cultural thing for a minute. Is this a football thing? Does the hard-bitten culture of football produce sociopaths? I can't say that. There are good people in the NFL. More good than bad. And, in the immortal words of Tony Kornheiser, not every paranoid schizophrenic can play Division I football.

I am hardly in a position to pass judgment on the hip hop culture that pervades the sports scene being a fiftyish white guy and all. So I will let the reliable Jason Whitlock of the Kansas City Star, who is neither old nor white, do it for me.

"It speaks to the grip the negative aspects of hip-hop culture have on young people." he wrote last week. " Vick is a multimillionaire athlete who has spent most of his NFL career trying to maintain his street cred. Despite lifetime financial security, Mike Vick stayed on the "grind," hustling for that paper with his Bad Newz Kennels. Idiot."
And this: " This is a cultural phenomenon that has swallowed a small percentage of black athletes, but a large enough percentage to significantly damage the overall perception of black, American born athletes. As Dr. Harry Edwards told me two weeks ago, it only takes a few key people to hijack an entire culture."

As of this writing, neither the NFL nor its Commissioner have suspended Vick. Thus far, all we have heard is that an indictment is not guilt. Michael Vick is entitled to the presumption of innocence until proven otherwise. And this is true.
But, as one of the Louisiana bloggers says, " You are entitled to your own opinion. You are not entitled to your own facts." And the facts as presented in the indictment handed up the other day, if proven up, mean Michael Vick is toast.
Maybe Roger Goodell is still testing the water and waiting to see how this plays out in the coming days before he acts. As for me, I can see how Vick's actions violated the new conduct policy of the NFL. Surely suspensions are not meted out only in cases where people get shot as in the cases of Tank Johnson and Pac Man Jones. Even if Vick is somehow acquitted of these grim charges, he is forever damaged goods. It takes a special person to be accused of this sort of wanton cruelty to beasts of the field.

The right thing would be for Vick to consider the fix his despicable behavior has put the Atlanta Falcons in. He is a walking talking PR nightmare. He should take a leave of absence until his legal problems resolve themselves. But this is not likely to happen. A man who consorts with those who electrocute dogs is not likely to feel your pain. Indeed, Falcon wide receiver Joe Horn told ESPN radio yesterday that Vick says he needs to be around his football family during his time of tribulation.

See? It's all about him. He doesn't get it. The NFL should suspend Michael Vick.

Friday, July 20, 2007

From Porn to the Priesthood

I was first "turned on' to this story (unforgivable pun will be made clear later) by my boon companion Renee Horton and her blog which can be found at . It concerns a guy named Robert Boyer who is leaving the porno industry to become-get this-an Episcopal priest. Boyer came to his priestly vocation late in life. I mean late in life. He made his last flick in January.

As I said on her blog, this guy sounds more con man than earnestly repentant porn star. He also sounds like he is a serious sicko. If he was serious about running a religious scam he would be better off becoming a televangelist than fooling around with the 'piskies. The money is better and he could still get some on the side now and again.

But judge not lest ye be judged. Right?

Hit the link:

Go check out Renee's blog. Tell her tmfw sent ya. It will make her happy.

The Devil Wins Again

"Sin is a dangerous toy in the hands of the virtuous. It should be left to the congenitally sinful, who know when to play with it and when to let it alone."
H.L. Mencken

Thanks to Polycarp for passing along the story in his local paper about a prominent retired Baptist minister and conservative Republican lawmaker over there getting arrested for soliciting a prostitute. Evidently, she stole some checks from him during one of their assignations and forged her client's signature. The good Reverend foolishly signed a forgery affidavit to get his money back and the subsequent investigation led to one Tiffany Summers and "illegal activity."
Mencken was right. Some guys have no business fooling around with vice. They should leave crime to the criminals and sin to the sinners.

Hit the link:

Be sure to check out the pictures. The devil is the only explanation.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

This Really Happened

I heard one of the guards in my building ask another guard: "So, you reckon Duante Culpepper will wind up in Atlanta?"

I am not making this up.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

I Got A Nikon Camera. I Love to Take Photographs

Took a quick shot of this humble civil servant's official vehicle at a gas station in the neighborhood. Didn't want to get too close.
Hope the wasn't looking for me. But you never know. I've already had my bank account diluted by criminals. I don't need to get my wages garnisheed.
BTW...under the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, in order to be a process server you just have to be over 18 and and have no interest in the litigation. That would be this gentleman's only apparent qualification.
In a previous life, I got one of my brothers to serve stuff for me. He didn't put shit like this on his truck.

The Cesspool Revisited

As anybody who has walked through this blog knows, I have a love/hate relationship with basketball. I love the sport but hate the fact that it is maybe one rung above boxing for sleaziness. Maybe.

Want to know how fucked up things are in basketball? Read the piece in this month's GQ-That's right. GQ-about homey de capo homey William Wesley aka "Worldwide Wes."

Hit the link:

My Sunday Feeling

Here are some random thoughts while wondering if it is ever going to quit raining around here.

David Vitter: One of the characters in Nelson Algren's " A Walk on the Wild Side"is the madam of a brothel in New Orleans. In one scene she discusses the clientele that frequents her place of business. I can't lift the quote verbatim, because someone, someone who is reading these words, has my copy of the novel.

Anyway, in the scene I am thinking of she says something along the lines of " I don't think there's anything wrong with a man relaxing with a woman and some whiskey on a Saturday night. What I do mind is when they preach against it on Sunday morning or prosecute it on Monday morning."

You could cut the schadenfreude with a knife in most Democratic circles when it was revealed last week that United States Senator David Vitter of Louisiana had called the number of Deborah Jean Palfrey, the so-called "D.C. madam." He 'fessed up to a so-called "inappropriate relationship" with a New Orleans escort who ran a bawdy house over on Canal Street with her mother of all goddamn people.

I guess that sort of family business attracted a "family values" sort of john like Vitter. And if that was not sufficiently humiliating, a third woman, this one with Arkansas ties, for which we may all be justifiably proud, has been outed by an old boyfriend as having rented some in the past to the good Senator.

I have to say that I can't get too worked up about this. My position concerning the Monica Lewinsky mess was that although I thought Bill Clinton had lost his friggin' mind when he fooled around with that kid, if Hillary could live with it, I could live with it. I want to remind my Democratic friends that this was their pretty much position as well.

Let's keep this in perspective. While David Vitter is a fool and a hypocrite, he did not sell his office as did Congressman Al Jefferson. He did not take bribes as did former Governor and current elderly jailbird Edwin Edwards. Further, don't be surprised if some prominent Dems pop up on Ms. Palfrey's list. Poor judgment is not the special province of publicly righteous Republicans. It's just funnier when they are exposed. He will be turned out of office only if his fellow Republicans turn him out in the next primary. And as for me, he is Louisiana's and Wendy Vitter's problem.

It is bad enough when private indiscretions are aired out in public. It is even worse when you preached against them during your career as a public servant. Vitter is lucky to have been outed in an era when the American people as a culture are more fascinated by American Idol and Ultimate Fighting than the war in Iraq. We are beyond shame. My guess is, so long as he didn't steal a bunch of money or kill anybody, Vitter will survive. His paramour in New Orleans assures us that he is a "good father" and that he was not "a freak." This is a Louisiana politician she was talking about. That's good enough for me.

White Collar Crime: I discovered Thursday morning that I was the victim of identity theft. I got on my checking account on the Internet and discovered it had been drained of all but about 200 bucks. When I perused the recent transactions, I saw where someone had evidently gained access to my debit card number and had been merrily making numerous purchases online late last Wednesday night.

I went to the nearest branch office of my bank where the manager immediately went to work. She cancelled my smoking hot debit card and we went through the disputed charges one by one. She called the vendors that she could reach and advised them that the charges were fraudulent. She gave me forms from Visa security and the bank's security department. She told me not to worry. She said I would get the money back but that it might take a week to ten days.

It took 48 hours. The charges for 5 of the 6 purchases have already been taken off. I suspect that the one that remains will be reconciled tomorrow. The manager of the branch at the grocery store said yesterday that they probably could quickly see from analyzing my purchasing patterns that the buyer wasn't really me. Good thing the faux me was buying women's clothes and cosmetics. If she (we assume the thief was a young woman judging from the stuff she was buying) had spent a lot of money at Golfsmith, Big Al's World of Liquor or the Tick-Tock Lounge I might have had to wait awhile to get reimbursed.

Although I have no idea who got my debit card number, I learned that the most likely culprit was a food server who wrote my number and expiration date down when she took my card back to the POS machine. Or it might have been a "he" who sold it to a "she." In any event, I was told to never use a debit card for anything that doesn't require you to enter a PIN number. If you are going to hand a card to a human, hand them a credit card. That number may get stolen as well. But at least with a credit card, the crooks won't have immediate access to your cash.

All's well that ends well. 90% of my money has found its way back into my checking account. I am pleased by the swift action taken by my bank. Here's a free plug. Pissed off at your bank? Go see the good folks at Metropolitan National Bank here in Little Rock. Drop me a line. I'll tell you who to go see over there. She'll take care of you.

Tell her that the guy who bought 500 bucks worth of stuff online at sent you.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Summer Reading List

Hilarious stuff from the Onion. Never occurred to me that Christopher Hitchens might be misogynistic. But then again, he is British.

Hit the link:

Papal Bull

You know, I like the Catholic Church. I really do. I think it does me some good to go hear Mass said and so I go visit the Catholic Church down the street from me from time to time. I slip in, hear Monsignor's homily, put a 20 in the plate and slip out. Every now and again I think about taking instruction.

I don't know if this is proof that God is Methodist but I every time I think about switching teams, somebody in the Vatican does something stupid and I am once again brought mercifully to my senses.

The bearer of lamebrain theology this time was Pope Benedict XVI himself who decreed that other Christian churches were not really churches-although he concedes that the Greek Orthodox Church comes close-and do not have the "means of salvation." This is because these other "communities' as the statement issued today refers to the other greatly surprised denominations, cannot trace back to the original disciples in the doctrine known as Apostolic Succession.

Well, guess what? Neither can the Catholics.

Here's what Roman Catholic historian Garry Wills says about Apostolic Succession in his book "Why I Am a Catholic."

"One sequence will define the problem. In 1012, the Tuscolani overthrew the Crescenzi by electing Benedict VIII, upon wich the Crescenzi created their own pontiff, Gregory VI. When Benedict died, his layman brother was put in as John XIX, and when John XIX died, his brother elevated his own son as Benedict IX, in 1032. Benedict, dissolute and unpopular, was deposed and fled Rome. The Crescenzi were able to supplant him with their own man, Silvester III, upon which Benedict returned to Rome with an armed force, expelled his successor, and again took up residence in the Lateran Palace. But after a brief time he turned over the papacy, in return for a large sum of money, to his godfather, who became Gregory VI. There were now three popes whose legitimacy was was in dispute-Benedict, Silvester and Gregory (cite omitted). When Henry III went to Rome for his coronation, there was no obviously legitimate pope to crown him, so he deposed all three and put in a fourth man, Clement II. Question: who, at each point in the process, was the real pope?

Who indeed? I redeveloped the original headache that was visited upon me the first time I read that passage years ago.

In any event, if that's the best argument a supposedly big shot theologian like Benedict has for saying I got no real shot at salvation because I don't belong to Holy Souls, I will take my chances with the Methodists. Besides, our history is a little tidier.

If you are a Protestant, or a Baptist even, hit the link to the story in today's New York Times and read of your disenfranchisement:

Saturday, July 07, 2007

Slacker Notification

I'm taking tomorrow off. The last week or so has been terrible around here and, quite frankly, I'm tired. More on that later.
But mainly, I'm going to watch Roger Federer (the handsome fellow on the left, in case you didn't know) and Rafael Nadal go at it in the Men's Final at Wimbledon tomorrow instead of pecking on this keyboard.
I'll be back soon. Until then, talk amongst yourselves.

Monday, July 02, 2007

Tales From The South

The Father's Day broadcast is up on the archives. Go to . Click on the archives and you will see the link to the broadcast.

Hope you enjoy it. Let me know what you think.

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Forget The 401K...

The world is going to go kablooey in 2012. This is according to a certain "new age" breed of end times cultists that base their predictions regarding the apocalypse on their obsessive study-check that-fascination- of/with ancient Mayan culture.

Apocalyptic crackpots have been with us always. The only difference here is that these folks seem to be highly educated crackpots.

Hit the link. Then go buy land in Newton County to build your bunker.

My Sunday Feeling

And now each night I count the stars.
And each night I get the same number.
And when they will not come to be counted,
I count the holes they leave.

Amiri Baraka (Leroi Jones)

I was not particularly hungry after the funeral. Here in the South, we tend to think that putting out mass quantities of food is the most appropriate antidote to a grieving heart. Between the homes of Annie's parents there was enough food to sustain a battalion for a day or two. So it's not like I haven't gotten enough to eat lately. But I like barbecue and as I approached Whole Hog Cafe down the hill, I decided to pull in for some comfort food for lunch. Besides, it was too soon to start drinking.

I had just sat down with my pulled pork sandwich when R, arms laden down with a rack of ribs, asked if he could join me. It was fine with me. I needed the company.

" Why are you so dressed up for a Saturday?" he asked.

" Funeral this morning." I said.

He winced and nodded. " Oooh, that's right. The Johnson girl."

" Yep." I said. "The Johnson girl."

We ate in silence for a minute.

" At the risk of asking a completely stupid question, how are the parents holding up?"

I chewed a bit. I looked at him and shrugged.

R talks with his hands. He waved them back and forth in front of his face.

"Say no more." he waved. "Say no more."

We resumed eating.

"Without betraying or getting into the nature of a confidence," he said while wiping his mouth. "It is my general understanding that the girl struggled with depression."

R and I are both lawyers. We talk like this even on Saturday.

" Oh, I think it is pretty much public knowledge at this point."

" That was what had gotten back to some of the folks on the committee I'm on." He lowered his voice. "You do know what I'm talking about, right?" He opened his hands as if handing me understanding.

R is a recovering alcoholic. He is talking about "Lawyers Helping Lawyers." They intervene with lawyers who have drug or alcohol problems. Unlike me, who must work out his salvation with fear and trembling, R's crown in Heaven is assured.

I said nothing. I just nodded. I knew what he was talking about.

He had finished inhaling his ribs and pushed the plate aside.

" I see a lot of depression in my work with the committee," he said. " Depression is as dangerous as any physical illness. It's just poorly understood."

" Looking back on it now, I can probably say that I was a little more depressed than I needed to be a couple of years ago." I said.

"Yeah? How did you deal with it?"

" To tell you the truth, and this sounds stupid, but I joined a golf club and played golf every chance I could. I could get away from myself whenever I concentrated on the back of that little white ball. First time in recorded history that golf ever did anybody any good.'

"You've got to get away from yourself when you are depressed. No doubt. I'm glad you could do it. Some folks can't," R said. " We have a saying in AA. Want to hear it?"

" Sure."

" The mind is a dangerous neighborhood. You don't want to spend too much time there. You've got to get away from yourself to gain some perspective."

" Still," I said. " But what would cause a 19 year old combination of beauty and brains, somebody with a whole world in front of her, what would cause somebody like that to throw the switch? I don't get it."

He smiled and shook his head. " We don't waste a lot of time wondering 'why' in AA," R said. "We spend most of our time just trying to accept that which we have no control over. Interesting you should refer to 'throwing the switch'. Nine out of ten people can have a drink. When I drink it throws a switch in my head. So I can't drink. Some people can't take penicillin. I can't drink alcohol. Not much more complicated than that. "

He leaned forward onto his elbows.

" I have a theory. You know what I think?"

"No. What do you think?"

" All people get blue from time to time. Human nature. But I think there's a bad depression switch in some folks the same as there's a drunk switch in other folks. Maybe they're related. I don't know. It's just easier for a drunk, in a certain sense, to keep that switch turned off. You go to meetings. You don't drink. They don't really have meetings that can keep folks from being depressed."

"Besides," I said. "Even if they did, those kind of meetings would be too depressing."

He ignored me.

" What I have learned is that some depressed folks keep finding that switch whether they are being treated or not. Sometimes the meds don't help or the side effects are awful or they can't give 'em to young folks without running the risk of suicide. Whatever happened it sounds maybe like the Johnson girl made an unbelievably tragic decision after her switch got thrown. Why is not important any longer. Trying to get to an acceptance, as impossible as that may seem, is all that is left to do."

" offense. But there's a difference between accepting what you have to do to keep the drunk switch from getting thrown and never seeing your daughter again. As hard as it is to abstain, at least that's theoretically possible. You can quit drinking. You can't walk down the aisle with a dead girl."


" All I am I saying is that the 'why' question lives in a really bad neighborhood. You hang around in a bad neighborhood long enough and you might get hurt. "

He shrugged. Say no more.

All I know is that one night last week, in a house not too far from here, the switch got thrown in the head of a damn good kid.

And on that night the stars, in all their splendor, would not come out to be counted.