Sunday, August 31, 2008

My Sunday Feeling

What a week.

As I alluded to earlier, about a week ago on the eve of the trip to Jackson that I had planned, I was called to an emergency meeting of the Executive Committee of the Board of a certain do-gooder organization non-profit agency. The long and the short of it is that as of 8:30 os so Thursday week, I am now the President of the Board. Certain other changes were in the works which required my presence here so I cancelled my trip.

The seriousness of the situation really didn't fully hit me until the ISP we use called me at 8 AM the next morning requesting permission to "do a lockout" on a certain computer. After regaining my composure, I gave the authorization. I guess the coffee hadn't kicked in yet.

" You are the President of the Board, right?" said the voice in my ear.

" Yes. I am the President. You may proceed."

It was my Alexander Haig moment. Except, contrary to Haig's sweaty, eye rolling remarks to the camera after Ronald Reagan got shot, I was in charge.

A good part of Friday and Friday evening was spent trying to assist other Board members in getting our arms around the situation by cell phone and e-mail.

As if that were not sufficient high drama for one weekend, little did I know that while I helping to run a non-profit, my brother John was in the Emergency Room at St. Bernard's in Jonesboro, Arkansas. Friday afternoon, he felt pain in his stomach followed by intense nausea. When the pain grew worse, he went to the ER where he was admitted. I got the call early that Saturday morning from Bob's wife Shirley. Shirley and the boys had come down from Conway to be with Clarke while Amy went to Jonesboro.

While the doctors worked him up to decide whether he had gall bladder disease or pancreatitis, I sent a million text messages out: His golf buddy Petey who attempts to teach me the game, his best friend Rollo who is the tallest cardiologist in captivity, Marge and Hugh in Jackson, Don in Chapel Hill, anybody I could think of. Remembered that Hugh's brother is a doc in Jonesboro. Told him to get Barry's ass in there.

The first response was from Rollo: "Huh?" I found it to be particularly apt.

Eventually, he got better. They decided he had pancreatitis of an unknown origin. He came home Sunday night looking "white as a sheep" as one of my old Legal Services clients once said to me.

The fact that he didn't have or surgery or, well, die allowed me to return to crisis # 1. I met with the staff last Tuesday to reassure them that their jobs were not in jeopardy. I was pleased to see that they weren't bearing pitchforks and torches.

I then prepared for my first Board meeting as President on Thursday. Before, that event, there were more messages and e-mails from other members of the Board. I can explain the United States Bankruptcy Code to you but I know next to nothing about Robert's Rules of Order. And I proceeded to display that ignorance for all to see. But we got through it. And nobody resigned or called for my impeachment. But it's early yet.

And did I mention I have a day job? The one that pays me money?

Looking back on all of those events of the past week, I struck by one main thought: How did we ever multi-task and/or manage events involving large numbers of people prior to the advent of digital technology? As hard as last week was, I cannot imagine getting as much done if I had to talk on the phone to relay basic information. With the push of a button 25 people get the message.

Shirley is something of a Luddite. And yet even she sees the value of having a cell phone handy nowadays. Indeed, she talked to me three times today. It is a personal best.

The family is coming over for ribs Sunday night. Everybody will bring something. PM and Karen will bring the new pups over which the little boys will like. It will be fun.

John says he is coming although he is not up to ribs just yet. He started eating solid food last Friday. The way he has it figured, this qualifies him to eat the chicken fried steak he swears he is going to eat tonight. I know the boy is hungry but this strikes me as stupid.

Better keep the cell phone handy just in case we need to get the word out again. At least if he goes down this time he will be in Pulaski County.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Vox Populi: The Husband

I was having an e-mail conversation with one of my little lawyer friends today when the following exchange took place.

tmfw: I see where David Duchovny announced that he was entering rehab on account of the fact that he is a sex addict.

Mac: Wow.

tmfw: I wonder how they treat that?

Mac: They make you get married.

I got spurrrrrrrrs that jingle jangle jingle.........

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Vox Populi: The Sexually Ambiguous Pharmacist

I did not get to go to Jackson due to an emergency involving a non-profit agency on whose board I serve. That turned out to be a stroke of good luck as my brother John was admitted to the hospital in Jonesboro with a case of pancreatitis which required Amy to leave Clarke here in Little Rock in the tender care of me and my sister-in-law who came down from Conway to spend the last two days at their house.

More about that later. Suffice it to say it has been a crazy 3 days.

John rolled in @ 3:30 this afternoon looking like death warmed over. He asked me to get his prescription for pain meds filled at the pharmacy he uses out in his part of town. I took it in and handed it to the woman behind the counter. I told her that it was for my brother who had been in the hospital the last few days. She found him in the system and told me it would be a few minutes.

After I had gotten some soup and Gatorade for the patient I went back to the pharmacy. After awhile a handsome young man with a shock of blond hair and an incandescent smile called my name. I went up to the counter.

" Are you John?," he asked.

"No. I'm tmfw the famous blogger," I said. " I have traveled west from the People's Republic of Hillcrest and am picking this up for him here in this, the land of land of Range Rovers, bad religion and Republicans, because he has been in the hospital."

"Well," he said, " We will have to have some verification." He affected this stern look on his face.

"What's his date of birth?" he said. He was tapping his jaw with his forefinger.

I drew a blank.

"Hell. I dunno. I've got it down somewhere." I mumbled.

" Let me give you a hint," he stage whispered. "Marrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrch?"

" Look. If I were his wife or his sister I would know. I mean, I know but I just can't remember."

The pharmacist that I handed the scrip to originally came over.

" He's good," she said. " He's the one that handed it to me. His brother's in here all the time."

"Well!" he said. " That settles that."

I signed the forms. I paid the money.

He handed me the little white bag.

" March 9th" he said. " You might want to-I don't know-write it down or something." He was looking up in the sky with a fake thoughty expression.

He smiled. He winked.

I left.

I bet I don't ever forget it again.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

I'm Going To Jackson. You turn loose of my coat.

Much to the loss of literature there will be no MSF this Sunday. I'm off to see friends in the Magnolia State.

Check with you next week!

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Trixie Minx - Hot Jewish Chicks

Fleur de Tease is a burlesque act in New Orleans. "Trixie" proudly holds herself out as the Jewish girl in the group.

Don't watch if you are offended by gentle ethnic humor or a beautiful woman throwing her boobs around.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

My Sunday Feeling

I finally did it. I started my own Facebook page. I resisted it for the longest mainly because I thought it was something that only kids did. But when I realized that 4 of my closest friends in 2 different states were united across the Mississippi by their common need to libel me behind my back on the Internet, I felt that I had to join in order to defend myself if for no other reason.

It's pretty interesting and fairly addictive. Further, there's a viral component to Facebook that I found fascinating. I have had a page up for a little over a week now and I am up to something like 60 "friends." I have been contacted by folks I haven't thought of since college. I am hooked up with my cousins and my friend's kids. I have had the allure of the Jonas Brothers explained to me by a 16 year old in Jackson.

" Nice boys who play fun music," explained Riley who was clearly exasperated at having to put up with her Mother's idiot friend. Works for me. There are certainly worse reasons to like a band.

I have talked to my oldest nephew's girlfriend. I have asked if she couldn't do better. I talk to Don's girls a lot. I don't have a lot of young people in my life apart from little kids. It's fun to see what is going on in these kids' heads. And they don't seem to mind staying in touch with a harmless geezer like me. So it works out.

Facebook also provides a useful function for adults. I understand that my teacher friends depend on Facebook to put the word out about band rehearsals and other extra curricular activities. It's quick and they don't have a million kids calling them after hours. Makes sense. I recently found my Facebook inbox full of messages from all over once the awful story about Bill Gwatney hit CNN. I can't access Facebook from work. But the messages went to the e-mail address I can access so I could send e-mails to everyone letting them know what was going on over here. And the politicians all have their own pages now. Like I said. Viral.

Much to her considerable horror, I found a picture of my Goddaughter swilling champagne from the bottle while clad, if you call it that, in a toga.

I did quite a good job with her didn't I? Actually I did and so did her folks. And here's the very real downside to all of these Facebook pages these kids are on. My Goddaughter is a really good kid. I was a really good kid when I was in college too. And like many good kids in college I did really stupid stuff. It's just that my stupid stuff didn't become memorialized across the Internet for all to see.

These kids, they don't realize that. My friend in the prosecutor's office knows of a young person that didn't get hired over there because of some dumb shit he had up on his page. Look at Elliot Spitzer's girlfriend. And I know you have. Her images from her Myspace page were splashed across print and Internet publications overnight much to Mrs. Spitzer's doubtless amusement.

I had a couple of other points I wanted to make but I have to go. One of my baseball moms just sent a message to my Facebook page.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Vox Populi: The Kid At The Liquor Store

I made one of my infrequent trips to the liquor merchant I use in order to acquire spiritous refreshment which I use quite sparingly. While waiting to check out, I heard one of the clerks say to the other:

" The worst part of all was the trip down to the police station. The back seat smelled like this weird combination of sweaty tennis shoes and alcohol. I almost puked when they closed the car door behind me."

Friday, August 15, 2008

Welcome to Little Rock

I was heading east up Capitol Avenue with the Regional Gift Officer from my law school Alma Mater whose office had foolishly identified me as a person of means. I am a person of solvency. At least according to the United States Bankruptcy Code I am. Anyway, I was giving her the nickle tour of Little Rock when we rolled up to the scene above.

" Whoaaaaaa," I said.

" What is it? A wreck? A bad wreck?" she asked.

" No. There's too many cops. There's a forensic unit. Something bad happened."

She looked at her watch.

" Is it common for somebody to get shot at 12:30 in downtown Little Rock? Like down the street from the Capitol?"

This from a young woman who lives in a really dangerous city.


It is somewhat comforting-at least from a Chamber of Commerce perspective-that the murder of the Chairman of the Arkansas Democratic Party by a stranger who sought him out- seemed to be the typical senseless act of an unstable white loser who confused the ability to acquire firearms with self-esteem.

What is less clear is why Timothy Johnson, who died after foolishly engaging in a shoot-out with the Arkansas State Police after the crime, made Bill Gwatney the object of his rage. By all accounts, they didn't know each other. And yet, in his house, the police found a yellow sticky note with Gwatney's last name and telephone number on it. They also found two sets of keys that bore the logos of Gwatney Chevrolet.

His neighbors described him as loner who lived by himself in a house that his late parents owned in Searcy. He had a sister in Sheridan where the cops forced him off the road after a high speed chase. Supposedly she helped him with money. There are stories that he stalked a woman who worked in a local dentist's office. The investigators have his computer. The data on the hard drive should prove interesting.

Some things are not knowable. What we do know is that Timothy Johnson quit his job at the Target in Conway after he was accused of writing derogatory graffiti about women on the walls there. He drove to Little Rock and sought out a man he apparently didn't know and shot him dead in front of horrified onlookers.

And we also know that once again, an obviously disturbed person with access to weapons, decided to go out in a blaze of what he perceived to be glory after killing an innocent person.

What we don't know is why. And that it was the sort of crazy shit that shocked a woman from New Orleans.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

The Moving Finger Writes

Here's the worst case scenario for a married man who happens to be a public figure. You go to Los Angeles to meet a woman with whom you have had an affair. You meet her in her room at a fancy hotel in order to try to talk her into maintaining her silence. As you are leaving in the wee hours of the morning you note, much to your considerable horror, that you have been followed by reporters from that proud bastion of journalism the National Enquirer. So you do what anyone else would do under the circumstances.

You run down the hall to the men's room and lock the door. And from that ignoble space you call the front desk to get security to throw the reporters off the property.

And in the privacy of a public latrine at the Beverly Hilton your head hums. Whither human dignity? You think, " I could have been President. And look at me now."

Well? What did they expect? I say "they" because the widely admired Elizabeth Edwards says that John confessed to her in 2006. These people are not stupid. And still they pressed on with the campaign as if they thought that this story would never see the light of day.

Perhaps they would have reconsidered if they had known that the filmmaker he knew as Rielle Hunter had previously been known in New York as Lisa Druck. She dated the author Jay McInerney who said that she was the model for the character Allison Poole in his novel "The Story of My Life" who he describes as: "a budding actress already fatally well-versed in hopping the clubs, shopping Chanel, falling in and out of lust, and abusing other people's credit cards."

It is never good when a merely unstable person becomes an inconvenient one as well. Again, what on God's green Earth made them think they could pull this off in the first place?

I had an interesting conversation about this with a friend the other night. She took keen interest in Edwards referring to himself as "a narcissist." She noted that no man that refers to himself thusly really believes it. This observation was confirmed by the all-seeing and all-knowing Dr. GG who told me on the cell phone that " Narcissists never blame themselves. They have no insight. It's always somebody else's fault."

As for me, I don't know whether Edwards is a narcissist or not. We all, each and everyone of us, want to be the star in our own movie. And I have to think that the urge to run for higher elective office has an element of narcissism to it. Indeed, given the rigors of the average Presidential race, one could rightly wonder whether any person that wanted the job was actually sane enough to vote for.

I do know that, at the end of the day, he is just another man who made a mistake. And all of us have made mistakes with our money and with our private parts. Each and every one. Most of us haven't been in the glare of the public eye though.

As I say at times like these, it's not like he killed anybody. Is he a hypocrite.? Sure he is. But there have been worse. He will pay dearly for this foolish affair. I cannot imagine that he is anything else but utterly doomed politically. He will be remembered for Rielle Hunter just as Bill Clinton will always be remembered for Monica Lewinsky. He will have to repair the damage he has caused his family. And there may be a financial payout as well in the form of child support if it is determined that he is the father of the child Hunter had at all times consistent with this time frame.

But still. He didn't kill anybody. If his family can live with it, that is good enough for me. I wish him luck.

He will need it.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Monday, August 04, 2008

Vox Populi: The Last Words of Christopher Emmett

The State of Virginia executed Christopher Emmett last week for beating a co-worker to death with a lamp so he could steal his money to buy crack.

His last words: "Tell the Governor he just lost my vote. Y'all hurry this along. I'm dying to get out of here."

This was even better than Tim McVeigh quoting the line about being "the captain of my fate" from the poem "Invictus."

If there's any time when you are NOT the captain of your fate, it is just before you are executed pursuant to a Court Order.

Anyway, you simply cannot make this stuff up.

Sunday, August 03, 2008

My Sunday Feeling

As has been alluded to earlier in this space, something happened a couple of weeks ago. I didn't want to write about it right off the bat because not all of the information was in. It still may not be. But I've been OK since the initial event and so here we go.

Last month, I had my first-and hopefully last-attack of severe vertigo. It was about 4 am on a Tuesday. I was standing in my bathroom when all of a sudden the room flipped upside down. I felt as if I had been thrown to the floor. I landed hip and head first. I can attest that my new tile floor is extremely well built.

I tried to get up. I couldn't. Each time I attempted to stand I felt as if I were being pushed down. I laid there in the floor with my eyes closed trying to get the room to quit spinning. I was extremely nauseous and I was sweating through my clothes. Had I sustained a stroke? Was I having a heart attack? I eventually decided that although I had no idea what the hell was going on, I was going to have to make it back to the bedroom because that's where the phone was.

So I got myself up into a pushup position and crawled back to the bed. I pulled myself up and got into the fetal position. I closed my eyes. The nausea abated and I fell asleep.

I woke up when I attempted to roll over and realized that the pillow was stuck to my ear. That's when I realized two things. The spinning had stopped and there was blood everywhere.

I looked at myself in the mirror and realized that I had lacerated my left ear. That's when I took the trip to the ER that I wrote about earlier. Both the ER physician-who was kind of an asshole-and my doc-who is not-thought I had Meniere's disease. This was not good news. Meniere's is a syndrome characterized by sudden debilitating attacks of vertigo accompanied by a loud buzzing sensation in the ears. The feeling of being thrown to the floor that I described is called propulsus and is textbook Meniere's. However, I didn't have any of the auditory symptoms. So they sent me to the ENT.

The ENT put me through all kinds of hearing tests and examined both ears and my throat. The good news? He is not willing to call it Meniere's just yet. The bad news is that the official diagnosis for now is " shit happens." He crossed his legs and leaned back on the little stool mustering as much gravitas as one can summon forth while wearing a light on your forehead.

" Look," he said. " This happens a lot more than the general public knows. People are all the time coming in here with vertigo. While it is obvious that they have experienced some sort of vestibular disturbance, typically it is nothing I can find a reason for. Granted your story is a little more dramatic in that you actually got hurt which indicates to me the suddenness of the episode. Sounds like Meniere's.

But your hearing test is too normal for Meniere's. You have a hearing loss consistent with a man your age who has spent a lifetime going to sporting events and listening to music. I can't call it Meniere's. And we have excluded a stroke and any tumors. Now, if you are absolutely terrified of another attack-and I don't blame you if you are-we can do an MRI and a neurological workup. But that is not indicated for a man who is in such good shape as you are and have had only one attack. Waste of money until you have another attack. "

In conclusion he said, "So for right now we'll just call it........." and with that he shrugged his shoulders and put his palms up in the classic "Who knows?" gesture.

I go back for another workup in October unless I have another attack. I am supposed to keep Valium in my briefcase in the event that it happens again. I'm cleared to do my normal activities although they would just as soon I stay off the bike and not climb any ladders until October. Can do.

Since then I have found out that there are more people with vertigo than I knew. The judge's husband called me while I was with the doctor to "welcome" me "to the club." He had an attack that lasted 2 weeks. It went away and never came back. The docs have no idea. One of my best friends has it. I know her like the back of my hand and had no idea until she told me a couple of weeks ago. But then I realized that she has been telecommuting for a couple of years and then it all made sense.

As I told the man who called me, I do not wish to be in this club. He said that, like the Army, some clubs are harder to get out of than others. And maybe I am not yet admitted. So far so good. I am playing golf, working out and running. Haven't experienced another attack. Like the docs said, as we grow older stuff happens. I can accept that. But I find it passing strange that a healthy person can knock himself into next month for no reason other than "stuff happens."

We shall see what we shall see. But that's what happened last month.