Sunday, April 25, 2010

My Sunday Feeling

The same storm that put the kibosh on my plans to play golf Friday night shut down Miracle League yesterday morning as well. This presented me with what NV refers to as a UDOR which is an acronym for Unexpected Day Of Rest. So after reading the paper, I headed down to the gym to run on the treadmill.

I have made no secret of how much I enjoy living in the People's Republic of Hillcrest. One of the reasons I like it over here is because of all the interesting people that seem to abound in the square mileage bordered by War Memorial Golf course, Riverdale, Catholic High and the Arkansas School for the Deaf.

The only other person in the gym when I got there was a local artist named Kevin. Kevin actually supports a family by doing art. And does it well. I got on the treadmill next to him.

"How's it going in the art world?" I asked.

"Oh man," he said. " This latest project is going to kill me."

" Oh yeah?"

He shook his head and winced.

"Big piece. Biggest I've ever done," he said. " Mother Nature. This is how big she's gonna be. Her hands are gonna be 25 feet apart."

He held his hands out to show me the perspective.

"Anyway, last week I did her head."


" Now this isn't a sculpture in the sense of me chipping away at stone. At least not all of her. First I had to build her head out of wire. After that I had to shape her face out of cement. You understand what I'm doing, the process?"

" I do," I said. I did.

"Anyway, they backed the concrete truck up to the frame, pulled out the chute and let her rip. You know how fast they pump that stuff?"

" Not really."

" Let me tell ya, it must be different pumping cement for a construction project that doesn't require a lot of manipulation. It's different for pumping it for an artist!"

"I guess nobody thought of that."

"I guarantee you we didn't because I had to do some fast work with those trowels. I mean, I must've looked like Kevin Scissorhands trying to keep up with all that."

All of a sudden he started doing his best Johnny Depp impersonation, hands flying around, fingers splayed open.

I kind of wished I had seen the real performance.

Maybe I'm wrong but I have my doubts that you're going to overhear many similar conversations in the various gyms in the Central Arkansas Area.

And that's why I like living here. I live a stone's throw from a couple of writers. An actor and screenwriter. He belongs to my gym too but I've never seen him. And any number of artists like my stressed out cement worker.

And that's also why I can't imagine that I will ever leave.

Mea culpa: Not that anybody cares but I want to explain my lack of blogging lately. Quite honestly, I have just simply been swamped at the day job. The last thing I want to do when I come home is look at a computer screen. I hope to be back more regularly once I put a couple of major projects to bed.

But thank you for your continued support of this ministry. I will try to do better.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Vox Populi: Some Asshole At Starbucks

I went to the SB by my house to get some iced tea before embarking on my errands. The guy ahead of me apparently knew the kid behind the counter.

"Man, I need some coffee. I was out pretty late last night," he said as he stretched and yawned.

"You must've been having a good time," the kid behind the counter said.

" I had too good a time. I was about halfway drunk and rear-ended somebody in front of the police station.

" No shit?" said the kid. "What happened? Did you get arrested?"

" Arrested? I didn't even get a ticket."


" Swear to God. The other guy's car wasn't damaged. I just bumped him. But that ain't exactly where I needed to have a fender bender under these circumstances. So I got the hell out of there."

My luck ain't that good. If I had been in his shoes, I would be posting this from the Pulaski County Jail.


Sunday, April 18, 2010

My Sunday Feeling

Phil Mickelson won the Masters last Sunday beating perennial bridesmaid Lee Westwood by two stokes. A surly Tiger Woods finished tied for 4th. Which is plenty impressive seeing as how Tiger has a lot on his mind nowadays.

Or did. The story this week was to the effect that Elin has had it and the divorce is all but a foregone conclusion. Sources have said that the final straw was that creepy Nike ad where a stoic Tiger shot in black and white listens to the disembodied voice of his late father Earl supposedly giving him counsel from beyond the grave.

You know, they paid somebody a lot of money to come up with something that stupid. As near as I could tell, the ad was calculated to make the viewer connect up with a chastened, more human Woods. Well, it didn't work. The spot was almost universally panned. For one thing, Tiger ain't exactly Sir Ralph Richardson. The other thing is that the snippet of Earl talking was taken from an interview in which he was talking about this wife! The spot was a complete contrivance.

I heard an interview with former PGA great Curtis Strange who said that he thought the pressure of it all-the scandal, his foundering marriage, his lack of recent playing time during which downtime he obviously did not take acting lessons-on American golf's biggest stage simply got to him by Sunday.

Maybe so. Maybe no. Which brings us to Lefty.

You want to talk pressure? Both his wife Amy and his Mother have breast cancer. Amy was so weak last Sunday that she didn't leave her bed to go to the course until it looked like Phil had sealed the deal on the final holes.

You know, there are lot of people that don't like Mickelson. He is widely considered by his peers to be an arrogant phony. Indeed, it is for this reason that he was once derisively referred to by the acronym FIGJAM. Which stands for Fuck I'm Good Just Ask Me.

But Lefty, who had a lot on his mind as well, could be seen after his rounds in Augusta signing autographs and chatting with fans. And he reverted back to Phil the Thrill making back to back Eagles on Sunday which I have never heard of. In interviews during the tournament he spoke frequently of the courage of the women in his life.

I'm thinking that golf needs Lefty right now a lot more than it needs a Tiger Woods. Both men entered the Masters facing adversity. The one whose adversity was completely of his own making viewed it as a marketing opportunity and made a self-reverential commercial.

The other one talked about his wife and how her sickness had changed his life. And he won the Masters with Amy in her sickbed.

So don't talk to me about all the pressure Tiger Woods has been under. Nobody deserves to have a loved one diagnosed with cancer.

Tiger's earned every bit of his trouble.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

My Sunday Feeling

I pulled into my driveway after the work the other day. There was a young man with a clipboard standing on the sidewalk. As he approached I noticed that he was eying back of my car and the sign in my yard. A buddy of mine is running for Supreme Court. I guess he was checking to see if there were any bumper stickers that might also give him some clue as to my political orientation.
The kid started asking me questions about the Democratic primary and my opinions about certain subjects such as health care and the bailouts of the "Wall Street Banks." I told him that I pretty much confined my political opinions to the ballot box and I bade him farewell. Undeterred, he continued to press me concerning the issues of the day, at least the ones he was interested in. He handed me a flyer. I handed it back.

"You must not have heard me Son," I said as I cut him off. " This conversation is over and you are leaving."

He glared at me for a second. But leave he did and I stood in my yard as he went to bug my neighbors down the street to the West of me.

I ran into one of my political friends in the grocery store yesterday. I told him about my run-in with the canvasser. He rolled his eyes.

" Have you gotten one of those polling type calls yet?" he asked. I told him that I do not pick up the phone if I don't recognize the number. As far as I am concerned, whoever invented Caller ID is way overdue for the Nobel Prize.

" The Unions are all calling on behalf of Halter. If you give them an answer they don't like or if you tell them you support Blanche or even if you tell 'em you don't want to talk to them, they start arguing with you. This has got the Chamber worried. I hear they are gonna run ads on their own in the Primary on behalf of Blanche which has never happened before."

I told him that I have gotten to where I hate politics and the election season.

" This Tea Party shit has gotten outta hand," he replied. " I know more politicians in both parties who have told me that they aren't running again or that they aren't going to stay in politics for long. The constant harassment 24/7 from people that aren't even in your State or District is driving a lot of people that would consider themselves pretty conservative out of public life. It's crazy."

It is crazy. People have a right to believe whatever they want. The Constitution gives each American the right to petition the Government for redress of grievances. But it is another entirely to attempt to harass and intimidate those who don't share your particular persuasion. Because it tends to have a chilling effect on those who stand for public office. And even worse, it tends to encourage the type of candidates who would pander to these people. There are a couple of them now that are running for Congress. I won't mention them but they know who they are.

The sort of incivility that was displayed in the Town Hall meetings about Health Care Reform also tends to empower unstable people with a litany of grievance. I am familiar with a pro se litigant who has wasted much money on filing fees and postage suing various businesses and government entities that have allegedly done him wrong. These pleadings, uncontaminated by merit though they are, used to be amusing. But his filings have recently become increasingly infected with apocalyptic language and vague references to "taking up arms" and identification with the Tea Party movement.

Lunatics do not tend to identify with the League of Women Voters. They are, however, more likely to attain class consciousness with the disaffected cranks in "movements" like the Tea Party.

But enough about them. They fact that these kind of tactics have infiltrated the mainstream even slightly is depressing. As he wheeled his cart away my buddy asked me to look at the calls on my landline when I got home. I did. There were 9 calls from 1-800 numbers and 2 from pollsters in the last 4 days. And this is just the Primary!

After my confrontation with the kid I left my house to walk up to the gym. I saw him watch me from down my street as I headed up the hill. When I came home the flyer I did not want was stuck in my door.

They say that all political advertising is for that one or two percent that are undecided. Well, all the ads and aggressive door-to-door canvassing in the world won't change my mind about anything.

They can piss me off though. I wonder what percentage of the electorate I happen to represent?


Saturday, April 03, 2010

My Easter Feeling

" How you doing Sir?" said the black kid emptying the trash. "Sure does get busy around here this time of day."

I was pumping gas on Good Friday at the convenience store across from War Memorial Park.

" I'm doing great, Son," I said. "How are you?"

" I'm fixin' to get off work myself. Big day Sunday. Big day."

" Yeah it is."

" I'm gonna get a haircut and then I'm going to church for Good Friday. I can't wait for Sunday."

" Yeah?"

" Gonna take my mother to church. Then we'll go to her sister's for lunch. The little kids will hunt for Easter eggs. I just plan on eatin' myself."

"Sounds like you have big plans."

" Yeah I do. Can't wait for Sunday. Big day. Big day."

I like Easter myself. I like Spring. Even though I'm not so sure about what I believe anymore, I like the ancient promise of hope in redemption and that victory remains in love.

It's hard to remember that lesson during a Lenten season in which nominal Christians, some of them armed to the teeth, have taken upon themselves to attempt to foment insurrection. Many of our Governors received letters from a militia group telling them to remove themselves from office or be "taken out."

Granted, most of these people are complete loons who couldn't be trusted with a wet match much less the violent overthrow of the government. But still, it is disconcerting to think that there are people out there who believe that Jesus, who my Bible said to render unto Caesar, care for the sick and the poor and to turn the other cheek, would approve of a plan to kill police officers in hopes of igniting a larger conflagration of unrest and disorder. You ever heard that cops are underpaid? There's your proof.

I mean, I'm as big a fan of the First Amendment as there is. But I'm beginning to think that maybe "The Turner Diaries" the trash novel from whence this hair brained notion that killing law enforcement officers is all to the good, should be banned. Or maybe anybody that tries to buy a copy should be made to prove that they have actually read another book in their life.

But I digress. I'm wasting too much time pondering the actions of morons.

I am sitting on my porch swing as I type this. The dogwoods have gloriously returned-as they do every year- despite nearly being destroyed in the great ice storm 9 years ago or so. The lawns and the trees that are situated thereon are greening up. A buddy of mine is a landscape architect. He planted some bulbs last fall. They bloomed last week. Purple and gold. He went to LSU. I got my law degree at Tulane. This amuses him greatly.

I hear lawn mowers. A girl just walked by with a beautiful boxer. Folks are out with strollers. This is my Father's world. Why should my heart be sad?

Tomorrow NV is forsaking the Episcopalians to spend Easter with the Methodists. Vic Nixon is retiring in June. She enjoyed getting to know him last December. She wants to hear his last Easter sermon. At least the last one he will give at Pulaski Heights. It has been my experience that preachers never really retire. It's just not in their nature.

But the young man at the gas station is right. Tomorrow is a big day. And for one 24 hour period we are reminded that victory remains in love.

Despite the fact that there are fools in our midst.