Sunday, August 25, 2013


Elmore Leonard will spin in his grave at this news but there will be no MSF today.  

Talk among yourselves.  

Sunday, August 18, 2013

My Sunday Feeling

My friend R lost his mother the other day.  She was quite elderly and confined to a nursing home.  She sustained a stroke a week ago and finally passed away in hospice care last Friday.  So he finally joined the club I was inducted to a little over 4 years ago.

Which can't seem possible.  But it is.  I will have been "retired" 2 whole years in a little over a month. And my nephew Henry started college yesterday.  Time seems to proceed at an accelerated pace the longer I walk this Earth.  None of this seems possible.

R had talked about his mother every now and again. He is a man of a deep and abiding faith and so when he talked of welcoming the prospect of her passing, he spoke from the perspective of a Christian son who wanted his mother's suffering to end.  

My own relationship with faith is, shall we say, a negotiable one.  But I have been there.  My own Mother's last years were just awful.  She somehow broke a hip in the bed.  Her Parkinson's had caused her dementia to accelerate to the point where her grasp of reality was occasionally tenuous.  For example, there were times toward the end of her life that she did not remember my name.  

As my friend Mark said of my mother's state before she died, "We just live too long."

I tell the high school kids that one of the scariest aspects of financial planning is the prospect of outliving your money.  I tell them that longevity is a rather recent phenomena.  During the time of the French Revolution people tended to die in their forties. Indeed, people would come from miles around to get a look at somebody my age.  

Of course, I exaggerate.  But not by much. Our medical technology can keep us going longer than Mother Nature intended or our finances contemplated.  Or, maybe in the case of R's mom and my mom, they were just tougher than most of us.  I know Mom almost set a record at the nursing home for living without food or water while she was in a coma.  Sounds like R's mom gave her a race.

Keeping a vigil is hard. Mother died during what the advertising industry refers to as the Holiday season.  Hearing Burl Ives sing "Holly Jolly Christmas" over the Muzak system was excruciating. To this day I damn near break into hives when I hear it. And R's a busy man with many people that depend on him.  He had to have been torn between his duty to his mother and his professional duties.  Been there too.  

The timing of these things is never good.  R will hit the ground running when after the funeral.  Events that have been planned for years are on the immediate calendar.  St. Vincent-Millay put it best concerning the death of her own father. "Life goes on. I forget just why."

And of course, those of us who love him felt useless during this time.  Because while you want to do something, there is really nothing you can do and you don't wish to intrude.  But you want to do something. It's just human nature.

He asked me to cancel a meeting for him.  I was happy to do that.  On my own I contacted some of his professional peers to let them know what was going on.  One of them described my doing so as "thoughtful."

He is kind.  I don't think of it as being thoughtful so much as the very real appreciation for the breath that God has lent me.  And so I viewed my gesture as trying, in a small way, to pay it forward.  And back and sideways.

Because R is my friend.  And because I have been in his shoes.

Friday, August 16, 2013


This is what I found gracing the front of Pulaski Heights Baptist Church the other morning.  Hillcrest is like a lot of neighborhoods in Little Rock.  It has graffiti punks who place their "tags" on other folks' property throughout the neighborhood.  It is mostly an annoyance which the police, understandably, don't have much time to look out for.

But it's one thing to deface Kroger.  It rises to another level when it is done to a place of worship.  That is an act of desecration.

I am certain that the idiot who tagged the church is not well versed in history.  He (I say "he" because these "artists" are almost all young men as I am made to understand)probably doesn't know what the Nazis did to synagogues.  He doesn't know what the Klan did to black churches.  He doesn't know that desecrating a church is a hate crime.

Granted, it's not up there with burning a cross or throwing a Molotov cocktail into a church full of people.  But it is a hate crime nonetheless in that whoever did this showed little regard for the generations of folks who have worshipped in that building or for all the good PHBC does for the community.

And I madder than hell about it.  

I told the Mayor about it.  I called 311.  I told the Residents Association.  That crap is gonna get removed if I have to clean it myself.  This is intolerable.

Now I know that the odds are slim that the moron that did this will ever be caught.  But if he is, here's how I think he ought to be punished.  I think he ought to be sentenced to spend 90 days with Dr. Randy Hyde and Rev. Carolyn Staley.  He should be made to do public service, write essays on the history of church desecration and to attend church.  Over there.  If anybody could make a man out of whoever did this it would be those two.  

And he better hope that he is apprehended by the cops.  Because he doesn't want me to get my hands on him.  

Because he would wake up in the hospital.  Preferably at Baptist.  

Sunday, August 11, 2013

My Sunday Feeling

Let us all agree on something right from the start.  If Johnny Manziel autographed items in exchange for money, he violated the NCAA rule that expressly forbids student-athletes from receiving "extra benefits" beyond what they receive as part and parcel of an athletic scholarship.  If it turns out that he did indeed violate the "extra benefit" rule he must be suspended.  And until the NCAA determines this, Texas A&M can be forgiven if it feels the better course of action is to keep him off the field rather than run the risk of forfeiting games for using an ineligible player.

Those are the rules and those are the potential consequences.  Just so we're clear.

And I think it also a fair comment to suggest that the young man's flair for reckless behavior is not confined to the playing field where his breathtaking play lead Texas A&M to last year's Cotton Bowl and for which he received the Heisman Award, the first freshman ever to be so honored.  

And it has been all noise all the time from College Station ever since then.

"Johnny Football" has over 400,000 followers on Twitter upon,which until recently, he could be counted on to pop off with frequency.  As you might imagine, some of those tweets have been problematic, such as the one in which he lamented life in College Station and the one in which he and a buddy are pictured in a casino brandishing wads of cash.  

I bet that latter exercise of his First Amendment rights amused the Aggies' Athletic Director to no end.

He has had a couple of minor run-ins with the law. During one such contact by law enforcement, he was found to have fake ID.  He has showed up at the NBA Finals.  He has thrown out the first pitch for a Rangers game.  His mug has been plastered all over the Internets at parties where it is evident that spirituous refreshment is abundant.  

Much of this is rightfully attributed to his being a kid in the age of the Internet.  Lord knows the trouble I could have gotten into if I had owned an iPhone at 18. And JF is not the only kid to find himself in hot water due to an indiscretion that got into the public. Indeed, I know a girl who got kicked out of boarding school in another state after a picture of her pretending to smoke from a bong in her dorm wound up on Facebook.  Technology frequently trumps teenage sense.

But if JF indeed autographed a bunch of helmets for a memorabilia broker in exchange for $7500.00, as the broker claims, he has created a huge headache for both himself and for Texas A&M.  But it is clearly against the rules.  No two ways about it.

Which again brings up the issue of the hypocrisy of college athletics, particularly in D-I Men's sports. Why is it OK for A&M to auction off stuff JF has autographed to raise money for renovations to Kyle Field but it's not OK for JF to get a piece of the action? What gives the NCAA the right to potentially come down hard on JF when up until fairly recently you could buy a jersey with Manziel's name on it from the NCAA website?

Isn't it the height of hypocrisy for everybody to get to line their pockets but the student-athletes themselves?  

I don't the answer to this.  I do know that I'm an enabler.  Which makes me a hypocrite as well.  I subscribe to my cable provider's premium sports channel.  I go to Razorback games.  I take 3-4 sports magazines.  

I donate to the booster clubs of both Hendrix and Tulane.  And when September 7 rolls around I will be in Conway watching the Hendrix Warriors play football again for the first time since the Sixties.  

And so I really have no room to talk.  

But I will say this, Johnny Manziel is not exactly some kid from the inner city who maybe takes a $50 buck handshake from time to time so he can buy gas and go to the movies with his girlfriend.  Although that is just as illegal as what JF is alleged to have done, I get that.  Especially when everybody is making money off of him but him.  

Johnny Manziel comes from a well-to-do family.  He doesn't need money to buy gas or to go to the movies.  Indeed, alarm bells went off throughout the system when he was seen courtside at that game in the NBA playoffs.  They were cancelled when it was revealed that his daddy paid for the ticket and for airfare.

Having little regard for appearances is not an NCAA violation.  Otherwise, JF would have been in the NCAA hoosegow a long time ago.  

But if these allegations are true, then both the NCAA and Texas A&M need to drop the hammer on the young man.  

Because he didn't need the money.  He did it because he's Johnny Football and because he evidently believes that this makes him bulletproof and invisible.  

Am I hypocrite?  Absolutely I am.  

But I'm a hypocrite with a sense of proportion.  At least I got that going for me.  

Saturday, August 03, 2013

On The Road

I'm outta here for a couple of days.  Will resume this foolishness next week.

Talk amongst yourselves.