Saturday, August 24, 2019

My Sunday Feeling on Saturday

I don't have much to allow this weekend.  Sarah of Arabia made it safely to Cairo.  As we speak, Joe and his Mom are out shopping for stuff for him to take back with him for his second year at Hendrix.  I'm playing golf in Morrilton the Beautiful tomorrow if the weather holds. And college football starts tonight.  High school ball starts next week.  

And the sun seems to be making a cameo appearance in today's sky.  So I'm off to the driving range.  All is right with the world.

See you next week.  

Sunday, August 18, 2019

My Sunday Feeling

This will not be a long post.  

Today marks the first anniversary of the marriage of the Deacon and I.  I guess I should have given more thought to it and composed a tome about the last year.  But quite frankly I didn't know where to start.  This time last year?  5 years or so ago when we first started seeing each other seriously?  The sheer hell that was last summer?

True story.  I ran into one of the young coaches out on the golf course.  He was getting one last round in before football practice started for real.

"How has your summer been Mr. Bowen?," he asked.

I'm "Mr. Bowen" to about half of them over there at Catholic High.  I'm still not quite used to that.  As far as I'm concerned "Mr. Bowen" is buried over to the VA Cemetery downtown. But what are you going to do?  

"Let me tell you Coach," I said. " I'm not buying a house.  I'm not selling a house.  I'm not moving a family here from Conway and I'm not living in a house with no furniture except a recliner, a bed, a TV and a coffee pot. I'm having one hell of a good summer compared to last summer."

If we got through last June without somebody getting shot in the front yard, I think the prospects for the long haul are really good.  

Should I write about the wedding ceremony itself?  That wouldn't be a bad idea except I don't remember much about it except Chris Riviere telling me a lawyer joke about an hour prior to the nuptials and folks applauding as we left the Sanctuary.  That's not true.  I remember my right foot falling asleep in my new shoes as we standing up there in front of God and everybody as the old saying goes.  

And I remember Jim Hathaway coming up to me at the reception.  He had noticed that I was not drinking.  He did not think this was advisable given the stress I was under and so he brought me a double bourbon on the rocks.  Jim Hathaway is a good man.

But really that's about it.  Maybe if I looked at the pictures it would come back to me.  Except I have no earthly idea where they are around here.  Which is not atypical.  

Talk about a blur, it seems hard to believe that a year has come and gone.  The kids will be leaving soon.  They have been here for most of the summer which has been interesting to use a word.  Sarah is headed back to the Middle East for a fellowship.  She will be gone until Christmas.  Joe will head back to Hendrix a few days after that.  He will be gone until he needs laundry done or his Mom's cooking.  Or money.  

What else should I write about?

Maybe this.  Soon it will be back to just the Deacon and me in this big old house up on top of the world.  Once it is no longer 10 degrees hotter than Hell, we will go back to sitting on the porch.  We like it here.  You can see deer in the woods across the street.  You can see the Arkansas River a mile or so to the north.  Joe says you can see the lights of downtown from his room upstairs.  I'll take his word for it.  I don't own a hazmat suit so I don't go up there.  

The Deacon is a bookish sort.  I am a "gin-ish" sort.  The neighbors walk by and stop to talk to her.  They merely tolerate me.  I think they can't figure out how M got stuck with the likes of a dyspeptic curmudgeon-which is the worst kind if you think about it-like me.  That's OK. I can't figure it out either.  But our porch is a good place to be. Our home is a happy one.

It's a good place to start the second year along with all the other years that are hopefully to come.  

I'll try to do a better job of paying attention from here on out.  

Sunday, August 11, 2019

My Sunday Feeling

"They have bedsheets banners in Atlanta too.  They say REBEL. Sometimes the bedsheets is a Confederate flag.  I wonder how the Negro players feel about them.  The worse part is these things are hung by kids. Why the hell couldn't they let that stuff die with their grandfathers? These are not rebels who want something new.  These are rebels who want to bring back the old." 

                                                                                 Ball Four

I like baseball.  I always have.  Played it. Coached it.  Watch it pretty much every night.  So it occurred to me to re-read "Ball Four" which was journeyman pitcher Jim Bouton's epic expose about life in professional baseball.  It was published in 1969.  That would have made me about 14.  I bought a copy somewhere.  I don't really remember where one would have gone to buy books in Southwest Little Rock back in those days, it not being especially Parisian.  

But I remember sitting in my room reading about guys I idolized on the TV and cereal boxes being depicted as drunks and womanizers.  Or both.  I had never heard of "greenies" before then.  And we are not exactly talking about the Tulane Green Wave.  Although I had never heard of them either back in those days.

And I remember thinking to myself "If Mother knew what I was reading she would kill me."  As far as my parents knew, Ball Four was just another sports book, no more incendiary or sinful than any of the sports novels by Tex Maule that I used to read.  

But "Ball Four," written by Bouton with assistance from sportswriter Leonard Shecter, pulled back the veil on what went on in the locker room and in the team hotels.  And Bouton named names.  The biggest name being Mickey Mantle, who we now know in retrospect was a raging alcoholic who drank champagne for breakfast in his post-playing days.  Huntington's Disease ran in his family and killed his father.  As the Mick famously said about his drinking "If I had known I was going to live this long I would have taken better care of myself."  Mantle doesn't appear frequently in "Ball Four.' But the fact that he appeared at all was remarkable.  

But what struck the young me as much as the stories about all the drinking and crazy sex was the timeless banality of the game itself.  I was a pitcher and I was wild as a buck.  I wish I had a nickel for every time somebody came out to the mound to advise me to "throw strikes." Like I wasn't trying to already.  My young heart leapt with joy as Bouton recounted getting that same useless advice as was offered to me.  Only he was getting it from the likes of Sal "the Barber" Maglie.  

Jim Bouton confirmed something that I had begun to suspect about baseball in those tender years.  Nobody knows anything.  Which is a radical idea to put in a young person's head.  But this radical notion became a bedrock principle that has served me in good stead in many other areas of human endeavor, including the practice of law, throughout my life even unto this late date.   

I ordered the updated version from a local bookstore.  When I showed up to buy it, I saw the young black kid behind the counter looking through it.  The cover of this edition carries a quote by David Halberstam, saying that "Ball Four" was "A book deep in the American vein, so deep in fact that it is by no means a sports book." The cover also points out that it was selected as one of the "Books of the Century" by the New York Public Library.

The young man rang me up.

"I never heard of this book before," he said. "But it seems to have won a bunch of awards.  What makes it so important?"

I looked at his earnest, intelligent face.  I'm guessing he's not a day over 22.

"Well," I said. "You got to understand that things were a lot different back when "Ball Four" was written.  The NFL had not yet become the premier sport in the country.  Baseball players were idolized and mythologized still to a large degree.  There was no such thing as investigative journalism in sports back then.  The sportswriters were all chummy with the players and turned a blind eye to all the carousing that was going on.  I don't think Bouton thought he was doing journalism, but things were never the same after 'Ball Four.'"

"The writers covered for the players?"

God love him.

"Sure.  And the managers and ownership too."

He laughed and shook his head.

"That sure couldn't happen now."

"Well not to the extent that it happened in those days, no."

  I was about to turn to walk out.

"I may read it," the kid said.  It sounds real interesting. My friends and I never played baseball.  So I don't know much about it."

"Don't worry about it,"I said. "Nobody knows anything."


"Nothing.  Enjoy the book, Son."   

Nobody knows anything.  

Bless you Mister Bouton. And thank you for that gift.  

Sunday, August 04, 2019

My Sunday Feeling

As some of you folks know, I do a good bit of pro bono work for a couple of Legal Aid type organizations.  The most recent one is a website put out by the American Bar Association called "Free Legal Answers."  The format is simple.  Clients who are screened for eligibility (I guess)  can write the site an email concerning their legal issues.  The attorneys can pick the messages to which they wish to respond based on their area of expertise.  The attorneys can see the name and county of the client and the potential adverse party (if any). However, the attorney responding to the question is anonymous.  And the website records the time you spend answering the question and sends it to the Clerk of the Arkansas Supreme Court for credit on your license.  

This is a great idea.  I wonder what took them so long.  Hell, I wonder why I didn't think of it.

The last couple of days I have been struck down with the worst case of bronchitis I've had in 5 years easy.  My doctor read me the riot act about being on the verge of pneumonia and how I was on strict orders to take it easy at least through the weekend.  Since there's only so much baseball a man can watch or reading a man can do, I figured that under the circumstances this was as good a time as any to take a crack at giving the Internet the benefit of my vast legal knowledge augmented by antibiotics and steroids.  And a gin and tonic.  Like I said, this was a great idea.

I mostly did money and property stuff back when I toiled in the vineyard for Uncle.  So I tried to find questions in those areas to respond to on the website.  

It's interesting to read the thoughts of strangers.  And I was pleasantly surprised to see that the email format evidently caused the clients to gather their thoughts more than they sometimes do when they come see the lawyer in person.  I have done 2 or 3 so far.  But I have looked at some of the divorce/custody questions just out of curiosity.  Hoo boy.  A lady in a European country wants to know how to get a divorce from a husband here on the state.  Another wants to know how to do a custody on a pro se basis.  Although I don't do family law, I know the answer to that one.  Don't.  

Then there's the predictably crazy stuff.  One person wants to sue a judge.  Another wants to sue a lawyer for malpractice.  One person-in so far as I can glean from the disjointed and rambling email-wants to sue somebody for allegedly misappropriating his likeness in a YouTube video.  I'll just bet.

I read those messages for the purpose of amusement.  I stuck with what I know.

One person wanted to know about adverse possession.  He didn't qualify.  Another is burdened with debts and wanted to know options available.  The saddest case was a person whose mother gave her power of attorney to her husband who the client says has siphoned her money away from her.  Boy did this sound familiar.  My buddy Rick and I sued the sister of a man who was confined to the nursing home with a stroke.  She did the same thing with his POA.  It's a story as old as the Bible.  Rick and I somehow got all but about 5 grand back.  Which never happens.  And I fear that it won't happen for the writer of the email.  But all you can do with "Free Legal Answers" is give them advice and wish them luck.  

But like I said, it's a great idea.  And the client has no idea who I am and can't see that I am wearing a Ramones tee shirt and drinking gin while answering their question.  

Why didn't they think this up years ago?


The Deacon and I went up to Bentonville last weekend to spend the day at Crystal Bridges which is a world class art gallery stuck in the Northwest corner of the state.  When I was a kid, there was absolutely nothing in Bentonville.  Now it's a financial powerhouse due to Wal-Mart and it's also pretty much an artist's colony.  

The area around the town square has walking and bicycle path as does the area around the museum.  It was relatively pleasant for July and we spent a good bit of time walking around the place.  Bentonville is proof what can be done with sound urban planning and, granted, virtually unlimited private money.  

I thought about Bentonville as I drove past War Memorial Golf Course which was recently closed for "repurposing" by the geniuses in our new Mayor's office.  I noticed that they had torn up all the greens.  I guess they didn't want walkers out there playing golf or folks practicing chipping from what had been fairways for the last 80 years or so.  

A task force has been formed to come up with a new "purpose" for the old course.  This, despite the fact that the city claims that it is broke.  If they are really serious about this, and there are doubts about this as well, members of the task force would do well to go up to Bentonville and see how it's done right.  If only for show before they "repurpose" it as a condo community called "The Villages at War Memorial" or some dumb shit.  Which many people, myself included, halfway believe was the plan all along.

But they ought to check out Bentonville.  And from what I hear, El Dorado too.  

If only for show.  Before they sell War Memorial to some real estate developer in Dallas.