Bourbonnais - Memorial Day, 2017 - noon, a bright and sunny day. A glorious 77 degrees with little humidity, at least by Illinois standards, is the forecast. From my Man-Cave I can hear our kids and grand-munchkins splashing, shrieking, and laughing in the pool. I think they brought someone else's kids too - there were a couple I didn't recognize. Our mutt is running around the pool, yapping at the kids incessantly for some odd reason that irritates the holy bejesus out of me. He thinks it's his job to warn them to be careful. Every once in awhile he jumps, falls, or is pushed in the pool, which shuts him up for awhile. He can't bark and dog-paddle at the same time for fear of drowning. My mother will be here shortly with her mutt to help in the yapping.
Dawn is in her kitchen, where she spends half her life, preparing yet another sumptuous feast for our ever-expanding family. Our son-in-law will be put to grilling duties in a little while (although I'm beginning to suspect that the amount of meat he hauls out to the grill is not the equal to what he brings back). Sorry folks, I don't cook or grill. Dawn and I have a 37-year agreement in our house - she is in charge of the cooking department and I am in charge of the eating department. We are both pretty good at our respective jobs too.
All of this festive activity is in stark contrast to Memorial Day just last year. At the very moment that I am writing this blog, last year on this day, the family was packed into my mother and dad's small bedroom in the home they have lived for about 55 years, muddling through the shock that dad had just passed away. He departed this life at 11:34 AM on that Monday, May 30th, Memorial Day. I was standing at the foot of his bed, willing him to keep breathing, which had become sporadic all that morning. Finally, he turned his head left towards where my mother was sitting on the edge of the bed by his side, and he then exhaled, which was his last.
Even today, as I write this, the whole experience seems surreal. Not that there were any startling revelations of spirits or angels around us, but rather just an ending without even a good-bye. He was just...gone. The patriarch of our family, a man that, by sheer will, picked himself up by his own bootstraps and rose to be successful, just quietly expired. There were no parting instructions of what to do before he left, something that hadn't happened in my entire life.
I remember my mother threw a party for his 70th birthday and asked me to give a speech. As I took my place at the podium I scanned the crowd for a few moments and was astonished at the collection of people there in attendance. I commented on it when I began the homily. Here was a man from the "wrong side of the tracks" in the tiny town of Chebanse Illinois who was celebrating his 70th birthday. Among his Chebanse friends and relatives, also in attendance were doctors, lawyers, bankers, some of the most successful businessman in the county, and even retired Colonel, and American hero, Jim Kassler, all to see my old man.
Dad had no college education, and had to get his GED in the Army due to an incident his senior year of high school when school officials callously threw him out of school two weeks before graduation. And yet, here were all these people in this crowd come to celebrate his birthday and the success he had gained in his lifetime. To me, it was humbling.
When dad bought his father out in 1975, the total fleet consisted of 11 trucks. They were an odd collection of older trucks of various makes. The trailer fleet, about 20, was even older. He parked his "fleet" at an old gas station in Chebanse that he rented, and struggled to make the payments. He also sold gas and car tires. When he passed away, his business consisted of 200 new Peterbilt trucks, over 450 trailers, 400+ employees, 4 truck terminals throughout the country, 3 business properties, and a million square foot warehouse stuffed to the rafters. Not too bad of a legacy for a poor kid from the "sticks."
My mother and I were talking just yesterday that we cannot believe it has been a year already. It just doesn't seem possible. I could rattle off more cliché's, but you have all probably been there and done that with a lost loved one of your own. I lost my sister in 1978 and that rocked our world. We often comment about how long it has been upon the anniversary of her birth or death. As an adult, I lost all of my grandparents in a very short amount of time, one of which I was especially close to. And yet, as much as I miss them all, none of those passing's were quite the same. Dad was just so much a part of my life, day in and day out, for my entire life. He taught me most everything I know, I worked for him, and I ran his businesses. And then...he was gone.
And here, a year later, I still mentally check myself before making many business decisions and ask, "what would dad do?" He is still that much an influence. Perhaps he always will be.
Rest in peace, pop. Miss you.
YOU SUPPOSE I COULD BLAME MY LACK OF GOLF SKILL ON THIS MAN? OR IS IT MY L.O.F.T.? (LACK OF FRIGGIN' TALENT)
Well, I didn’t get much commentary, rebuttal, or “likes” on my blog about the Fighting Snowflakes from Notre Dame. Did get one guy ask to be removed from the email list – had to wonder if he was a ND alumni – oops, my bad. Even my son, who has always been a huge fan of the Irish, had nothing to say.
I notice there typically isn’t much response or “likes” on my national political commentary, but there is usually quite a bit of genial activity on my local political commentary or personal stories. The problem with that, folks, is that I simply am not that interesting to keep coming up with personal stories. And most of you have kids or grand-kids of your own, so you can’t possibly be that interested in mine, notwithstanding the fact that mine may possibly be the best kiddo’s put on the planet in the history of mankind. If you don’t believe that, feel free to post a picture of your munchkin on this blog and I’ll take a look.
However, in these days of rampant political correctness and liberal lunacy, I just sometimes can’t get my mind off that which is political. I guess as a result of my advancing years, or paying too much in taxes, I’m starting to take this political stuff personally and can't figure out why others don't. Even the aforementioned grand-kids won't listen! Well, Gino does but he doesn't know what I'm saying yet.
Take yesterday, for example. There I was approaching the green on the 9th hole of a golf course, struggling - like usual - to keep my *%#%*%&# score under 50 on the front nine, when I get one of those alerts come across my cell phone. I don’t usually pay much attention to phone alerts during a golf game, because of the aforementioned *&#%*! # struggle, but we had a few managers out of the office that day and I wanted to make sure there wasn’t an issue at work.
I picked up the phone and it read something like: “Appeals Court Upholds Ban on Enforcing Trump Travel Restrictions.” I could feel my blood pressure spiking, and any hope of breaking 50 vanished, as I managed to three-putt the green to score an even, and bewildering 50, giving me a firm grasp of last place in our foursome. It is really hard to concentrate standing over a putt when having a temper tantrum raging in your head. One would think it couldn't be that hard, the ball just sits there and lets you whack it, but believe me, folks, it just isn't that easy.
In case you missed it, the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a ruling by a federal judge in Maryland who had ruled that the revised travel order was unconstitutional religious discrimination. Now, I suppose there are lawyers and judges that might possibly stumble across this blog and think that this decision was perfectly within normal legal proceedings, is part of the American judicial process, have some indignation that a lay person would question the judiciary, and may even have some sort of legal document to back up why I am wrong. I assure you folks, it wouldn’t be the first time someone within the judicial system told me I was wrong. (And they charge me to do it!) And my answer to that is a resounding BULL! And here’s why:
Try sinking a 2-foot putt with all of that rattling around in your head! And the real kicker – I pulled the bugger to the left!
As a preamble to my commentary, please read this lofty statement of purpose:
“As a Catholic university, one of its distinctive goals is to provide a forum where, through free inquiry and open discussion, the various lines of Catholic thought may intersect with all the forms of knowledge found in the arts, sciences, professions, and every other area of human scholarship and creativity.”
This proclamation is the second sentence of the Notre Dame College Mission statement. Underlined by me are six words I found to be a colossal direct conflict from what I saw on the news last Saturday when roughly 150 graduate students walked out on Vice President (and former IN Governor) Mike Pence as he prepared to give the commencement address. Such childish demonstrations can be expected from the noggins of young and impressionable college students in these days of liberal lunacy and ludicrous political correctness, although one would have expected better from a university of Notre Dame’s stature. After all, it is typically conservative, “Midwestern Values” Indiana for crying out loud, not the bowl of granola that is California.
What part of free inquiry and open discussion is represented when snowflakes walk out on one of their own home-grown statesman? One wonders if any of them were aware, or cared, that the man one heartbeat away from the Presidency of the United States, the most powerful position in the world, was born and raised right there in Columbus IN? Do they know as Governor he initiated the largest tax cut in Indiana history or even that he continued to increase the state’s budget surplus? For you folks in Illinois that have no clue what a state budget surplus is (or even a budget for that matter), it is the amount by which a government income exceeds spending. (Anyone remember the good old days when people from Illinois could poke fun at the fine folks of from Indiana, instead of the way it is now?) As they were walking out with that smugness tattooed on their blemished faces, did any of those mental midgets consider there might actually have been employers watching their juvenile demonstration?
It was an obvious embarrassment for Notre Dame. Or it should have been! But was it? The walkout had been planned for weeks, by a student organization who shall go unidentified, so it was hardly a secret. One would think the leadership, President/Reverend John Jenkins, Provost Thomas Burish, and/or Executive VP John Affleck would have interceded on behalf of a sitting Vice President to ensure asinine behavior did not happen at what is considered one of the more distinguished universities in the country. Instead, the brass allowed the walkout, and the resulting debacle went national by a swarming liberal media ready to have another orgasmic experience over being able to yet again besmirch anyone connected with the Trump Administration.
Just last year, over one hundred Notre Dame professors requested their names be added to a website called the Professor Watchlist, a project of an organization called Turning Point USA. And the leaders of ND evidently condoned it. Perhaps more of us should have known about this site as it lists the names of over 200 academics believed by a conservative group to be advancing “leftist propaganda” in classrooms and discriminating against conservative students. These are people that have unfettered access to your child’s mind, folks.
It appears most of the faculty at Notre Dame had their collective panties in a wad because the Watchlist contained the name of fellow ND professor Gary Gutting. He wrote in the NY Times in 2015 that our country’s permissive gun laws are a manifestation of racism. Now I ask you, to a liberal, what isn’t racist these days? Also on the list was ND professor Iris Outlaw, Director of Multicultural Student Programs and Services. This one taught a White Privilege Seminar that pledged to help students admit and realize their white privilege. At an average of $69,000 per year for tuition, how much exposure do you want your child to have with people that think and teach that way? And how much do they pay these people for this dribble? Perhaps if they were to do away with classes like these, and the professors who teach them, parents wouldn’t have to mortgage their house to send Junior to ND.
If you are still reading, my point to this is that perhaps the leadership, the aforementioned Jenkins, Burish, and Affleck, have lost control of the university and are not following the principles for which Reverend Sorin founded the Catholic University in 1842. (Did you know they were gifted the land by the Bishop of Vincennes?) My children were all “B” students, not Catholic, and couldn’t dribble a basketball, so it was not like ND was knocking down our door to get at them. And not being a resident of Indiana, less of my hard-earned tax money finds its way into the hands of the school. But for you folks with conservative values that might be considering sending Junior that way, you might just want to think twice about it.
It would appear that perhaps the tail is now wagging the dog at Notre Dame. Poor Rudy...even your once-mighty leprechaun has turned into a snowflake.
Contrary to popular opinion, old wives’ tales, ancient folklore, and to set the record straight, I am NOT retired! If someone tells you differently, don’t believe it, cause it ain't so...Joe. Believe it or not, I get this question thrown at me about once per week, "So, how's retirement?"
Yes, I have gotten a little longer in the tooth, grayer, weaker in the knees, and more gravitational when standing anywhere near a scale, but I still come to work daily. And I’ll give you that I might arrive a little later than the average person, possessing something irritatingly near sloth-like habits in the morning, but I still get there and more often than not, watch the other folks leave at quitting time, not daring to get in their way. I just don't move fast enough anymore to save myself.
Shortly before my father passed away last year he and I had been discussing the possibility of making my nephew the president of the trucking company. He is just about the same age I was when dad made me president and said nephew had reached a level where he was ready to handle the “load” I had been “hauling” around for the previous 31 years. We hadn’t discussed this situation with anybody else, and for reasons that I may never know, I blurted out said nephew’s promotion at dad’s funeral luncheon, much to the astonishment of my family, nearly everyone in the audience that day, and myself! I swear to you, dad made me do it, as I had given it virtually no forethought that day whatsoever. I almost sprinted to the restroom just to see if it was my mouth on my face.
But you see, when dad made me president of the company all the way back in 1985, he didn’t retire either. In fact, he had no intention of retiring…ever. That, ladies and gents, was not always a good thing. Every day from then on, we either met him in his office when he was here or he called me and my next-in-line at 3:30 when he wasn’t. If we were at work, so was he…in his head. Those discussions were not to discuss who to trade on the Cub’s or who had the cutest butt in the office either. They were serious meetings about transportation or the warehouse, and if you were in attendance, you had better have brought the right answers. Otherwise, and this may come as a surprise to some of you, pop had a tendency to express his displeasure, sometimes loudly and forcefully. too His last 3:30 phone call was three days before he passed away!
Dad never texted or emailed in his life. He read emails that had been printed out by my mother, and then discussed them in his office or on the phone. I became addicted to emails and reports from work, and to this day, check and answer emails from the time I drag my butt out of bed in the morning until I hit the hay at night. And I still did it, even after someone started that nasty little rumor that I had retired.
The point is, even if I am hiding out in AZ, in FL visiting ma, on my motor scooter (old coots on scoots – arthritis chapter), butchering a golf course, or more than adequately holding down the chair in dad’s old office, I am checking emails, reviewing reports, and having daily discussions with said nephew. Just like my father and I did, said nephew and I watch over this company as a team, making sure we are in agreement with important issues and decisions, and running the company in the same manner, often with the same people, and with the same positive results (knock on wood), that has been done for the past fifty-plus years when dad first drove a truck across the Illinois line. For the record, the company is 70 years old this year, but the first twenty years of hauling stone was strictly within the state of Illinois.
Now, I suspect said nephew is withholding some of the same information I withheld from dad all those years, so he’s not conning me there either. But, said nephew is doing a great job, which ultimately makes my life a little easier in what is considered a tough business. I just no longer have to get involved in the day-to-day grind of dealing with machinery and people trying to get freight safely and timely from point A to point B. While it might not be rocket science, it sometimes is tougher than one would think, particularly given the interference offered up regularly by our government, but that is a blog for another day. If you don't believe that, I suggest you get in the truck with a driver just one day and see. You will walk away with a whole new respect for a trucker.
So, when said nephew…ok, his name is Todd Perzee, starts out a conversation with, “You won’t believe this, but…” I just sit back, smile, and think to myself, "yes, I would, Todd – been going on now for seventy years and man am I glad I’m not involved in that part of it any longer." So far, he hasn’t hit me with one I hadn’t heard before, nor dad before me, but I suppose it’s lingering out there somewhere, just waiting for a chance to plop down on us.
I think I’ll just hang around some more to see if Todd can dig one up.
Alan's Note: When I started this blog, it was not my intention to include anything from other writers, as this is MY blog. But I found this opinion piece in the "Chicago Tribune-Enquirer" today and thought it so compelling and so well written that, once I got over my jealously, felt obligated to share it. It is written by Dominic Lynch, a writer from Chicago who writes for The Federalist and Chicagoly Magazine. He entitled it "Don't resort to a coup to remove Trump from the White House." The picture is from files, which I pilfered from some other source long ago. If I ever figure out how to get back on my Twitter account, I intend to add him and let him know what a fine column it was.
There are two political means of removing a U.S. president from office: impeachment and the 25th Amendment.
Almost from the first day of President Donald Trump's administration, his critics on the left have batted around the idea of impeachment.
To those detractors, the investigation of Russian interference in the presidential election, the ouster of national security adviser Michael Flynn, and the firing of FBI Director James Comey all seem to be building a case to file articles to remove the president from office. But there is not much “there” in those cases: Russian interference seems to be limited to misinformation campaigns, Flynn’s ouster has been undermined by the leaks that made it happen, and the firing of Comey is well within the president’s authority. Whether the president dismissed Comey in order to obstruct an investigation is still being determined.
For Trump’s critics on the right, the preferred method of removal now seems to be invoking the 25th Amendment, under which the Cabinet would vote to remove the president from power for an indefinite period, replacing him with Vice President Mike Pence. If a coup d’etat came to America it would look like this: unelected bureaucrats voting to remove a president because of his hostility to their jobs and his childlike temperament in expressing and executing his agenda.
President Trump is many things: an oaf, a buffoon and an incompetent politician. But he is also an existential threat to the culture of Washington, D.C., and its elites. His call to “drain the swamp,” whether he means it or not, has obviously riled his base and whatever base elites still have to ground themselves on. This goes a long way toward explaining the rage that encompasses the coastal media and its enablers.
Nonetheless, the white-hot rage that has been brewing among the president’s detractors since Nov. 8, 2016, seems to be reaching a point not seen since the release of the “Access Hollywood” tape a month before the election. Now, instead of calls for Trump to drop out of the race, there are calls for him to be removed by the Cabinet or impeached.
But these are unstable times and these are dangerous ideas. In an election that — fairly or not — cast doubt on the president’s legitimacy, in a political environment that careens between incompetence by Republicans and obstruction by Democrats, in a country whose social fabric is fraying, the calls to remove the president are reckless at best and damning at worst. The elites had their chance to persuade the American people to trust them: Between Hillary Clinton and the 17 Republican candidates, the people had a choice to vote for order and stability and politics as usual. But they chose the “Make America Great Again” candidate.
Trump’s critics make a good point when they attack his competence, sincerity, honesty and so forth. It is true that he is lacking in those qualities more than any other modern president. The criticism is well earned.
But the unceasing attempts to delegitimize and undermine him are as childish and petty as Trump himself. What is lost in the hyperventilation of journalists, pundits and politicians is the will of the people who elected him president.
Trump is a disrupter. That is his purpose and the reason he was elected. American elites stopped serving their constituencies long ago. For pundits and politicians to disregard the will of voters and float ideas for Trump’s removal flies in the face of the democratic society they are supposedly trying to save.
If Trump leaves office before the end of his term it will probably be because he feels boxed in or undermined. The prospects of Congress impeaching him are slim, as is his Cabinet invoking the 25th Amendment. Putting these ideas into the public forum as practical solutions is harmful to the country.
If America is to weather the current political storm, then cool heads must prevail. What we cannot afford is a coup.
I took umbrage with the headline blasted across the front page of the May 17th issue of the Chicago Enquirer...oops I mean the Chicago Tribune today. Sorry about that slip, it's just that they are getting harder to tell apart. As is my wont, I let them know of my dissatisfaction. Since I doubt they are going to print a rebuttal or anything critical of their socialist leanings, I decided to make this the post for today. I would have put a link to the article, but they would charge you for it. You can more than likely get an indication of what the article was about just by my rebuttal, which of course, is free.
I was repulsed by the boldfaced headline for the May 17th Tribune edition – MEMO: TRUMP ASKED TO END FLYNN INVESTIGATION. I was infuriated after reading the article. It occurs to me, particularly since there is supposedly a “Standards Editor” that perhaps a review of the term “yellow journalism” might be in order:
yel·low jour·nal·ism noun: yellow journalism
journalism that is based upon sensationalism and crude exaggeration.
Origin 1895: from the appearance in an issue of the New York World of a cartoon in which a child in a yellow dress (‘The Yellow Kid’) was the central figure. The color printing was an experiment designed to attract customers.
In their clearly yellow journalistic piece, nowhere did Noah Bierman or Joe Tanfani mention anything regarding who the “close associate” of Mr. Comey might be, nor a copy of said memo. Did anyone at the Tribune question the authenticity of the “close associate” or even the possible traitorous act this person might be committing? How about the detail the original source for this leak was the New York Times, a far left-leaning source with a vendetta against the current administration? If there was any question about this, it did not appear in the column produced by your Washington Bureau.
Additionally, did it occur to anyone to question that if Comey felt he was being coerced by the President to drop the investigation, then why didn’t he report this to the Department of Justice, as was his lawful duty? Since he did not report this, would it not be incumbent upon a fair and balanced journalist to point out that Mr. Comey must have decided that there was no threat implied, but only a matter of conversation, if there was any such conversation at all? Or that Mr. Comey himself might be complicit, and only arranged to have this memo “leaked” because he had been fired?
But your organization didn’t require balanced reporting in this column. Instead you went with a front page trumpeted announcement in large bold font that would lead uninformed folks to presume the President did something illegal. Guilty! And if a few of those people actually read the article, there would be nothing to dissuade them from the presumption they would have obtained from the headline. There was no “other side” to this piece, and one would never know any different when reading the columns from Chapman, Page, Zorn, and Keillor, who are paid to pound relentlessly on Trump. Bet all your liberal elitist buddies smiled smugly at your determination to eat the elephant, one bite at a time.
I would like to point out, by helping to fuel the fire that so zealously exists on the left against anything Trump, there is virtually nothing getting done in Congress for the benefit of the country. Perhaps that is your direction. But, as your token conservative, John Kaas pointed out today, even if successful at removing Trump, the country is still going to be run by VP Pence. There will be no “do-over” to coronate Hillary.
Is all this because you didn’t endorse Mr. Trump? Or perhaps, because you predicted Hillary would win? Or have you decided your competition now lies with the tabloids, to be sold in the rack next to the National Enquirer at the checkout counter?
I’ll understand why this won’t be printed. But, have you folks no dignity?
I started voting in 1975 but have only really been following politics since about 1984. (Sound familiar?) For the first nine years my voting record consisted of blindly following a lead set by my grandfather, voting solely for Democrats, wondering how anybody could possibly vote otherwise. Something must be wrong with people voting for those capitalistic, uncaring ogres with an elephant for a logo. Yeah, it was miserable under the Carter years, but surely it would get worse under Reagan.
And then, around 1983 I began studying voting options. The previous few years under Reagan had actually been better than any under Carter! In fact, I realized, a ham sandwich would have been better than Carter. Remember the high interest rates, long gas lines, and the helpless feeling for those Iranian hostages? So, I began reading, watching, and studying the differences between the two parties and what they represented. I asked questions and actually listened to the answers. Having an interest in American history, I began to form political concepts, keeping in mind the merits of the person that was running, regardless of political persuasion. This led me to lean Republican nationally and more Democratic locally. (Silly me, I didn’t know there were no Republicans holding office in Illinois!)
Over time, I would see that these differing ideologies did exist, but somewhere in the mid-90’s, following unethical Clinton examples, both sides of the Congressional aisle completely lost their moral compass and had become, in general, no more than corrupt, power hungry individuals available to the highest bidder. (Ever wonder why those people really run for office in the first place?) The fact is, folks inside Washington DC and Springfield IL could care less about the average American citizen. It's all about power and your money. I suppose it is that way in other states too, but having not lived in those states, I can’t comment.
I told you all that to get to this observation – with 33 years of closely following politics, I have never seen the level of rancor and derangement over our current president. Oh, I will admit, there was an increase of acrimony under Obama, and I suspect more of that was racial than was ever admitted, but much of that derangement had worn out by his second term…even if he was a socialist. (If you don’t believe that, explain the excitement over Bernie Sanders presidential run.)
I didn’t particularly like Donald Trump when he entered the race. Only watched his show once and it seemed boring. I wouldn’t want to do business or socialize with him, or fetch his coffee. But as I said from the outset, he is successful and isn’t a politician, and I admire those qualities. After seeing how politicians have conducted themselves for the past 25 years, I figured we’d had all of that motley crew representing us that we needed, and was looking around for someone else. So up pops a man with no political background who said he wanted to “Make America Great Again.” I thought to myself, “dude, give him a chance.” You have plenty of time until the November election to see what they can drag up about him. And I did. Nobody was able to drag up anything remotely as bad as what we have seen from most politicians.
Now we are about 110 days into a Trump presidency and what has he done that has specifically affected any legal law-abiding American citizen? Trump filled the vacancy of the Supreme Court with someone that is regarded very highly. Heck, if “Chuck-you” Schumer (to borrow a term from Limbaugh) was against him, then surely Mr. Gorsuch had to be a good man. (See my past blog about the escapades of Schumer to see what kind of person he is.) Additionally, the stock market is up; more jobs have been created; a plan is being cobbled together, albeit weakly, to replace a failing, and in my opinion, unwarranted Obamacare system; the EPA is being rightfully scaled back to something less than USSR rule; illegal immigration is down...without a wall; Syria, Russia, and North Korea have all been put on notice with no additional American casualties; and an unstable FBI Director Comey has been banished. And best of all, Hillary is not our Queen.
The vitriol heaved upon President Donald Trump daily has reached epic proportions across so many spectrums, including the coastal clustered clans, big city feudal mayors, liberal activists, judges (the ones we didn’t vote for), the bubble-heads of Hollywood, doddering old Republicans from AZ, college professors and their flock, unscrupulous journalists, and nearly the entirety of the Democratic side of both Houses in Congress following sheepherders Schumer and Pelosi. This group of malcontents is upset just by the fact that President Trump gets out of bed in the morning and breathes the same air we do. The level of disrespect and degradation the late-night comedians has become rude and vulgar. Imagine what would have happened had that vitriol had been spewed on Obama!
Fueled by Soros money, college aged immaturity and/or low-information voters with their hands out, there are insurrections near daily in the streets and on campuses of this country. These people are so upset about something concerning Trump’s very existence they feel compelled, and evidently vindicated, to go destroy property or steal something. Most couldn't name VP Mike Pence if we spotted them a picture, an “M” and a “P”. Now that mentality has been extended to include anyone in Trump’s political sphere giving speeches or commencements, thus shutting down 1st Amendment rights. And the real irony of this is the way the media flaunts it rather than rebuking it!
Just this week the Democrats have gone apoplectic over the firing of FBI Director Comey. Last October they wanted Comey’s head on a plate! Hillary still believes Comey was instrumental in her defeat, completely missing the fact that he is what has kept her out of prison. But since it was Trump that did the firing they want to commence with his impeachment proceeding, calling it "of Nixonian proportions!" Their indignation is over the alleged Trump-Russia connection. Where was the outrage when Hillary sold 20% of our uranium to Russia or when Bill Clinton fired his FBI Director?
The fact is folks, this lunacy over the current resident of the White House has gotten out of control and is doing nothing more than usurping any progress for our country. Other than illegal-aliens, there has been little done to affect anyone personally and the conduct of the anti-Trumpers has gotten to the point of just plain juvenile, if not unpatriotic. At least wait until the man has actually done something wrong.
Sadly, given the sad state of our media today, I fear it will continue throughout all eight years of the Trump presidency.
My mama doesn’t like to hear this, but when it comes to classic rock and roll, I am an old hippy, and in my estimable opinion, a great critic. I just happen to be the odd one that has developed a decidedly conservative bent in my advancing years.
In the last week, we attended two distinctly different rock concerts. We took our son and his squeeze to see the Kings of Leon, one of his favorites. If you haven’t heard of them, it’s probably because you are not a Millennial or a Generation X’er. You more than likely have heard a few of their songs as they did have some radio hits. Lead singer and front man, Caleb Followill has a rather unique voice with great range. Three brothers and a cousin, all named Followill, make up the Kings of Leon (named after their grandfather), which I found interesting for its configuration. I imagine cousin Mathew, who plays lead guitar, has broken up a few fights among the brothers.
I may have possibly been the oldest person in the audience. My son was enthralled that we arranged this event for him though, and then actually went to the show too. (I can assure you that would not have happened if it had been rap.) We had 3rd row seats, but due to the outlandish and ghastly mosh pit in front of the stage I was relegated to watching the concert on a giant monitor. I’m simply not paying money for a seat and then stand throughout the concert…my knees, back, and constitution won’t allow it.
The band has talent, I will give them that. I have one of their songs, Sex on Fire, in my play lists. I understand from junior that the oldest brother, drummer Jacob Followill, is the head of the band, and in that regard, runs a tight ship. Brother Jared plays bass and from my perspective, seems to be the most musically inclined of the family. But like most bass players, he fades into the background, adding little other than musical acumen. Cousin Mathew appears boyish, short in stature, baby-faced, wild haired, a little more active, albeit stiffly, on stage…as if not quite in tune with the act.
Sorry son, but from the perspective of someone that has been going to rock concerts regularly since 1972, I was not captivated...and I wanted to be. It has nothing to do with their musical talent, as they are legitimate rockers and have the chops to back it up. My problem is that this performance was mailed in and no performer can afford to be labeled as such. Those boys need to develop some personality, or at least shown us some Friday night. They stuck strictly to the songs that sold for them, and they stayed stringently within the radio format of the 3-4-minute time limit per song. There were no soaring guitar solos, no extended drum thumping; no cover songs, they stayed too close to script, never going outside the boundaries of their recorded song. The show was just too tight. And although it has become somewhat of a tired joke with the older rockers, there was no encore. The boys played their last song and left the stage. They were in their jammies on the plane home before we got out of the parking lot.
Contrast that act to last night’s REO Speedwagon concert. I will try hard not to let the fact that the venue’s air conditioning system went down on a day when the temperature outside reached 108 degrees, cloud my judgement. Smell 2,500 bodies packed into a small arena with no air and get back to me. I had managed to get front row seats for me and the missus. Nobody standing in front of me this time! My knees could literally touch the circular stage, which slowly rotated throughout the show.
First off, given the extreme heat, I was astounded these guys, which range in age from 64 to 72 years old even came out to play, unlike many prima donna entertainers today. Not only did they play, they performed hard and managed to unleash a few surprises.
Sadly, the diminutive and difficult lead singer Kevin Cronin has lost the power and range of his voice, and he sounds frail. The missus asked me on the way out if there was a problem with the sound system because of the way his voice was barely discernible above the music. His penchant for a 65-year-old-man walking and running on his toes with his little black and pink sneakers and straight jeans cuffed at the bottom was just plain… irritating. He still works it hard though, prancing around the stage ala Mick Jagger, but regrettably, he is just no Jagger.
The lone original founding member, 72-year-old Neal Doughty, stands in the corner playing organ, and adds little to the music or the show. It seemed to me he played his organ with his right hand (which he oddly stared at most of the night) and held on with his left, as the stage reached speeds of well up to one mile per hour. Other than being a founder, his contribution to the band is weak. Organs don’t do much in live rock and roll either, folks.
Bassist Bruce Hall is an enigma to describe. At 64-years-old he is muscularly built, a “mans-man,” clad in black, shirt sleeves rolled up to reveal powerful arms. He sports a face that looks it was cleaved off the side of a mountain it is so chiseled. He stomps around the stage as if he owns it, totally in sync with the rest of the band as a bass player should be. And yet, here is this straight mane of bleach-blond hair to the middle of his back, which he swings gracefully throughout the show, as with practice. He sung lead to my personal favorite REO song, “Back on the Road Again,” superbly, which came as a nice surprise.
Now we come to the meat and potatoes of the band. Other than my sweat glands, these two were the hardest workers in the room that night. Drummer Bryan Hitt, at 64-years-old, is as good as any thumper I’ve seen with the possible exception of the late John Bonham of Led Zepplin lore. Hitt can rock, doing so with unlimited energy. He was the first one out and the last to leave. It was worth the price of admission just to watch him play, particularly with the view of our close seating position. Due to the rotating stage, we often viewed the backside, which put us virtually right on the drummer’s seat, pounding away. Another interesting feature I found was his close resemblance to Alice Cooper, a fellow rocker and noted Phoenix resident.
Lead guitarist, Dave Amato, is a wizard at his craft. Top 25, maybe? Overlooking the patch of shag carpet plastered to his lower lip, the man struts around the stage exhibiting true musicianship, allowing the crowd to hear and observe real guitar skill up close. He also would flip picks to adoring women who were rudely standing in front of the stage. Formerly with Ted Nugent, Amato is considered the newcomer to the group having been there only 28 years. For one of their encore’s Amato played guitar for a cover of Nugent’s famous “Stranglehold” song, which he sang with perfection. Regrettably, when Cronin introduced Amato he just couldn’t resist throwing in a barb about Nugent’s conservative politics.
I was disappointed they didn’t play their very first hit, “157 Riverside Avenue,” which had developed into a great interplay between Cronin’s voice and the late Gary Richrath’s guitar. Maybe Cronin’s weakened vocals and Richrath’s demise might have restricted that act, but Amato could have picked it up.
All in all, I came away impressed. The heat was unbearable (over 100), and yet this group of “old guys” came out and hit it with everything they had, improvising where they needed, and extending songs with skilled musicianship. They didn’t complain about the heat, as did the warm up (pardon the pun) band, Paul Gurvitz Army. They had this crowd of mostly us old rockers on our feet, or even canes (I counted 3) most of the night… except for me sitting un-waveringly in the front row where no one dared to tread. They also belted out a nice Tom Petty tune with surprising clarity during their encore. Cronin sounds more like Petty now than himself! With the possible exception of Doughty, I couldn’t have had shown that much energy in that heat and I’m four years younger.
That is what a professional rock and roll outfit is all about.