“I have been in Sorrow’s kitchen and licked out all the pots. Then I have stood on the peaky mountain wrapped in rainbows, with a harp and sword in my hands.” ~ Zora Neale Hurston

Sandy Hook Elementary School Hoa Nguyen Patch
Sandy Hook Elementary School
by Hoa Nguyen (Newtown Patch)

                   

“Weary at the close of day, wondering if tomorrow brings me joy or sorrow.” ~ Leon Redbone

Friday afternoon. Sunny and mild, 50’s.

I’ve picked up some new followers recently, and I’ve been fortunate enough to have some new voices commenting, which is always nice. I just wanted to take a moment to say thanks to all of you out in the ether who take a few minutes to peruse what I put here. When I first began this blog, I didn’t really know what my goals were, but I hoped that along the way one or two people would stop by. That this has come to pass gives me a tremendous sense of accomplishment. I mean, someone besides my family and dogs is tuning in, and hey, that’s a nice feeling. So thanks.

Sandy Hook Elementary School Schooting  Curbside Shrine by Emmanuel Dunand AFP
Sandy Hook Elementary School Shooting
Curbside Shrine
by Emmanuel Dunand (AFP)

I’m hoping to get the house ready for Christmas this weekend, and while Alexis is out of town I’m going to work on Christmas stockings. At the very least I need to finish a stocking for Olivia. I’m hoping that I’ll get inspired once I go to the craft store, but right now, my creative side is coming up blank.

I stopped by my mother’s house yesterday with Olivia. I was watching her while Lex was trying to get ready for their road trip to Mississippi. My mother was glad to spend some time with her great-granddaughter. I am sad that Lex and the baby won’t be here for Christmas, but I remember when the kids were young and how we felt pulled in so many different directions at holiday time, so I’m trying not to make a big deal out of it. My mother, of course, does not understand and thinks that it’s weird that Mike wants to see his family. How is that weird?

Oh well. We are talking about my mother, after all.

” . . . how horrible it was, how little
there was to say about how horrible it was.” ~ Bob Hicok, from “In the Loop”

Saturday afternoon. Cloudy and mild, 50’s.

I began this post yesterday afternoon and had planned to come back to it in the evening after Corey and I ran some errands, and then what happened in Sandy Hook entered my consciousness, and I just couldn’t go on with a bunch of drivel about my life, all of which seems terribly insignificant and unimportant when compared to what happened.

Connecticut School Shooting
Sandy Hook Elementary School Shooting
Woman Waits to Hear News about her Sister
by Jessica Hill (AP)

So I wrote, just wrote whatever came to mind, uncensored, raw, without thought to structure or logic or development, and it helped, a bit. But I suppose the emotion that most of us are feeling (and yes, I am assuming here) is raw. How did this happen? Why did this happen?

And dammit, who are these people who think it’s a good idea to go to an elementary school and take out as many six and seven-year-olds as possible?* And this was before we learned today that the gunman wasn’t satisfied shooting his victims once but rather chose to inflict the children and adults with between three to eleven wounds. Who does this?

Truthfully, my overwhelming question is why in the hell didn’t this guy just kill himself if he was so mad at his mother, mad at the world, dissatisfied with his lot in life? What possesses a person to take a weapon into a school filled with young children and decide that this is a good thing? And yes, obviously his thinking was not logical, but I refuse to give him the excuse that he was a psychopath. That’s just too easy. And no, I won’t name him because the last thing he needs from me or anyone else is publicity.

“Give sorrow words; the grief that does not speak knits up the o-er wrought heart and bids it break.” ~ William Shakespeare, Macbeth (IV,iii)

And so, like many others, I watched hours of news coverage, and even as I did so, I had to wonder why. Why was I watching? What was I hoping to glean from the talking heads? I mean, everyone was saying the same thing, and no one had anything new to report. It was all just a hodge-podge of sad commentary by dour-faced journalists, many of whom chipped in and said that perhaps now we would have a real discussion on gun control, and you could tell that they didn’t believe it even as they said it.

Sandy Hook Elementary School Schooting Children Being Led from Building by Shannon Hicks AP slash Newtown Bee
Sandy Hook Elementary School Shooting
Children Being Led from Building
by Shannon Hicks (AP/Newtown Bee)

And yes, I am particularly cynical and bitter today. Having no answers makes me this way.

Seriously? All I could think was that if someone had done that to one of my children, or if it had happened to Olivia, I could not be responsible for the rage that would consume me. Odd words for one who abhors gun violence, from one who purports to hate violence of any kind. But it’s different when it’s one of your own, right? Isn’t that what we tell ourselves?

“In this sad world of ours, sorrow comes to all; and, to the young, it comes with bitterest agony, because it takes them unawares.” ~ Abraham Lincoln

The loss of a child is an unbearable thing. But to lost a child to violence—this I cannot even begin to comprehend. When I hear news stories about young babies who have been beaten to death, my mind immediately jumps to a place of logic, for it is with logic that I try to face the unbearable: Why didn’t they just give their child to someone who really wanted it? If having that child was such a burden, just open a door and step outside. Finding a family who desperately wants to have a child is not hard.

Sandy Hook Firefighters Hanging Black Bunting Mary Altaffer, AP
Sandy Hook Firefighters Hanging Black Bunting
by Mary Altaffer (AP)

But then multiply that senseless death by 5 or 10 or 20? What then? How to begin to process such senseless devastation, for surely it is devastation that has been wrought upon those families—the parents, siblings, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, family friends. The repercussions of one man’s violence will spread and multiply for years.

Consider the first responders, the carnage to which they had to bear witness. How to live with those images? How to survive the nightmares that will surely follow?

Consider the survivors and the families of survivors, filled with gratitude and then overcome with guilt. How to resolve the antithetical emotions?

“For the poison of hatred seated near the heart doubles the burden for the one who suffers the disease; he is burdened with his own sorrow, and groans on seeing another’s happiness.” ~ Aeschylus

What happened yesterday morning in Connecticut will stay above the fold and at the top of the hour only until the next great tragedy usurps it and takes its place. That is the way of the news cycle, and unfortunately, that is the way of the human mind. We focus on what is put before us.

Sandy Hook Elementary School Schooting  Emergency Responders, Media, Parents Gary Jeanfaivre Newtown Patch
Sandy Hook Elementary School Shooting
Emergency Responders, Media, Parents
by Gary Jeanfaivre (Newtown Patch)

But how many other disgruntled employees, displaced teens, disassociated spouses are out there at this very minute stewing over injustices perceived and real? The violence does not end, will not end, certainly not in my lifetime.

And that violence will be visited upon countless other innocents in more ways than we can conceive of our begin to enumerate: guns, knives, poison, baseball bats, letter openers . . . The means are endless, and no, we cannot outlaw every single item that could be used to visit harm upon another. But does that mean that we should not regulate those things that can be regulated? Consider, in China a crazed man attacked students at a primary school, but none died; he used a knife. Students lost fingers and ears but not lives.

It was so easy to strip travelers of anything remotely sharp in the fallout of 9/11: no nail files, no box cutters, no pen knives, no multi-function tools, no aerosol cans, no large containers for liquid, and on and on and on, ad infinitum. We did that. This country and many others enacted those laws. So why so reluctant to enact or amend the laws we have regarding firearms? Yes, it’s in the Constitution, but when the Constitution was drawn, firearms were necessary to many aspects of life. Is that still the case today?

The times have changed, the circumstances evolved, yet our approach remains steadfastly 1950’s Cold War mentality when it comes to weapons.

“Here bring your wounded hearts, here tell your anguish” ~ Thomas More

But in spite of everything that happened, I refuse to believe that there is not goodness in this world. In the face of certain death, how many teachers thought only of extending their classroom role to that of protector? The teacher who read to her students during the gunfire? The teacher who shielded her students, losing her life in the process? The principal who ran towards the gunman, not away?

Sandy Hook Elementary School Schooting David Goldman AP
Sandy Hook Elementary School Shooting
by David Goldman (AP)

When we talk of heroes and role models, we should talk of these people, not NBA stars or mega movie stars. Everyday people doing their everyday jobs in extraordinary ways.

The ramifications of yesterday morning are still unfolding. I am not understating when I say that a lot of people are going to need a lot of therapy just to be able to close their eyes at night. The people of Sandy Hook, like the people of Aurora and the people of Blacksburg and the people of Columbine and the people of too many other places to name individually need our support now, a month from now, a year from now. The people of this nation need change. Now. The people in charge of this nation need to step up to the challenges. Now.

But it all begins with each one of us and what we are willing to do, or do we just go back to business as usual? Do we just retreat to the safety of our living rooms, the glow of our holiday lights, the warmth of our family’s arms? Or do we look at our children, say a prayer of thanks, and vow to work for change?

*List of victims; all the children killed were 6 or 7 years old.

Music by Vienna Teng, “Lullaby for a Stormy Night”

                   

Beyond Even This

Who would have thought the afterlife would
look so much like Ohio? A small town place,
thickly settled among deciduous trees.
I lived for what seemed a very short time.
Several things did not work out.
Casually almost, I became another one
of the departed, but I had never imagined
the tunnel of hot wind that pulls
the newly dead into the dry Midwest
and plants us like corn. I am
not alone, but I am restless.
There is such sorrow in these geese
flying over, trying to find a place to land
in the miles and miles of parking lots
that once were soft wetlands. They seem
as puzzled as I am about where to be.
Often they glide, in what I guess is
a consultation with each other,
getting their bearings, as I do when
I stare out my window and count up
what I see. It’s not much really:
one buckeye tree, three white frame houses,
one evergreen, five piles of yellow leaves.
This is not enough for any heaven I had
dreamed, but I am taking the long view.
There must be a backcountry of the beyond,
beyond even this and farther out,
past the dark smoky city on the shore
of Lake Erie, through the landlocked passages
to the Great Sweetwater Seas.

~ Maggie Anderson

Advertisements

“I cannot walk through the suburbs in the solitude of the night without thinking that the night pleases us because it suppresses idle details, just as our memory does.” ~ Jorge Luis Borges

I wrote this last night, but decided to mull it over and come back to it in the morning. Still feel the same way. Apologize for the disjointedness (is that even a word?)………..

President Jimmy Carter Signing an Extension of the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) Ratification (1978)
(Wikimedia Commons)

                   

“I could as easily bail out the Potomac River with a teaspoon as attend to all the details of the army.” ~ Abraham Lincoln

Friday night. Cloudy and humid, high 60’s.

I’d never heard that Lincoln quote before, about using a teaspoon to bail out the Potomac River. Isn’t it wonderful? Reminds me of Eliot. I still feel that I’m measuring out my life in coffee spoons, and now I can add teaspoons to my list of metaphors for not being able to get things done.

So I’ve spent a lot of this week amassing a bizarre list of things that I’ve noticed that perplex me, but I have to warn you, this post is all over the place. Here are a few:

Suffragettes (1908)
Wikimedia Commons
  • Why, when there is a clearly marked turn lane, must there always be the one person who pulls into it diagonally, thereby blocking at least one lane?
  • How do I always manage to park in a puddle, and why do I only find out this reality once I have stepped into said puddle?
  • Why do the cars in front of me always seem to be in a conspiracy to keep traffic moving at least three miles below the speed limit?
  • Why do defoggers only work on the magical setting, you know, the one that comes from moving the different settings several times until you reach that nirvana that can never be duplicated?
  • Why are there no Obama signs in my neighborhood except for mine? Did the Dems just decide to concede Virginia’s swing state classification to the Mittens and concentrate on Ohio? It would appear so . . .

“Men who wish to know about the world must learn about it in its particular details.” ~ Heraclitus

And then there is this (true story): While driving Brett to campus the other day, I asked him what that window decal on the car ahead of us was supposed to be. I assumed that he would know because it looked like some kind of character out of a game.  It was pink, and smiling, and cartoony. To wit, he replied, “It’s a uterus.”

Demand Equal Rights

Now, let me pause here as I am certain that you are pausing also. “A uterus?” I asked. “But why?”

Brett replied that the uterus has become the new pink, the new breast cancer, the cause de célèbre, if you will.

Okay. I need to say a few things about this one. First, I am a firm believer that what goes on in my uterus is my business and no one else’s. I find it to be a very personal relationship, one that I do not particularly care to share with the whole world. Second, I also believe that I am a pretty radical thinker, open to new concepts and ideas, welcoming a steady stream of new data into my hard drive, as it were. But a uterus?

Seriously?

Apparently so. The uterus decal is a woman’s way of saying something along the lines of this is mine, or perhaps, I’m female and I’m proud of my lady parts, or maybe, This is how I look on the inside. Yes, yes. Don’t get testy. I know that it’s a political statement, but still, I think that I’m almost offended—a pink, smiley uterus with eyes. I think it’s the eyes that creep me out. I’m going to have to ponder this little detail some more and perhaps come back to it later.

“It is in the treatment of trifles that a person shows what they are.” ~ Arthur Schopenhauer

Other things I’ve been mulling over:

  • Why are Republicans so caught up in having fake tans? They’re kind of like the Real Housewives of Orange County in that vein.

    Equal Rights Conference (1922)
    Wikimedia Commons
  • Will there be any paper magazines in a decade? Newsweek will no longer be in traditional print. That saddens me probably way more than it does them.
  • Why do people in Hampton Roads act totally insane when there is news of a tropical storm or hurricane somewhere in the Atlantic. There was a run on water in the Wal Mart Market this afternoon. You would have thought those jugs contained gold.
  • Did you know that I also have accidents with shopping carts? Just thought I’d mention that.
  • I can’t find a decent ringtone for UB40’s “Red, Red Wine” on any reputable sites. This is not earth-shattering, but I’ve been wondering about it.

“I prefer to explore the most intimate moments, the smaller, crystallized details we all hinge our lives on.” ~ Rita Dove

Getting back to that whole uterus decal thing—and yes, I am, sooner than expected—I can’t help but think that these same women who are displaying their female reproductive organs on their rear windows would be highly offended if they pulled up behind a truck with a big old decal of a penis and accompanying testes. I mean, wouldn’t that cause an uproar? Bad taste! Offensive! ya da ya da ya da . . .

A Bumper Sticker I Could Live With

Look, I understand militant feminism. I stopped wearing a bra when I was young (truthfully, I didn’t really need one, but that’s beside the point) because I heard that’s what real feminists did. I was on the forefront of fighting for equal pay for the same job before most of you were born. I adopted the Ms. moniker proudly, declaring to all within shouting distance that my marital status did not need to be indicated in a formal title, after all, Mr. did not indicate marital status. I mean folks, I still have an ERA NOW button. I understand that women are taking back their uteri (is that the correct plural for uteruses?), demanding that men-folk stop sticking their noses where they don’t belong. I completely agree.

But a smile? Eyes? Just ewwwwww all over the place.

“After all it is those who have a deep and real inner life who are best able to deal with the irritating details of outer life.” ~ Evelyn Underhill

So, I’ve also been considering a few other things:

March for the Equal Rights Amendment
  • I wonder what would happen if one night I crept into the yard of the guy in Lex’s neighborhood who has 20 Romney/Ryan yard signs in his teeny, tiny front yard, and swapped one out for an Obama/Biden sign? Not in the front, but somewhere in the middle . . . how apoplectic do you think he’d get?
  • Is it really sad that I can’t wait for December so that I can go see Peter Jackson’s Hobbit movie?
  • Is it pathetic that I wish there were going to be more Harry Potter movies?
  • Should that last question really have been more along the lines of how pathetic would it be?
  • Does anyone want to sew Brett’s costume for me?

“The devil is in the details.” ~ unknown

Okay, back to this.

2011 Reintroduction of the ERA
by Rebecca Koenig

People, please. Feminism came about because women wanted to be treated as equals, you know, that whole equal rights thing? It’s a pretty basic concept, but somehow it’s morphed into something I don’t recognize, something that promotes misandry, something that contends that the owner of the vagina is better than the owner of the penis. If I’m making you squirm, good. Misandry is no better than misogyny. And let me pause here—I am not talking about sexual orientation. Unfortunately, at some point, the Rush Limbaughs of the world began to pair the words feminist and lesbian. The first can be the second, and the second can be the first, but not necessarily so.

Who you share your uterus with is none of my business. What you do with it is none of my business. Do you really need to shout to the world that you have a uterus? If this makes me old fashioned, then I guess I am, but I’m still a feminist, in the truest sense of the word because I do not believe for one second that one gender is better equipped (no pun intended) to perform a job or hold an office or make a decision than the other gender.

And by the way, if you are so inclined to try to turn this into a debate about rape culture, don’t bother. This is definitely not about that and that is not about this. It’s essentially this: I’m for human rights, equality for all. It doesn’t get much more basic than that.

Oh, whatever. As Bukowski said,

“I decide that the only definition of
Truth (which changes)
is that it is that thing or act or
belief which the crowd
rejects.” (from “The People Look Like Flowers”)

More later. Peace.

Music by The Chromatics, “Into the Black”

                   

The Strongest Of The Strange

you won’t see them often
for wherever the crowd is
they
are not.
those odd ones, not
many
but from them
come
the few
good paintings
the few
good symphonies
the few
good books
and other
works.
and from the
best of the
strange ones
perhaps
nothing.
they are
their own
paintings
their own
books
their own
music
their own
work.
sometimes I think
I see
them – say
a certain old
man
sitting on a
certain bench
in a certain
way
or
a quick face
going the other
way
in a passing
automobile
or
there’s a certain motion
of the hands
of a bag-boy or a bag-
girl
while packing
supermarket
groceries.
sometimes
it is even somebody
you have been
living with
for some
time –
you will notice
a
lightning quick
glance
never seen
from them
before.
sometimes
you will only note
their
existence
suddenly
in
vivid
recall
some months
some years
after they are
gone.
I remember
such a
one –
he was about
20 years old
drunk at
10 a.m.
staring into
a cracked
New Orleans
mirror
facing dreaming
against the
walls of
the world
where
did I
go?

~ Charles Bukowski

“Listening to both sides of a story will convince you that there is more to a story than both sides.” ~ Frank Tyger

Kelly Bensimon: “Bethenny has knives on her tongue. She’s trying to kill me . . .”
“How many legs does a dog have if you call the tail a leg?  Four.  Calling a tail a leg doesn’t make it a leg.” ~ Abraham Lincoln   

Over at gawker.com, Richard Lawson did his final recap of the “Real Housewives of New York”: the lost footage. Yes, RHNY even milked a lost footage show out of the ashes of nothingness.

It was classic Lawson: witty, sardonic, and chock full of spot-on visual imagery. And the comments in response to Lawson’s recaps are almost as much fun to read as the post itself. Here are the last two paragraphs:

Finally, finally, finally . . . we are done. There are no more reunion specials to look at, no more lost footage, nothing. Andy is silent for now. Everyone has been loaded into the freezers and left for later. Someday not terribly far off, Andy will look out at the sky, feel the winds changing direction, see the birds flying in telltale patterns, and he will know that it’s time again. To shuffle down to the basement with his big ring of keys and unlock them. Lay them out on the chamber tables to defrost. Well, some he will leave in the freezer forever, their hearts slow and cold. But others he will thaw out, breathe life back into again, stroke their hair, whisper “Welcome back. Welcome home. Did you have any dreams?” Someday that will happen again, and we too will notice the signs. Notice eddies swirling in new ways, see the plants bending toward a different light. And we will know.

But for now there is just silence. The gauzy hush of a summer in New York City. All the green disappearing into yellow, into brown. Bethenny is, yes, getting married. There is no question. There is no mystery. All our questions have been answered, we are satisfied, closed, already moving on. Moving like sharks, still alive. That old dog watching us, knowing something eternal that we don’t. Well, not just yet, at least.

Oh that I could write like Lawson, have Lawson’s job . . .

The Jelly Bean Song is Lawson’s homage to Kelly I’m-crazier-than-a-loon Bensimon, who subsists on jelly beans and beer and/or wine, even though she doesn’t drink or eat processed foods (in her words). For Kelly, saying it makes it so even if it’s all in her head.

Until next season. Peace.

“We must live together like brothers, or perish together as fools.” Martin Luther King, Jr.

 Civil Rights tshirt

“To sin by silence when they should protest makes cowards of men.” ~ Abraham Lincoln

“A community is democratic only when the humblest and weakest person can enjoy the highest civil, economic, and social rights that the biggest and most powerful possess.” ~ A. Philip Randolph

Apparently, the protests against Ordinance 64 in Anchorage have gone the way of many American protests in recent years: The reds are bussing people in from churches in nearby cities. By doing this, the antis are creating the appearance that the majority of people in Anchorage are against Ordinance 64.

Children Bused in for Protests by AK Muckraker of Mudflats
Children Bused in for Anchorage Protests by AK Muckraker of The Mudflats

Just in case you didn’t read my previous post, this ordinance is intended to expand the anti-discrimination law that is currently on the books by adding wording that would prevent discrimination based on sexual orientation.

Now let me pause here. I am a big believer in free speech and the right to protest, but I am sorely dismayed by two things: Individuals who are not actually living in Anchorage are being allowed to voice their opinions in the open forum. This hardly seems to be fair play. The forum was created as a way to allow those individuals who live in Anchorage to voice their opinion before a vote is taken. The people from outlying areas are forcing an outcome that is not based on real data.

Now you may be thinking, ‘why doesn’t the pro side bus in some people?’ Well, I could respond that such a move is not normally employed by the pros, or if you will, those for the ordinance guaranteeing basic civil rights to all people. But that isn’t entirely true, and we all know it. Which brings me to the second things that dismays and disheartens me: Why do people who feel strongly about passing this ordinance not get out and join the protests?

As Janson commented on my earlier post:

I think the blue-crowd needs to remember that you have to show up and you have to be present to push for change. The reds know this. Every year I see anti-abortion demonstrations on campus. This is fine by me; they have a right and frankly I love to see students taking an active political stand in support of their beliefs (even if I disagree with them or disagree with the Rhetorical strategies they sometimes deploy). But when’s the last time I’ve seen a well-organized, effective Pro-Choice rally? Just for the sake of supporting Pro-Choice rights? How about, um… never? Maybe back at Florida State? Around 1994?

I rarely see proactive liberal demonstrations. A few Bush or Iraq protests are all I’ve seen in recent years. How about instead of arguing against something or someone, we argue for something? More pro-actively, more civically?

He’s right. The left doesn’t just protest for the sake of protest any more, and those of us who call ourselves liberal, pro-choice, pro-human rights need to remember that the opposition shows us time after time just how well organized they are. That type of willingness on their part to rush to the site of any protest is something that we on the other side should take note of.

If homosexuality is a disease, let’s all call in queer to work:  “Hello.  Can’t work today, still queer.”  ~ Robin Tyler

Ordinance 64 anti protest sign4Nevertheless, I still hold that some of the opposition’s signs are more ludicrous than effective. This one strikes me as particularly funny: “I was born Asian. You choose to be Gay,” as the picture  on the right shows. My response, as partially posted on Janson’s blog is twofold: “Well, I was born Asian, and I choose not to be stupid, uninformed, closed-minded, and bigoted.”

(And what’s with the peasant hat?)

And let’s not forget our science, people. Homosexuality is not a choice for most people. It is something with which they are born. If you don’t believe me, take a look at how homosexuality tends to run in some families. And I would contend that that is a strong case for nature not nurture, because in some of the families that I know of, those who are gay, hide it out of fear. These people will come out to their friends, but not to their families because they are afraid of becoming outcasts.

We still have so much more to do until more of those people on the anti side of the fence realize that homosexuality is not an abomination before god.  If the god of the New Testament is a loving god, how then do these people justify the hatred that they spew in the name of god?

 “When the government violates the people’s rights, insurrection, for the people and for each portion of the people, the most sacred of the rights and the most indispensable of duties.” ~ Marquis de Lafayette

June 20 protest image
Image from June 20 Protest

As for protests, the situation in Iran seems to be taking a turn for the worse. Approximately three thousand protesters defied the ban imposed by the Supreme Leader, and took to the streets once again. The police responded with tear gas, water cannons and guns, but no fatalities have been reported. Gen. Esmaeil Ahmadi Moghadam said on state television that officials “acted with leniency but I think from today on, we should resume law and confront more seriously . . . The events have become exhausting, bothersome and intolerable.”

An MSNBC report from around 3:30 EST states that Mousavi has indicated a willingness to become a martyr. Mousavi is still demanding an annulment of the June 12 elections:

In a letter to Iran’s Guardian Council, which investigates voting fraud allegations, Mousavi listed violations that he says are proof that the June 12 vote should be annulled. He said some ballot boxes had been sealed before voting began, thousands of his representatives had been expelled from polling stations and some mobile polling stations had ballot boxes filled with fake ballots.

“The Iranian nation will not believe this unjust and illegal” act, Mousavi said in the letter published on one of his official Web sites.

The Supreme Leader Ayatullah Khameini has ordered the crackdown. Accordin to Britain’s Times Online, Khameini declared that “‘those politicians who somehow have influence on people should be very careful about their behaviour if they act in an extremist manner . . . This extremism will reach a sensitive level which they will not be able to contain. They will be responsible for the blood, violence and chaos.” 

As to Khameini’s assertions that the protestors are being motivated by the West, President Obama, in the face of mounting criticism, is still taking a cautious stance, which I believe has allowed the protestors more freedom than if our President had come out in full support of the opposition. According to White House Spokesperson Robert Gibbs, the administration’s view is that Iranian leaders would use fiercer U.S. support for the protesters to paint them as puppets of the Americans.

In spite of this, Republicans led a Congressional Resolution that expresses support for “all Iranian citizens who embrace the values of freedom, human rights, civil liberties and rule of law” and affirms “the importance of democratic and fair elections.”

John McCain on IranCertainly the U.S. embraces the values of freedom and human rights (sometimes), but coming out in open support of the Green Party will only escalate matters. Hawkish John McCain took the opportunity to slam President Obama on the Today Show and on Fox news, saying that the President isn’t doing enough and the U.S. should be more involved in the crisis. McCain must have a short memory.

The Congress is making statements that the U.S. should speak out because the protestors deserve their democratic rights. Iran is not a democracy. This is one important fact that those in favor of more harsh statements seem to be forgetting.

We must not forget how high tempers run in this country, and that Iran has never forgiven the U.S. for interfering in its politics by helping to establish the Shah Mohammed Riza Pahlavi as leader of the country during the Cold War. The repercussions for U.S. involvement in Iranian politics led to  the 1979 Iranian overthrow of the Shah and the subsequent capture of 52 U.S. diplomats who were held for 444 days.

 “Activism is my rent for living on this planet.” ~ Alice Walker

Hendrix, Jimi
Jimi Hendrix in Concert

On a final note, Corey and I were discussing Jimi Hendrix’s “All Along the Watchtower,” which was written by Bob Dylan in the 60’s. We were talking about possible interpretations of the song, and I suppose since I have protests on the brain, I was telling Corey that I thought the song, as Hendrix sang it, was about alienation. Dylan may have written it as a folksong, but how many people actually listen to the Dylan version?

“Watchtower is a Hendrix song, and it speaks to me of the great disillusionment felt by that generation, an entire group of young people who felt let down by their country, let down by the system, misunderstood by their parents, and greatly alienated from white bread society.

I’ll leave you now with two versions of the song: Jimmi’s, of course, and a pretty cool version by composer and musician Bear McCreary (music for “Battlestar Galactica”).

More later. Peace be with you.

 

 

 

“Whatever you are, be a good one.” ~ Abraham Lincoln

 The journey is more important than the inn

Photograph by L. Liwag

“What you are comes to you.” ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

“I am returning this otherwise good typing paper to you because someone has printed gibberish all over it and put your name at the top.” ~ Unknown English Professor, Ohio University

Well, eldest son did it. He walked up there and took his diploma, and the school Superintendent pronounced them graduates. The ceremony was a fast-paced deal that lasted only an hour and a half, as compared to my daughter’s graduation which seemed to go on and on and on. The venue was good too, open, roomy, not squooshed up against the person you are sitting against, so I had no claustrophobia problems.

Aside from immediate family, his cousin who is graduating tomorrow came, as did his friends since childhood, Gordon and Tailor. I made Eamonn stand for pictures with everyone, and he was actually pretty gracious about it.

The only downside was when I was trying to move up a row (because of course every seat in the row that I selected was being saved), and I scraped my thigh on the arm of the end seat. I have a nice, big black and blue spot on my leg, but I don’t plan to enter any hot legs contests anytime soon.

As far as people being overly rowdy and loud, it wasn’t too bad. The school’s principal had already made a few announcements prior to the start of the ceremony in which she said that if the noise became too loud, she would step back and stop handing out diplomas, and she kept her word. Twice she stopped the procession until the crowd calmed down.

It’s such a shame that she had to make the announcement in the first place, and that she had to follow through with it, in the second place.

“What is the most important thing one learns in school? Self-esteem, support, and friendship.” ~ Terry Tempest Williams

The Road Less TraveledI always like to choose a fitting quote to go into almost every card that I give, and I found a really good one on Goodreads. The quote is by writer Neil Gaiman:

“I’ve been making a list of all of the things they don’t teach you at school. They don’t teach you how to love somebody. They don’t teach you how to be famous. They don’t teach you how to be rich or how to be poor. They don’t teach you how to walk away from someone you don’t love any longer. They don’t teach you how to know what’s going on in someone else’s mind. They don’t teach you what to say to someone who is dying. They don’t teach you anything worth knowing.”

The reason that I like this quote so much is because it is essentially true. What do we take away from high school? How to conjugate a verb in French? How to find the square root of an isosceles triangle? What the Monroe Doctrine was?

If you remember this kind of information, you probably do really well at Trivial Pursuit and/or you have gone on to become a teacher. But what is my son taking away from high school?

A group of friends who have stood by him during the worst times of his life (so far) and the best times of his life (again, so far). Memories of some really great times that he would prefer his mother never finds out about, and more than a few regrets that he didn’t follow through on a few things (track, football).

He is also taking with him the following lessons:

  • Mom knows if you are lying if you giggle too much
  • It’s hard to explain why you were absent from a particular class if your mom dropped you off at school that morning.
  • The school is serious when they say they will confiscate cell phones
  • You cannot make the team if you never go to practice
  • Yes, you have a deceptively charming smile, but that smile only works with some teachers, probably females
  • Mom was right when she told you that you really would survive the second breakup with your first serious love
  • Girls do talk to each other, so it’s probably not a good idea to date friends no matter how hot they are
  • Asking your mom to type your paper that is due the next day at 9 the evening before does not put her in a good mood
  • It takes money to put gas in the Trooper, and it’s probably a good idea to check the oil sometimes
  • Your mother knows when you have been smoking in her car, even if you leave the windows down all night

“High school: Oh man. This is where boys and girls go from tweens to teens and become complicated and cruel. Girls play sick mind games; boys try to pull each other’s penises off and throw them in the bushes.” ~ Eugene Mirman

Zen leapOkay, those are the fluffy lessons, so to speak. But he also learned some really hard lessons, like how much it hurts when your first love breaks your heart. And how hard it is to keep your word if you never meant it in the first place. Or how someone who claims to be a friend can stab you in the back without breaking a sweat. And how your parents can become real hardasses over things like curfews, and grades, and conduct notices, even though you don’t really understand what the big deal is.

I think that it is profoundly unfair that you first discover love at a time when you least know yourself in life. How is a teenager supposed to cope with all of the drama and accusations and breaking up one day only to make up the next day? How are they supposed to handle all of this angst and study for calculus too?

Frankly, when I put things in perspective, it’s no wonder that 11th grade becomes the make or break year for so many people. The pressure from their teachers is incredible because they are pushing students to think about college, and they are trying to cram as much information as possible into a brain that is essentially a sponge: and while a sponge can absorb a great deal, it also lets a whole lot seep out.

The pressure from worried parents intensifies in their junior year because there is college to think about, and if not that, then how have they prepared for a trade? And aren’t they spending too much time on the phone, and shouldn’t there be limits on the computer?

And the poor teenager is thinking “God, I wish that I could talk on the phone in peace, and I really don’t think that chemistry is going to make or break my career, and I’m responsible enough to stay out until midnight on a school night.”

And then comes the summer before senior year, and everything changes. By October, your senior is already thinking about graduation and getting an apartment, and you are wondering where all of the years went and praying that nothing goes horribly wrong in the next seven months.

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” ~ Mark Twain

Eamonn made us tremendously proud today, but I have to admit that there were times when I wasn’t sure that he would make it. There were moments when it seemed that there was nothing more than Pooh fluff in his brain, and there were many nights when I would get anxious about his state of mind and just how much he was in control of himself when he wasn’t under guard at home.

But I really believe that the senior year is more for parents than it is for their teenagers. It’s nine months in which you can begin to accept the fact that you son or daughter isn’t 7 any more, that you are not the most important part of their world, and that they are thinking about life without you.

Starry skiesIt’s a hard reality to face, and if you are anything like me, you don’t accept it gracefully. Even as your man-child or woman-child is thinking of new paths of discovery and a brand new chapter in life, you are reconciling yourself to fate and the need to close a chapter that has ended much too soon.

I hope that Eamonn figures out what his great adventure is going to be. I hope that he never stops dreaming, and trying, and loving, and living. I wish him star-filled skies at night, and red-orange sunrises that will take his breath away. I want for him all of those things that are possible, and even some that may not seem possible. I wish him joy, and I wish him love, but most of all, I wish him a life that is filled with hope.

Hope for better tomorrows, a world more at peace, people who are more in tune with their environment, friends who will be there at 3 o’clock in the morning if he needs them, and the immutable knowledge that home is always waiting.

And in the words of the incomparable Maya Angelou:

“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget the way you made them feel.”

More later. Peace be with you and yours.

The world will note and long remember what was said and done there

Each time a person stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others they send forth a ripple of hope, and crossing each other from a million different centers of energy and daring, those ripples built a current that can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance.” ~ Robert Kennedy

Man in front of Tanks Tiananmen

  The Tank Man of Tiananmen Square

“Be isolated, be ignored, be attacked, be in doubt, be frightened, but do not be silenced.” ~ Bertrand Russell

Today, June 4, 2009, marks the 20th anniversary of the student uprising in Tiananmen Square in China. Students from various universities led a series of mass demonstrations in Beijing, calling for greater freedoms and economic reforms that challenged the supremacy of the Chinese Communist Party. The key event that sparked the protest was the death of  former Secretary General Hu Yaobang, a well-liked figure who was forced to resign because he supported economic and political reform.

On April 17, small groups of people gathered at the Great Hall of the People, part of Tiananmen Square, to mourn Hu Yaobang. By midnight, the group had grown to include students from Peking and Tsinghua Universities. The initial reason for the gathering changed as students began drafting a list of pleas and suggestions (list of seven demands) that they wanted the government to listen to and carry through. The night before Hu’s funeral, April 21, 100,000 students gathered in Tiananmen  Square. The students called for a strike on the universities.

The demonstrations began in earnest on April 27, 1989 when students from Peking University, People’s University, Tsinghua University, University of Political Science and Law, and Beijing Normal University met up in a march through the city towards Tiananmen Square. As the students walked, more and more came out and joined in the march. Even some non-students participated in the march. As described in an excerpt from Eddie Cheng’s book, Standoff at Tiananmen Square:

There were also occasional non-students in the march. At the front of the TsinghuaUniversity block, several old professors marched witha particular display of dignity. Their silver hair danced in the sunshine as they proudly held up a sign: “[We have been] kneeling for too long, [now we] stand up and walk a little.” The sign was referring both to the students’ kneeling petition and the sufferings these professors had endured under the decades of communist rule.

By the time the student procession reached Tiananmen Square, it was estimated that over 200,000 people had marched, with over one million citizens cheering them on along the route.

“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.” ~ Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

On May 4, approximately 100,000 students and workers marched in Beijing to make demands for free media and to call for a formal dialogue between the authorities and student-elected representatives. A declaration demanded the government to accelerate political reform. The government refused the proposed dialogue, but agreed to speak with selected student organization representatives.

The students held repeated meetings on what their next actions should be. The idea of a hunger strike was brought to the table as a possible means of forcing the government to hold talks with the student representatives. In China, the government, by law, must intervene in a hunger strike after 72 hours, so the students who were considering the strike never really thought that such a strike would go on for very long. It was decided that the hunger strike would begin on May 14, while the Soviet Premier Mikhail Gorbachev was visiting China.

One of the protestors, Chai Ling, announced her intentions to strike and made a very moving speech to the crowd:

Why should we go on a hunger strike? Because we want to use this method, the only freedom we have left, to see the true face of our country and the true face of our people. I want to see if this country is worth our sacrifice and contribution . . . The government has time and again lied to us, ignored us. We only want the government to talk with us and to say that we are not traitors. We, the children, are ready to die. We, the children, are ready to use our lives to pursue the truth. We, the children, are ready to sacrifice ourselves.

We want to fight to live. We want to fight to live withthe resolve of death.

Chai Ling’s heartfelt speech moved many in the crowd to tears, and her extemporaneous speech was shaped into a Hunger Strike manifesto. In the beginning, over 100 students participated in the strike. By May 17, day 5 of the hunger strike, a reportedly two to three thousand people were participating in the strike. On May 19, the students called off the strike and turned their protest into a sit-in at Tiananmen Square. They had been informed that the government was going to impose martial law on May 20.

“If there is no struggle, there is no progress. Those who profess to favor freedom, and yet deprecate agitation, are men who want crops without plowing up the ground. They want rain without thunder and lightning. They want the ocean without the awful roar of its many waters. Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did, and it never will.” ~ Frederick Douglass

On May 20, troops approached the site of the protest, but thousands of regular citizens barred their way. May 24 marked the 5th  day of martial law. Sunday, May 28,  was designated as a day for global demonstration for democracy in China. All over the world people of Chinese heritage and descendancy, as well as those sympathetic to the protestors’ cause showed their solidarity with the protesters in Tiananmen Square.

May 30, the students were supposed to end their protest and leave the square to return to their universities and their studies. Funds were running low, and many of the participants were losing hope of obtaining any lasting changes. However, a decision was made to stay in the square for three more weeks.

Goddess of Democracy erected in TS
The Goddess of Democracy and Freedom

On the night of May 30, students erected their Goddess of Democracy and Freedom. Constructed of foam and papier mache, the statue stood at about 33 feet tall. The students who built the statue transported it to Tiananmen Square on four carts, and used two other carts to carry the tools necessary to assemble it. Ironically, the statue faced the huge portrait of Chairman Mao.

However, by June 2, it was becoming clear to the protesters and the rest of the world that the government was sending in more troops to encircle Tiananmen Square. Tensions were running high. The student protesters were tired; many were dispirited, and some wanted to end the protest. On the morning of June 3, protesters awoke to find military troops wearing white shirts and army pants surrounding Tiananmen Square. That night, the shooting began.

The assault began when APC’s (Armored Personnel Carriers) and troops with bayonets descended on the crowd. The government had also sent infantry troops bearing assault rifles to the site to deal with the protesters once and for all. Tents that had been erected during the time of the protest were crushed indiscriminately, whether or not individuals were inside. A tent gives little protection against an oncoming tank.

At first many in the crowd believed the soldiers to be firing rubber bullets and were not afraid, but as soon as the blood began to appear on shirts and skin, the horror of  what was really happening became real. Students were shouting, “Why are you killing us?”

Reporter Charlie Cole was on scene and reported that at about 4 or 5 in the morning of June 4, tanks began smashing into the square, crushing vehicles and people. By 5:40 a.m. June 4, the Square had been cleared.

In all, the movement lasted seven weeks. Accounts of the number of people killed vary considerably. China reported that only 241 people died. The media said it was as many as 800, but  Amnesty International estimated that 1,000 people were killed in the Tiananmen Square massacre, including people who were just onlookers. Reactions from around the world were predominantly negative. British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher expressed “utter revulsion and outrage,” and was “appalled by the indiscriminate shooting of unarmed people.”

“It is in the inherent nature of human beings to yearn for freedom, equality and dignity. Brute force, no matter how strongly applied, can never subdue the basic desire for freedom and dignity. ~ The Dalai Lama

In China, the massacre is known as the June 4th incident—such an innocuous name for a barbaric act. Chinese censors have managed to erase all mention of that tragedy from the country’s textbooks and state-run media. Chinese youth born after the event are never taught anything about what happened during those seven weeks. If they know anything about the Tiananmen Square massacre, it is because they have learned about it from family members. The tradition of oral history ensures that June 4, 1989 is never forgotten.

If you are too young to remember the detailed events of what happened in the People’s Republic of China during those seven weeks, I hope that you will take a chance to learn more. So much can be gained in examining these events. For one thing, students and others from all over joined in this protest because they believed that it was time for a change in the Chinese government. The protesters viewed themselves as Chinese patriots, carrying on the May 4th Movement for “science and democracy” in 1919.

The students’ activity gradually developed from protests against corruption into demands for freedom of the press and an end to, or the reform of, the rule of the PRC by the Communist Party of China and leader Deng Xiaoping. Some bore signs and carried banners that read, “Give me liberty or give me death.”

Granted, the protest suffered from a lack of unified leadership, with different people making decisions for all involved at different times. There was infighting, as is usually the case in a massive protest. Most of the students were privileged and looking for more freedom in the media and in speech; while the workers who supported the protest were alarmed by the government’s new economic reforms, growing inflation, and government corruption. 

The protesters themselves urged people not involved in the protest not to harm the soldiers, not to throw bottle rockets. In spite of this, those involved in the protest never dreamed that it would all come to such a violent, bloody end.

A few other points:

  • The world once again stood by and watched as an atrocity unfolded before their eyes.
  • A tyrannical government under military rule chose to use force even though many of those in power preferred to keep things peaceful.
  • The PRC leaders who were in favor of a soft approach to the demonstrations, including General Secretary Zhao Ziyang, were overruled.
  • Because journalists from the West had been invited to cover the Gorbachev visit, many were on-hand to document what happened on June 3rd and 4th in Tiananmen Square.
  • If we are to believe the PRC, none of the above ever happened.

I will never forget for as long as I have memory, the image of that single man who had the courage to face down a column of tanks. He had no weapons, only grocery bags. He was no one famous. In fact, he has never been named. His act was completely spontaneous, but that act reflects exactly the difference that one individual can make in the history of the world.  Show anyone who is old enough to remember that picture, and I can almost guarantee you that they will pause for a moment in what they are doing because that image is seared into our collective conscious.

The PRC would not have us remember this anniversary. They have wished it all away. But it is our job, as everyday people, to remember history-changing events like Tiananmen Square—if for no other reason than to be able to recount what happened orally, that we pass down this knowledge to those who come after us, that we make sure that however many people who died during those hours, that they did not die in vain.

I have always been a big Abraham Lincoln fan, ever since I had to memorize The Gettysburg Address in fourth grade. But Lincoln was wrong: The world did note, and everyone remembered Gettysburg. I find it wholly applicable that these same words be used to describe those students who sought in 1989 what we too often shamelessly take for granted:

The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us — that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion — that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain.

I leave you with these indelible images. Peace be with you.

 

Tragedy Unfolds in Real Life

 

the-baseball-game-by-g-fitz

The Baseball Game by G. Fitz

The Rueful Story of One Man’s Doomed Dreams

“Things which matter most must never be at the mercy of things which matter least.” ~ Johann Wolfgang Goethe 

Right before I hit my writer’s wall, I had planned to write a post about a story that I had read that really touched a nerve with me. It was the story of one man’s lost dreams and eventual suicide, and how all-too-often, people in the public eye, even in a minor way, are treated as commodities instead of people. It was the story of John C. Odom.

john-odom1
Former Baseball Player John C. Odom

Normally, I do not peruse the sports news as admittedly, this particular area does not hold a lot of interest for me, but when I read the headline—”A Tragic End for Minor Leaguer Traded for Bats”—I knew that I had to read more. This story appeared on March 3 of this year in The San Luis Obispo and was picked up by the AP. Apparently, Odom, a minor league with a fast arm, was picked up by the the Loredo Broncos of the United League for the price of 10 baseball bats.

Odom was originally drafted by the Giants as a 44th round pick in 2003, but his inconsistent record caused the Giants to release him in the spring of 2008. The Calgary Vipers offered Odom a job, but because of a 1999 aggravated assault conviction, Odom was not eligible for entrance into Canada.

What followed was a proposition of such bizarre proportions, that it landed Odom with the unenviable title of “Bat Boy.” Jose Melendez, General Manager for the Laredo Broncos, proposed to Calgary President Pete Young that Laredo buy Odom’s contract for $1,000. Young supposedly said that “the Vipers didn’t do cash deals because they made the team look financially unstable.” What Young needed, he told Melendez, was bats, and he proposed releasing Odom for 10 Prairie Stick bats, double-dipped black, 34 inches long, model C243, at a cost of $665 each.

Odom, who only wanted to play, accepted the terms and drove to Laredo, Texas. What ensued was completely predictable: the theme music to Batman, catcalls of “Bat Man,” and “Bat Boy.”

“Public sentiment is everything. With public sentiment, nothing can fail. Without it, nothing can succeed.” ~ Abraham Lincoln

There is a saying that “success is never final; failure is never fatal.” But in this particular instance, I must beg to disagree. It would take someone of tremendously strong constitution to withstand such verbal thrashings. Odom did not possess that constitution. Described by his college coach as more of an athlete with a musician’s heart, Odom at first claimed to be okay with the trade, but by June, Odom was visibly frayed. He went to Laredo Bronco’s manager Dan Schwam on June 10. According to Schwam, Odom came to him and said,”Skip, I’m going home. I just can’t take it. I’ve got some things to take care of. I’ve got to get my life straightened out.”

odoms-tattoo1

Within five months, Odom was dead. According to the medical examiner of Georgia, Odom’s death was an accidental overdose from heroin, methamphetamine, the stimulant benzylpiperazine and alcohol. A tattoo on Odom’s right elbow read “Poena Par Sapientia,” Latin for “Pain equals wisdom.” Odom was 26 years old. He died wearing his pain.

“One meets his destiny often in the road he takes to avoid it” ~ French Proverb

Odom’s teammates did not learn of his death until recently. Such had been his complete withdrawal from the limelight, and seemingly, from life itself.

The ten bats from the infamous trade? They have never been used and are currently in storage. The parties involved in the bat trade insist that it was not a publicity stunt and that it was not done to embarrass Odom.

But consider, at 26, after a shaky start, what young man or woman would not be embarrassed by such a publicized trade? For that matter, what 40-year-old would not be embarrassed? And how helpless would a person feel to know that his fate was no longer his own but instead, was due to 10 baseball bats?

I have to believe that someone, somewhere, at some point, had to stop and ask if this was the right thing to do. I cannot believe, wish not to believe, that the powers that ruled in this decision never had second thoughts on the soundness of such a move. If not, why not?

“What we call despair is often only the painful eagerness of unfed hope.” ~ George Eliot

I realize that athletes, in this country in particular, are treated as commodities. Hence the multi-million dollar contracts, the highly-publicized trades, the slaps on the wrist for infractions. The U.S. loves its athletes, but especially its good athletes. Its mega-stars.

But there is a whole other world that many people do not pay much attention to: the world filled with the less than stellar athletes.

Granted, the farming system is baseball’s tried and true method of finding its major league up-and-comers. But it is not a system that allows much room for those players who are different in some way, who do not fit the mold.

One of the best friends I ever had was a minor league player. He had an incredible arm and was blessed with agility and speed. Watching him play baseball was truly like watching poetry in motion, which I have often found to be the case when watching an athlete who is truly, naturally talented. Unfortunately, my friend blew out his rotator cuff and was no longer able to play. I know that that injury cost him in a number of ways, but most profoundly, emotionally, because playing baseball was such an innate part of who Alan was. To be unable to play, unable to fulfill a lifelong dream, was a bitter pill, especially for someone so imbued in the allure of the game.

It would probably be safe to assume that Odom, a player who began as a walk-on with a 90 mph fastball, felt that same allure. Certainly John Odom was not a perfect man or a perfect player. He had his demons. Some who knew him described him as having “black moods,” and an alleged substance abuse problem that he had conquered in the past. So is it any wonder that Odom drowned the “bat boy” persona with pills and alcohol?

odombat002
One of the Odom Bats

Odom will enter the record books as the player who was traded for 10 bats: A man’s professional life equating to $6,650. If not for this heinous degrading of a man’s dignity, Odom’s life and subsequent death would likely have remained in obscurity, just one more cog in the machine.

 

“The pain of the mind is worse than the pain of the body” ~ Publius Syrus

Again, I do not purport to know a great deal about the major league. I always preferred college baseball. But I do know about sports and the inordinate amount of pressure that players have thrust upon them from an early age. Living right next to the neighborhood park, I can sit in my room on any weekend afternoon during baseball season and listen to parents yell horrible things at the players, at their own children, at other people’s children.

The verbal abuse hurled at these children is horrendous. I have heard a father chew his son out the entire way from the park to the car that was parked next to my house because the boy missed a ball. The boy could not possibly have been more than 8 years old.

What does this have to do with Odom? Who knows. I know very little about his family, his background, how he grew up and what kind of support he did or did not receive as a player in the pony leagues that exist in every neighborhood in America.

What I do know is that no one comes out better from being called names, whether that epithet is “you stupid boy,” “no-talent so and so,” or “here comes batman.” Baseball is the great American past time, but at times, the price paid for admission to the game is just too high.

If he were still alive, I think that John C. Odom might agree with me.

(Information for this article comes from the original article written by Ben Walker, AP baseball writer (http://www.sanluisobispo.com/346/story/639018.html).