Stop pretending your racism is patriotism.

“Thankfulness is the beginning of gratitude. Gratitude is the completion of thankfulness. Thankfulness may consist merely of words. Gratitude is shown in acts.” – Henri Frederic Amiel

Next week is Thanksgiving, truly my favorite holiday of all the celebrations. My reason why is purely selfish, and self-serving, food, specifically my mom’s food. My mom cooks things for Thanksgiving that my wife won’t cook, things she won’t even eat. And my mother’s dressing can’t be replicated, believe I know for 36 years my wife has tried. She has gotten close but never perfected it.

My wife has watched my mother make her dressing for years and she always says the same thing, “I do everything she does. It must be that magical casserole dish she uses.” Maybe it is, I don’t know. I do know that you cut her dressing like butter which is perfect for a toasted turkey and dressing sandwich with Duke’s Mayo for lunch on Friday.

Thanksgiving is supposed to be a day that we celebrate the harvest and all our other blessings over the past year. Obviously, most of us don’t reside in an agrarian culture. If you are like me, you might harvest some lettuce, cucumbers, and a few tomatoes each year. A pious Christian might count the number of souls they have turned to Jesus as their harvest, though I would rather have just one red, ripe, juicy tomato sliced thin on two pieces of white bread, and Duke Mayo, as my bounty for the year.

Since I can’t focus on the harvest aspect of Thanksgiving, I have yet to prevent the squirrels from eating all my tomatoes, I focus on the blessings of which I have many.

To recognize your blessings, you must have the ability to generate empathy and perspective. Fortunately for me, the work that I do puts me in front of people every day that remind me of how privileged I am. For instance, I was fortunate to have been born white in a country that is ruled by whites. If my parents had been black, I know without a shadow of doubt, that I would not have had the opportunities that I have today. My Dad, a man without a college degree, who grew-up dirt poor would have been looked at differently as a black man in the 1950’s and 1960’s. That is a simple fact. A truthful fact.

My father achieved great things from very humble beginnings for one reason only, he was white. A black man in the 1960’s from the same poor background, showing the same initiative would not have been given the opportunities my father was given. He knows it and whether you are willing to admit it or not, you know it is true as well. Sadly, we have not gained much ground in 70 or 60 years. There is still an inherent bias against black Americans and other ethnic groups in this country. I would go so far as to say that whatever ground we made-up in the last 20 or 30 years we have lost in the last 10.

Yesterday, Louisiana Sen. John Kennedy “cross examining” Saule Omarova, Biden’s pick to be comptroller of currency who happened to have been born in the old communist Soviet Union stated that he didn’t know whether to call her “professor or comrade”. I am sure Kennedy’s Klu Klux Klan voters in Louisiana thought that was funny as shit. But think about it, this xenophobic statement was made by a United States Senator, in 2021 at a formal hearing for the whole world to see and hear. This guy, this racist piece of shit is supposed to be a leader, an example for our country, and our children. Instead, he tries to be cute, tries to be funny, tries to let MAGA know that he is still a bigot worthy of their support and campaign dollars.   

This is America today, full of people just like Sen. John Kennedy pretending that their racism is patriotism.

I am going to celebrate Thanksgiving with my family Thursday. It will be a large gathering to make-up for the one we missed last year. There will be too much food, plenty of laughter, and lots of love. I also know that there will be millions of Americans alone, with little or nothing to eat. In my community hundreds will be under a tarp trying to stay warm in the woods, hundreds more will be living in their cars, with their children wondering what the future holds. This is the America Sen. John Kennedy and so many others in the GOP and MAGA camp ignore.  

Try to show your thankfulness and your gratitude with actions this holiday season. The smallest act of kindness can and will make the largest difference in somebody’s life. Happy Thanksgiving.

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I don’t bring God into the picture

“I am not sure I have. I just go on and try to do a better job from there. I don’t think so. I think if I do something wrong, I think, I just try and make it right. I don’t bring God into that picture. I don’t. When I drink my little wine – which is about the only wine I drink – and have my little cracker, I guess that is a form of asking for forgiveness, and I do that as often as possible because I feel cleansed. I think in terms of let’s go on and let’s make it right.”– Trump’s response to the question has he ever asked God for forgiveness for his actions

The conversation started innocently enough; a contractor was giving me a price on replacing some doors. I asked about the cost and timeframe, and he responded that we needed to do the work now before the Democrats “spent” us into another depression. That caught my attention because it was a clever play on words, “spent us”. It sounded like a Fox News term.

I asked if he thought that was where we were headed and he responded, yes plus he added under the Democrats we have become a Godless country. Never mind that it took the Democrats less than a year to make that happen. The current President and “that woman”, he continued, don’t believe in the freedoms God granted this great country. Their plan was to take our guns away and let the “welfare momma’s” sit on their ass all day and have more babies.  

Now I had a decision to make, as bad as I needed these doors replaced and as hard as it was to find people to do the work, did I want to get into a debate with this redneck and risk pissing him off or bite my lip and get the work done. He sealed the deal with this final statement, “When Donald Trump is back in the office that was stolen from him, he will restore the Christian values the Godless Democrats have destroyed”.

I won’t go into all the details of my response about the immoral, piece of shit this guy worshiped as a model of Christian values and actions. For your benefit I briefly touched on three marriages, different children from those three marriages, paying off porn stars, and playboy bunnies, lawsuits for rape and groping women, filling for bankruptcy 13 times, and my jewel in the crown of thorns, not paying thousands of contractors just like him. Thankfully I found someone else willing to do the work, at a better price by the way, who wasn’t in the MAGA Cult or at least was smart enough not to tell me he was.

Pardon my French but I am tired of this fucker. The way I feel about him goes against all that I believe in and accept as a Buddhist. But what I don’t understand, what I don’t get is how people, including politicians, continue to give this guy oxygen and a platform. The sad truth is in four years he accomplished nothing positive. As I have written before, I challenge anyone to list five things that Trump achieved that made most Americans’ lives better. Hell, I would even take four things, one for each year.

I compared Trump to Hitler, and Stalin recently and was told that wasn’t a “fair” comparison because Trump didn’t have people killed. I reminded them on the day of President Biden’s inauguration that 400,000 Americans had died of COVID. 400,000 deaths under Trump’s regime, so yes it was a fair comparison because if he had done his job and acted like a leader rather than a 12-year-old we would be well beyond COVID today.

Remember how it started:

1.       You know, a lot of people think that it goes away in April with the heat. (2-10-20)

2.       When you have 15 people, and the 15 within a couple of days is going to be down too close to zero, that’s a pretty good job we’ve done. (2-26-20)

3.       It’s going to disappear. One day — it’s like a miracle. (2-27-20)

4.       We’re prepared, and we’re doing a great job with it. And it will go away. Just stay calm. It will go away. (3-10-20)

5.       It is going to go away. It is going away. (4-3-20)

400,000 people died because this sociopath refused to admit that he fucked-up. 400,000 people died because this moron wouldn’t allow people smarter than him to act, to advise, or to plan. The facts are clear, and we all saw the facts in real time and now the documents are coming forth to prove them, Trumps “plan” for COVID-19 was to hide the truths and bullshit his way through it and he failed, he failed “bigly” and to date, 763,000 people have paid the ultimate price to keep his fragile ego intact.

For me it is not a stretch to compare Trump to Hitler, or Stalin or even Heinrich Himmler or Kim Jong-un. If Trump has proven anything over his lifetime it is that he is an immoral, cruel, heartless, uncaring, unchristian piece of shit. And for you “Christians” Trump said it himself, he doesn’t bring God into the picture because for him that would be admitting weakness. It would be acknowledging that he doesn’t have all the answers.

I don’t believe in heaven or hell. I don’t believe in some mythical, glorious afterlife and guess what, neither does Trump. For you Bible thumpers the only path to enter the Kingdom of God is to believe in Jesus and ask for His forgiveness. Apparently Trump’s method to appease all you Evangelicals is to “drink my little wine – which is about the only wine I drink – and have my little cracker”. I can promise you with a standing 10 am tee time every Sunday that doesn’t happen very often, if at all for The Donald.

Fifty percent of America is pretty fucked-up right now. I don’t mind opposing views, hell I welcome opposing opinions. I am a big proponent of the middle path, Yin and Yang. The problem is, as it was when he was in office, Trump doesn’t have a view, or a plan, just a marketing slogan. His goal has always been to fill his pockets with gold and silver. He did it while he was in office, and he continues to do it today and sadly people go on supporting his efforts without any idea why they are doing it and without any understanding of what good it will provide them or their families.

I guess every era must have an antichrist somewhere on the planet. Ours just happens to be an old fat orange guy. 

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COVID and White People

I am really pushing my memory here but sometime in the late 1960’s or early 70’s my mother gathered up her three young children and took us to the health department where we stood in line with other mothers with kids to get a vaccine. I have no clue if this was for Mumps, Red Measles or what. I just remember it was new, or improved, and mandatory for school.

When was the last time you heard of someone being diagnosed with Polio, Tetanus, Smallpox, Rubella, Hib, Measles, or the Mumps? I’ll wait. Honestly, I have no idea how many vaccines I have had in my 60 years. I am even old enough to have the Smallpox circle scar on my left arm. In case you were wondering, there have been no reported cases of Smallpox since 1977. Why? Because a vaccine eliminated it.

I got my COVID booster last week. Let me add that I gladly got my booster. Given the work that I do and the people that I come into contact with I feel very thankful that I did not get “The COVID” as the rednecks here in South Carolina call it. Unfortunately, I know entirely too many people that did get The COVID and several that died. Yes, some had underlying conditions and COVID was sadly the final straw that broke the camel’s back, but just as many did not. Two, come to mind, one a 40ish male, and one 30ish female, both in excellent health. The male lingered in the hospital for weeks as multiple organs shut down. For the female it was quick, scary quick. What I heard is that she blew it off for a week and by the time she was gasping for air and taken to the hospital she was done.

South Carolina’s Governor, the Dishonorable Henry “Foghorn Leghorn” McMaster has put out a proclamation prohibiting all South Carolina agencies from following President Biden’s vaccine mandate. At his news conference Foghorn said, “I say, I SAY, we will fight these scalawags aggressively…we have been and will continue to fight these unlawful regulations and acts and intrusions on the rights of our people.”

According to “Foghorn Leghorn” and our state Trumpublican’s, requiring vaccines infringes on our “God given” freedoms. The South Carolina Trumpublican’s have even gone so far as to list on their website, under the Medical Freedom tab, all the different types of treatments, real and make believe, for COVID. Just to be safe they do add this itty-bitty disclaimer:  No material on this website is intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment and we ask that you seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health care provider with any questions you may have regarding any medical condition or treatment. In other words, if you take a cow dewormer and die, don’t blame us.

I have spent a lot of time reading and studying the Bible over the last 20 years. Religion, as whole, is very interesting to me because it aligns with my other love, history. I have scoured the pages of the Bible, and nowhere have I found any “God given” rights or blanket freedom phrases that Yahweh has provided Americans. I am happy to debate this point with anyone, just quote chapter, verse and context, the most important point, and let’s go. Oh, and by the way, and the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence ARE NOT Biblical documents. But here is the deal, you can’t, and you won’t find anything in the Bible because it doesn’t exist. And no despite what the NRA preaches, God did not give us the right to bear arms or arm bears for that matter.

If Henry “Foghorn Leghorn” McMaster and the Trumpublican’s were so confident of their patriotic freedoms, they wouldn’t need to include any disclaimers, but they aren’t because they know what they are advocating is nothing less than grandstanding, deadly grandstanding at that. The facts are clear, COVID is real and COVID kills people. They also know this fact, a COVID vaccine prevents the spread and reduces COVID fatalities. The science is real and the science is simple, as simple as Colonel Sanders recipe with 11 herbs and spices.

Let’s be honest here, all those dumbass white people you see marching in the streets holding up “STOP MEDICAL TYRANNY” signs are just trying to hold on to what threads of white privilege they have left. It’s funny, how many of those fat, white, rednecks do you see walking into a restaurant without shirts or shoes? Doesn’t the “no shirts, no shoes, no service” policy impede their “freedom” to eat chicken wings? White people feel like they must be mad about something. Think about all the freedoms we have taken away from them, slavery, killing Indians, having to pay minimum wage. It’s no wonder they are revolting against the government.

Currently, the majority of COVID deaths, 97%, are people that are unvaccinated. Like I have said before, if you don’t want to get a COVID vaccine don’t, this country needs an IQ boost and natural selection is one path to accomplish that. As Charles Darwin noted; “This preservation of favorable variations and the rejection of injurious variations, I call natural selection or the survival of the fittest.”                 

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Stuck at a light

There is a traffic light between my house and my office that if you don’t catch it just right the wait for it to turn green is anywhere from 5 to 10 minutes. I have complained about it several times to the traffic engineers and their response is always the same, it works fine but the first car in line needs to be right at the big white stop line to trigger the sensors. If they are a foot away the “computer system” doesn’t know there is a car waiting.

I was second in line this morning, waiting for the light to change when an older couple, eighties or so pulled in behind me. I looked in my rearview mirror and the man driving took his glasses off and with both hands wiped his face. The lady in the passenger seat was wiping her eyes with a tissue. I could tell they were both in distress.

Four minutes passed, the light was still red, and these two individuals were still very upset. The woman began speaking and suddenly the man buried his face in his hands. The light turned green, and I went on my way hoping they would head in my direction, but they didn’t. They turned right, away me.

It is doubtful I will ever see them again. I am not sure I would recognize these two faces in the rearview mirror if I ran into either of them at the grocery store or Home Depot. I will never know what they were upset about. I will never know how their story ends.

“Life is about not knowing, having to change, taking the moment, and making the best of it, without knowing what’s going to happen next.” – Gilda Radner

As many of you know I work in the non-profit world providing housing for individuals and families that, without the services of our organization, would otherwise be homeless. I see hopelessness, and despair weekly. I have only been working in this field for a short period of time, about five years. It is my second and last career, one that I hope will earn me some brownie points with the Buddha when it comes time to be reincarnated, maybe a turtle rather than a cockroach.

I know that there is a lot of sadness in the world. Some of it is brief, an elderly parent dying for instance, sad but not unexpected. But other sorrows can seemingly follow us around for months, years, even generations. None of us are immune from sadness, grief, or unhappiness. No one experiences days filled with rainbows and gumdrops every day. A little rain must fall on everyone no matter what your lot in life.

There is a family in my community, a prominent and very wealthy family that over the course of the last 15 years have had one horrible thing after another befall them, children born with severe birth defects, adults afflicted with progressive, deadly diseases at a young age, sudden deaths in otherwise healthy family members, and suicides.

I remember thinking once upon a time how nice it would be to be married into this family, beach, lake, and mountain houses at your disposal. A big family “farm” to play on. By the way, in my neck of the woods when you hear one of these blueblood families talk about their “farms”, they aren’t farming anything, it’s just 100 plus acres in the middle of nowhere to drink, shoot guns and ride ATV’s. Yes, on the outside this family seemingly had it all along with all the toys. But money, and prestige can’t protect you from the heartache that comes with living. 

“I find hope in the darkest of days and focus in the brightest. I do not judge the universe.” – Dalai Lama  

I do not judge the universe. I am always fascinated to hear the stories of people that don’t have a single coin in their pocket, just the clothes on their back and all their worldly possessions in a garbage bag. I hear these stories every week. Typically, these people aren’t mad at the world. Many still profess a deep belief in God while living on the sidewalk under a blanket in the rain which I personally find insane but that’s a different subject for a different day. They don’t judge the universe, which is basically the same as saying, it is what it is.

They understand that darkness and light falls on everyone, sadly they are just getting an unequal share of the darkness than the rest of us. If I ask them what tomorrow looks like they don’t know. They assume tomorrow will look just like today if they make it too tomorrow and for many that is a big if. Survival is the name of the game. While we are wondering what we are going to have for dinner tonight they are trying to remember what day it is, and which mission or church is serving lunch. While we are resting in our warm homes watching some stupid television show on our big screen televisions, they are looking for some nook with an overhang away from the prying eyes of the police and the public to catch a few hours of sleep.

I try to imagine what had made that older couple so upset. Honestly the list is endless as it is for all of us. I am not a fan of people who walk around with their heads in the clouds quick to tell you, oh I am blessed when asked how they are doing. What I know about these people is that I have caught them on a good day. What about the day their child gets arrested for selling drugs, or when they get arrested for a DUI? Are they still blessed? Are they strong enough and secure enough in their faith to face the utter darkness that will engulf them?

Life is hard and we can’t bullshit our way through it because at some point the bullshit will get so deep we can taste it. Do me a favor for the short time we all have left on this planet, be kind, be fair, to those who need our care and our compassion. There are many hurting people out there and one small act of kindness might make a difference in their life. Now, you can still fuck with Trump supporters because they are inbred, racist, piece of crap morons. Let them wallow in the shit they have created. They are the exception and I am pretty sure Jesus would agree with me.  

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A sad ending

In my small southern city, the highest rung on the social ladder is a family with an old pedigree and money. The second rung is a family with an old pedigree but no money. The third rung is families with no local pedigree but money and the last one, the fourth, are families with no pedigree, no money, but act like they do which is expensive.

When I moved here 35 years ago, I learned very quickly about these four social groups but more importantly I realized I couldn’t keep up with any of them. I couldn’t afford to join the Country Club, or the private social club, apparently you can’t join one and not be a member of the other. I couldn’t afford a house in the right zip code (there are just two) or buy a house on one of the historically named streets. What I was left with was to be the fifth rung on the social ladder, someone not interested in keeping-up with the Jones.

I married into a well-off family, a respected Doctor but not from here which is an important point. Both of my in-laws are down to earth people, yes members of the Country Club but that’s because he is a golf nut. They have never been on the A list of the social circuit. Because he is a doctor, maybe B+. They are members of a Debutante Club (look it up, it’s a Southern thing) but not THE Debutante Club (yes, there is more than one). They also get invited to stuff, balls, galas, etc. but they both know where they land in the pecking order and are okay with their very comfortable, and respected lot in life.

My neighbor, Sam, down the street committed suicide last week. He was 63. He grew-up and lived most of his life on the fourth rung of the social ladder, no pedigree, no money, but acted like he had both. His Dad had a small business and was a member of the Country Club, the private social club and lived in a house right on the edge of the proper zip code. Sam’s Dad sent all three of his kids to the local private school that all the blue-bloods attend. It’s expensive. Like, college tuition is expensive, $15,000 to $20,000 a year today.

I met Sam when I first moved here. My impression of him was that he was on the first or second rung of the social ladder, a cute blond wife, house in the right zip code and on a historically named street, working in sales for one of the companies owned by an old pedigree family. I figured he was somehow related to the family.

Sam ran hard and partied hard too. Pictures of him and his cute blond wife showed up in all the social pages. Everyone knew him and he seemed to be at the center of all activity. But I learned later that Sam wasn’t in the first or second rung of the social ladder, he was a fourth, no pedigree, no money, but spent like hell, just like his dad, to act like he was.

After a while he could no longer afford to run with the big dogs. But the problem he had was his cute blond wife didn’t want to hear that. She liked being invited to the balls and galas. She liked having their child in the private school. She enjoyed having coffee and lunch with the other moms who didn’t work.

Sam finally had to face the facts and tell her their glamorous life would have to be scaled back. Send the kid to public school, and she needed to get a job to help dig them out of debt. For Sam and the cute blond this was the beginning of the end.

They lasted about three years. Sam’s drinking started affecting his work to the point that the pedigree family had to let him go. He got another job in the same field, but it was like starting over without the backing and the foot in the door of working for the pedigree family. His weekly nights out with his buddies became more frequent and the alcohol changed his mood. He went from the life of the party to eventually just a party of one.

Cute blond divorced Sam and got the house, the kid, and married a banker on the rebound. She ended up in the same cycle with the banker who had no clue what he was getting himself into but that’s another story. Sam got a secretary at work pregnant, married her, moved into my neighborhood (not the right zip code) and settled into a fifth rung lifestyle, somewhat.     

He tried to run with the money boys when he could, but he couldn’t afford the golf weekends at Pinehurst, or the charter fishing trips in Key West. He could afford the weekly visits to the strip club, and beers in the men’s grill at the Country Club paid for by someone else. But slowly, over time, his social group quit calling, and quit extending those invitations because they knew, what they always knew, that Sam really wasn’t one of them. He was just pretending he was.

I saw Sam at the store about six months ago. We spoke briefly about life, kids, etc. He was always a mellow dude, but I walked away thinking his mellow was almost comatose. I sensed no real excitement about anything in his voice, even when I asked him about his kids. Don’t ask me that question unless you really want this proud Dad to tell you.

I didn’t think about Sam or our conversation until I heard he had put a bullet in his head last week. Word filtered down that his drinking was out of control, and he was very depressed. He had quit his job but for the first few months got up every morning and acted like he was still going to work. I am not sure when or how his wife found out that he was unemployed. Maybe when she looked in their checking account or saw a notice of nonpayment for the power bill.

I am sorry for Sam’s wife and their two kids. I am sorry that Sam didn’t feel like he had any reason to live. Depression is real and depression is dangerous. Alcohol and drugs numb the pain, but they also make you do stupid shit like put a bullet in your brain. Sam had a lot to live for, two great kids, a loyal wife, friends he had known since grade school. But for whatever reason, Sam’s brain told him that wasn’t enough, he should have more, or his brain decided his family, and his friends would be better off without him. Whatever the reason, he was wrong on all accounts.       

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The Gospel according to Andy

On CBS Sunday morning this past weekend Ted Koppel did a wonderful profile of Mount Airy, NC which fancies itself as the real Mayberry. The reason why is real simple, Andy Griffith was born in Mount Airy and has stated that the fictional town of Mayberry, NC was based on his hometown.

As most of you know I am a 60-year-old southern boy through and through and I have probably watched every episode of the “The Andy Griffith Show” (black and white version only please) no less than 100 times each. Fair warning, you do not want to get in an Andy Griffith Show trivia battle with me. Knowing the most random, and useless details about the show is my superpower.

It appears the economic engine of Mount Airy is driven by the nostalgia of Andy Griffith and Mayberry. Old white people from across the nation journey there to see Wally’s Service Station, Floyd’s Barbershop, and take a ride in the black and white squad car. Koppel talks to several of these simple souls as they try to explain what Mayberry means to them. As you would expect they throw around words like morals, values, wholesome, and a simpler time to describe what the show represents to them.

But Koppel reminded them that this show and its lily-white cast did not represent what was going on in the world at that point in time. While the show was on the air the Cuban missile crisis occurred, the assassination of President Kennedy happened, the Vietnam War was beginning, and marches by Black Americans for the right to vote were splashed across television screens. You see, Mayberry did not represent every American then, and it doesn’t represent every American today.

I was very interested in one man’s comments in particular. He told Koppel, “I think the generations now long for that simplicity of the episodes of Andy being real with his son about stealing or doing the right thing, and as a godless society that we see today is longing for simple life. Back when neighbors were neighbors, and they provided for everybody else.” Isn’t it funny how it always gets back to God for us old white people?

Both of my parents were raised in a Mayberry type town in North Carolina. Yes, it was a simpler time they will tell you. Simple because neither of them had a pot to pee in. They grew-up poor and lived their young lives dirt poor until they both got the hell out as quick as they could. They remember good things growing up, mostly family things but they also remember the bad, the Klan killing black men, rape, incest, women beaten by their husbands, drunken, murderous feuds, and the rich and powerful families getting away with any and everything.

I have no problem with people enjoying The Andy Griffith Show. Hell, I have watched it damn near my entire life. Still do. But I have never confused the show with reality. Even as an eight-year-old I knew it was make believe. I even knew as a kid that it wasn’t filmed in North Carolina. There were trees and bushes around that old fishing pond that Andy and Opie are headed to that I had never seen in my neck of the woods.

There is no such thing as utopia. It simply doesn’t exist. Good and evil are on the same plane. You can’t have one without the other. If all we had was good, then why would we need religion? The theology of Christianity is based on having both good and evil, hell I would go so far as to say all religions require it. The church of Andy had plenty of evil, Otis the drunk, Ernest T. Bass throwing rocks through windows, and bullies picking fights with Barney. But I guess we can whitewash all that evil because Otis never killed anyone driving drunk, Ernest T. never raped one of the girls he stalked, and Barney never got his ass kicked because Andy always saved the day.

Enjoy watching old white people. Spend your money at Mount Airy and get yourself a bottle of pop at Wally’s Service Station. But get your head out of your MAGA ass. The world was complicated then just like it is complicated now. Maybe the ride felt slower for you in the 1960’s but the direction hasn’t changed one inch.           

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Stupid is terminal, there is no cure

I stumbled on to a site called SORRYANTIVAXXER.COM that describes itself as “a repository of stories of anti-vaxxers who died or came close to dying of COVID needlessly from their own scientifically un-sound and stubborn beliefs.” Yes, there is a website about damn near anything.

As you scroll through the site you will find, surprise, surprise, that 99.9% of the dearly departed are white, most are middle aged or older, and again, surprise, surprise, a large percentage are from Southern states.  

One of the saddest stories on this website is about Jordan Sinor, of Harrison, Arkansas (yes, considered a Southern state). Jordan was a 16-year-old boy with Down Syndrome who was eligible for the vaccine. But apparently Jordan’s mother, April Mathews, didn’t believe in the science or the effectiveness of the vaccine. And even after his death, a son she described as her best friend, she still refuses to get vaccinated. I don’t know about you but Jordan’s death sounds like child abuse to me.

For those of you that are familiar with my blog you know that I am a full-blooded Southern man, a Carolina boy (North and South) that has never lived beyond the borders of the Carolinas. My ancestry is filled to the brim with Revolutionary War veterans who defended their Carolina homes. Civil War veterans (don’t ask which side) who were tricked into defending and dying for the rich plantation owners and politicians of the South. My ancestors were slave owners, and moonshiners. But mostly we were barefoot, rag wearing, red clay farming, married your second cousin loving, dirt poor rednecks.

My heritage follows me everywhere I go. I can’t hide from it. I open my mouth and you know who and what I am. I talk slowly, “dog” is a four-syllable word. I eat grits, collards, and country ham. I have been to at least 100 NASCAR races in my 60 years. I even “attended” the Darlington 500 in my mothers womb in 1960. And I drive an old, piece of shit 1982 F-250 pick-up truck with no air, no heat, and no radio.

But here is where I am different from my uncles, my cousins, and about 70% of the rest of the state of South Carolina, I recognize and believe the Confederate flag is a symbol of hate. Don’t give me the bullshit argument about heritage, or southern pride, the Klan, George Wallace, Dylann Roof, white supremacist, and neo-Nazi groups fucked that up. I believe in science, not just the “science” of making meth, or the “science” of why you need to bleed out a deer. I believe there are people smarter than me. People that want to protect me and my family from a virus that, to date, has killed 645,000 Americans in less than two years. Think about that number and timeframe for a second, 645,000 Americans in less than two years. Is there anything else that you can think of that has killed that many Americans in that short amount of time? One thing, Cancer.

Cancer kills about 600,000 Americans every year. Do we protest when Doctors, Scientist, fill our bodies with one experimental drug after another? No, hell no, we beg them for more. We beg them to save our child’s life. We plead with them to save our 80-year-old mothers life. So, tell me why COVID-19 is different from Cancer? If April Matthews’ son Jordan had leukemia would she been willing to try any drug, any treatment, anything to save his life? I hope she would have but I guess it would have depended on what her Facebook research told her to do.

Look, if the MAGAers, Deplorables, Trumpers, QAnon, Proud Boys, White Nationalist, neo-Nazis, Evangelicals, and your average Joe Dirt redneck don’t want to get vaccinated, shit don’t, please don’t. Keep the death count in Texas, Florida, South Carolina, and all the other first cousins marrying Southern states clicking upwards. Does it hurt the rest of us? Sure, but at this point the short-term pain is worth the long-term gain of getting your dumbasses covered in dirt, six feet in the ground where you can’t hurt us or anyone else anymore.                  

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Charlie Watts

One of my top five favorite songs in the whole world is Gimme Shelter by The Rolling Stones. The second you hear Keith Richards’ eerie opening guitar riff you know exactly what the song is. It is a dramatic beginning, subtle, with simple notes that sound as if they are battling against each other. And with each passing bar the notes build, the sounds meld, and you know, you can feel, we are headed for a climax. That peak, that crest begins with Charlie Watts beating his snare drum two times and then, at least for me, all hell breaks lose, Ooh, a storm is threatening, My very life today, If I don’t get some shelter, Ooh yeah I’m gonna fade away. The great Charlie Watts died today at 80 years old.

I was fortunate to see The Stones in 1978 in Greensboro. Etta James, whose song At Last is also one of my top five favorite songs in the whole world, was the opening act. I was 17, and me and two of my pothead buddies drove to Greensboro Monday, went to the show that night, slept in the car and headed home Tuesday morning still buzzing from seeing The Stones and the ounce of Jamaican Redbud we had smoked the day before.

This was the Ronnie Wood configuration of The Stones, still good but they were promoting the Some Girls album which I thought was a piece of crap, still do. It was, in my mind, their weak hearted stab at disco.

It is hard to remember back 43 years ago, hell I don’t remember what I had for lunch today. It’s even harder to recall a night when my lungs were filled with primo Mary Jane. But the thing I remember most, besides Keith looking like he was going to tip over at any minute, was the steady, unflinching beat of Charlie Watts.

There is little doubt in my mind that once upon a time The Rolling Stones were the World’s Greatest Rock ‘n’ Roll Band. They had the glamourous, asexual, lead singer in Mick Jagger and the grungy, drug addict, lead guitarist in Keith Richards. All the pieces you could ask for. They were part of the British Invasion, the bad boys to the Beatles good, singing songs about drugs, depression, and Satan. Their base, their center was the blues and Chuck Berry which appealed to me because that is still my musical base today with a side of Miles Davis and John Coltrane.

But what held this collection of talented egos together for almost sixty years was the beat, the foundation, the groove at the bottom of each song, delivered by a jazz drummer playing a simple Gretsch drum kit.

When I think about drummers in rock bands my mind takes me to Keith Moon, Ginger Baker and John “Bonzo” Bonham sitting behind a wall of drums, cymbals, and gongs. These guys were animals, beasts, who played fast and loud, on beat, between beats and out of beat. There was nothing understated about any of them. Their playing was a focal point of the music their bands played, like caulk filling in the cracks. Charlie wasn’t caulk, he was glue, holding all the pieces together. I guess that is why he didn’t need two bass drums, six tom-toms, seven cymbals and a massive Chinese gong behind him.

With each passing day the Rock ‘n’ Roll heroes of my youth are exiting the planet. I was barely over the death of Dusty Hill with ZZ Top when I learned of Charlie’s passing today. I am, I guess like a lot of guys my age, stuck musically in the past. I try to find new artist, new bands to listen to but I always fall back on the sounds of my youth, Zeppelin, The Who, The Stones, The Beatles, and The Dead. I consider Pearl Jam my “newest” band, my kids don’t. Their first album, Ten, was released in 1991, thirty years ago. Funny, it seems like only yesterday.  

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We are but a mist

“Yes I understand, That every life must end, As we sit alone, I know someday we must go, Oh I’m a lucky man, To count on both hands, The ones I love, Some folks just have one, Yeah others they got none ” – Pearl Jam, Just Breath

I am not on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram. Probably the closest thing I have to “social media” is LinkedIn. I have written before about my 80+ year old Dad and the amount of time he spends on Facebook. He likes to talk about and share news from his “Facebook Friends”, 1,300 and counting, 60% of which he has never met and knows nothing about them other than what they post on their profiles.

He relayed a story several months ago which I thought was funny and he didn’t, that he had sent a birthday greeting to someone and they never replied back. I asked him who this person was and how he knew him. He didn’t really “know him”, he was a Facebook friend. Apparently, this was someone who always “Liked” Dad’s post, so he thought they were big cyber buddies.

I got the guy’s name, the city he lived in and did a quick Google search. I found his obituary. He had died three months earlier. I passed that info on to my Dad, and this was his response, “No wonder he hasn’t Liked any of my posts lately. He always Liked the ones I put on about cooking lamb. He loves lamb.” You see, funny.

Facebook has more than 3 billion accounts. There are estimates that 30 million of those accounts are dead people and that number continues to increase. The reason why? The cool factor. My 30-year-old kids aren’t on Facebook, but my 80-year-old Dad is and so is my 60-year-old wife. I don’t know what the “cool” social media is right now, and I don’t care but there is something out there or on the drawing board that the younger generation is using that will quickly become “Uncool” once the Moms and Dads start posting what they cooked for dinner.

I stumbled upon the name of a guy I knew 25+ years ago. I had sold Craig some advertising back in my television days and then lost track of him when I changed careers and he got out of the retail business. I remember Craig as a rich kid who wore silk shirts with cufflinks and too much cologne. He fancied himself a real estate developer though he only built one building that I was aware of using his grandmother’s money.

I did a quick Google search to see what old Craig had been up to over the last 25 years. I found out he lived in a big house in an area I refer to as “horse country”, was married, had a couple of kids, and worked as a financial advisor. Oh yea, and he is dead. He died a couple of years ago in his mid-fifties.

There are approximately 7.8 billion on this planet and every year about 60 million of those people die. Of the 60 million people that pass away each year I might personally know or know of .0000001% of them (that would be 6). The other 59,999,994 I don’t have a clue who they are.

Humans have been walking on this earth for roughly 300,000 years. We are all the direct descendants of one of those first humans whose knuckles quit dragging the ground. That is too many great greats to even comprehend. I have always thought, like Eddie Vedder wrote, that if you can count on both your hands the ones you love then you have lived a well-meaning and productive life provided they love you back. If I get hit by a bus on the way home tonight, I have achieved that goal without even counting my dog.

As James noted (4:14), we are but a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Maybe, if we are lucky, we will be remembered by one or two generations. If we are really lucky and start having babies early, three generations. But rarely do us common folk, average Joes and Janes, get remembered much past three or four generations. Basically in 120 years no one will even know we existed unless of course we still have a Facebook account.            

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I sent you a truck, a boat, and a helicopter – God

Greenville County GOP leader Pressley Stutts dies from COVID-19 – The Greenville News (8-19-21)

Greenville County Republican Party leader Pressley Stutts died Thursday morning after battling COVID-19 for nearly a month.

Stutts’ death was confirmed by Dan Harvell, who represents the Anderson County Republican Party on the South Carolina Republican Party’s executive committee.

“I really don’t have words to say about the imprint that he left on the political landscape in South Carolina,” Harvell said. “He had the kind of personality that enabled him to get done what others couldn’t do.

“He was like the brother I never had.”

Stutts and his wife were rushed to the hospital Aug. 1 after his oxygen levels dropped. “The COVID has created double pneumonia in my lungs,” he said in a Facebook post at the time.

He further said in his post that as a proponent for “freedom and liberty,” no one should be forced to wear a mask and get vaccinated.

Stutts’ health continued to deteriorate as the days went by. Late last week, he announced on Facebook that he was going on a ventilator.

A former chaplain for the Marines, Stutts became the executive committeeman of the Greenville County Republican Party during a July 22 meeting. Before that, he was most well-known as the leader of the Greenville Tea Party.

He also owned two barbecue restaurants in North Carolina.

In June, when U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris visited Greenville to encourage more vaccination in the state, Stutts stood outside with a group of more than 100 people and protested amid scores of waving American flags and posters.

They were protesting against vaccine and mask requirements.

“People should be free to get the vaccines they want. Free not to get it. But what’s happening now is that there’s a discrimination starting to take place,” he told The Greenville News.

But it’s the quest for Greenville County’s GOP leadership that truly illustrates his political career.

Stutts ran a bitter race against ex-chair Nate Leupp for the county chair position in 2019, where he “expected going up against the establishment was going to be tough.”

“I’m not hanging my head,” he said. “We gave a solid showing.”

Two years later, he ran with Jeff Davis and Walter Horin in a slate called the “MAGA slate” for the position of executive committeeman. MAGA is the acronym for former President Donald Trump’s campaign slogan — Make America Great Again.

Stutts said in several interviews and events that he wanted to “drain the swamp” in Columbia and “remove the RINOs” from the GOP. RINOs is short for Republican In Name Only, a term he and others have used to describe “politicians who identify as Republicans but legislate like a Democrat.”

After a lost election, tension-filled election audit and arbitrary rule suspensions, Stutts became the executive committeeman.

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