Monday, May 31, 2010

"There's A Flag Wrapped Around The Score Of Men"

The number that can not escape comment this weekend is one thousand. This is the unfortunate milestone that was reached last Thursday. Marine Corporal Jacob C. Leicht died that day, when he stepped on a mine. He was born, for ironic contrast, on the Fourth of July. He was twenty-four. There are nine hundred and ninety-nine stories that preceded his. One thousand GIs have been killed in Afghanistan.
That number fails to reflect the number of civilian casualties, or the number of wounded men and women whose lives have been changed forever as a result of the war. Sometimes lives don't end in death. Sometimes they just get taken away. On this Memorial Day, the sad fact is that we continue to count. Like the old George Carlin bit where he played a news guy on the radio announcing that the highway death toll for the holiday weekend was down from the year before: "Come on guys - you're not trying!"
Another wreath gets laid. Another grim salute at the tomb of the unknown soldier. Another sale at Macy's. Corporal Leicht had begged to return to the battlefield after a bomb took out his Humvee in Iraq. He spent two painful years recovering from face and leg injuries, all the while pining for combat in letters from his hospital bed. In his second tour of duty, he got his wish. Back home, we got another soldier ready to follow orders. To serve. To do his duty. To die for his country.
But he wasn't in his country. He was in Afghanistan. He died doing a job for which very few of us would volunteer. He gave up a college ROTC scholarship because he didn't want to get stuck behind a desk. Ron Kovic left college to volunteer for the Marines. He went to Vietnam. On his second tour of duty in 1968, he was wounded and paralyzed from the chest down. He has spent the past forty years speaking out about the human cost of war. He writes a blog. He was born on the Fourth of July. Dates, numbers, loss.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

EMPTV Generation

It's Eighties Week on VH1 Classic. Which, if you're like me, you wonder what else a station that plays music videos that are considered "classics" would play. My own video experience began six months prior to the launch of MTV, or "music television." There was a public television station in Broomfield, Colorado that had a three hour block of promotional clips for record companies to promote their new artists on Friday and Saturday nights. "FMTV" had a pretty heavy rotation of New Wave groups, since that was what was being pushed at the time, and also because they were the only videos available. I became very familiar with Laurie Anderson's "O Superman," and Talking Heads "Once In A Lifetime," as well as clips by Snakefinger and Commander Cody. As this programming was primarily being used as filler at the end of a broadcasting day, it came as some surprise when a big corporation started bugging this little podunk station about licensing their name. FM-TV was only one letter away from MTV, and a wad of cash enabled the little station in Broomfield to buy some new videos and take a pledge drive off that year. From then on, FM-TV was called "Teletunes." That's about the time I stopped watching.
Two years later, when I moved into my second apartment, I plugged in my fancy new cable-ready television to find out that I was getting cable "for free." That meant I could watch MTV whenever I wanted. "Veejays" brought music video into my living room twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. Once I figured out how to hook my TV up to my stereo, there were very few parties that didn't have a bunch of Cyndi Lauper and Van Halen, introduced by Martha Quinn or Alan Hunter. I didn't care much for Mark Goodman or Nina Blackwood. They were just a little too slick for me, and J.J. Jackson skewed a little old for me at the time. But I watched the seemingly endless stream of music videos that poured out of my set. Night and day. As Billy Idol asserted, "Too much is never enough."
And somewhere in there, in the haze of the late eighties, I stopped watching. Not because they stopped showing music videos. That happened soon enough, but because my attention span grew. These little three minute films were no longer as captivating as the once were. I had aged out of the target demographic. Then, twenty-five years or so later, I found myself watching eighties videos, A to Z, on Saturday morning in bed with my wife. They were on the letter D when I tuned in, and I watched from "Do You Believe In Love" by Huey Lewis all the way to "Don't Leave Me This Way" by the Commundards. In between there was some Phil Collins, some Kix, Culture Club and Peter Gabriel. And after forty-five minutes, I had to get out of bed and get on with my day. It may be Eighties Week on VH1 Classic, but out here, time marches on.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

721 East 24th Street

We don't live there. We almost did. When I say "almost," I mean that it was one in a series of houses that we looked at before deciding on the one where we live now. The house where we currently reside was, in fact, the first house that we looked at and then our realtor insisted on showing us a great many "similar" properties in and around the city of Oakland. Probably the reason I continue to consider this place is that when I run from my house to Lake Merritt, it shows up on my left.
It is also the only place where I actually considered owning my own home. That sounds a little odd, sitting here in the front room of the house that I has been mine for the past thirteen years, but this is the place that happened. I never really planned on this one. That other one was the place I imagined my family gathering in the back yard. It was the one with the brick barbecue in the back yard. There were bedrooms upstairs. The living room and kitchen were downstairs. I could hear myself telling my wife that I as "going up to bed now." I liked the way the afternoon light came in the windows up there. I would, no doubt, have had to call up the stairs to tell the kids to be quiet while I was watching the game.
That never happened. we bought the big Victorian with a front and a back yard. My friends bought me a Weber grill for my birthday, and when my son and his friends are being too loud I shout back through the center of the house to keep it down. My son would have gone to a different school. He would have made different friends. We would have had different neighbors. If I were still riding my bike to and from work, it would be a longer ride. We might have picked a different dog for the smaller yard. Our house is a nice fit.
That's why I keep running past 721.

Friday, May 28, 2010

"We Belong Dead"

Though I have never watched an entire episode of "American Idol," I know enough about the landscape of popular culture to know that the departure of Simon Cowell is a devastating blow to the balance of power in Television Land. His high-intensity beam of snarkiness is the kind of personality quirk that comes around only a few times each generation. It's the kind of thing that starts great waves of replication: "Get me a Simon-type for the next..." And so on. Mister Cowell would be the first to acknowledge his own commodification.
Kudos to him for knowing that he doesn't want to, if he hasn't already, overstay his welcome. Even controlled doses of furrowed eyebrows, eye-rolling and pursed lips begin to stack up after a while. As I mentioned before, though I have never watched his show from start to finish, yet I feel very comfortable assessing his character. At least the one he feels compelled to show us on TV.
That is why he knows it is time to disappear for a while. It's what they used to do with the Frankenstein monster in the thirties. Each new director and screenwriter would find a way to do the big green guy in: fire, sulfur, explosion, and a few years later somebody else would literally have to dig him up and dust him off to do wrestle with a wolfman or Abbott and Costello. Sewn together as he was from parts of dead bodies, there wasn't much that would keep this guy down. Until the atomic bomb. After Hiroshima and Nagasaki, there was something a whole lot scarier than a shuffling giant with bolts in his neck. Lately they've been doing the same thing with Freddy Kreuger, Michael Myers and Jason Voorhees. My suspicion is that, in the wake of the terrorist attacks of 9/11, knife-wielding psychopaths don't hold the same fear factor they might have a decade ago.
And just like Frankie or Jason, Simon won't be gone too long. He'll bring himself back with his next big idea, "The X-Factor" before you know it. If that doesn't fly, he'll bring Abbott and Costello back to life and have them judge his next talent show. Now that's scary, kids.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

You Too?

There are those who might suggest that my current string of luck with concerts and cancellations has to do with the relative age of the performers that I choose to pay to see. Having an unused ticket stub for a cancelled Sex Pistols show from 1977 would be a badge of honor, I suppose. Holding on to seats for a postponed Billy Joel and Elton John concert was putting faith in the returning health of two guys who are, shall we say, taking a victory lap. When they did show up, it was a magical night, perhaps simply for the sight of seeing them both upright at the same time.
You might guess that this is why I chose to cash in my tickets for the newly postponed U2 North American Tour. Bono's recovery from back surgery sounds like an old guy type of ailment, unless you listen to his German Doctor, Muller Wohlfahrt, who reported, "We are treating Bono as we would treat any of our athletes and while the surgery has gone very well, the coming weeks are crucial for a return to full health. In the next days, he will start a light rehabilitation program, with increasing intensity over the next eight weeks. In our experience, this is the minimum time." Athletes?
Set the Way-Back machine to 1983, when I woke up to a cold and rainy June morning. A friend of mine had given me a ticket to "turn me on" to this new Irish band that had entranced him. As the day wore on, the skies never lifted, and the persistent drizzle would only be worse up on the side of the hill, outdoors at Red Rocks. There was talk of cancelling the concert anyway, and so I decided to go about my regular business. If they made it really big, Wouldn't I get another chance to see them? That night they filmed the show, which they called "Under A Blood Red Sky," showed the rest of the planet what great live act U2 was, and pieces of the movie showed up on MTV as a constant reminder for me of what I had missed. Rolling Stone magazine listed that night's show as one of "Fifty Moments that Changed the History of Rock and Roll". Like Woodstock, or the first time we saw Madonna lolling about on the stage in a wedding dress.
As another friend of mine used to say, "It's history now." I had the chance to catch U2 three years later on the Conspiracy of Hope Tour, along with Lou Reed, Peter Gabriel, Sting and Bryan Adams. That show wasn't sold out. Can you believe that? And Bryan Adams! I've had opportunities since to see a U2 tour, but this was going to be part of that process I am undergoing with my son to catch him up on my youth. Here I use "youth" as a relative term. Instead of waiting another year for a possible rescheduling, I'm getting my money back. I'm going to put that money down on a sure thing: tickets for Paul McCartney.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Badges? We Don't Need No - Wait, Yes We Do

Our president, in response to growing furor about the security of our borders, is sending twelve hundred troops down Mexico way to stem the tide. He will also request five hundred million dollars for border protection and law enforcement activities. This move was made in hopes of keeping Congress from voting on pretty much the exact same thing. Am I supposed to be relieved that it's the guy I voted for doing something that I don't like, or would I rather have the pinheads in Congress argue about it and then do it anyway?
Tough call. For the time being this will have to suffice as "immigration reform." The National Guard troops will temporarily supplement Border Patrol agents until Customs and Border Protection can recruit and train additional officers and agents to serve on the border. Back in 2006, President Pinhead sent troops south to perform support duties that tie up immigration agents. That program has since ended, and governors of those states just north of the Rio Grande are screaming for more help dealing with the human and drug smuggling. For his part, Maverick John McCain believes one thousand two hundred soldiers is simply not enough. He wants six thousand. Then again, he was only asking for an additional two hundred and fifty million dollars in funding. That's the way a Maverick does it.
Now the interesting bit: The Posse Comitatus Act of 1878 prohibits federal military personnel and units of the National Guard under federal authority from acting in a law enforcement capacity within the United States. Is it our president's intent to send our soldiers down to Nogales to catch up on some filing? Then there's some geometry to consider. The border between the United States and Mexico is nearly two thousand miles long. If the plan is to give each National Guardsman his own mile or two to patrol, then I hope some of that five hundred million dollars goes toward night vision goggles and a lot of coffee. There are currently more than twenty thousand Border Patrol officers on the job. Most of them, we are assured, are patrolling to the south. If I'm up north, I'm guessing the time is ripe for another Canadian invasion.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Coming Of Age...Slowly

I am currently raising a teenager. I know this because of tell-tale signs like little verbal tics that now creep into his everyday speech such as "what not." There is also a burgeoning interest in girls that tends to find expression in his assertion that "girls are weird." Clothes are strewn across the house and it often takes several minutes to penetrate the TV or computer screen haze that descends upon him at times of deep introspection. "Sorry dad. Youtube."
It's not like these changes occurred overnight. Several months ago he announced his intentions of "becoming a teenager." His mother and I know that it's part of growing up. Which is why Sunday was such a pleasure. We went to his piano recital, as we have since he started taking lessons. He played a medley of "Be Bop A Lula" and "Rockin' Robin." The first kid up was about six years old, and his selection was "Pat The Cat." Other kids played Green Day. Or Coldplay. They were older. My son fell somewhere in the middle of that spectrum. He played his heart out, and added some new jazzy flourishes to the piece I had heard a hundred times before at home. What made this year different wasn't his selection of music, but his quiet assurance as he sat down to play. He had been there before.
That was after lunch. Before lunch, we went to see "The Funniest Bubble Show Ever" up in Berkeley. Part of me wondered if that wouldn't be somehow beneath this incipient adolescent, but there he was, sitting on the floor, raising his hand to be included in the fun. He laughed and clapped enjoyed himself just like a kid. Not a little kid or a big kid. A happy kid. Good deal.

Monday, May 24, 2010

One Hundred Foot Limit

Because I have answered a telephone survey or two, my name now appears on a great many lists. The caller usually asks if I have a few minutes to discuss current issues and if they can guarantee me that I won't be on the phone for more than ten minutes I let it happen. Quite often the last thing that they ask me is this: Will you vote in the upcoming election? Sometimes they even give me a range of response: Definitely not, Maybe, and Definitely.
I'm a definitely kind of guy when it comes to voting. It's left over from when I was first drawn into world politics through Amnesty International. A very good friend of mine asked me, innocently enough, if I was so interested in the affairs of so many other states, why wouldn't I register to vote in my local elections? She had me dead to rights. I was my own political prisoner. With people across the globe fighting and dying for the right to vote, I was "too busy" to get out and do the simplest civic duty.
That was a long time ago. I'm proud to say that I've trotted myself out to cast my ballot just about every single time since then. Change of address? No problem. Polling place moved? No problem? I've been there when there were lines stretching out the door and other times when I had the place to myself. It's a participatory thing. I feel completely righteous in my complaints about the government that I had a hand in picking.
For all the joy I take in this relatively simple undertaking, it has never occurred to me to show up in costume. Until now. Voters in Nevada will not be allowed to vote if they show up at their polling places dressed as chickens. On Friday, state election officials added chicken suits to the list of banned items after weeks of ridicule directed at Republican Senate candidate Sue Lowden. The millionaire casino executive and former beauty queen recently suggested that people barter with doctors for medical care, like when "our grandparents would bring a chicken to the doctor." Fun-loving Democrats responded by setting up a website, "Chickens for Checkups," and by sending volunteers in chicken suits to her campaign events.
It got me to wondering what items might be banned by California election officials. I'm guessing that bringing guns along would be a great way to double up on those feel-good constitutional vibes, and as long as you were smoking medicinally, that wouldn't be a problem either. My "Stewart/Colbert 2008" shirt would probably be okay as long as the poll workers didn't have cable, and since I've worn my bike helmet to vote for most elections I can remember, I suspect that silly hats are still on the approved list. And I'm guessing that, since the poultry initiative isn't being felt this far west, I could get away with my chicken suit as well. God bless the America!

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Get Your Hands Off My Childhood...

Before I ever saved up my money to buy a water bed, I hoarded my nickels, dimes and pennies so that I might purchase a gorilla mask. Not a goofy, over-the-top-flared-nostrils one, but the real deal from "Planet of the Apes," or a facsimile thereof. It cost forty-nine dollars, which was a good deal of money for a ten-year-old in the nineteen seventies. It was a way to bring my fixation on this particular series of films to some logical end.
In our front yard recreations of the movies, usually "Escape" or "Conquest," I tended to play a chimpanzee in the Cornelius/Caesar mold, but when it came time to pick the mask that would suck up a large portion of my personal fortune at the time I went with the gorilla. It was, in my estimation, a better investment. With or without the mask, when I played ape, I went all in: The hunched back and drooping arms, twitching nose and ears, picking fleas from my friends' hair. Even before the advent of home video, I had seen all five films enough to assimilate the simian look and feel. For some of the other kids in the neighborhood, I was a little too "method."
The mask also helped me past the need to make others up as apes. My younger brother sat still for me long enough to build up a mass of masking tape over his mouth and nose to approximate the look of a chimpanzee muzzle. After blowing through a roll of black and white film shot on my mother's Kodak Brownie Bullseye, his patience wore out and we set about exfoliating his face while we removed the "appliance." Once I had the mask, however, it was a different story. There was no shortage of volunteers who wanted to undergo the relatively painless process of having their eyes blackened and newspaper was shoved in the back of the mask to press the faux monkey's face against the latex, giving the wearer a chance to move the nose and chin. In one particular episode, I helped get a girl from down the street into full gorilla drag. What Susie lacked in stature, she made up for in enthusiasm. There were a few kids who were convinced that there was an ape in the back of the van my father had driven home from work.
All of this is to say that I have recently been made aware of yet another attempt to revive the Apes franchise. Tim Burton's 2001 remake wasn't enough to put a stake through the heart of super-intelligent monkeys. Now there's talk of a prequel. Those of us who were raised on the Sacred Scrolls know that there is no prologue, but rather a cycle if history that explains how apes came to rule the planet and man fell into mute subjugation. It already makes sense. We don't need further explanation.
Or maybe I'm being too sensitive. Just like my own imagination wasn't satisfied by simply affecting the posture, or piling a roll of tape onto my brother's face. I had to buy the mask. If I had motion-capture technology and 3D, would I have used it? What would Doctor Hasslein do?

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Testing Me

Question Number 37: If a sixteen-year-old girl files a lawsuit on behalf of the students in her state that currently ranks forty-seventh among all states in its per-pupil spending on education, spending two thousand eight hundred fifty-six dollars less per pupil than the national average, and sixty-two percent of the people in that state believed spending on education was insufficient while the governor continues his program to cut fifteen billion dollars from social programs including public education and a candidate for that same job has just spent another seventy million dollars on her campaign to become governor, can you find the numbers that make this problem go away?
No? Welcome to my world. We expect to leave no child behind, but we don't have money or time to teach them art or music or science or social studies. Programs for reading recovery and teaching assistant positions have disappeared and funding for those little plastic counters that make teaching math easier for kindergarteners has dried up. These next few weeks are some of the hardest and yet happiest at our school. Now that we have finished our state mandated testing, we have the relative freedom to bring out the paints, or build those models of California missions. The kids know that we're headed for that last big turn, and they're ready to burst with anticiapation. These are the weeks we have our Science Fair, and our Multi-Cultural Assembly. Second graders are finally going on that field trip. School can be fun again. In the meantime, our staff waits for the budget ax to come down one more time. Next year there may not be field trips. Or paint.
Question Number 38: How bad does it have to get?

Friday, May 21, 2010

What's In A Name?

My first question is this: Why isn't the Infiniti logo a mobius strip? The fact that it is misspelled might be a consideration if all the other car manufacturers on the planet saw fit to check their company's names and models. They don't. Maybe that's why the Savana van isn't a huge seller, since most of us would drop an "h" in there at the end, but no one is going to expect GMC to get things like that right, are they?
The most infamous legend of car names gone wrong is the Chevy Nova. Supposedly, The Nova didn't sell well in Latin America countries because it's name meant, literally, "no go" in Spanish. Chevrolet sold enough of them in spite of this clever wordplay, but it never answered why they would name a vehicle that was so obviously earthbound after a cataclysmic nuclear explosion caused by the accretion of hydrogen onto the surface of a white dwarf star, or a TV show on PBS.
In my world, I spend a lot of time listening to my son spout off makes and models with relative abandon, and as I do I am compelled to question the relative wisdom behind the marketing of these car makers. Animal names are a pretty safe bet, as is the current fad of tossing a few numbers and letters together in hopes of eliciting a comparison to a fighter jet. This used to be standard procedure for one company, but is the ridiculous spelling of "view" the reason we will never see another new Saturn?
Mustang was far too cool a name to die, and it may be the singular reason for the resurgence in these gas-frugal times of the muscle car. My son is happy to have the Camaro back, since automotive legend has it that when the press asked Chevrolet product managers, "What is a Camaro?" they were told it was "a small, vicious animal that eats Mustangs." They also have a tendency to transform into robots, which is a nice feature.
Besides, I think my Raleigh C-40 is one sweet ride.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Sidewalk Surfing

"Skateboards, I've almost made them respectable." - Joe Jackson, "I'm The Man"
There I was, riding my bike to school as I habitually do, and I heard the steady-almost-train-like clackity-clack of wheels rolling over the seams of the sidewalk. Ahead of me was a kid on a skateboard, heading to the bus stop or school or wherever everyone else goes a that hour in the morning. It occurred to me that I was quick to assume the relative age of the person on the skateboard, since only kids ride those things. That is the thought that came from the forty-eight year-old man who was pedaling his bicycle.
I never did ride my skateboard to school. I was far too self-conscious about my abilities. I couldn't do many tricks. I didn't have the best trucks, and my wheels weren't Kryptonics. I was caught up, however briefly, in that great second wave of skateboarding, the one made possible by polyurethane. No longer did one stop short when riding over the smallest pebble, even though skateboards were still far from all-terrain vehicles. Kick kick glide, kick kick glide. I could get from my house down to my friend's at the end of the street where we would discuss bearings and tighten trucks and talk about getting more grip tape on our decks. There were a few daring tandem rides down less-travelled hills in neighborhoods relatively free of traffic. At my best, I could make long, looping turns while standing nearly straight. The nose of my board was scarred from the number of times that I bailed when I couldn't negotiate a maneuver and it bounced hard off the curb.
My son had his own brief love affair with his "stick." He wanted to be like Tony Hawk, or perhaps even his older buddy who rode his to and from school. Maybe his uncle who once relied on his skateboard as his preferred mode of transport in Los Angeles. Whatever his inspiration, his parents bought him the board he wanted, much in the same way my parents did for me, and then proceeded to watch that fire burn out just as quickly as it had started. But he's still young, and at least he's still riding his bike.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Out Of The Mouths Of Babes

"You have a wife?"
"What's your wife's name?"
"You know who Jay-Z is?"
"Is that your bike?"
"Why don't you have a car?"
"You play Guitar Hero?"
"What's that red spot on your neck?"
"Why do you always wear that shirt?"
"Where did you get those shoes?"
"Why do you sweat?"
"You have a son?"
To these questions, each one asked countless times by numerous students from kindergarten to fifth grade, I have prepared the following answer: I do have a wife. Her name is Mrs. Caven. Jay-Z introduced us and he served as best man at our wedding. At the ceremony, he made me promise not to drive the Lamborghini that he gave us as a wedding gift, but I should ride my bike instead. The bike helps me hone my plastic guitar technique as I continue to work on rehabilitating my spine. The only way you can tell that my spine was broken is by the little red mark on my neck. The comfortable shoes that I wear came from Payless, but I got them for free because I bought this shirt. I sweat when I think about all the money I'm saving by getting my clothes so cheaply, and yes I do have a son who is very polite and would never think of asking a grownup all of these invasive questions.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

High Overhead

My mother had a very visceral reaction to the movie "Grand Canyon." Her youngest son had moved to Los Angeles, and the depictions of urban life in that movie gave her pause. In particular, there was a helicopter metaphor that ran through the film. The whirring sound of chopper blades announced potential chaos or doom in some form or another, not unlike Radar O'Reilly's clarion call: "Choppers!"
Back in the early nineties, there weren't very many helicopters buzzing overhead in Boulder, Colorado. Every so often, there would be a forest fire or a news channel that would bring one or two around, but only until the moment passed. They were far from ubiquitous. When I moved out to California myself, it took me a while to get used to that whirring sound. Morning, noon, and night. When things get really interesting, there can be four machines or more: TV, Police, Rescue. It's the way we respond.
Yesterday morning as I made my way to work, there was a lone helicopter hanging up in the sky. When they hold very still, I assume that there must be something wrong on the ground just below them. I tried to gauge from my angle just where they might be looking. Was it my neighborhood, or the one where I was headed? Before I could come up underneath, it had flown on, probably back to the airport. I didn't see any smoke or hear any sirens. There were no roadblocks. It must have been an opportunistic shot of morning traffic problems.
These days I tend to treat the sound of helicopters overhead like I do that of a car alarm going off. I don't run to the front porch to see if someone is breaking into the car down the street. I simply wait it out, assuming that some rumbling noise must have set the alarm off in the first place, and it will eventually shut itself off. Just like those helicopters. If I sit there long enough, they'll go away too. It's all part of life in the big city.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Heaven Or Hell

Ronnie James Dio died yesterday. Plenty of folks will wonder who he was, but if you lived in the apartments and dorm rooms where I was in the eighties, you got to hear plenty of Dio. Loud. Ronnie was the voice of Rainbow. He took over for Ozzy Osbourne when the Blizzard of Oz went solo. He cranked out a number of hard-rocking solo albums. For many, his was the voice that defined heavy metal. Sorry, Ozzy.
In May of 1982, I went with my good friend and confidant Dareen to take in all the noise that was the Mob Rules tour. I confess at the time I wasn't much of a headbanger. My tastes leaned more heavily in the direction of New Wave, but I had always loved "Paranoid" and "Iron Man," so it seemed like a pretty safe bet that I would enjoy a night of metal. At the time, my skepticism about Ronnie James Dio replacing the legend that was Ozzy was neatly assuaged by Darren. He was the one who had clued me into Rainbow in the first place, and encouraged me to buy the soundtrack to the animated feature "Heavy Metal," and on the strength of the Dio-led single "Mob Rules," I bought my second Black Sabbath album. The one without Ozzy.
The show itself was interesting, since it opened with a set from southern rock legends, the Outlaws. The played long and hard, and when they sang "Green Grass And High Tides" they weren't kidding about the "forever" part. When the lights came up, we felt like we had already been rocked pretty hard. Then came the announcement from the stage that someone had apparently managed to sneak a grenade simulator into the arena, and the promoters asked that, if we would be so kind, to please simply turn it over to a member of the security team. No questions asked.
I don't know if the grenade was turned in. I don't know if it went off during Black Sabbath's set. It could have, but it wouldn't have been noticed. The roar was unlike anything that I had ever experienced. I remember Darren, a Baptist by upbringing, suggesting that if that was what Hell was all about, then he could probably stand it. I had to agree. In spite of the persistent ringing in my ears, I had a smile on my face. Ronnie and the boys delivered the goods.
Somewhere in my basement, in a plastic tub, are the surviving remnants of my concert T-shirt collection. I look forward to passing along my Black Sabbath shirt to my son, about the time he gets to high school. And I'll look back on that night, with a smile.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Who Watches The Watchmen?

The National Broadcasting Company has just announced that it is cancelling "Law and Order." Not the Special Victims Unit with Richard Belzer, that one will go on, as will the new version set in Los Angeles. After twenty seasons, the Peacock is pulling the plug due to low ratings. This is significant to me not because I ever watched an episode. Not on first run, DVD or reruns on TNT. I assumed that, primarily because of its longevity and the cavalcade of stars that has wandered in and out throughout its run: Sam Waterston, Paul Sorvino, Jerry Orbach and Dianne Wiest to name just a few. And yet I never watched the show. Not an episode. Even the ones "ripped from today's headlines." It just never made my must-see list.
Perhaps I was busy watching "ER." I watched that one for a long time, until I stopped recognizing the faces and names of the doctors whose lives I should have been caring about. And, let's face it, for me hour-long dramas don't catch on like those thirty-minute sit-coms. I didn't watch "Dallas" or "Dynasty," even though I grew up just down the turnpike from the Carringtons. I watched "Twin Peaks," from the water cooler frenzy that was the first season to the head-scratching burnout that was the second. Maybe that's what left such a sour taste.
NBC has also cancelled "Heroes" before it ever occurred to me to check out what all the fuss was. "Lost" will end this week whether I tune in or not. Some time ago I surrendered to the notion that I am no longer the target demographic of commercial television, even if I ever was. That's okay. I know where to find episodes of "The Andy Griffith Show."

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Wasted Days And Wasted Nights

You may be heartened to hear that President Obama's withdrawal from Afghanistan is still "on track," meaning that he expects to begin bringing troops home in July of next year. Billions of dollars and several years later, we're hoping to limp on out of there next year with a democracy in place and the Taliban extinct. Good luck, I say.
The War On Drugs turned forty the other day. That's a four and a zero. Way back in 1970, Richard Nixon made Elvis Presley a special agent for the FBI, in hopes of stemming the tide of hippie drug culture that the Beatles had brought over from Liverpool. Elvis was probably whacked out of his gourd at the time, but there are plenty of photos to prove it. Thus began the first early campaigns of a struggled that has lasted four decades and cost America more than one trillion dollars in the process. That's fifteen zeroes.
In the eighties, Crockett and Tubbs kept south Florida safe from smugglers and drug kingpins while the rest of the country found themselves face-down in the mirror, snorting up all that new found wealth and prosperity. The nineties were all about a return to traditional values, as we were assured by our charismatic new president that he did not inhale. By the turn of the century, we were all so worried about what was going to happen when our computers could not produce the right date that we all got wasted for another ten years.
And now we've begun our withdrawal. This week our new charismatic president, who does inhale when he smokes those Marlboro Reds, promised to “reduce drug use and the great damage it causes” with a new national policy that he said treats drug use more as a public health issue and focuses on prevention and treatment. California would very much like to forget that pot was ever illegal and start selling spleef in vending machines to cure the outbreak of glaucoma that is becoming so pervasive as well as bringing millions of dollars in tax revenue back into the treasury.
I guess that's what we get for declaring war on a concept. Maybe next we should declare war on fun.

Friday, May 14, 2010

My Son

It was forever ago, when you stood out there on the front porch. Our dog was new to us, and we had yet to anticipate all the ways that she would bring joy and havoc into our lives. This was a havoc time. You were waiting to go get into the car, anxiously awaiting a trip down the stairs, and little did you know that the trip would begin so abruptly. The dog shot out the front door, as was her custom at that time, and knocked you off your somewhat precarious perch on the top step. From the doorway, I watched as you fell, in slow motion. Cartwheeling with a look of utter surprise on your face. With each thud I felt my competence as a father slipping away and I wished for arms that would stretch out impossibly from my shoulders to catch you in some superhero way. Mere seconds became hours as all the things I might have done to keep this from happening scrolled up in front of me. When you finally came to rest on the next to last stair, looking up at the sky, you didn't make a sound. That meant that I had broken you for sure, and I would never be forgiven by anyone, least of all you.
But you did. Even with a great big bump on your head, you forgave me.
Since then, we have all been more careful on those stairs. You're a lot more steady on your legs than you were way back then. The dog is less prone to vaulting out onto the front porch simply because she can. We've all grown older and, we hope, wiser. One thing hasn't changed: My wish that I could keep you from tumbling from great heights, or if you do, that I could somehow cushion that fall. I don't hold your hand to cross the street anymore, but sometimes I feel like I should. That's because you're my son, and I don't want any harm to come to you. Whether it's a bully at school or a missed opportunity or a jet-propelled dog, I want to keep you safe.
I also know that, just like that day so many years ago, I can't always be there. It's part of growing up for both of us. Thank you for these first thirteen years, and be careful on those stairs.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Dead White Males

"History is written by the victors." - Winston Churchill
This quote comes, ironically from an historical victor, but it seems to describe yet another exciting development in what is becoming an increasingly arcane situation in the Grand Canyon State. Arizona Governor Jan Brewer has signed a bill targeting the Tucson school district's ethnic studies program. State schools chief Tom Horne, who has pushed the bill for years, said he believes the Tucson school district's Mexican-American studies program teaches Latino students that they are oppressed by white people. Ignoring for a moment the great white elephant sitting in the room called Arizona's new crackdown on illegal immigration, just what do they hope to achieve with this legislation?
The measure prohibits classes that advocate ethnic solidarity, that are designed primarily for students of a particular race or that promote resentment toward a certain ethnic group. Here comes the part where I get nostalgic: In the fifth grade, when I read about the massacre at Sand Creek in my native Colorado, I became resentful of white people. When I read "The Diary of Anne Frank" later that year, I became resentful of Nazis. They were white, too. I did a lot of reading that year, and I built up a lot of resentment for white people. That kind of self-loathing in an eleven-year-old is sometimes hard to navigate, but it helped to have parents and some teachers who were willing to show me the other side of the coin: Abraham Lincoln, Jacques Cousteau, John Lennon, Helen Keller, Amelia Earheart.
Meanwhile, back in Arizona, this new measure doesn't prohibit classes that teach about the history of a particular ethnic group, as long as the course is open to all students and doesn't promote ethnic solidarity or resentment. The Tucson Unified School District says their program is resentment-free, and plan to go ahead with business as usual. Back at the state house, Governor Brewer's spokesman Paul Senseman said, "The governor believes ... public school students should be taught to treat and value each other as individuals and not be taught to resent or hate other races or classes of people." Now can we talk about that big white elephant?

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Lost In Space

Who wouldn't be afraid? There is a zombie satellite flying around over our heads, and though it may not choose to eat our brains, it could do something much, much worse. Galaxy 15, originally shot into space by PanAmSat is wandering around out there messing with television transmissions. You read that right. Tonight you could be sitting on your couch watching reruns of "The Cosby Show" on Nick At Nite when suddenly the screen will flicker and you could be staring at Pat Robertson. Or something worse.
Galaxy 15 never meant to harm anyone. It was the victim of a solar flare that twisted its programming. Far from simply going dark and becoming another piece of space junk, it has become unresponsive and is still galloping about the heavens on full power, stealing signals from other satellites that are out there just trying to do their jobs. The fact that Galaxy 15's original purpose was to beam the Syfy channel to households across the globe may make it harder to feel any sympathy for this wayward hunk of hardware, but such is the nature of the cosmos, as Carl Sagan and David Bowie would remind us.
And so what are the possible solutions? Sending Bruce Willis and Ben Affleck up in a shuttle seems like a clever enough idea, but shuttle program is shutting down and Bruce and Ben aren't as nimble in their space suits as they used to be. I suggest sending one man instead. There is only one man who could handle this mission. The man who outwits supercomputers and rogue satellites as a matter of course: Captain James T. Kirk. If that doesn't knock some sense into Galaxy 15, nothing will.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

I Was Born With A Plastic Spoon In My Mouth

With Mother's Day now behind us, it's time to start shopping for the next solidly Hallmark occasion, The Day of the Father. Tools for the grill, perhaps a tie, or maybe a book, as long as it's not Peter Buffett's new book, "Life is What You Make it: Finding Your Own Path to Fulfillment." This fifty-two year old musician has some wisdom he'd like to share with us about growing up rich. If that name sounds familiar, that's because he is the son of one of the wealthiest beings on our planet: a Mister Warren Buffett. Perhaps his musical chops come from his distant cousin, Jimmy, but his world view is handed down from dad.
In short, he suggests that we teach our children values and do not give them everything they want. Far from being given "everything," his family gave him ninety thousand dollars in stock when he was nineteen. He went on to study at Stanford, where we can only assume that he paid his own tuition from the tips he made playing guitar at one of the local coffee houses. Peter tells us that there was no ugly scene when he told his pop that he didn't want to join the family business. "It was encouraged for a moment when I was open to the idea," he said, but he adds that as he grew older, it became clear the financial world "was not speaking to my heart." Apparently what did speak to his heart were his father's words about people who are born with a silver spoon in their mouth. They can fall victim to what Buffett said his father has called a "silver dagger in your back," which leads to a sense of entitlement and a lack of personal achievement.
I understand that the Buffett fortune, both Warren and Jimmy, would allow for much greater opulence and potential selfishness. But ninety thousand dollars at age nineteen? When did Stanford start offering "hard knocks" as a major?

Monday, May 10, 2010

Fear Of A Digital Planet

Just like it took me a couple of years to find out there is an electronic music compilation with the same name as my blog, there is a compilation of Canadian artists with this same title, but that isn't what I'm concerned about today. I'm talking about a world that will no longer know the charms of lugging around clunky devices and media. Kids these days. Sheesh.
For example: Students at my school will probably never fully grasp the concept of "quarter til" or "half past." Instead they will only know "eleven forty-three" or "nine thirty-two." For them, it will never be "about three." It will always be precisely two fifty-seven. That doesn't mean they won't continue to ask me when recess is.
I teach first and second graders who have their own cell phones. The idea that they would need these machines to keep in touch with their friends and family confounds me, since they are ten steps away from a phone in any classroom, and on the playground they tend to respond best to one another at the tops of their lungs. I have not had to intervene in any texting-generated chaos, but with our fourth and fifth graders, I suspect it's only a matter of time.
And what about music? It comes at them from everywhere. Great streaming chunks of music, from computers and iPods and phones and anything that can spit out an mp3 file. CDs are a waste of time, and don't even try to discuss the concept of music by friction with them. A broken record is something that Usain Bolt makes.
At the end of the day, it's all about Mister Caven being mired in the past. Not exactly what you'd expect from a guy who wishes for his own personal jet-pack, but life is full of contradictions, isn't it?

Sunday, May 09, 2010

Maternal Instinct

In my job, I get to see a lot of mothers. Some of them only show up periodically, like the lady a few years back who was wailing on her nine-year-old son with her shoe and cursing the day he was born as she walked him up the sidewalk to school. I'm happy to say that she didn't make a return performance, but that moment certainly opened a window on just why this kid was having trouble in the third grade. He was showing up angry and embarrassed, and we spent the rest of the day calming him down enough to learn.
Then there is the mother who has come to lunch every day her son has been at school, to hand him his thermos and make check in. We all wonder if she will keep up this regimen once her son moves on to middle school. The trick, I suppose, is to stay somewhere right in between those extremes.
As for my mom, she was always there at the end of the day with a glass of Kool-Aid and a sincere interest in what happened at school that day. I remember her volunteering to be Room Mother for my second grade class, an especially dicey proposition since that was the year that concluded with the entire second grade luau. She was in charge of the pineapple and the poi for sixty-some boys and girls who had spent two weeks learning everything they could about our fiftieth state. As monumental a task as that may have been, I know that she was also busy helping out in my older and younger brothers' classes. She sewed costumes and band uniforms. She listened to endless retellings of the most recent Planet of the Apes movie. She kept us fed, warm, and loved. The fact that she was able to do this for the multitudes that her sons would drag home on a regular basis is even more impressive.
The mother of my child has taken up that standard and made it her own. To say that my son's creative whims are supported by her is a vague understatement. The Halloween costumes that have come out of this shop are always painstaking labors of love. She has learned the names of all the Rescue Heroes, only to have them replaced by Bionicles, and now an ever-expanding list of high-performance sports cars. When her son gave his Power Point presentation on Germany, she fried up enough sausage to feed his seventh grade English class . "The best of the wurst," she said upon her entrance, a joke lost on most of the pre-teens in attendance, but made our son laugh.
And that's what mothers do, after all. They show up. Sometimes a little. Sometimes a lot. But always and forever.

Saturday, May 08, 2010

Off With Their Heads

Do you remember way back in the year 2000 when our country stood on the brink of the abyss because there was some doubt as to who our next president would be? Not because there was nobody equipped for the job. There were loads. Most notably: inventor of the Internet Al Gore, inventor of the ambivalent third party Ralph Nader, and inventor of facts that suit him George W. Bush. For weeks after the votes were cast, some of them into a swamp in Florida, there was no clear winner. The Supreme Court eventually did the job that the Electoral College could not: they named our first president of the new millennium, and then things got really interesting. We learned all sorts of things about hanging chads and voter fraud. For example, we learned that voter fraud can lead to global warming. Ah, the good old days.
Across the pond, it seems like old times. The recent British election failed to produce a new Prime Minister. This caused world markets to plummet, and members of all parties to scramble for support to form a government. The two "major parties," the Conservatives and The Labour Party, want members of a third party to join with them to create a majority. Ironically, that third party is called "the Liberal Democrats." With five seats left to report, the Conservatives had thirty-six percent support, compared to twenty-nine percent for Labour and twenty-three percent for the Liberal Democrats. Think of that twenty-three percent as a great, big hanging chad. With everyone screaming for election reform, I suggest an even easier solution: What are you paying Queen Elizabeth twelve million dollars a year to do? Wander around shaking hands with the commoners? Put her to work, I say.

Friday, May 07, 2010

Battle Of The Sexes

Yesterday morning was a tense one. Sometimes my wife or I will wake up on the wrong side of the bed, or one of us will have held something over from the night before and things will take their meandering course from there. This particular bit of misaligned communication was based on a simple misunderstanding: I believe that girls are made of great green globs of greasy, grimy gopher guts, mashed-up monkey meat, and dried up eyeballs. She insisted that boys were made of Great green globs of greasy, grimy gopher meat, mutilated monkey feet, and little dirty parakeet beaks.
On the surface, it would seem we have so much in common. The green globs and so on, but even though some of the details seem to mesh, we appear to be miles apart about which gender is, in fact, composed of the stated ingredients. A lot of people will tell you that girls are made of sugar and spice and everything nice. Boys are rumored to contain some, if not all of the following: slugs, snails, puppy dog tails. Don't you believe them. Human beings, male or female, are much more complex in their innards. The argument really isn't so much about what's inside, but rather how they are prepared. Are they mashed? Fried? Marinated? Mutilated?
Understanding will come only in time. In the interim, we can only hope to keep lines of communication open, and to remember that we all have our limitations. For example, I believe that everything I learned in first grade is true. Just don't ask me to hang upside down on the monkey bars. I'm liable to turn inside-out, and then who would pick up all those animal parts?

Thursday, May 06, 2010

Take Five

A little more than five years ago, it was suggested to me by a couple of friends in separate discussions that I should try my hand at this new-fangled "web logging" thing. I was tentative at first. It is interesting to note, in hindsight, how much that first few paragraphs reflected the tone of all those that have come since. A little nostalgia, a little school, but mostly a lot of personal anecdotia.
Then I took the weekend off. That was the last time I took a break from the chronicling of what is on my mind. There was a day couple of days, back in February 2006, when the machines over at Blogspot ate my cleverly composed thoughts and refused to spit them back out to Al Gore's Internet. One of them was a rumination about wanting to be Elton John when I was taking piano lessons as a kid. The other has been lost to the ages, though I have doubtlessly found ways to incorporate those same musings at some other point, in part or in total.
It's what was on my mind that day. In the past five years, I have been fortunate enough to have something to fuss or laugh about every day. At times it makes conversation with me difficult, since I tend to hold on to my best bits for broadcast here. "I'd love to talk with you more about gay marriage, but I've got an especially pithy comment that I'm saving for my blog." Thank you for being so very understanding.
And thank you for those of you for whom this is my only regular communication. There are several people who have become constant readers, even though I haven't had the chance to bore them face to face for years now. Again, kudos to you for sticking with it. Sometimes I get stuck on a tangent, or lost in a thought that doesn't contain a true endpoint. I appreciate the comments that let me know when I get it right, or horribly wrong. I know that I could be scribbling this all down in a journal and never letting my ravings see the light of day, but what fun would that be? And more than anything else, to those of you who have been there since the beginning, I'd like to offer you this little treat, a paragraph break.

Don't fall in love with it. I can't make any promises about when you might see one again. 'Cause that's the way I roll.

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

I'm Just Sayin'

Not too long ago, there was some great hue and cry on both sides of the argument about where the trial for 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheik Mohammed should be held. The potential cost for all the necessary security was one of the reasons that was given to move the proceedings anywhere else, but there were many who felt that justice might best be served at Ground Zero.
To that end, imagine what thoughts must be going around Faisal Shahzad's head as he waits for his case to unravel. Mister Shahzad is the man accused of attempting to firebomb Times Square with an explosive-laden SUV last Saturday. He was on board a Dubai-bound flight at Kennedy Airport when FBI agents and New York Police Department detectives took him into custody late Monday. Though he claimed to have acted alone, the Pakistani Taliban claimed responsibility over the weekend, and investigators will follow every lead to determine any connection to known terrorist groups.
In the meantime, Faisal Shahzad sits in a jail cell awaiting justice in a city that is hungry for catharsis. I recalled a story I heard from a Holocaust survivor who, when asked what he would do if he ever had a chance for vengeance against Adolf Hitler. He said that he would build him a house in the middle of Israel, made of glass. That way, every morning when he woke up and every night before he went to bed he could see that he and his "final solution" were failures. That's why I believe that we should build a federal courthouse adjacent to Ground Zero, where life continues. I'm just sayin'.

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Drill Baby, Drill

There are plenty of things that have come out of Sarah Palin's mouth that I find objectionable, but perhaps none were so instantly annoying than her chant at 2008's Republican Convention. The lady from Alaska was more than happy to surrender her state's wildlife refuges to get to that black gold. Texas Tea. Then, on April Fool's Day of this year, President Obama announced that he would open the door to drilling off Virginia's coast, in other parts of the mid- and south Atlantic, in the eastern Gulf of Mexico, and in waters off Alaska.
If the words "Gulf of Mexico" set off little bells of alarm in your head, then you've probably been watching the news lately. The overhead shots of brown goo seeping into the waters off the coast of Louisiana. Just this past weekend, our president dropped by those same threatened shores to assure us that "everything humanly possible" was going to be done to stop that leak and clean up the mess that was made. Citizens up and down the Gulf Coast rolled their eyes in what could best be described as mock appreciation.
They've heard it before. We've all heard it before. Two hundred and ten thousand gallons of crude oil a day is pouring out into fertile fishing grounds and creeping toward already damaged wetlands. "We are responsible not for the accident but we are responsible for the oil and for dealing with it and cleaning the situation up," said Tony Hayward, BP's chief executive in charge of hand-wringing and excuses. He added that his company would pay all "legitimate claims" from the spill. Lines of oil-soaked birds and sea creatures may have some trouble holding on to a pencil, let alone comprehending the paperwork required for such claims.
Tony might be wondering if this could affect his six-million dollar a year compensation package, a figure he was elevated to just last month. It might serve him well to start pointing the finger at the deep-sea robots who are the ones truly responsible for stopping the leak. And somewhere, Joseph Hazelwood is doing the happy dance.

Monday, May 03, 2010


After a week in the tempest, it was nice to have a few quiet hours. Sunday morning began with the regular occurrence of our dog's lack of understanding about weekends. Though she will generally be the last to stir on any given weekday, she insisted on being let out first at six in the morning by me, and then an hour later by my wife. As a result of this early rising in spite of the fact that we had no place we had to be, we climbed back into bed and began watching "Goodbye Mr. Chips." Our son joined us about halfway through, and with the dog snoring at the bottom of the bed, we watched until the end.
It reminded me of the laser disc of "To Sir, With Love" my friend gave me some years back. And the saccharine redundancy of "Mr. Holland's Opus." And the bare-bones prose of Frank McCourt's "Teacher Man." I thought about those last words of Mr. Chips: "I thought I heard you saying it was a pity... pity I never had any children. But you're wrong. I have. Thousands of them. Thousands of them... and all boys."
We have one son, and yet I feel that I have had hundreds of children. I feel that most strongly when one of the older brothers or sisters comes back from middle school or high school to pick up one of their siblings at the end of the day. It's always interesting to compare and contrast the attitudes and behaviors of children from the same family. One who likes math, while the other stares out the window when it's time for multiplication facts. Those whose voice can be heard from across the playground, while the younger sister or brother won't say a word even when called upon.
Sunday morning was also the annual Pancake Breakfast at my son's elementary school. Even though it's been two years since we were part of the action behind the scenes, we still made the hike up the hill to have some morning food with the community in which we raised our son: His school. We talked to parents, teachers, students and alumni. It was a reunion, of sorts. I told the short version of the story about how I became a teacher. I said that I had grown tired of managing a book warehouse where my twenty-year-old employees would come to work after missing several days with the excuse, "I didn't call in because my phone didn't have a seven." I thought that I might have a better chance if I could catch these guys when they were ten. Not just one or two of them. Hundreds of them, in a seemingly never-ending stream.

Sunday, May 02, 2010

The Fjord Foundation

It was Erik the Red who first perfected the "bait and switch." He named the rocky wasteland to the north "Greenland" to lure potential settlers, while he called the more lush and tranquil spot to the east "Iceland." Brutal savages, those Vikings, but exceedingly clever in the realty arts.
Just a few years ago, Icelanders were riding high. They rode a wave of an economic boom that made millionaires out of many of the three hundred thousand residents of the North Atlantic nation. And if you think the bust was bad here in the United States, all three of Iceland's biggest banks imploded within a week of one another. Their unemployment rate, which used to hover somewhere around zero jumped to eight percent. Now, even McDonald's doesn't want to do business up there.
That's about the time the country itself began to rebel. Not the people, who had already staged their own "Saucepan Revolution" and started much needed economic and banking reform, but the very earth beneath their feet. The less-than-pronounceable volcano, Eyjafjallajokull, blew its top after two hundred years and gave Iceland a very redundant metaphor for the turbulent times just below the Arctic Circle. What damages weren't done by the actual eruption were felt weeks later in the travel and tourist industries. These are not happy times in Reykjavik.
Which is why it was interesting to find that men in Iceland have the lowest risk of dying compared to their counterparts across the globe. The United States, by contrast, has dropped to forty-ninth on that list. Maybe it's yet another Viking trick. A very cleverly conceived, diabolically staged event to throw all of us down here off the track. My guess is that if you showed up on the shores of Keflavik, they'd all be giddily going about their postcard lives, wearing cool sweaters, and dancing around to Bjork.

Saturday, May 01, 2010

Increíblemente Estúpido

The first time I heard the Chuck Berry song "Back in the USA," Linda Ronstadt was singing it. "Well I'm so glad to be livin' in the USA" where hamburgers sizzle on the grill all day and the jukebox is jumping. What a country. Except one of those united states has just passed a law that threatens to diminish all those good times. Ms. Ronstadt's home state of Arizona has just passed one of the most draconian measures to restrict immigration in our country's history. The law that requires local and state law enforcement to question people about their immigration status if there's reason to suspect they're in the country illegally. "Mexican-Americans are not going to take this lying down," insisted Ronstadt, a Tuscon native.
Linda Ronstadt's heritage might be enough to get her pulled over, but the once and future Queen of Rock probably wouldn't get the hook on looks alone, and that's the problem: The "suspicion" of being illegal is based on appearances. It's not just pop music that's upset, either. Major League Baseball's players' union issued a statement condemning the law. With more than one-quarter of big leaguers on opening-day rosters born outside the fifty states, most of them from Hispanic descent, that only makes sense. Next year's All-Star game is scheduled to be held in Arizona. Half of the major league teams take their spring training in the Grand Canyon state. The Diamondbacks have five of "them" on their active roster. I suppose the GM hopes they aren't making any raids at Chase Field.
Arizona doesn't participate in daylight savings time, either. It took five years of shame and tourist boycotts to get them to approve of the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday. John McCain. Mavericks. Yeesh.