Tuesday, April 17, 2007


Sniper and other Love Songs (and a Spurrier does us proud!)

The title of this post comes from an old Harry Chapin album. In view of yesterdays events, it seemed fitting.

It has been a very disturbing week. One that has brought back so many memories of a very painful time. The Texas Clock tower shootings came as such a shock to a still naive fourteen year old. The impact was a lasting one, in a way I am sure won't be the same for this generation. School shootings are common place now. They were unheard of then. And the scale of it was so grand. It was the beginning of my loss of innocence. Since yesterday's massacre at Virginia Tech, this song has been constantly on my mind.

The first time I heard Harry Chapin sing SNIPER was a live appearance on the Tonight Show in 1972. It left Johnny Carson and Ed McMahon so speechless that Doc Severnson had to introduce the commercial break. Do yourselves a favor and drop the 99 cents on iTunes and download this song. Pay close attention. It will haunt you.


It is an early Monday morning.
The sun is becoming bright on the land.
No one is watching as he comes a walking.
Two bulky suitcases hang from his hands.

He heads towards the tower that stands in the campus.
He goes through the door, he starts up the stairs.
The sound of his footsteps, the sound of his breathing,
The sound of the silence when no one was there.

I didn't really know him.
He was kind of strange.
Always sort of sat there.
He never seemed to change.
Oh no, oh no

He reached the catwalk. He put down his burden.
The four sided clock began to chime.
Seven AM, the day is beginning.
So much to do and so little time.

He looks at the city where no one had known him.
He looks at the sky where no one looks down.
He looks at his life and what it has shown him.
He looks for his shadow it cannot be found.

He was such a moody child, very hard to touch.
Even as a baby he never smiled too much. No no.No no.

You bug me, she said.
Your ugly, she said.
Please hug me, I said.
But she just sat there
With the same flat stare
That she saves for me alone
When I'm home.
When I'm home.
Take me home.

He laid out the rifles, he loaded the shotgun,
He stacked up the cartridges along the wall.
He knew he would need them for his conversation.
If it went as it he planned, then he might use them all.

He said Listen you people I've got a question
You won't pay attention but I'll ask anyhow.
I found a way that will get me an answer.
Been waiting to ask you 'till now.
Right now !

Am I ?
I am a lover who's never been kissed.
Am I ?
I am a fighter who's not made a fist.
Am I ?
If I'm alive then there's so much I've missed.
How do I know I exist ?
Are you listening to me ?
Are you listening to me ?
Am I ?

The first words he spoke took the town by surprise.
One got Mrs. Gibbons above her right eye.
It blew her through the window wedged her against the door.
Reality poured from her face, staining the floor.

He was kind of creepy,
Sort of a dunce.
I met him at the corner bar.
I only dated the poor boy once,
That's all. Just once, that was all.

Bill Whedon was questioned as stepped from his car.
Tom Scott ran across the street but he never got that far.
The police were there in minutes, they set up barricades.
He spoke right on over them in a half-mile circle.
In a dumb struck city his pointed questions were sprayed.

He knocked over Danny Tyson as he ran towards the noise.
Just about then the answers started coming. Sweet, sweet joy.
Thudding in the clock face, whining off the walls,
Reaching up to where he sat there, answering calls.

Thirty-seven people got his message so far.
Yes, he was reaching them right were they are.

They set up an assault team. They asked for volunteers.
They had to go and get him, that much was clear.
And the word spread about him on the radios and TV's.
In appropriately sober tone they asked "Who can it be ?"

He was a very dull boy, very taciturn.
Not much of a joiner, he did not want to learn.
No no.No no.

They're coming to get me, they don't want to let me
Stay in the bright light too long.
It's getting on noon now, it's goin' to be soon now.
But oh, what a wonderful sound !

Mama, won't you nurse me ?
Rain me down the sweet milk of your kindness.
Mama, it's getting worse for me.
Won't you please make me warm and mindless ?

Mama, yes you have cursed me.
I never will forgive you for your blindness.
I hate you!

The wires are all humming for me.
And I can hear them coming for me.
Soon they'll be here, but there's nothing to fear.
Not any more though they've blasted the door.

As the copter dropped the gas he shouted " Who cares ?" .
They could hear him laughing as they started up the stairs.
As they stormed out on the catwalk, blinking at the sun,
With their final fusillade his answer had come.

Am I ?
There is no way that you can hide me.
Am I ?
Though you have put your fire inside me.
Am I ?
You've given me my answer can't you see ?
I was !
I am !
and now I Will Be

Even before yesterday's news, I was suffering from this sort of hollow, kinda haunted feeling. My daughter heard that this week was the anniversary of Sirhan Sirhan's conviction, and decided to rent BOBBY. Now, I have wanted to see this movie for a long time, but also knew that it would stir up an emotional can of worms. I can still remember the events of that morning like they happened yesterday.

It was still the heyday of 50.000 watt clear channel radio stations, and I had fallen asleep with a transistor radio under my pillow, listening to Pittsburg's KKOW. The Pirates were playing the Dodgers, and Don Drysdale was going for a record sixth striaght shutout. I woke with a start about 4;30 to the sound played before a news bulletin. Richard C. Hottelet came on and announced that Bobby Kennedy had been shot. My dad had just left for work, but I couldn't wait and woke up my mother. My parents were by no means Kennedy fans, but after the MLK assassination, even my folks understood that Bobby had become the glue holding the nation together. My mom and I sat listening to Detroit's all news station WWJ, and staring at the peacock test pattern on the tv, waiting for the local NBC affiliate to come on the air. By the time the Today Show came on, it was clear that Kennedy's life hung in the balance. The nation came close to a standstill, everyone watching the tv waiting for news. I didn't come till about 10 pm eastern time, when it was announced Bobby had passed.

As for the movie itself, it was excellent. A tremendous ensemble cast, with incredibly strong performances from Demi Moore, Sharon Stone, Christian Slater, and Freddy Rodriguez (from HBO's Six Feet Under).

But, in the end, the film left me depressed with the same old questions. How much different would this country be had it not been for one crazed guy with a gun? No Nixon, no Watergate, no neocon hijacking of the Republican party. No Reagan. How different would the world be? Sigh.
I have never been a big Steve Spurrier fan, even though we share an ancient ancestor. Until now. But my opinion of him changed Saturday when he uttered seven simple words. "That damned flag needs to come down" said the University of South Carolina football coach, pointing at the Confederate flag flying over the Capital building.

That Spurrier would say that in the heart of the Confederacy, knowing he was gonna piss off a lot of wealthy alumni, took balls. But he is right. Not only is that flag the symbol of racism and slavery, it represents the single biggest act of treason in the history of America. It has no place in America, it is a source of shame, not pride.

Whether or not Spurrier said that out of moral conviction, or because he knows it hurts his ability to recruit matters not. It took massive size cajones to say that to the audience he did.

He has my new found admiration. Not to mention a big dose of family pride!

Saturday, April 14, 2007


urgent business

Okay, I was gonna blog about my feelings regarding the whole Don Imus fiasco. Or perhaps the logical comparisons between Prosecutorgate and Watergate. But then something of greater urgency came up, and I felt obliged to blog about it.

The other day, a Dallas DJ was quoted on NPR as saying he hated the TV show FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS because "it just reinforces the stereotype that all Texans are interested in is football, and sex on the washing machine." About the same time, the local Tex-Mex restaurant chain here put billboards up all over Michiana that say "Hacienda: Satisfying more desperate housewives than the spin cycle!"

Okay, would somebody please explain to this apparently naive (and more than a little grossed out) Yankee:
a) What is the attraction of exposing ones naked "parts" to cold, hard porcelain?

b) Does one have to wait for the spin cycle for maximum effect?

c) Does this activity require a partner, or can it be pursued "solitaire"?

d) Is this really a "Texas" thing? And if so, don't you people know about beds, sofas, sand dunes, or the grass in the park? You know... SOFT surfaces!

Just curious!

Okay, about Imus.

His departure, even though deserved, saddens me a bit. I have always liked Imus. I am sure he must feel like somebody changed the rules in the middle of the game. After all, he's been saying equally outrageous
(or more so) things on the air for 35 years. However, I do understand what makes this different.

The reason I have always liked Imus is his willingness to take on the rich and powerful and cut them down a size or three. He said outrageous, sometimes almost vicious, things about, and to people, but never somebody who couldn't defend themselves, and never somebody of whom you couldn't honestly say you didn't see at least a resemblance to Imus' remarks.

But these girls are different. They clearly don't resemble "nappy headed Ho's". They are articulate, attractive young women with no real platform to defend themselves, and they clearly don't resemble Imus' characterization of them.

Imus went a step too far, and is justly paying for it. I have no problem with that.

What I do have a problem with is the number of black people who have publicly defended their use of words like the "N" word and Ho. They argue that there is a difference between white people using those words and blacks using them. The argument, probably expressed most articulately by ESPN's Stuart Scott, is that by using these words, blacks endeavour to take the power out of them. There is only one problem with that argument. It is dead wrong.

What it really does is tell the world that even blacks have bought into the stereotype. That even they believe the connotations to be true. It is just like hearing one black kid tell another that being smart and getting good grades is "acting white." Because the inference there is that to really be black, you must be dumb and uneducated. How do you expect whites not to believe the stereotype if you have bought into it?

As someone who as a young man was a foot soldier in the civil right movement (yeah, I marched and carried signs and hung out at the mall getting petitions signed), I am deeply saddened by the clear deterioration of Black American culture the last thirty years. Back when I was a young man, black culture was very matriarchal, women were deeply respected. I never heard any of my black friends worry about their "Pops" reaction to their behavior. But Momma, now THAT was a different story. These kids both revered and feared their mothers. So how is it now that black culture has become so misogynist?

Listen to what passes for music in black culture today. There is constant reference to women as "Ho's". Constant reference to sexual domination and violence. What does that say to the people who are the biggest consumers of this music, suburban white males? Yes, Stuart Scott et. al.... it reinforces all those negative stereotypes you so want to shed.

Words like nigger, niggah, whore, or ho are and should be extremely offensive no matter who's mouth they come out of.

Okay, off my soap box.
Want a laugh?

Go to Google
click on "maps"
click on "get directions"
enter from: New York, New York
to: Paris, France
read directions, making careful note of line #23

Somebody at Google has a sense of humor!

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