Monday, December 24, 2012

Happy Holidays!

I can remember Christmas from about 4 years old on, they were all pretty good. However there were a few unusual ones and one was a huge mistake.

The mistake:

Buying my girls at 14 and 12 matching stereos (remember stereos?) for Christmas. And suffering through an ongoing "Battle of the Bands" for years. The stereos cost a little over $500. I would have paid $10,000 apiece to get rid of them. It was especially exciting when they were in High School and one liked head banger rock and the other dance music, sweet sleepin Hay-sus.

Weird and unusual Christmas Experiences.

Good, old, Irish, alcoholic Kevin B and I spending Christmas Eve together in Boston. I made a nice dinner and then we walked from my place down the street to Ciao Bella, an Italian place that offered Gefilte fish on Christmas Eve. We sat at the bar and wetted our whistles and watched Boston Jewish singles get drunk on their asses. When we were drunk on our asses at about 12;30, the owner Joe invited us downstairs to Daisy Buchanan's, he squeezed about 200 drunks in the bar, hung a sign on the door that said Private Party and kept us locked in until 4:30 in the morning. Kevin, Catholic, Irish and drunk said at about 3am, "tish is the furst Christmas in my life, I've missed midnight mass!" A ravishing beauty sitting next to him said, "Tough shit, freckle face!" I got home at 4:32, I have no idea how Kevin got home. he doesn't either.

Still single, I hit a Christmas double header in Palm Beach. On the Eve of Christmas Eve, I bought a box of cigars in Palm Beach, on my way home I thought what the hell, I'll stop at the Chesterfield Hotel's Leopard Lounge, smoke one and have a cocktail. 6 hours later, one of Palm Beach's most well known and prominent interior decorators is sitting on my couch, smashed. She was unable to drive so I offered her a lift, she insisted on coming home with me, I didn't argue with her. I was in decent shape, she was slack jawed, she was on my sofa, I was sitting across from her. I noticed a huge wet spot on the sofa, she had peed her pants!I hustled her into the bathroom, she handed me her pants and undies, I put them in the washer. I spent the next hour cleaning the pee off my sofa. When her pants were dry, I called a cab and sent her home. I went to bed, because I had a big time Christmas Eve party to host.

In radio, your business operates 24/7 and the stations have to be staffed everyday, holidays included. That means a working Christmas for some staffers. I had invited my radio orphans over for a Christmas Eve Feast. There was my fellow corporate guy, Geo, Eric the program director of our country FM, Kevin our Irish and alcoholic engineer, (who I had dragged down from Boston when I was transferred) and our 22 year old baby sportscaster Beau. I baked a ham, scalloped potatoes, yams all the usual Christmas Eve food plus a counter full of cocktails. We ate outside by the pool, my German Shepherd was filled with treats and we were full of food, good cheer and alcohol. About 11pm, young Beau piped up and said, "Hey, let's go to a strip club!" I looked at Geo and winked and said, "If you can find one open, we'll go." Never thinking he would. Young Beau got on the phone and after about 8 calls (South Florida's economy would collapse without titty bars) he found that Diamonds in West Palm was open. I left the dog in charge of the house and we piled into my car and headed for Diamonds.

Diamonds is a big club, it probably seats 250. On Christmas Eve it held two bartenders, two barmaids, 6 strippers and a handful of dreary customers. The 5 of us sat down right in front, ordered drinks and watched the Christmas Pageant. One little cutie, wearing only a Santa hat  focused in on young Beau. He was mesmerized. She invited him to enjoy a private dance or two. Off they went. Almost an hour later, she came back, punched me in the arm and said, "I hope you aren't a cheap son of a bitch like your son!" Young Beau had run up a tab well over $200.00 dollars in private dances and only had 42 dollars in his pocket. Happy Holidays!

When I got home, I sat by the pool, dog by my side and thought, this shit has got to stop! It did and it was best Christmas present I could give myself. The reward? 10 months later I met the "Cakes".

Saturday, December 22, 2012

The Gun Lobby

I have a shotgun and and a .22 semi-automatic that are both over 60 years old, that makes me a gun owner. I also have a 19th century 45.70 caliber US Army Infantry single shot rifle. What I'm not is a "gun nut!"

The number of gun owners is dropping in the US, but gun sales and going up. How does that even happen? The reason, "gun nuts" are buying more and more guns. I guess at one time the NRA represented hunters, skeet, trap shooters and folks who liked to shoot targets. Not so much anymore. If you take a look at The National Rifleman published by the NRA, either in print or on line what you see are articles, tests and advertising for assault and military style weapons and gear. Very few hunting or sport weapons are featured. In the latest on line issue there is an article about a "tactical neck knife" that you wear on a lanyard around your neck. I didn't count the number of times I saw the word tactical, but it seemed that a high percentage of the products tested and advertised were tactical.

You don't hunt big game or ducks with tactical assault weapons, you have a hard enough time shooting a goose with a shotgun with some range much less a shotgun with a barrel that is a millimeter over the legal length!

Ronnie Barrett is an NRA Board Member. Ronnie manufactures the Barrett .50 caliber sniper rifle.

The military of many countries buy the Barrett and they are used by our snipers. The record kill using a Barrett happened this year in Afghanistan was just over 1.7 miles away by an Australian sniper. Hell of a shot. You can buy a Barrett from Ronnie anytime you'd like, they run about 10k and add the scope for another 4k and you've got a weapon that can fire a round through a 1/2 inch of steel plate from 500 yards, a weapon that will disintegrate a human body from a mile away, a weapon that scares the living shit out of law enforcement and it's legal to buy. A note on the Barrett from Wikipedia:

The M82A1 is known by the US military as the SASR—"Special Applications Scoped Rifle", and it was and still is used as an anti-materiel rifle and explosive ordnance disposal (EOD) tool. The long effective range, over 1,800 metres (5,900 ft) (1.1 miles), along with high energy and availability of highly effective ammunition such as API and Raufoss Mk 211, allows for effective operations against targets like radar cabins, trucks, parked aircraft and the like. The M82 can also be used to defeat human targets from standoff range or against targets behind cover.[citation needed] However, anti-personnel use is not a major application for the M82 (or any other .50 BMG rifle, for that matter[citation needed]). There is a widespread misconception that a number of treaties have banned use of the .50 BMG against human targets. However, the U.S. Army Judge Advocate General's office has issued a legal opinion that the .50 BMG and even the Raufoss Mk 211 round are legal for use against enemy personnel.[citation needed]

You can buy explosive rounds for the Barrett as well, some legal, some illegal but they are out there, cool, huh? Your deer, dressed and cooked with one round.

Gun nuts have clubs, Check out the one in Scottsdale:

Here are some Patriotic NRA members having a meeting:

A friend of mine and I were backpacking in the Sangre de Christos in Colorado and hiked right through a militia camp. My pal, a former Infantry Sgt in Viet Nam, told them they better "Tighten up their perimeter."

In the world of the Gun Nut, its all about the marketing! (and knowing your market)

The Sandy Hook School shooter carried a Bushmaster .223 semi automatic with 30 round magazines and a couple of semi-automatic pistols belonging to his mom. He used the Bushmaster to kill the teachers and kids and a pistol on himself. His Mom was a "gun enthusiast", Lanza shot her 4 times in the face! So much for a gun making you safe in your home. And so much for Nancy Lanza being a responsible gun owner!
While the million dollar a year NRA guy Wayne LaPierre was making his speech laying the blame on everything but guns, there was a shoot out in Pennsylvania, 4 killed and a cop was wounded.
While LaPierre was lobbying for a cop in every school, he forgot to mention there was an armed cop at Columbine High School.
Years ago I had my Springfield Amory 45.70 evaluated for insurance purposes, the gun shop I went to looked like a Special Ops supply room. Almost everything they sold was 'tactical" from
guns and knives to clothing. Creepy as hell.
The NRA is a lobbying organization for gun manufacturers. Guns don't wear out. If you buy a fine deer rifle from Sako, the chances are good it will still be in your family 100 years from now. The only market left for gun makers are the idiots who'll pay $2,400. for a Bushmaster! Idiots who are paranoid and frightened.
A guy in northern Indiana last week was arrested for making threats about shooting up a school. The cops found $100,000 in ammunition in his house. The guy barely had a pot to piss in, but he spent a 100k on ammo.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Whitey's Christmas Party

Cakes and I went to the Anderson’s annual Christmas Party on Saturday. A group on us were sitting on the patio (yes, it is California!) and someone said, “What is the first Christmas you remember?” I began getting those ‘snapshots in my head” as soon as the question was posed.


The summer I was 4, we moved into Mom and Dad’s first house, a tiny GI Bill 2 bedroom on 1st Avenue North. It made a big impression on me, the street wasn’t paved, it was muddy, there were shallow ditches running in front of the houses that filled with water making them ideal wading pools after every rainstorm. Of course, the switch yard and round house of the Great Northern Railroad were about 100 yards away from the little street of brand new homes. Our neighbors, the Fetigs, lived in a basement house, a basement roofed over waiting for a house to be built on it. Housing was tight everywhere after WW ll, Grand Forks was no exception. We moved there from a basement apartment on Chestnut Street which I kind of, sort of remember. My parents were happy to get their own house; their delight was tempered immediately by the 24 hour noise of the rail yard.

On one of our weekly visits to my grandparent’s farm, my grandmother gave me a young cat she  liberated from a litter of barn cats, she trained him. I named him Whitey Whiskers. My mother (not a cat hater, just a cat skeptic) wasn’t happy. Whitey came home with us.


I loved Whitey and he loved me, he slept with me, he let the Karen Fetig put doll clothes on him and push him in a baby carriage. All in all Whitey was a very cool cat.

Christmas was coming and my mother was in full holiday decorator mode, we had a huge tree in our tiny living room, lights inside the house and out. My parents had a couple of parties and Pancho Martinez showed up in a Santa suit and played Christmas carols on his trumpet. Christmas Eve came and we headed for the farm for the big night. Whitey stayed home.

When we got home around 10, Mom switched on the lights and screamed. The living room was a shambles. Whitey had apparently lost his mind while we were gone!


Whitey climbed the Christmas tree and tipped it over, the ornaments were scattered all over the room, the water from the stand soaked the carpet, he pulled the light strings off the tree and they were draped over the furniture. Tinsel was everywhere. Not satisfied, Whitey ripped opened all the presents and dragged the paper and ribbons from room to room. One of Mom’s presents from Dad, a red night gown was in the hall, the marbles from a Chinese Checkers game had rolled all over the house, they were in the kitchen, the bedrooms and under the sink in the bathroom. I found Whitey in my room sound asleep on the pillows. I knew his life was in danger so I hid him in my closet inside the toy box until things cooled down.

My Dad cut his foot on a Christmas ornament and was swearing. My mother was crying and muttering something about killing that damn cat. I was lying low, worried about Whitey. I put on my pajamas and helped Mom and Dad clean up. When order was restored, my Mom and Dad had a drink and I had hot chocolate. My Dad said, “Did you find your damn cat, Robert?” I said, I hadn’t and offered that he might be somewhere in the basement, since he liked the boxes and stuff down there. Dad, said, “We’ll find him in the morning.” We all went to bed. I got Whitey out of my toy box and we both settled down for a long winter’s nap. Whitey moved back to the farm the next week and became my Grandmother’s favorite cat, he never touched another Christmas Tree as far as I know.


Saturday, December 15, 2012

Christmas with Tom, an Indian Princess and a Fire Hose

It was the night of the 23rd of December, the kind of hard, clear cold night you only get in North Dakota in December. My pal Tom and I were home from school. Tom was a senior and I was a junior, my first Christmas legal and his second. We were in the process of getting stupid drunk.
The night began at Kathryn’s Christmas party; I had my eye on her and her eyes were on me. If anything was going to happen, it had to happen quickly; she was returning to Barnard January 2nd. She invited me and then ignored me. I was pissed, Tom suggested we leave. I thought that was a fine idea. We got in my car, opened a couple of beers and we were on our way. The 2nd house party was in a fine, new house out in the country. The roads were slippery, we drank our beer and I drove slowly.  We didn’t stay long, it was a couple’s party and we were both ignored. We each drank a beer, left and headed back into town. I suggested we go back to Kathryn’s party, Tom said no, let’s hit some bars, more beers came out of the paper bag in the backseat, we drank to his idea. 

Tom and I were dressed like we stepped off the pages of a Brooks Brothers catalog, tidy, casual prep. We didn’t fit in at the Wagon Wheel. Didn’t matter, we walked in and stayed because the barmaid thought Tommy was cute. He agreed with her assessment, while they chatted and flirted, I sat and pouted, I was pissed about Kathryn ignoring me, I was pissed about breaking up with my girlfriend in June and now I was pissed because the cute barmaid was flirting with Tom and not me. I continued to drink, so did Tom. We were drinking free because Tom was so damn cute. After an hour, the bartender at the Wagon Wheel chewed the bar maid’s cute little ass because she was spending more time with us than with the 20 or 30 other customers who were actually paying for their drinks. Tom got her number and we left.

Tom and I walked 4 blocks to the bar at the GP Hotel. Dead, but we stayed anyway. We sat at the bar and we switched to Seagram’s VO. I started to flirt with the barmaid, a cute strawberry blonde named Cindy. When she walked off to take an order, the bartender told me to watch out, her husband was in prison. Tom asked what her husband was in prison for and he told us, armed robbery and assault with a deadly weapon. I got Cindy's number after she told me he wasn’t eligible for parole for 3 years. I figured she was lonely.

As we left the GP I noticed the time and temp sign on the Burleigh County Bank and Trust said 10:05 and 5 below zero. We headed for the Elbow Room 3 blocks away; it was packed, loud, dirty and filled with assholes. Tom and I stayed long enough to pound down a beer and got out before we got our asses kicked. When we got back on the street, I remembered my car was still at the Wagon Wheel, 8 or 9 blocks away and it was 5 below zero. We had no hats and Tom left his gloves at the GP bar. It was so cold the snow under foot squeaked, it was so cold that even a good coat like my lined London Fog didn’t keep out the cold. By the time we got back to my car, we both felt sober. I suggested we go to the strip, Tom said no, The Silver Dollar. Okay then, the Silver Dollar it was.

My car finally warmed up as we passed the Standard Oil refinery halfway to Mandan and we had started in on the 2nd six pack we had in the car. The Silver Dollar was packed, I had to park 2 blocks away. By the time I swung the dump's door open I was freezing my ass off again, when I held the door for Tom he slipped and fell on his back on the sidewalk. I stood holding the door open, laughing at Tom. He was on his back, laughing. The warm, stale beer air from the bar was boiling out on the street and I heard a man’s voice yell “Close the god damn door!” I helped Tom up and we went into The Silver Dollar. The back of Tom’s coat was covered with snow and sand; he even had some on the back of his head.

The Silver Dollar is a Mandan institution. The bar is only 25 or 30 feet wide, but a half a block deep. A band was playing a shitty version of a Beatle’s song in the back room, 100 feet from the front door. Where we were standing in the front of the bar, Petula’s Clark’s “Downtown was playing on a sound system with blown out speakers. The only seats available were directly in front of the door. We sat down, ordered more beer from the pinch faced woman behind the bar, her idea of service was to stand in front of you, stare until you ordered, she’d return with your order, mutter the price, take your money and walk away. She was the owner’s sister. Good thing for her, anyone else would fire her. If you hate people why work in a business where you have to come in constant contact with them?   

The Silver Dollar is a bar that covers all bases, live music in the back, pool tables and pin ball machines in the middle and just to the right of the front door they had Go Go Dancers. On a winter night like this the girls would freeze every time the door opened. We froze just like they did. Tom ordered two shots of whiskey to ward off the cold, we tossed them down.
 If the Silver Dollar was close to a volcano like Pompeii was and an eruption froze this night in time, archeologists would have had a hell of time trying to figure out the local social hierarchy in Mandan. The place was filled with truck drivers, cowboys, cowgirls, local couples, local singles, rich, poor, bikers and their old ladies and college kids like Tom and I. As I surveyed the bar room, I raised my beer to take a sip and spotted Barbra Ann. Barbra Ann was a former Miss Teenage American Indian, I knew her brother Richard, I’d met Barbra Ann when I was giving Richard a ride to work on our construction job the summer he’d lost his license for drunken driving. Richard was a good guy and his sister was gorgeous and smart, she was on a full ride at Macalester College in Minneapolis. Barbra Ann spotted me and waved, she got up and walked over. The guys she was sitting with, a couple of tough looking Indians wearing red head bands and braids scowled at me. Barbra Ann gave me a hug and I asked her how her brother was doing; Richard was in jail, doing 30 days for driving without a license and resisting arrest. I told her that was the shits. She agreed. She sat down and I ordered her a beer and we talked. Between her dark eyes and her perfect chest, I was having a hard time concentrating on our conversation. I did learn she was here working on a paper on the failings of the BIA. She was staying with her Aunt who lived in Bismarck.

The two Indians got up, came over and told Barbra Ann they wanted to leave. They were giving me some hard looks. I looked over Tom’s shoulder and a biker gave me a nod meaning if those two  gave me any shit, he’d be on my side. Barbra told her friends she was staying. I guess that meant I finally had a date tonight. The two Indians looked around, caught the glare of the big biker and left. She told me they were from AIM and were planning to organize the Standing Rock Reservation. Barbra Ann and I drank and talked and Tom wandered off. A few minutes later he was back, excited as hell because he had run into a couple of people we knew and they had extra seats at their table.

Cheryl and Sally had lost their ride somehow and were stuck at the Silver Dollar, they were as happy to see us as we were to see them. Sally went to Columbia and Cheryl; her high school pal, went to UND. They were sailing drunk when we joined them. They both eyed my exotic companion and I introduced Barbra Ann, the five of us settled in, 20 feet from the band and commenced drinking again. It was hot as hell in the back room, packed well beyond fire code. I noticed Tom had wandered up to the stage and was whispering to the bass player while the band was struggling through the Stone’s “Under My Thumb”, the guy actually stopped playing for a couple of bars while he was talking to Tom. Tom came back and ordered a round of shots, we knocked them back and the band kicked off their frozen prairie rendition of the Beach Boy’s “Barbra Ann”. Our very own Barbra Ann punched Tom on the arm and told him she hated the song, meanwhile the entire bar was singing along while she sat with her arms folded and scowled.

I got up to take a piss, while I was standing at the Silver Dollar's foul urinal a skinny, shithead of a cowboy called me “Squaw Man”. I didn’t react right away; I finished, zipped up my pants, turned and punched him in the gut as hard as I could, when he bent over in pain I hammered the side of his face. He fell on his knees and I walked out.  I don’t normally do shit like that, but all the drinking had turned my dials just enough and he really pissed me off. Both my hands hurt like hell, my left from his face and my right had grazed his stupid, big cowboy belt buckle. I didn’t go back to our table; I walked to the front of the bar and told my new biker buddy that there might be trouble with a handful of cowboys. He grinned and said no problem. I bought him and his 4 buddies a round of beer. The cowboy I punched and his buddy accosted me on my way to the back of the Silver Dollar, they were drunk and mouthy. I pointed out my new friends who were standing at the bar and told the cow pokes that the big guy with the beard was my cousin and if they had anything to say to me, they’d have to include him in the conversation. The biker just looked at them through the smoke and smiled. They decided we should all be friends and the guy I punched apologized for calling me Squaw Man. We shook hands and I joined my companions. I was shaking from adrenaline. I started to laugh thinking about the piss stains on the knees of the cow poke’s jeans. When Barbra Ann asked what I was laughing about, I told her the story; she just beamed and gave me a kiss on the cheek. I thought, that was nice.

We sat through another, shitty, smoky set, the consensus was we should head for the Esquire Club on the strip. Because the strip was unincorporated, it stayed on Mountain Time while the rest of the two towns were on Central Time, the bars on the strip were open later, perfect for 5 college kids during the first hours of Christmas Eve.

We gathered our coats and headed for my car. We were giggling and laughing and the girls decided they had to pee. Tom asked why they didn’t pee at the Silver Dollar and the three of them looked at each other and laughed, Cheryl said nobody in their right mind would sit on a toilet at the Silver Dollar. Okay, Tom spotted the sign for the bar at the old railroad hotel. The bar was down a flight of stairs in kind of a half basement. It was a bar for serious and professional drinkers, dark, quiet and as we entered, the 10 or 12 heavy drinkers looked at us as we stumbled in. The place was classic, mirrored back bar with glass shelves, a long dark bar with leather booths lining the walls. The drinkers were all older, business types, solo and couples completely focused on their cocktails. The bartender was heavy, fat actually, he wore a vest and bow tie and I could tell he didn’t like the looks of us. We ordered beers and more shots and carried them to a booth. The bartender leaned across the bar and told Tom that Barbra Ann was the first and last Indian that would ever drink in his bar and we should finish up and get the hell out of there. We drank part of our drinks, then the girls went to the bath room upstairs in the hotel. After the girls left, I needed to hit the restroom, before I did, Tom told me what the bartender had said. We were both pissed now. When the girls and I got back from the restroom, I told them we were going to leave. I gave my keys to Cheryl who was the only one of them with functioning eyes and told her to go warm up my car. I told them we'd catch up in a few minutes. The girls left and Tom and I hatched our plan,
I had spotted a firehose in the hall on my way to the can. Tom and I said good night to the bartender, went out the street door and reentered the hotel via the lobby, we went down the stairs to the hall leading to the bar. We uncoiled the fire hose and laid it in the hallway, Tom slipped down to the door of the bar and opened it a crack and slid the nozzle just inside the door. He came back and I turned the hose on full blast. The water coursed through the hose, straightening it as the hose filled with high pressure water. As the hose filled it pushed the nozzle further into the bar. We could hear the yells of the drinkers as the little lounge was flooded with water from the hose. Tom and I walked down the hall, up the stairs and out of the old hotel. We ran down the street to the car, hopped in and drove to the Esquire. We drank and danced until closing, dropped the girls off at Sally's house and Barbra Ann at her Aunts. I woke up on the couch in Tom’s family’s den when his Mom woke me at 7am. I went home to Mom and Dads and slept until 2.

After walking Barbra Ann to her Aunt's door, I got a nice kiss. That was the last time I saw her, I heard she graduated and went to grad school in California. She teaches or did at a college. Cheryl owns a spa and Sally is a successful attorney. Tom went on to law school and has had a great career in business law. I’ve done what I’ve done. After all these years Tom and I are both proud of defending our Indian Princess’s honor on that ice cold night on the eve of Christmas Eve. 


Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Clear Channel takes over Disney

From Heckman Memorial News Service
by Business News Staff
December 6, 2020
Clear Channel Entertainment announced today another round of pre-Christmas lay offs. Clear Channel, owned by Lee and Bain with notes due in 2021 of 291 billion dollars hope this round of layoffs will help the media giant once again avoid default. The total number of lay offs wasn't announced but sources say the theme park division was hit particularly hard.
The company once hailed by Forbes magazine as a "model of efficiency" after the purchase of Cumulus, Town Square Media and other broadcast groups by operating 3,210 radios stations
with a staff of 112 has seen radio revenues in steep decline for several years. As one former radio insider said, "When you are trying to sell Ryan Seacrest on 9 stations in the same market,
I'm not surprised."
Clear Channel avoided default in 2016 when they rolled their radio debt into the purchase of Disney. Since then, they have slashed budgets in all their divisions and added additional
duties to current staffers. Seacrest, in addition to his morning shows on 3210 radio stations is also hosting corporate groups at Clear Channel owned resort hotels at the company's theme parks.Seacrest along with syndicated talk host Rush Limbaugh are contracted to broadcast next season's Monday Night Football games with Mylie Cyrus doing sideline reporting. Clear Channel President Bob Pittman told bond holders in a conference call, "it allows us to extend our brand across multiple media platforms and showcase our magnificent talent." MNF will no longer have a half time show with the dismissal of long time host Chris Berman. The ESPN veteran will be replaced at half time with a panel of 4 fans, 2 from each competing team. Pittman remarked, "we are giving the game back to the fans and we feel it will expand the Clear Channel brand."
Limbaugh in addition to his daily talk show and his MNF duties will also be hosting an updated version of "Dating Game" and is slated to debut a yet unnamed Reality Show in development at
the new Clear Channel studios at the failed "Great Park" site in Orange County. The studio is housed in former Marine Aviation hangers. Clear Channel's network production staff of 4 will be housed in former enlisted Marine barracks. Pittman noted "Clear Channel is the only entertainment brand in the world offering employees free housing."
Pittman said ESPN Radio's radical sports format of using only calls from listeners without the interference of hosts is going well, he added, "ratings are down, but the savings we achieved by
eliminating expensive hosts and handing the stations directly to the listeners and callers has worked well and we believe is a model for the future of terrestial radio." Pittman hinted that "fan hosts"
may be used on ESPN's cable shows as "another way to expand our brand."
Pittman also said in the conference call, the company, in addition to cuts in the broadcast division that additional cuts are pending at the theme parks, "our early attempts of total automation
were flawed, the bugs have been worked out and we will be moving ahead as soon as the equipment is delivered from our manufacturing plants in Bangladesh. Our goal of an American family
being able to visit our parks without any human contact other than with our other guests is going to be a reality and will revolutionize the destination park and resort business and allow us to
extend our brand across additional platforms."
In a surprise announcement Pittman said, "Clear Channel Entertainment has purchased the hotel and casino operations of Sheldon Adelson in Las Vegas and Macao for 9 billion dollars,
the purchase will be financed as Pittman said, "By our partners, the Chinese ruling council and the Adelson Family Trust and will allow us to extend our brand across, not only new platforms
but help us make Clear Channel Entertainment a truly worlld wide brand." He added a "I Heart Gambling" promotion is in the works and the casinos will be promoted across "all of our platforms."
Towards the end of the call, Pittman was asked about the ongoing lawsuit by 57 families whose children were trapped for 21 hours on the newly automated "It's a Small World" ride at the
company's Anaheim theme park. Pittman responded, "The case is in litigation, I can't discuss it." Pittman also waved off questions about Clear Channel's 500.5 million dollar purchase of
two Boeing 777 Dreamliners, one said to be for Pittman's personal use, the other planned for "High Rollers" at the company's new casino division.

In other business news today,  Lee and Bain announced year end bonus packages totaling 35 million dollars. The packages will be distributed to 21 Lee and Bain executives.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Rambling Thoughts on a Friday Morning

We have a terrific new family at DRIVE! The daughter is 25% Chinese, 25% Filipina, 50% American bred mongrel, she is smart and gorgeous. The dad is a successful engineer, the son of an Army Drill Sgt who was a WWII, Korean War and Viet Nam Vet. He and his brother spent their high school years at Fort Ord. He told me his Dad never raised his voice at home (probably because he spent his days yelling a young troopers) but was strict about the condition of their closets, beds, clothes,their shoes had to be shined daily and in the 70’s the two boys got their haircuts at the Army barber shop on base! He added his Chinese mom never bought a whole chicken or chicken breasts at the Base Exchange; they ate only livers, necks, gizzards and backs. He said the first time he had a chicken breast he had no idea what it was. Great family, great kid, All American!

We have now moved into full Christmas display mode. The house is decorated inside and out, Saturday the patio gets the full treatment. The theme this year is blue lights and more blue lights everywhere. I hate putting up Christmas lights thanks to my old man who was obsessed with them. More on this later with pix.

I was starving yesterday afternoon. I drove over to the Rhineland Deli on TO Boulevard. As was gazing at the menu I spotted a sandwich I hadn’t had in years. It brought back memories of my childhood and hanging out with my grandfather. The old Judge’s favorite sandwich was liverwurst, onions, mayo, mustard and lettuce. I ordered up a half sandwich on rye. In a few minutes the counter man handed me my sandwich, the liverwurst was 2 inches thick and the whole damn thing weighed at least a pound. I ate it at 1:30, now almost 17 hours later, I’m still full and I had nothing for dinner last night. I’d guess my cholesterol jumped 50 points. It was really, really, really good!

Growing up in a place where below zero temps were daily occurrences in the winter and spending much of my life in Boston where winter temps were only marginally warmer. I can’t believe how cold it gets in Southern California, the other morning it was a bone chilling 51 degrees, it was so cold on the patio as I was drinking coffee and reading the paper, I had to put on a winter coat. Oh, I forgot, nobody in North Dakota or Boston can even sit outside on the patio in December.

I seriously don’t think I could survive without heated seats in my car, chilly in the morning, turn on the seats, you don’t need the heater drying your eyeballs out, just nice warmth on your ass and legs. Bless the Swedes for inventing them. By the way, you can’t believe how great a heated steering wheel is! I have become a total wuss!

Best clothing discovery for when its too warm for a sweater, even a cotton sweater. Wear a waffle weave long underwear shirt…they look good, come in a bunch of colors and they are cheap. I paid 14 bucks for a dark blue Ralph Lauren at Stein Mart. The chubby lady who lives across the street told me it looked great and Mary Magdalene next door said I looked like “arm candy”. At my age, to women under 40 I’m invisible and both those babes are well over 50!




Monday, November 26, 2012

Cold War Paranoia and 10 year Old Boys

In the summer of 1955, Johnny, Dick and I were addicted to playing, as we called it, Army. The three of us had collected surplus military gear and were well equipped; pistol belts, canteens, first aid kits, entrenching tools, army flashlights, knives, compasses and ammo pouches. When school got out, the Army Surplus Store started selling helmet liners and M1 rifle stocks with wooden receivers and barrels. No more bad fatigue caps and bad imitations of military weapons cut on a jig saw in the garage. We carried cap pistols that looked like, as we called the US M1911, Army 45’s. Dressed in our boy sized fatigue pants, green t-shirts we thought we looked like authentic GIs, the only give away was our tattered Chuck Taylors. The Cold War was going full blast,never the less we were still fighting WWII.

That summer, my 10th, we were given an unbelievable gift. The Army Corps of Engineers had designed a 3 mile long dike on the river across the street and down the hill from our houses. The first order of business was to bull doze the trees close to the river bank. The resulting tangle of toppled oaks, cottonwoods, elms and maples created a war-like devastated land scape. It was perfect. It was beautiful. We patrolled, set up defensive positions, dug foxholes and ate our rations in the middle of this nightmare landscape. Rain or shine we were in the middle of Normandy, fighting our way across France or attacking across the Rhine.

By July we had run out of enemies. The kids who played our Krauts and Nazis were tired of losing, tired of being killed in action, wounded in action or taken prisoner and were really tired of having to wear homemade Nazi armbands or being confined in the POW camp we constructed. The 3 of us were now garrison soldiers, bored and restless just like real garrison soldiers. We took a weekend pass over the 4th of July.

We reassembled after the 4th; I was leaving for the lake with my family for a month. Johnny was going with his mother on the train to the West Coast and Dick had been ordered to his grandparent’s farm. Our unit, after a month on the front lines was being deactivated. It wasn’t a happy day as we assembled in full combat gear in our headquarters dug under a toppled 60 foot oak. We decided after our rations of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches washed down with Pepsi from a genuine army surplus canteen we would go on one last patrol and see if there were any German stragglers left to clean out of our area of operations.

The patrol was routine, I took point that day, Dick with his wooden replica of a BAR walked in the middle and Johnny walked drag. We were on high alert as we worked our way through a thicket of brush that had grown up around the broken trees. We walked the river bank and as we made our way into clearing at the foot of a hill we heard a jet in the distance. Johnny took out his Dad’s binoculars, the ones he wasn’t supposed to “fool” with. With them, he spotted the plane about a mile way doing aerobatics over the south side of town. The jet banked and came towards us at about 500 feet and then banked again.

I was the aviation expert and told my fellow soldiers, “It’s an old F86, from the Air Guard.” We started up the hill. The hill had been cleared of all vegetation and was rough, it was going to be part of the dike and until it did, it was going to be left in its scarred condition. It looked like it had been carpet bombed.

When we reached the top, Johnny yelled “He’s coming back!” a split second later the F86 screamed over our heads, Dick hit the dirt as Johnny and I stared, then swiveled as the jet passed over us at low altitude, so low we could feel the heat from the engine. As we watched the jet climb, the pilot banked, rolled and started back towards us, nose down and gaining speed. He passed over us at what seemed like 50 feet. Johnny and I tossed our helmets in the air and jumped up and down, waving and yelling, “Come on back, come on back!”

Dick was laying on the ground his hands clutching his helmet saying, “No, no!” He sounded like he was crying.

The jet gained a little altitude and turned hard to the east, we could see the pilot through the canopy. We waved at him and he gave us a salute. We returned his salute. Then he obliged his fellow combatants. This time without gaining much altitude at all, he flew off to the south and turned towards us. Johnny and I were staring into the air intakes as the jet howled towards us; he flew over so low I could see the stenciled “No Step” signs on the fuselage. Later Johnny claimed he could count the rivets. The air turbulence was so great it flattening the dust on the top of the hill, making it blow out paralell to the ground. I could feel my t-shirt ripple as he made his pass. Johnny and I spun around to watch and we could see the glow inside the F86’s tail pipe. We leaped into the air again and hugged each other. We watched as “our” jet climbed and headed off to the south, we watched until it disappeared. Dick stayed face down on the ground; he was crying, hard enough that his face was muddy and streaked.

Dick looked up and blubbered, “Is it gone?”

The jet was gone, we could hear every dog in the neighborhood barking, cop sirens wailing. When we came through the Rosenthal’s back yard we found the sidewalks were filled with mothers and little kids, they were all searching the sky and all talking at the same time, some of the moms were crying and all the little kids were. Two cop cars screeched to a halt, lights flashing and the cops got out trying to look like they knew what had happened and were in control. Dick took off running, headed for home. Johnny and I walked slowly across the street; we drank water out of the Leonard’s garden hose. We were lying on the grass in Leonard’s side yard, our heads on our helmets; my cocker spaniel had found us and snuggled up to my legs. We were talking about how lucky we were to be buzzed by a jet. One of the mothers pointed us out to the cops and a big, fat cop walked towards us, hat off and wiping his brow with a cotton handkerchief.

The cop looked down at us and said, “You boys know anything about this?”

Johnny and I looked at each other and I said, “Sure.”

The cop said, “The plane, was it a rooski?”

Johnny said, “Huh?’

The fat cop said, “Was it a rooski plane?”

Johnny and I started to laugh, so much, we were crying like Dick.

“You boys better get up or I’ll give you something to laugh about.” Said the cop, Johnny and I just laughed harder.

The other cop walked up, he was skinny and was sporting a nasty face full of pimples and was angry about it, “Okay, what did you boys have to do with that rooski airplane? One of the ladies over there said you were signaling the pilot.”

Johnny and I were now on our feet, we were laughing so hard we had to hold on to each other so we didn’t fall back down on the grass. I looked at Johnny and said, “Rooski plane?” I was laughing and crying so much snot was coming out of my nose. Johnny was going nuts.

The skinny cop turned to the fat cop and said, “What do you think Virgil, maybe a trip down town would do these jokers some good?” The fat cop nodded in the affirmative and took my arm, the skinny cop took Johnny. My cocker spaniel grabbed a mouthful of Virgil’s pants, she was a tough little dog and he was having trouble getting rid of her and holding on to me at the same time. Johnny looked at me and said, “rooski plane”…I could not stop laughing.

The cops marched us towards the waiting cruisers, my dog still nipping at Virgil the cop’s pants. I could overhear one of the neighbor ladies saying, “Well it wouldn’t surprise me, all they do is chase and torture the children in this neighborhood, they could be commie agents, they recruit young, you know.” I saw nods all around, even though Mrs. Kitchen was considered the nuttiest woman on the street.

I looked at Johnny and said, “They think it was a Russian plane.” I turned to Virgil the cop, who was sweating heavily and said, “Do you really think it was a Russian airplane?”

“I don’t know what it was, but we’re going to find out just what you and your buddy there have to do with it.”

I looked at him and said, “You’re nuts, you know that?” He twisted my arm and put me in the back of the patrol car. He said, “We’ll see who is nuts.” He slammed the door. My cocker was jumping up against the side of the cop car, barking. I looked towards my house, my Mom was on the phone, I could see her though the kitchen window. The skinny cop was having trouble getting Johnny in the car, Johnny had his feet braced against the door frame and wouldn’t get in. He turned to me and yelled, “Rooskie” and we started to laugh all over again.

The skinny cop started to get rough with Johnny when our mothers walked up. John’s Mom, a tiny woman got in the cop’s face and said, “Take your hands off my son, you idiot!”

The pimpled faced cop spun around and said, “You want to go down to the station too, lady?”

My Mom who at the time reminded me of Katherine Hepburn said, “Do what she says or you’ll be even more of a laughing stock than you already are. It was on the radio that it was an Air National Guard jet buzzing the town, not a damned Russian airplane; the pilot is going to be arrested by the guard as soon as he lands. I would highly suggest you release our boys and be on your way.”

Virgil the cop joined the discussion, “Them boys was seen signaling the plane, they must have something to do with it.”

John’s mom looked at him and said, “You are a moron, you know that?”

I climbed into the front seat of the cop car, got out and joined my Mom, but not before I threw the keys across the street.

Mom said to the two cops, “If you don’t believe me why don’t you get on the radio and find out?”

The skinny and pimpled cop said, “We need to find out what these boys know and then find the one that got away.”

Johnny’s Mom said, “Do you know the definition of cretin?” She was all of 5 foot one and weighed about 95 lbs., she took out a Winston, offered my Mother one, lit them and blew smoke in the cop’s face, “Aren’t you about finished here?”

Virgil the fat one and Pimples the skinny cop, walked off, and had a discussion, it was a little heated. Our Moms smoked and glared at the cops. Johnny climbed over the seat of his cop car and trotted over to join the Moms and I.

Pimples got in his cruiser and roared off. Virgil told the crowd, “Nothing to see here, just go back to your homes, he tipped his hat at our mothers, got in the cop car and realized he couldn’t find his keys. John and I volunteered to help him, we searched for about 10 minutes, finally I walked across the street and retrieved them from the grass. I motioned to Johnny and he and I walked over to Officer Virgil, I smiled and said, “Found your keys.”

I tossed them to him, Johnny said, “Some rooskie had them, I’ll bet.” We both laughed like crazy and ran to join our Moms who were having a late afternoon cocktail and were smoking on the lawn chairs in John's backyard. Virgil the cop peeled rubber when he left. We had Pepsi and chocolate cookies. We thought our Moms were great and they were.

When school started that fall, all Johnny and I would do is say ‘Rooskie” to each other and we’d break up.

Our pilot was grounded for a year; he was demoted from Captain to Lieutenant. He went on to a career with Northwest Airlines…he had been top fighter pilot in Korea. He sure gave us a cool summer treat.


Friday, November 23, 2012

Tattoo Story

A friend is going through a conversation with his 17 year old daughter about tattoos, she is a smart, reasonable kid and I think she is winning the argument.

That said, tattoos are pretty polarizing things, they conjure up thoughts of your WWII vet Uncle Jimmy with an anchor on his chest or the friend who got drunk on his first weekend pass in the Marine Corps and woke up with "Semper Fi" on his arm.

Or the guy you know who had his first wife's name tattooed inside of a heart and he had to change Marianne to Susan. Or bikers with tats all over their chests and arms or the nice looking neighbor lady who when she bends over you get a peek at her "tramp stamp".

Historically tattoos were a way to tell a story before there was any communication beyond people simply telling stories to each other around the campfire. If somebody killed a woolly mammoth and fed the tribe for a month, it was commemorated with a tat.It enhanced the tale of triumph and personal history. I suppose it's still the same today in some respects.

When I was going through my biker phase, I rode my Harley Springer to a weekend rally. In between the 3rd and 4th band of the night, I wandered into one of the tattoo tents, drunk. I was paging through the the books of available tats, I heard my old man's voice in my head. he was saying are you crazy?

When my dad was in high school, the janitor had gotten a "Learn the Art of Tattooing by Mail" starter kit. He proceeded to tattoo the boys in the school. This guy had set up shop in the furnace room. he tattooed my dad's nick name on the inside of the old man's left bicep. Dad carried "Hollywood" in shaky script for the rest of his life. He hated it. It looked awful and it was there for ever. Drunk as I was that night, I put down the design books and left the tent. Thanks Dad.

I'm not judgemental about tattoos, I have a grand daughter with one, a niece and a nephew with a tat. I guess if their grandpa or uncle had a tat as bad as Dad's, they might have had 2nd thoughts.

From time to time, I do think about getting a nice piece of white cake tattooed on my arm with "Cakes" written under it. Hmmm?

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Calvin Trillin's story of the 1st Thanksgiving

Calvin Trillin's Campaign to Make Spaghetti Carbonara the National Dish for Thanksgiving –the real story of the first Thanksgiving.
[The following has been shamelessly excerpted from "Third Helpings," by Calvin Trillin. (These passages are quoted from Trillin, C. "The Tummy Trilogy," Farrar, Strauss and Giroux: New York, 1994, pp. 259-67.)]:

I have been campaigning to have the national Thanksgiving dish changed from turkey to spaghetti carbonara.

It does not take much historical research to uncover the fact that nobody knows if the Pilgrims really ate turkey at the first Thanksgiving dinner. The only thing we know for sure about what the Pilgrims ate is that it couldn't have tasted very good. Even today, well brought-up English girls are taught by their mothers to boil all veggies for at least a month and a half, just in case one of the dinner guests turns up without his teeth... (It is certainly unfair to say that the English lack both a cuisine and a sense of humor: their cooking is a joke in itself.)

It would also not require much digging to discover that Christopher Columbus, the man who may have brought linguine with clam sauce to this continent, was from Genoa, and obviously would have sooner acknowledged that the world was shaped like an isosceles triangle than to have eaten the sort of things that the English Puritans ate. Righting an ancient wrong against Columbus, a great man who certainly did not come all this way only to have a city in Ohio named after him, would be a serious historical contribution. Also, I happen to love spaghetti carbonara.

[In our family]...Thanksgiving has often been celebrated away from home. It was at other people's Thanksgiving tables that I first began to articulate my spaghetti carbonara campaign--although, since we were usually served turkey, I naturally did not mention that the campaign had been inspired partly by my belief that turkey is basically something college dormitories use to punish students for hanging around on Sunday... I reminded everyone how refreshing it would be to hear sports announcers call some annual tussle the Spaghetti Carbonara Day Classic.

I even had a ready answer to the occasional turkey fancier at those meals who insist that spaghetti carbonara was almost certainly not what our forebears ate at the first Thanksgiving dinner. As it happens, one of the things I give thanks for every year is that those people in the Plymouth Colony were not my forebears. Who wants forebears who put people in the stocks for playing the harpsichord on the Sabbath or having an innocent little game of pinch and giggle?

Finally there came a year when nobody invited us to Thanksgiving dinner. Alice's theory was that the word had got around town that I always made a pest out of myself berating the hostess for serving turkey instead of spaghetti carbonara...

However it came about, I was delighted at the opportunity we had been given to practice what I had been preaching--to sit down to a Thanksgiving dinner of spaghetti carbonara.

Naturally, the entire family went over to Rafetto's pasta store on Houston Street to see the spaghetti cut. I got the cheese at Joe's dairy, on Sullivan, a place that would have made Columbus feel right at home--there are plenty of Genoese on Sullivan; no Pilgrims--and then headed for the pork store on Carmine Street for the bacon and ham. Alice made the spaghetti carbonara. It was perfection. I love spaghetti carbonara. Then I began to tell the children the story of the first Thanksgiving:

In England, along time ago, there were people called Pilgrims who were very strict about making everyone observe the Sabbath and cooked food without any flavor and that sort of thing, and they decided to go to America, where they could enjoy Freedom to Nag. The other people in England said, "Glad to see the back of them." In America, the Pilgrims tried farming, but they couldn't get much done because they were always putting their best farmers in the stocks for crimes like Suspicion of Cheerfulness. The Indians took pity on the Pilgrims and helped them with their farming, even though the Indians thought that the Pilgrims were about as much fun as teenage circumcision. The Pilgrims were so grateful that at the end of their first year in America they invited the Indians over for a Thanksgiving meal. The Indians, having had some experience with Pilgrim cuisine during the year, took the precaution of taking along one dish of their own. They brought a dish that their ancestors had learned from none other than Christopher Columbus, who was known to the Indians as "the big Italian fellow." The dish was spaghetti carbonara--made with pancetta bacon and fontina and the best imported prosciutto. The Pilgrims hated it. They said it was "heretically tasty" and "the work of the devil" and "the sort of thing foreigners eat." The Indians were so disgusted that on the way back to their village after dinner one of them made a remark about the Pilgrims that was repeated down through the years and unfortunately caused confusion among historians about the first Thanksgiving meal. He said,
"What a bunch of turkeys!"

Wednesday, November 21, 2012


I cook almost every meal in our house, not that the Cakes can't cook, she can, does all the basics very, very well. But, sorry baby, I'm way better than you.

Tomorrow morning our house will be filled with the 1st smell of the season, the aroma of dressing getting its start on the stove. I'm making a bacon-sausage-apple dressing this year, when I add the celery and onions those old Thanksgiving memories will fill the kitchen and my head. I can see Grandma Franklin with a rag on her head making dressing early on Thanksgiving morning. It actually wasn't a rag it was a pair of cotton underwear, rather modest underwear since Dodie couldn't even imagine a thong! Although from seeing pictures of her when she was a young hottie I'm sure Grandpa would have liked thongs, a lot!

Those early Thanksgiving memories always feature a huge turkey, 20 plus lbs! The one I'm cooking tomorrow weighs 8 and a half. We won't be sitting at a table with 2 leafs and 12 people around it so 20 lbs would be over kill in my house.

In the fifties we were expected to dress up for Thanksgiving dinner, my mother would make me wear a tie and jacket like the "men" wore.

Thanksgiving was always great until I was about 15, at that point all I wanted to do was eat and get the hell out of the house so I could hang with my friends. When I was 16 all I wanted to do was eat, get the hell out of the house and go make out with my girl friend.

Depending on where the Thanksgiving feast was held, there were either cocktails or no cocktails, never any wine that I can recall. Tomorrow I have 4 bottles of wine ready to be uncorked. I started drinking wine with meals in the early 70's and somewhere there is picture of me at the head of the table at Thanksgiving in Boston, a daughter on either side of me and wine glasses on the table. I have a moustache and my hair is almost at my shoulders. There is another taken the same Thanksgiving in the front yard of our house, the girls are wearing matching dresses and parked in the background is my '70 MGB (the coveted split bumper year) I still have the girls, I wish I still had the MGB.

Back in paleolithic times when I was a kid, pro football was barely on the radar unless you lived somewhere that had a team, we didn't even have the Vikings in those days. So the meal was uninterrupted by "what's the score?" or freaking Al Micheals droning in the background. Tomorrow I'm timing our meal so I can sit down at 5 pacific and watch my Pats give the Jets the ass kicking they deserve.

My friend George says he never cared about the Thanksgiving dinner itself, what he remembers as the best part is what he calls "turkey hash". mashed potato, dressing, sweet potato, veggies, turkey meat all cut up, mixed together on a plate and doused with gravy. He spent a Thanksgiving with us and he gave my version his stamp of approval.

One Thanksgiving in Boston, Benevolent Bill Freeman*, one of my air staff came for the feast. Bill drank about 5 beers, a couple of whiskys, smoked a few doobies on the deck. He sat down after all that and proceeded to fill his plate with a layer of mashed potato that covered the entire plate, layered on turkey meat, sweet potato, more turkey, then dressing and poured gravy over the 3 lb pile of food. Bill removed a bottle of Louisiana hot sauce from his flannel shirt pocket and covered the plate with it. The bastard did it twice! He went back on the deck and smoked another doobie and started in on dessert. I believe we were listening to Iggy and the Stooges before dinner, during dinner it was the Grateful Dead's first live album. Whew, those were the days! Too bad Grandma Dodie wasn't there!

Have a killer Thanksgiving!

*Bill and I had lunch one day at a little Italian joint. Bill ordered a large house special pizza and 6 Michelobs. The waitress said 6? Bill said, "You got it sister and bring them all at once!" He did the hot sauce routine when his pizza came. I had a meatball sandwich and one Mich. Bill finished before I did. The guy was as skinny as a rail.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Have It Your Way

MacDonald's has a new CEO. Gross sales and net income is down. The one time leader in fast food in America and the world is shaky, or so it seems.

From the LA Timess business section this morning:

The head of U.S. operations for McDonald's Corp. is on her way out amid the burger chain's efforts to counter intense competition and a string of uncharacteristically sour financial results.
Jan Fields will depart Dec. 1 as president of McDonald's USA, a position she has held for more than two years. She will be replaced by Jeff Stratton, currently McDonald's global chief restaurant officer. Both are 57.

Sure, tough competition from other fast food sellers, Starbucks jumping into more than coffee and scones. All of that has an effect, but have you eaten at a Mickey D's lately?

My unscientific survey based on nothing more than a total of 4 visits in 2012.

1. Soggy fries. (McDonald's always had great fries.)
2. Cheeseburgers with un-melted cheese.
3. Cold burgers and even worse, a cold egg mcmuffin.
4. Stale buns
5. Messy, dirty stores.

That's my survey of McDonald's in Thousand Oaks, Ca, Pizmo Beach, Ca, Paso Robles, Ca and one at truck stop on 1-15 on the way to Vegas. You know what they all have in common? They were owned by investment groups. Most fast food and chain restaurants aren't owned by local folks any more, they are owned by investors who buy franchises in big clusters all over the country.

When Ray Kroc bought out the McDonald brothers, he sold franchises to local owners. Because of that process the owner had an investment in his or her community, they supported local charities, sponsored kid's sports teams and actually cared about the people they hired to work in their store. They even had full time employees beyond a manager or two. And they had a local "name" to protect.

Today an investment group owning 30-40-50 or more McDonalds franchises could care less about an individual market, store or the people working there. That leads to cheeseburgers without melted cheese served with soggy fries across a dirty counter. Did I forget the broken ice machine?

I don't think competition is hurting McDonald as much as lousy ownership. I wonder if they have taken a look at KFC? They sell raw chicken for a living now. Ray Kroc and Colonel Sanders must be weeping in fast food heaven. (hell?)

Tuesday, November 13, 2012


A friend of mine, born in the south, has an interesting take on what we should have done at the end of the Civil War. He believes we should have simply followed the law. If we had followed the law we would have tried every Confederate leader starting with Jefferson Davis, all the governors of the southern states, senators, congressmen and all of the Confederate Generals starting with Robert E. Lee for treason against the United States of America. If convicted they would have been hung as proscribed by law. I asked him why? He said the South would have then understood we were serious about preserving the union and we would have sent a message that all the laws of the United States would be followed and there would be no tolerance of any actions contrary to those laws. He believes we were too tolerant of the South's treason against the United States, we have allowed the South to create romantic and heroic myths (like the war wasn't about slavery) about the Civil War and to harbor ongoing grudges against the United States. And for many years ignore the laws of the land.

The United States forgave the South too quickly for treason and the country has paid a heavy price ever since for our tolerance and forgiveness. He believes that Jefferson Davis and Robert E. Lee swinging from a gallows in front of the Capitol would have sent a powerful message to the people in the old Confederacy making the last 150 years of our history very, very different.

During our conversation I told him I thought that was pretty harsh. His reply? "What do you think the South would have done if it had won the war?"

Historical Ignorance.

In a sane country school children like me wouldn't have been singing "Dixie" in grade school music class in the 50's. History would have been taught very differently and we would have the same reaction to the Confederate 'Stars and Bars" as we do to the Swastika flag of Nazi Germany or the Hammer and Sickle of the USSR.

Since the election we have states threatening to secede once again. There are petitions to the Federal Government drawn up since the election asking for permission to leave the Union. All the usual suspects are involved including all the states of the Confederacy, Alaska, etc. Strangely enough my old home state of North Dakota is circulating a petition as well. I can't imagine that they have considered the fact that for every dollar they contribute to the US in taxes they get a $1.63 back!

Can they can get that deal anywhere else?

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Post Election Thoughts

Jan and I voted last night at 6pm after she got back from her Westside store. Super efficient and it took less than 5 minutes. We've had early voting in California since 10/6.
More people vote when it's easy to vote. (In Australia they fine you if you don't vote.) In some states it is almost impossible to vote given the hassles, restrictions and ever changing rules. Fraudulent voting is not a real issue, never has been and it won't be in the future, it's bogus.

I know people who became Republicans in the 80's for one reason and one reason only, Ronald Reagan gave them a tax break, they have all forgotten that he raised taxes as well.
I don't think we'll be hearing from any more Republican, Male, Rape Experts again, but I could be wrong.
I think this election is the death knell for the Sunday Morning Talk Shows. Finally John McCain will be able to sleep in on Sunday and get some rest, he looks like he needs it.
Are we finished with Peggy Noonan, Krauthammer, O'Reilly (moaning about the "white establishment" last night) vapid David Gregory, the Lincoln administration White House correspondent Bob Schieffer and the rest of the pundocracy at last?
Keep all cameras and microphones away from Donald Trump. From reading his twitter feed he has lost what ever was left of his mind, it's that or his hair dye has eaten his brain. Take his cell phone away from him as well.
Would I be wrong to assume the Evangelicals, the Bishops, the Fundies and the rest of the religious whackos will get back to calling Mormonism a Cult? Poor old Billy Graham will have to add it back to his lists or will his boy Franklin do it for him? 
Can we be done with "both sides do it?" or the phrase "some say".
If there were members of the Democratic Party as far to the left as a large chunk of the Republicans are to the right, they'd have to be slightly to the left of Che Guevara.
The Tea Party has cost the Republican Party 7 senate seats over the last two elections. Is there an adult in the room? Not a chance.
We've all seen the damage from Hurricane Sandy on the east coast, billions and billions of dollars worth of destruction. Charles and David Koch, the billionaire backers of right wing causes could personally pay to repair it all and still have money left over. Think about that for a minute.
Karl Rove who raised (fleeced) almost 600 million for his two Super Pacs and other shadowy political groups from rich wingers this election season got a commission on every dollar. I'd take a stab at it and say Rove pocketed 10 plus million for his services.
The rabid right wingers have decided that Governor Chris Christie from NJ is a turncoat motherf*cker. 
How long before the 2nd Obama administration is a failure? How long is it until El Rushbo gets on the air and says it is....5-4-3-2-1-Show Time for the fat man!
Jesus H. Christ am I glad this is over or as we used to say in Boston "ovah"!


Tuesday, November 6, 2012

I'm a minority, an old white guy who voted for Obama!

I have two daughters, they are the reason why I voted for Obama.

I have two wonderful, beautiful and smart granddaughters, they are the reason I voted for Obama.

I have two grandsons, they need good schools, clean air, clean water and they need a fair chance in life. They are the reason I voted for Obama.

I have a smart and beautiful wife and she is the reason I voted for Obama.

I have 3 nieces and two step-nieces plus a couple of strong and smart nephews they are the reason I voted for Obama.

I have a close friend who is a corporate executive with one of America's biggest engineering companies. He is black, the fight he has had to fight his entire life is another reason why I voted for Obama.

I voted for Obama in honor of my mother, who was an unreconstructed FDR Democrat. Hope you're smilin' Mom! I am!

Monday, November 5, 2012

Things that piss me off!

I drove the Cake's car to work today. After I parked it in the lot outside my office, I spent a moment admiring it. (We've had the car since 1999 and I still like it!) I noticed that the left rear wheel had a good sized chip on the rim. The wheels are alloy and I had them refinished a year ago. I was standing there thinking, "How the hell did that happen?" I walked around to the right hand side of the car and the right rear wheel had a similar chip, once again, "How the hell did that happen?" Then it dawned on me, we bought two new rear tires and the moron at the tire shop didn't protect the rims when he put them on the tire machine. Jerk! It costs $125. a wheel for refinishing. Should be an interesting argument with the guy who owns the tire shop.

Continuing our way through the parking lot:

Why the hell can't people park their cars in the middle of a parking slot?

Our parking lot was resurfaced last week and over the weekend they coated it with sealer. I noticed  when you walk on the sealer, it sticks to your shoes and then it drops off on the carpet in the office leaving nice black spots. Everywhere!

The gas station boogie:

I buy gas at a very busy Union 76 station. It has two rows of 6 pumps, meaning 12 cars could fill at the same time, if the drivers only used their heads! Usually some moron stops his car in between two pumps and makes it impossible for anyone else to fill up until he/she is done. Or someone will pull up to the wrong side of the pump, opposite of where their gas fill is...they then tie up 5-8 other cars while they attempt to maneuver their damn car around the island.

Couples who argue in the car, like the Cakes and I:

We have a navigation system in our Grand Cherokee, my wife doesn't use it. Yesterday she talked me into going to Stein Mart so she could use a gift card and take advantage of some on line coupons. Okay then, I get behind the wheel and she is giving me directions. I start to hear her say, "Take a left here, I think." or "We should have gotten in the right lane, because we needed to take a right, I think." or "I don;t think we are going the right direction on this street." This BS went on for 10 minutes as we cruised Chatsworth and Granada Hills. I finally pulled into a church parking lot, made her call the store and get the damned address. I punched it into the nav system and there we were 5.7 miles from Stein Mart. I turned to her and said, "Sweetheart, what do you think navigation systems are for, if not to navigate?" When we pulled out of the Stein Mart lot, I pointed out we turned right on Chatsworth Blvd, we drove down to Reseda Blvd and took a left and then drove to 101 get back to the damn store you just do the opposite. By the way, Sugar you can save the location in the nav system!

I usually drive the Grand Cherokee, the nav/entertainment system has presets for satellite radio, I have set 16 of them. I have no idea why after my sweet wife drives the GC all the presets are gone and I have to reset them, every damn time. She gets pissed when I bring it up.

Home Entertainment Systems:

Usually on Saturday night we watch a pay for view movie. We have a Time-Warner supplied universal remote, it supposedly will operate all the functions of our home entertainment system. Every damned time we find a movie we want to watch, the remote some how magically changes the cable setting on the TV and for 5 minutes we piss around trying to get the set back n the correct cable setting. It does it every time. Can somebody come to my house and hang around for the 4 hour window Time-Warner requires to come out and fix the remote? I'd be forever grateful.

We have a dynamite sound system for our TV, it has a huge sub woofer that works so well that when I watch Sports Center on ESPN it amplifies the "thump, thump, thump" bullshit that they run under their programming, it's so loud it makes me crazy. On a regular TV sound system you can't even hear it!

I need to take my blood pressure pill or go to a bar.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Parents need to wake the hell up!

I own a driving school, its a 2nd career after 40 plus years in radio. The reason I started the school is kids can't drive worth a shit!

Here are the facts:

1. 50% of teens get in an accident within 18 months of licensing.

2. In California (and most other states, too) teens make up 15% of the population and are involved in 45% of the car accidents.

3. If 100 teens die in a year in the US, 73% of them die because of an auto accident. The other 27% die from all other causes. (cancer, drug overdoses, guns, birth defects, etc)

In California, a kid can get licensed after taking driver's ed, passing a 34 question multiple choice test and taking 6 hours of "professional" behind the wheel training lessons. They are supposed to spend a minimum of 50 hours driving with their Mom and Dad, then take a test at the DMV that lasts maybe 10 minutes and they are good to go. Most of the "professionals" teach the 6 required hours in 3 two hour blocks with no requirement for Freeway driving (most charge additional $$$ for that essential skill) or learning how to parallel park! I had to parallel park in ND when I took my driver's test at 14.
Most of may kids spend maybe 30 hours driving with their parents.

Funny anecdote, when I was setting up the office, I hired a temp for a week, she was a home for the summer Jr at UC Santa Barbara. One morning she came in the office and said she had spent 45 minutes looking for a parking spot in Hollywood before she found one that she could park in. She had a California driver's license for 5 years! Could I teach her how to parallel park? I did, it took an hour.

Take a look at what we do at DRIVE! Here's the link...give me some feedback and tell me if I'm on the right track in my late in life crusade!

I'm damn serious about this and I love working with the kids and parents...its been great fun.

Oh, here's a fun fact. Do you know what family car sold today would blow the doors off any and all 60's muscle cars? A plain jane V6 Camrey. It will trounce a GTO, 'Cuda, Mustang, Z-28, all of them, zero to 6o, in the quarter mile and zero to 100. What parent in the 60's would have handed their 16 year old son the keys to an Impala Super Sport with a 409 and 4 on the floor? Not a one and today little Jimmy gets in his Mom's Toyota that will do zero to 60 in less than 6 seconds.