Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Stooge Impersonators, Dollar Dumbasses and Not-So-Fair Bradys

Is anyone still out there. . .There. . .THERE (echo effect)? If so, thanks for sticking with me. I truly appreciate your loyalty.

Here are a few scraps from the sluice box of my mind. I would’ve written full-length posts on these topics, but for two reasons. First, I’m a lazy bastard. Second, every writer currently using the English language (or its modern facsimile) has already done so. These horses begged me not to kick them, since they had already been dead for awhile. Being an animal-lover, I agreed.

So like hungry guests gathered ‘round a fondue pot, you’ll ask, “What the hell is this shit?” Then you’ll have to make the most of these pieces and bits I’ve offered you. Sorry. It’s the painkillers.

HURRICANE KATRINA: There is nothing more I can add to the accounts of the devastating losses suffered by our fellow citizens along the Gulf Coast. What more can I say about the heroic rescue and recovery effort that hasn’t been already said? May God bless and help them all. And please, friends, give whatever you can to your local Red Cross or Salvation Army.

I do have something to say, however, to certain politicians connected to this disaster. Having no desire to shame them any further, I won’t mention their names. I’ll simply identify them by their job descriptions: the mayor of New Orleans, the governor of Louisiana and the President of the United States. While I was aware of Elvis impersonators, I didn’t know that the Three Stooges had imitators, too. What an act! First, you sleep through a hurricane. Then, you take turns kicking each other in the ass for doing so. Moe, Larry and Curley couldn’t have done a better job themselves. Nyuk, nyuk, YUCK.

Spread out, you political numbskulls. Quit playing the Blame Game. You each own an equal part of this catastrophe. And Democrats in Congress, can the righteous indignation. You’re the Shemp, Joe and Curley Joe of this routine. Human life is not a partisan issue. Democrats and Republicans alike, that red stuff on your hands is blood. Red blood spilled because of red tape. Like Lady Macbeth, you will find that it never washes off. True, you can’t undo what has been done. But instead of finger-pointing, you can make sure it doesn’t happen again.

MONEY: I don’t mean to be judgmental. When I’ve got a few extra bucks to spend, I also like to have fun. Wine, women and song are just a few ways in which I blew significant parts of Ye Olde Paycheck. When I had one, that is. But I’d like to take this opportunity to note a certain phenomenon that has become difficult to ignore. A whole generation of Americans seems to think that money grows on the proverbial trees. Instead of nurturing those trees, these Americans are using and abusing them down to stumps, like that idiot kid in Shel Silverstein’s The Giving Tree. It’s time for Uncle John to fetch these younguns out to the woodshed and give ‘em a talking to.

I’m no economic wiz, but then, you don’t have to be to figure it out. Recently, I haven’t had a paycheck. So guess what? Wine, women and song have been put on indefinite hold. The only luxury I allow myself is porn, and that’s only because the ‘rents have HBO. What money I have goes for necessities which, at this time, include medical bills, physical therapy and a boatload o’ meds. I’d rather spend it on wine, women and song, but I can’t. At least, not right now, because—here’s a term that’s passed out of the language—I can’t afford to.

Let me translate that last phrase for those of you wearing question marks on your faces. It means, “first things first.” An alternate definition: “Never spend more than you earn.” American kids used to learn these concepts in grammar school, in “educational” films they’d watch on squeaky, fuzzy-lensed projectors manned by retainer-wearing dorks from the A.V. Department. Now, these concepts seem as dated as those films. “Dick has his eye on a nifty Cub Scout knife at the hardware store. It sure would come in handy, he thinks, at the next campout! The Scout knife costs $2.00. But Dick’s in a jam. He invited Jane to the drugstore after school tomorrow for a 25-cent chocolate soda. And Dick finds that there’s only $1.50 in his piggy bank! What should Dick do?” The camera would zoom in on the puzzled face of a preteen wearing way too much Brylcreem in his hair. At this point, Miss Crabtree would have A.V. Dork stop the projector for a class discussion. “What, boys and girls, would you do if you were in Dick’s jam?” she’d ask innocently. Then, she’d send the fat kid to the principal’s office for giggling at the question.

In those days, the answer was obvious. Dick would’ve told Jane to enjoy a glass of rich, chocolatey Ovaltine at home, while he collected pop bottles to earn 50 cents for the Scout knife. To get what you wanted, you had to cut corners, work a little harder, save your money and wait patiently until you could afford it. Back then, you would’ve filed this idea under ‘d’ for “Duh!” Not anymore. The thought has become so foreign, I could have written it in ancient Egyptian hieroglyphics. If that “educational” film were made in 2005, Dick would charge the Scout knife and the sodas to his Discover card, maxing it out in the process. And in case you didn’t know it, yes, kids Dick’s age now have their own credit cards.

TV commercials provide proof that some of us have forgotten these concepts. There is a chain—a chain, mind you—of payroll advance stores called “Check Into Cash”. From their ads, you’d think they were giving money away, no strings attached. The actual product they’re pushing, of course, is debt. Debt is now a product advertised on American TV. Following “Check Into Cash” are ads for umpteen strip-mall lawyers who promise to dig you out of debt (lawyer's fee = more debt). These commercials are trailed by ads for car dealers who will sell you that Lincoln Navigator on a payment plan so easy, you’ll forget that you’re broke and your credit rating’s destroyed. “Worry about it,” they seem to say, “when the bill comes due. Figure it out then.” So you’re in still more debt. Remember the story about the tortoise and the hare? The tortoises have disappeared. We’ve become a race of hares. Only now, we’re running from bill-collectors.

But don’t fret younguns, Uncle John has the answer! It’s called the Dollar Dumbass Club. Anyone who’s consistently ass-deep in trouble for careless spending could join. A judge would send them to a certified Dollar Dumbass class. All D.D. classes would be taught at night at local grammar schools. D.D. teachers would be former Army drill instructors or Catholic nuns age 60 and above. Typical spendoholics are overgrown children who can’t say no to their impulses. In a Dollar Dumbass class, they would be treated and taught like children, (re)learning the money management skills most kids have absorbed by the 5th Grade. During their stint in the D.D. Club, members would be strictly limited to a court-determined monthly allowance. Access to bank accounts and credit cards would be restored following members’ successful completion of the Dollar Dumbass course. Yes, there would be a Final Exam.

When it comes to money, friends, we should remember something good ol’ Ben Franklin once said. “Neither a borrower nor a lender be.” We should also remember that Ben Franklin died a wealthy man.

REALITY TV: I could write a book about this horse-pucky. In the interest of space, I’ll focus on just one new show. Thank you, dear VH1, for bringing us “My Fair Brady” (Sunday, 9:00p.m. CST). Sing along, won’t you?

This is the story of the man who played Peter Brady. His acting career crapped out three decades ago. But he craved another taste of the spotlight and a young chick to bone.

This is the story of a girl named Adrienne Curry. She won “America’s Next Top Model” because she’s really, really fine. But because she’s also talent-free, she latched on to this old fart to keep her name in the headlines.

“My Fair Brady” is a train wreck waiting to happen. This flower of love first bloomed last Spring, when Adrienne Curry and Christopher Knight (Peter) hooked up on VH1’s “The Surreal Life 4”. According to “inside sources” I don’t care enough about to cite here, the 47-year old Knight initially resisted the 22-year old Curry’s bulldozer-like advances. But VH1’s producers, in the interests of true love and higher ratings, convinced him to pursue the relationship. Curry first admitted her feelings for Knight during an on-camera phone conversation. With who? Her mother, her best friend? No, with her manager and with the same passion she might muster in discussing college football stats. The only things missing were Oprah Winfrey and a couch to jump on.

In actuality, what Curry and Knight had was a vacation fling. It was like all vacation flings—short, intense and fun while it lasted. Sadly, the couple didn’t split up when “The Surreal Life 4” ended. They moved in together. And as anyone who has ever had one can tell you, trying to extend your vacation fling past your vacation is like wearing your Halloween costume all year ‘round. If you enjoy such silliness, it’s on full display here (at this writing, only episode #1 had aired). “My Fair Brady” is the chronicle of two otherwise cool-seeming people who are forced, for contractual reasons, to continue playing at a relationship that’s clearly played out. Unfortunately, the viewer will find that Curry and Knight’s undeniable frustration with each other makes for rather uncomfortable viewing.

Throughout episode #1, the stars engage each other in a desperate tug-of-war. Curry wants to marry Knight and have his children. Twice divorced and childless, Knight wishes Curry would slow down and give him breathing space by moving into her own apartment. She bitches about his hyper-neatness. He grumbles about her habitual sloppiness. “Brady Bunch” mom Florence Henderson, a licensed couples therapist (when did that happen?), drops in to visit and advise the embattled lovebirds. In a private moment, Florence tells Knight what every alert viewer already knows—that this relationship is as doomed as Jessica Simpson’s husband’s solo career. In between the soap opera histrionics, there are plenty of PG-rated sex scenes; the most memorable one features Curry dressed in a black leather dominatrix outfit. While fun, these segments fail to serve their true purpose—making the viewer forget the diminishing chemistry between Beauty and the Brady.

VH1’s producers must be sadistic. Why else would they so eagerly inflict this sorry trash on the public? They clearly intended the conflict between the two stars to serve as a cliffhanger of sorts, as if the spectacle of a disintegrating romance would keep us tuning in each week. Will Curry, who has apparently settled for marrying a celebrity instead being one herself, break down Knight’s defenses? Will Knight, who seems to feel so trapped he’s all but blinking an S.O.S. to the audience, convince Curry to back off? Will Knight finally tell Curry that she’s the only one who thinks her continuous burping is funny? Will Curry finally recognize Knight as the old horn-dog he is (in episode #1, Knight tongue-kisses singer Jane Wiedlin at a party, directly in front of Curry)? Will she at last dump him for someone her own age? After watching one episode, I didn’t care. I don’t suppose many other healthy-minded viewers will, either.

They say an audience gets the entertainment it deserves. Is this what we deserve, friends? “My Fair Brady”, like most reality shows, is a mere variation of a stale joke. You know the one. Invite someone to sit down next to you. Pull the chair out for them. Just before their ass touches the chair, pull the chair away and watch them hit the floor. Over and over and over, live on videotape. The joke has been refurbished enough to be palatable to the MTV/VH1 generations, most of whom weren’t even born when “The Brady Bunch” was on the air. But it’s still stale and it’s still a joke. A pitiful one, if you ask me.

We’ve had at least five years of this joke called reality TV. How many more times can we watch washed-up actors, has-been models, over-the-hill musicians and other glory hogs hit the floor? All that’s left is one simple question that you can only answer for yourselves. Why are we watching this shit?

The Doctor Do-Si-Do

The following post is based on actual events. Names have been changed to protect the innocent. Namely, me.

The first part of this tale has already been told. Intellectual giant tumbles down a dark staircase and injures shoulder. Spends the next 6 weeks sitting on his ass and gulping pills like Johnny Cash before he found Jesus. Surfaces only to post drug-inspired rants on his blog. Bores everyone, including himself. Now, to quote Paul Harvey, here is the rest of the story.

The day after It happened, I did what any normal person would do. I called my primary care physician, Dr. Innsbrook. Dr. I., a knowledgeable, thorough and personable M.D., has treated me for over ten years. I would trust her with my life, and that’s no pun. Unfortunately, my shoulder injury was out of her department, so she recommended a specialist. Since Dr. Innsbrook is always on-target, I took her advice. I made an appointment to see Dr. Cunningham, an orthopedist.

Dr. Cunningham could answer a Hollywood casting call for a “doctor-type”. He’s got the whole look working for him: bald head, little round glasses, white coat, academic bearing. His hands, regardless of the weather, are always ice-cold. His spits out medical jargon so complex, I can’t reproduce it here. Thankfully, he’s always willing to translate it into moron for me. Best of all, he keeps me stocked with painkillers.

While Dr. C. is a fine orthopedist, I don’t believe it was his first career choice. I get the impression that he would’ve preferred psychology.

“I’m scheduling you for an MRI, John,” he said during our first visit. “How does that make you feel?”

How did it make me feel? I didn’t know MRI’s from M & M’s. MRI is the abbreviation for Magnetic Resonance Imaging. I’ll let the Merriam-Webster’s Medical Dictionary define it for you: “a noninvasive diagnostic technique that produces computerized images of internal body tissues and is based on nuclear magnetic resonance of atoms within the body induced by the application of radio waves called also MRI.” I guess the MRI provides the doctor with a more detailed picture of the target area than an x-ray. To my deviant mind, it sounded like something you paid extra for at an Asian massage parlor.

“If it involves someone resembling Lucy Liu and a bottle of baby oil, I’m all for it!” I grinned.

“Okay,” Dr. Cunningham smiled back, “we’re talking the same language.” This is another odd thing he keeps saying. Odd, because his language is medicine and mine, as you know, is bullshit. Odd, because the MRI, to my surprise, had nothing to do with either Lucy Liu look-a-likes or oily rubdowns.

Have you seen “2001: A Space Odyssey”? Remember those scientists in those little cylinder-shaped things? The scientists we never see, because they’re in suspended animation until the spaceship reaches Jupiter? That’s what the MRI machine looks like. An MRI technician stretched me out on a conveyer-belt, covered me with a lead-lined blanket and rolled my ass all the way into that freaky “2001” cylinder. There couldn’t have been more than three or four inches of space in any direction. I swear, if anyone had started singing “A Bicycle Built For Two” I would’ve lost it. At first, I found myself lying in total darkness. Then, there was soft light and intermittent buzzing, not to mention my panicked breathing.

In these kinds of situations, you need a calm, reassuring voice to guide you. My MRI technician happened to be a young Indian man. I would’ve preferred a young Indian woman, but that’s beside the point. Many Indians have musical, lilting voices. And where but India would you find the sense of Zen-like tranquility I so urgently needed at that moment? At least, I figured, I had that thought to cling to.

“Hey, Twitchy!” called the MRI technician in his lilting, Indian voice. “Stay still or you’ll ruin the image! I’ve got an ass-load of patients to see, and no time for horseshit!” Just my luck. Indian voice, American attitude.

“Sorry,” I panted, “I’m just hyperventilating.”

“Well, don’t,” he said, which really helped. “Think of something nice. Like a field of flowers or a pretty girl.”

Aha! A bolt of inspiration hit me! Julianna Margulies and I were resting on a blanket in a field of Queen Anne’s Lace. I was shirtless and she had a bottle of baby oil. You can fill in the blanks. The tension ran out of my body and I breathed easily. Sometimes, it pays to be a perv.

Two days later, I was back in Dr. Cunningham’s office.

“How was your MRI experience?” Dr. Cunningham asked. See? Weird.

“Not bad,” I said, “if you’re a Stanley Kubrick fan. Thank God Julianna Margulies showed up or I wouldn’t have survived.”

Cunningham didn’t bat an eye. “All right, we’re talking the same language.” He scribbled on two pages of a prescription pad, tore off the pages and gave them to me. “I want to cover all the bases here. I’m sending you to the Pain Center downstairs for an evaluation. Then, you start physical therapy. The phone numbers are on those pages. See me again in a month.”

Another week, another examination room. Why are all examination rooms so damn cold, I was thinking, when in walked William “Refrigerator” Perry, the defensive lineman for the 1985 Super Bowl champion Chicago Bears. No, not really. Just a guy who looks like him. He’s NFL-big and NFL-round and wears a white coat that’s a size too small for him—even though it’s probably the largest size available.

“John,” he said, “pleased to meet you. I’m Dr. Weber and I’ll be doing your pain evaluation.” Why do these mammoth-sized guys always have such low, muted voices? This dude needed some Phlegm-B-Gone.

Okay, I’m not going to sass the Fridge. He kicked things off (ha-ha) by asking me for information.

“What medication are you on?” inquired Dr. Weber. “What dosage and dose schedule?”

This troubled me, because I assumed Dr. Cunningham recorded this data in my file, the folder Dr. Weber was holding in his giant paw. I had to think for a minute.

“Uh, there’s the big orange pill. I think it’s called Gabapentin and I take two of those three times a day. Vicodin, one tablet, which I take occasionally for any pain I might have between doses of the other one. Then there’s a little green pill, Elavil, which Dr. Cunningham has me take one of at bedtime, to help me sleep. I don’t know the dosages.”

Next, Dr. Weber asked me a question any orthopedic patient will soon commit to memory.

“How severe is the pain you’re feeling right now? On a scale of one to ten, with ten being the worst and one being the best, how would you rate your pain at this current time?”

“Before the painkillers, it was an eight or nine,” I said. “Since the meds, I’d rate it a three or four.”

Weber was writing something in my file. “What is a tolerable level for you?” he asked.

“One. If one is pain-free, then one is what I’m aiming for. What else, right?”

Weber didn’t respond. Unlike Cunningham, I guess he was happy being a pain evaluator, or whatever his official title was. He didn’t bombard me with questions regarding my feelings or experiences. Weber focused on my symptoms and used words like there was a charge for each one. Often, he just grunted or nodded when I responded. His evaluation of my pain? It was state of the art. Weber pinched and squeezed my right shoulder, saying “Uh-huh” at various intervals. Then he poked and prodded me along my shoulder and arm with an actual toothpick, while asking me how it felt. That was it.

I was putting on my shirt when Dr. Weber asked me a question that bugged me.

“Has Dr. Cunningham seen your MRI?” he said.

With all due respect to Dr. W., I found the question foolishly obvious. It was like asking me if birds flew or if Duran Duran was a crappy band. “I don’t know,” I said. “Why wouldn’t he? He ordered it.”

Dr. Weber mumbled something I couldn’t make out, then wished me a swift recovery.

Like a ship adrift on a pharmaceutical sea, I meandered through the next few days. Soon, it was time for physical therapy. A new, equally frigid examination room awaited me. I was dosing in a chair when the therapist entered.

“Morning Mr. Left! I’m Mr. Malph! Take off the shirt and lie face-down on the table. Your mug goes in that little hole at the top. We’ll have you all right in no time, Mr. Left. Get it? Right, Left? Just some humor to take the edge off.”

Hardy-har-har. Like I haven’t been hearing that crap for half my life. I did as he asked. Dr. Cunningham ordered me six weeks of physical therapy, three days a week, so Mr. Malph and I will become well-acquainted. Malph is short, no more than five-five. His fiery red hair is closely clipped, as is his chin beard. He has the compact frame of a gymnast. His tone of voice borders on shouting, as if he thinks I’m deaf. The things he considers to be jokes never stop.

“Mr. Left,” Malph yelled, as he kneaded my back like fresh dough. “Did you hear about the man who had the whole left side of his body cut off? It was awful. But he’s all right now. Hear that? All right!” He broke into a fit of hyena-like laughter.

What I dreamed of was a gentle massage given by a beautiful woman. What I got was a series of wrestling holds applied by Milton Berle reincarnated as a leprechaun.

Based on my experience with Weber, I was a bit wary of Malph. I saw him making detailed notes throughout our first session. At the end, I pulled him aside.

“Dr. Cunningham is my orthopedist. He sent me to you. Will you be faxing your notes over to him for reference?”

For once, Malph struggled for words. “Uh, I can if you’d like me to. Usually, I just keep them on file here. It’s the patient’s choice.”

You know, I’m not the brightest bulb on the wire. But I was gradually catching on. I was getting a funny little feeling that I didn’t like. It carried over to my next visit with Dr. Cunningham.

“So, John,” said the venerable doctor, poking and feeling my shoulder. “How did the pain evaluation go?”

That did it. The little red warning light inside my head was flashing now. “Don’t you know?” I asked him.

Slight pause from Dr. C., along with an anxious glance at the file he left sitting on the counter across the room. “Oh, c-certainly,” he stammered. “I wanted to hear it from you.”

Our culture has standard images. The compassionate parent. The teacher dedicated to learning, the cop sworn to uphold the law. Along with these stands the doctor, a devoted healer who knows and treats each patient individually. Leaving Dr. Cunningham’s office that day, I felt like I did the day I discovered Santa Claus wasn’t real. My father sensed this in the car on the way home.

“What’s eating you?” Dad said. “I haven’t seen you this depressed since Air Force Amy left the Bunny Ranch on ‘Cathouse.’”

“I’m not depressed, Dad, I’m worried,” I said. “I’m seeing two doctors and a physical therapist. I’ve trusted these guys with my health. It’s clear that none of them knows what the other is doing toward my recovery.”

“Well, don’t just sit on your duff waiting for these quacks to screw up. Call your sister, she’ll know what to do. Either that or get used to wiping yourself southpaw.” Dad reached for the volume knob on the radio. “Now, zip it. Limbaugh’s on.”

Dad was right. My sister had worked in nursing homes for several years. Before that, she’d been a candy striper in a couple of area hospitals. She’d learned a lot about the in’s and out’s of the medical business. I phoned her and told her what was on my mind. Sis was the picture of benevolence.

“Christ, what planet have you been on?” she asked. “News flash! It’s not like on ‘ER’ where the doctors hang out together and talk to each other all the time. They’re extremely busy, all too human beings with diverse schedules.”

“All right, but what am I paying them a shitload of money for?” I said. “So I can play messenger running between their offices, keeping them informed about my case?”

“Welcome to the 21st Century. It’s a self-serve world. If you don’t do it, no one else will. Write everything down, including names and dates. Have them fax all paperwork to Cunningham. If they won’t fax, go there, photocopy the papers and deliver them to Cunningham yourself. Then, you’ll have nothing to worry about.”

“Aw, that’s a pain in the ass!” I whined. I could never sing, but I can sure hit that high note when I’m crying in my beer.

“Right,” said Sis. “But you’ve got to do it. You have to be your own advocate. You have to ask questions, read all the fine print, take nothing for granted and make sure everything needed gets to where it needs to be. You have to be a fussy bastard. It’s the only way you can be sure they’ll give you the best care possible.”

It was hard, but I did it. I started a notebook in which I record names, dates and descriptions of what was done. I organized all my paperwork in a folder. I keep an updated list of the names, dosages and dose schedules of my meds. I made sure Malph’s notes were faxed to Cunningham. I hand-delivered copies of Weber’s pain evaluation to Cunningham. This pissed me off, because Dr.C.’s office is one floor above Weber’s. But Weber’s receptionist, due to “privacy laws”, refused to fax those documents. It meant a wasted half-hour brown-nosing the clerk in the clinic’s Records Department, but I did it. All of my info is now in my file in Cunningham’s office, ready and waiting. And yes, it was a pain in the ass.

But you know what? I’m not worried anymore.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Stuff I Don't Want to Hear About Until Next Summer List

Drugs, doctors, physical therapy, doctors, therapy and drugs. I'll be sure to check in with my thoughts on these delightful subjects (and Lord, I've got a mother-lode, stay tuned!) once I've fully emerged from my Vicodin haze. In the meantime, I figured I'd help put a big period to this wild n' crazy summer with the above-mentioned list...

Okay, okay. I know lists are cheating. But admit it, they are kind of fun. All right then, humor your drug-addled correspondent. You can at least concede that these people/things got way too much coverage this summer. In the interest of sanity, let's all agree that they shouldn't be mentioned again until the next time you see flip-flops on sale at Wal-Mart.

1.) Tom Cruise

2.) Katie Holmes

3.) Tom Cruise and/or Katie Holmes. To anyone over age 12, this relationship/business deal looked phonier than William Shatner's toupee from the get-go.

4.) The well-meaning-but-ultimately-vague-in-conception-and-somewhat-disappointing-in-execution-won't-be-remembered-in-20-years-like-Live-Aid-do-you-think-Bush-and-Blair-actually-watched-it-how-did-MTV-bungle-Pink-Floyd's-segment-hope-they-got-whatever-they-wanted-from-this-event known as "Live 8".
Living proof that you can't reheat a souffle, not even with the best of intentions. Sorry, Gen Y, but this counts as your first cultural/generational phawkup. U2 kicked Coldplay's ass. Next time, pull out those iPod earplugs and listen to your Baby Boomer parents' stories about Woodstock, so you'll know how to run a proper rock festival.

5.) Paris Hilton

6.) Paris Hilton's feud with Nicole Richie. What is it about these two untalented, spoiled, clueless brats that rivets America's attention? Well, besides that? In 20 years, they'll be dueling Janice Dickinsons. And yes, the fact that I know who Janice is says that reality TV, in general, belongs on this list, too.

7.) The heat. It's summer, for Christ's sake. All bitching about the cold is strictly forbidden until at least November. Midwesterners, you know who you are!

8.) Any and all crappy movies. Again, it's summer, for Christ's sake. Hollywood's "Let's Fob Our Junk Off on the Multiplexes" season. Like baseball, it's a summer tradition.

9.) Z-list celebrities ballroom dancing. It wasn't that good (except when Kelly What's-Her-Name's top "accidentally" fell off). Evander Holyfield, what happened? Could a fox-trotting Mike Tyson be far behind? Yeeesh!

10.) All the old 1960s peaceniks weaselling in on Cindy Sheehan's protest down in Crawford, Texas. Joan Baez, Ritchie Havens, Pete Seeger, etc.,"Kum Bi Yah" your way back to wherever you came from. We'll catch you on "Swinging Sixties Memories" during the next PBS fund-drive. A mother's grief is not a photo-op (except perhaps, depending on how you view the issue, for that mother).

There have been so many overexposed people/things this summer, I couldn't remember them all. Feel free to chime in with yours. I'll be back with a real post, I promise, ASAP. Gotta go now, 'cause I have a date with a physical therapist.

Hey, get your mind out of the gutter!