Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Another Year

Today is the most important holiday of my year.

Holiday seems to be derived from holy day. Some holidays like Christmas, Hanukah and Ramadan are connected to worship of a higher power. Some holidays involve honoring higher causes (Independence Day) or paying respect to groups of people who fought in the name of higher causes (Veterans Day and Memorial Day). The holiness of individuals is often cause for celebration … Presidents Washington and Lincoln, for example, or Dr. King.

In my opinion, however, the day of one’s own birth is the most important holiday of all. And today, I celebrate turning, uhh, f-f-fifty something.

The day started out as quite a solo celebration. My wife and our house guest both forgot to mention it this morning. Nobody sang Happy Birthday to me before lunch. My sister called to wish me Happy Birthday around 1 p.m. and my wife did the same about two hours later. Then I was surprised by some co-workers who came into my office with a cake around 5 and I was greeted at home with carrot cake (my favorite) and 5 or 6 birthday cards.

All things considered, today was a pretty good holiday. And I thank that higher power for any assistance he or she has given me in remaining healthy and young.


Wow, hollilama taggged me with a challenge to post five things about myself that most people would not know. OK, why not?

1. My original career plan while in college in the 1970s was to study Marketing, Sociology and Urban Studies, graduate, then work as a bureaucrat in my hometown New Orleans. Instead, I dropped out of college at the end of 3 years to try out my childhood fantasy of being on the radio and I’m still living that dream more than 30 years later.

2. I’ve participated in a hot air balloon race.

3. I can identify most makes and models of cars made between 1954 and 1964. The weird thing is that I didn’t realize I was such an old car geek till I ran into a childhood neighbor at my Mother’s funeral last year. I hadn’t seen her in 40 years and her first question to me was “what are you driving?” As I pointed to my wife’s minivan I asked her why she wanted to know. Her answer: “When we used to play on your swing set, all you talked about was cars.” We were 6 or 7 years old at the time.

4. I took saxophone lessons for a year starting at age 39.

5. Although most of my music listening involves 70s and 80s rock and 90s Country, my all-time favorite piece of music is Gershwin’s Rhapsody In Blue.

I won’t tag anyone on this one, but I know Ian, LeeAndra and Meander like to do these and Diner Girl can rarely resist a list.

Thursday, January 25, 2007


I tried posting this photo a few times while in Florida, but was unsuccessful.

One thing I really loved about Disney is that a f-f-fifty something guy can feel like a kid there. And because my wife and I don't have kids, the next best thing is for me to BE a kid.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007


I've been at Disney World for two days now and I am certain I have heard the words "thank you" a thousand times. Also "welcome," "are you enjoying yourself?" and "good morning."

I'm hear on business and I realize being part of the media during a media event means I'm getting extra-special treatment, but I have seen the very same Disney Cast Members (everyone who works here is called cast member) treat the general public with the same friendliness. I don't mean this to sound like a commercial, but this place really is friendly. And fun.

And I met Mickey and Minnie.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Painful To Watch

Watching the Saints lose to the Bears this afternoon was painful. Chicago won the game 39-14.

Both teams sucked during the 1st quarter, Chicago was hot during the 2nd, the Saints blasted out of half-time with a serious turn of momentum, but the Bears dominated the rest of the game.

I’m still happy the Saints got as far as they did. Watch out next year!!

Sunday, January 14, 2007

His Dream – Our Dream

You can’t be 50-plus in America and not remember Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. If you are a white and grew up in the South in the 1960s, your first feelings about him, however, might have been a lot different than they are now.

I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal."

I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia, the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.

Many, if not most white people felt at the time that blacks were not their equal. Some whites who believed in their hearts that African Americans should have equal rights also believed that those rights should be granted gradually over time. Dr. King said that a hundred years of waiting was long enough.

We have also come to this hallowed spot to remind America of the fierce urgency of Now. This is no time to engage in the luxury of cooling off or to take the tranquilizing drug of gradualism. Now is the time to make real the promises of democracy. Now is the time to rise from the dark and desolate valley of segregation to the sunlit path of racial justice. Now is the time to lift our nation from the quicksands of racial injustice to the solid rock of brotherhood.

He was a dynamic speaker who inspired and motivated African Americans to peacefully, but assertively stand up for their rights, to insist they be allowed to live the American Dream. He preached that the freedom our country was founded on should be for all Americans. Whites were afraid of large groups of black people, and Dr. King was leading many of those groups in peaceful demonstrations. To many white people, he was a threat.

Much of that attitude was fueled by fear of the unknown. Whites and blacks didn’t know each other. For example, my original hometown New Orleans was (and still is) a racially segregated city. The population of New Orleans was nearly 50% African American in the 60s but blacks and whites rarely lived in the same neighborhoods. Before high school, I had met exactly two black people: Corrine, the cleaning woman who worked for our neighbors next door, and her husband Jasper, who was their gardener.

It wasn’t until years later, while serving in the Army, that I met the full cross-section of African Americans, including my bunk-mate, a Psychology major at Howard University. We had both left college and enlisted rather than getting drafted, with the hope we’d get a better deal. On guard duty, he and I talked about our love of New Orleans food, Jazz and our families. We learned something we each had suspected all along: we were very similar people.

In a way, we were living Martin Luther King, Jr.’s dream:

I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.

Now, more than 43 years after his famous speech on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial that I’ve quoted in this post and nearly 39 years after his assassination in Memphis, Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. is honored with a national holiday. And sadly, in my opinion, this holiday, which is only officially 23 years old, is already devolving into just another day off with big holiday sales at the mall.

This is not a blog post from a white guy feeling guilty on behalf of my ancestors or even my parents. This is a Boomer sharing observations about the impact of an American hero who walked the streets of our great country during my lifetime. Like we later have learned about many famous people, Dr. King had several less-than-flattering personality flaws. But that does not, in my opinion, take anything away from the profound influence of his words and public actions.

And so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.

If you have a moment, read the full speech. Better still, listen or watch.

His dream was every American’s dream. That is something I believe we should think about tomorrow.

How ‘bout Them Saints

The Saints beat the Eagles 27-24 tonight and are headed for their first NFC Championship Game in their 39-year history. Win that game, and they go to the Super Bowl.

Just last season the Saints finished 3-13 and played no home games in Katrina-devastated New Orleans. Two seasons ago the Eagles were in the Super Bowl.

In my last post I said it could happen. The Saints are now one game closer.

Friday, January 12, 2007

It Could Happen.

The New Orleans Saints could actually be in the Super Bowl this year.

That combination of words is so unusual I think I have to say it again: The New Orleans Saints could actually be in the Super Bowl this year.

I’m so arrogant, uhh, I mean confident that this is their year that I will predict right here that the Saints will beat the Eagles tomorrow night in the Superdome. And they will play in the Super Bowl. They’ll lose that game, but who cares? This is the year they’ll get in the game.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

A Time Machine II

I have in my hands a printed time machine.

This time it’s not a song that takes me back to my youth, but an actual magazine that was printed in my youth. My wife found this in a stack of stuff as she cleaned out our guest room. Her Dad was a dentist and this very magazine once sat on the table in his waiting room.

What I find on the pages reveals some interesting glimpses from 1968:

• The price for the May 31, 1968 issue of Life Magazine was 35 cents.
• The full-page inside cover ad is for window-unit air conditioners in new fashion colors.
• On the next page is a full-page ad describing in great detail the filtering process used on Lark cigarettes.
• There are several more ads for cigarettes, two for pipes and one for cigars.
• A full-page ad for Ford explains their new woven vinyl upholstery. “Because it’s woven, it circulates air. Which helps keep you cool and unrumpled when it’s torrid; cozy and comfortable when it’s frigid.”
• There are campaign pictures of candidates the Republican nomination for President: Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan and Nelson Rockefeller.
• There is a long article about male and female students “living together out of wedlock,” which was a violation of school rules.
• One line in a full-page ad for Frigidaire appliances reads, “Your wife can clean a Frigidaire Electri-clean oven just by setting the controls.”
• The cover story was about ancient Egypt, a subject that interests my wife; that’s why she kept this particular issue of Life.

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated just a few weeks before this issue was published, and Life devoted plenty of space to his death and life. Two issues later the cover story was about the death and life of Presidential candidate Robert Kennedy.

That was a hell of a year and it is so cool that an original magazine from that time is right here in my hands.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

A Time Machine

What song in your life is really a time machine?

The notes and lyrics touch your ear drum and instantly transport you back to another decade, perhaps to when you first heard the song or the place where it developed a sonic connection to your life.

Do the words of that song stand the test of time?

Yesterday, America’s “A Horse With No Name” launched from the speakers of my SUV and suddenly I was driving my old Mustang on I-10 between Houston and San Antonio on a Sunday night in 1972 returning to Ft. Sam Houston from a weekend visit to New Orleans. Words break through the crackling static of a distant 70s AM radio station:

I've been through the desert on a horse with no name
It felt good to be out of the rain
In the desert you can remember your name
'Cause there ain't no one for to give you no pain.

Back to the present, I sing along for a minute then laugh out loud. What the hell do those lyrics mean? I remember my name in a desert because no one is around to hurt me?


Seemed so cool at the time.

I wonder if some blogger thirty-four years in the future will write a post like this referring to those lyrics from back in 2005:

Whatcha gonna do with all that junk
all that junk inside your trunk?

I'm gonna get get get get you drunk
Get you love drunk off my hump.
My hump my hump my hump ....

It’s all relative I guess.

Saturday, January 06, 2007

F-f-fifty Something Hits One Hundred

On this, my one hundredth post, I decided to reflect on a subject that many Boomers are obsessed with: age.

Let’s face it, we all think we’re still 35. I feel and act 45. I look younger than that (the photo to the left was taken three years ago). I turned 50 a few years ago and this blog is almost the only place where I admit that. I continue to have trouble saying my age out loud because of the negative perceptions so many people have of that number.

Yet, I seem to have that perception too. Case in point: 34-year-old Ian recently paid me a nice compliment on his blog, saying, “He reminds me a lot of the cool uncle I never had growing up.” Cool uncle? Growing up? He must be talking about some 50-year-old.

Oh wait, I AM some 50-year-old.

January is my re-evaluation month and it ends with another birthday. Fortunately a few years remain before I have to change the name of this blog. I’m feeling better about my age today than I did a few months ago. The holidays are behind me, I’ve returned to my healthy eating habits and I’m working out again. I had a wonderful vacation last month. Things are good. I feel, uhhh, young. Younger than 50.

Back in my first post, I answered my question what is the point of this blog? by saying, “As I grow older, I have a greater need to communicate than I did at a younger age. This mostly one-way style suits me fine. I welcome feedback and an exchange of ideas, but I’ll be happy if I’m the only reader of this material.”

Ten months later I have about ten regular readers and I look forward to the feedback. And what’s really cool is that most of you aren’t even Boomers.

Thanks for visiting.

Iraq Nam Irony

Everyone has an opinion about the Iraq war. I won’t bore you with the full extent of my opposition, but I’d like to share a few observations from a Boomer perspective.

We should have learned something from our experiences in Viet Nam. Like Viet Nam, we had good intentions going into Iraq, such as protecting freedom and American interests. We were afraid of things that could happen if we didn’t go in. In the 60s, it was fear of the spread of Communism. In 2003, it was fear of spreading terrorism and specifically a fear of weapons of mass destruction the President said he thought were in Iraq.

So we go in, bomb the hell out of them, discover there are no WMDs, change the story and the strategy, and now consider sending even more troops before actually withdrawing. The latest Administration strategy has something to do with helping rebuild Iraq, which is probably the right thing to do because we destroyed so much to begin with.

A big difference between now and then is in attitudes towards the American soldiers. During the 1960s and 1970s, anti-war protests were against both the war and the troops who fought the war. Young American military personnel who risked their lives on the battlefield returned home to receive sneers from their peers rather than the heroic welcomes their parents experienced after World War II.

Soldiers returning from Iraq receive praise and respect from the American public. Even those of us who blame the President for getting us into this mess are proud of the job most American soldiers do while serving in the Middle East.

I guess we did learn something from Viet Nam.

As long as I’m out here on a limb talking about sensitive topics, here is an observation on religion and war. We sometimes wonder how cultures can fight wars in the name of God, Allah or some higher power. Yet some of our own soldiers carry Bibles next to their guns while on duty in Iraq.

CNN aired a story this morning showing “good luck” objects some soldiers carry while on duty. One of the troops they interviewed pulled out a Bible page and quoted part of
Psalm 91 “You will not fear the terror of the night, or the arrow that flies by day.” This line gives that soldier confidence while on patrol at night. I get that. But it doesn’t say anything about killing in the name of God. I looked up the Psalm and some analysis on its message. It says God will protect believers in dangerous situations.

I don’t think belief in a higher power justifies fighting a war with people who believe in a different higher power. Even back in the days when my faith was in line with the established norms of the religious instruction of my youth, I could not understand how guns and God could fit together in any context.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

... In With The New

Many bloggers I’ve visited this week have posted New Year’s Resolutions. I intended to do the same, but I’m somewhat unfocused so far this year.

January is the month where I take stock of my life and the last year and plan for the coming year. It’s a process I begin on the 1st and continue through my birthday near the end of the month. This strategy has worked well for me for two decades.

My “goals” aren’t very profound yet because I’m just getting started, but here are some random items, both large and small, that might end up on my goals list for 2007:

• Go to a NASCAR race
• Return to college
• Visit my West Coast cousins
• Visit my sister in New Orleans
• Buy a newer vehicle
• Build a home audio studio
• See "A Christmas Carol" at Ford’s Theatre
• Visit the Kennedy Space Center in Florida
• Spend more time with friends, develop some friendships to a deeper level
• Get back into photography
• Do more with my Boomer Talk radio feature

One of my most interesting achievements of 2006 wasn’t on my mind at all last January … this blog. I began writing it in March and this is post 98. I’ll celebrate #100 in a few days.

As always, thanks for visiting.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Random Thoughts From Boomerville II

1. Rodeo cowboys starch their shirts. Why the heck do they do that? The steer-ropers I watched on ESPN jumped off their horses onto the muddy ground, literally picked up the steer and wrapped a rope around three legs. The cowboy gets dirty, dusty and muddy, but their shirts stay wrinkle-free!

2. There are almost as many logos on a rodeo cowboy’s starched shirt as on a NASCAR car.

3. The end of the world is near. I know this because the New Orleans Saints beat the hell out of the Dallas Cowboys this season. And they’re in the playoffs. To quote that song they sing at Saints games: who dat say dey gonna beat dem Saints?

4. We see more advertising messages in a day than our grandparents saw in a lifetime.

5. Overheard at Starbucks: two young women talking. “I think I’m going to, like, throw up.” “There’s, like, a lot of things that make me nervous, like, class and exams.” “Yeah, and, like, there’s this guy ….”

6. That song I keep hearing on a radio station I only sometimes listen to is by a group called Panic! At The Disco. I saw them sing it on TV on New Year’s Eve. Great hair, guys!

7. I’ve seen that Geico commercial with Little Richard 40 or 50 times and still think it’s funny.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

My First Video … sort of

Audio production is my life and photography is my passion. One day I’d like to combine those interests. A few years ago I took some video production courses and co-produced some cable access programs for a church, but haven’t done much with video editing since.

Recently I discovered video editing software on my laptop as part of some other software package. I fooled around with it last week after shooting some video on our recent holiday weekend at the beach and you can click here to see what I came up with.